Gioachino Rossini - La scala di seta - Ouverture


Two full comic operas notwithstanding, the beginning of Rossini's career is best represented by a continuous succession of five one act operas or farsas, as Rossini himself described them: "La cambiale di matrimonio", "L'inganno felice", "La scala di seta", "L'occasione fa il ladro" (only this piece is designated by the composer as a "burletta" but the nature of the work gives us an opportunity to consider it an important part of this quintet of operas) and "Il signor Bruschino". All these works are also closely connected by the fact that they follow the same basic form with just a few variations. Structurally, all the first five operas share several obligatory elements: a lively overture; an introduction, usually limited to just three singers; arias for the main quartet of bass, baritone (or another bass), soprano and tenor (though one of these can be skipped); a central ensemble which feels almost as a first act finale, if the opera was just an hour longer (a terzet (in three operas), quartet or sextet); duets for two basses, tenor and soprano or soprano and bass; a long finale during which the plot reaches its' climax but all things invariably end happily. Usually the pieces are composed of just eight numbers, amounting to about an hour of music, only in "L'occasione" do we get eleven (mainly, because of two arias for the soprano). Moreover, all operas, in spite of being designated as "farsas" which, arguably, they are to a great extent, feature a very strong sentimental and sometimes even tragic element which is usually centered on the pair of lovers who are struggling to get away from the obstacles that are keeping them apart. Because of this strong connection between the works, I decided to present them as a sort of pastiche: rather that present each opera as a separate work, I'm going to form a series of the standard (for these operas) pieces to help the listeners understand just how similar they are. For example, instead of uploading all five arias for the soprano, I'm limiting the upload to just one which will act as a sort of guideline, around which the other pieces are built. In spite of this decision, I will be more than happy to upload additional material and any other pieces, if someone will express such a desire. Other than that: enjoy :)! We are starting with the obligatory overture without which these pieces just wouldn't be the same. Actually out of the four operas, only "L'occasione" doesn't open with an overture, instead making use of a classical (and actually quite excellent) invocation of a storm, but then "L'occasione" is quite different from its' "brothers". Rossini's overtures, like many of his vocal pieces, usually follow the same structure which Rossini would use in all of his overtures with variations on the main idea when needed: a slow introduction with an elegiac melody assigned to a solo instrument -- the first, allegro theme presented by strings in tonic -- a transition set off from the first theme by volume, orchestration or structure (basically, a very big orchestral explosion) - the second, lyrical theme assigned to solo winds -- crescendo -- cadential section of progressively shorter musical phrases -- the repeat of steps of two from six, sometimes with embellishments or different orchestrations. Rossini's earliest overtures can't really be compared with the sheer brilliance and invention of his more mature works: slow introductions are usually very short and lack lyricism, the themes are not yet well-differentiated and the crescendos do not have their characteristic form. Yet the very appeal of these overtures is their singularity, their lack of a strong structure. Each approaches the classical archetype, but is further dominated by a unique musical idea: for example, the absurd but delightful tapping of the violin bows against their music stands in the overture to "Il signor". The choice really comes to down to two pieces: the overtures to "Il signor" and "La scala" which are both delightful. I decided to just post both pieces as they are two of Rossini's best :)! Enjoy :).

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