All About Italy (USA) - - Contents -

“It’s hard to write the bi­og­ra­phy of a man while he is still alive…. I envy him more than some­one who has sim­ply been born rich. He, on the other hand won for him­self an im­per­ish­able name, ge­nius and hap­pi­ness”. So wrote Stend­hal in his fa­mous, al­though, ac­cord­ing to crit­ics, un­re­li­able, “Life of Rossini”, writ­ten when the fa­mous com­poser, who was born in 1792 in Pe­saro was just thirty-two years old and at the peak of his ca­reer as a com­poser of op­eras, a ca­reer that would end abruptly, just a few years later in 1829, crowned by his mas­ter­piece Wil­liam Tell. Gioacchino Rossini was a char­ac­ter wor­thy of the mu­sic he be­queathed to the world: the prover­bial “Crescendo Rossini­ano”, that sug­ges­tive and mag­nif­i­cent orches­tral crescendo on a re­peated phrase that sum­ma­rizes the power of his ab­so­lute ge­nius which over twenty years pro­duced forty or so works, his er­ratic out­put some­times reach­ing 4-5 per year. His en­tire ex­is­tence un­folds in a dou­ble move­ment, with a pre­cise caesura de­lin­eat­ing the out­line of each of two sep­a­rate lives: the first, ded­i­cated to opera, un­der the ban­ner of a quick and in­stant tri­umph. The sec­ond, less pro­lif­i­cally creative and more lazy and se­cluded, but with some mem­o­rable peaks such as the Pe­tite Messe Solen­nelle. He was a hypochon­driac, a smoker and very emo­tional, pos­si­bly the vic­tim of de­pres­sive crises, but he was also joy­ful, a lover of good food and beau­ti­ful women: his dual na­ture in con­tin­u­ous os­cil­la­tion be­tween the fren­zied life of a bon-vi­vant and dark in­tro­ver­sion, giv­ing us the pic­ture of a com­plex in­di­vid­ual, fas­ci­nat­ing and mul­ti­fac­eted, his own life, set to mu­sic, would have re­sem­bled the works of art that he gave birth to dur­ing his long and glit­ter­ing ca­reer. In 2018, to mark the 150th an­niver­sary of the death of the Swan of Pe­saro or ‘Cig­nale di Lugo’ (as he was known) in France, at the villa di Passy near Paris, where the artist had with­drawn fol­low­ing his aban­don­ment of the opera scene, Italy will be cer­tain to cel­e­brate an Ital­ian who, thanks to his im­mea­sur­able tal­ent, changed for­ever the his­tory of mu­sic and drama and be­cause of this, is loved and ad­mired through­out Italy and be­yond.

Rossini com­posed his first opera at the age of four­teen and in nine­teen years pro­duced thirty-nine sig­nif­i­cant works, be­fore his sud­den aban­don­ment of the the­ater in 1829.

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