Recorded on 05/13/2009, uploaded on 06/09/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Among Rossini’s Péchés des vieillesse (“Sins of Old Age”), an ironically titled collection of 150 songs and instrumental pieces written during the composer’s supposed retirement, is the song cycle La regata Veneziana, based on three poems by Count Carlo Pepoli in the Venetian dialect. The Count was an amateur poet and a frequent guest of Rossini’s. Indeed, the composer was already familiar with Pepoli’s texts. Many years earlier, he set a number of the Count’s poems in his Les soirées musicales. The three poems used here tell of a young woman, Anzoleta, who watches and cheers on her lover, Momolo, in a Venetian regatta, or gondola race.
In the first song, Anzoleta avanti la regata (“Anzoleta before the regatta”), Anzoleta excitedly encourages Momolo to win the race and reminds him that she will be watching from an overlooking balcony. Beginning in A-flat major, the cascading melody with which the song begins captures the scene of the Venetian canals and the impending contest. Anzoleta’s melody, however, enters in the minor mode creating a sense of urgency in her encouragement, but returns to the major expressing her confidence that he will when the race.
The middle song Anzoleta co passa la regata (“Anzoleta during the regatta”) begins in an agitated A minor with a syncopated bass line against quick sixteenths above. Anzoleta watches breathlessly from her balcony and when the boats come within sight, she sees Momolo in second place. Worried he may not catch the leader, she encourages him onward from her watchful post. Momolo eyes his beloved watching him and then with renewed vigor overcomes the leader, pulling farther and farther ahead of the rest of the gondolas. The vocal line throughout the first three stanzas of the song eloquently captures Anzoleta’s anxiety over Momolo winning the race. However, in the final stanza, her fears disappear in a shift to A major. The vocal melody changes from nervousness to excitement while the prior syncopated bass becomes a burgeoning source of anticipation. After Anzoleta’s final words, the music begins to fade away as the boats continue on with Momolo in the lead.
In the final song, Anzoleta dopo la regata (“Anzoleta after the race”), Anzoleta rewards her lover, Momolo, with kisses for winning the gondola race and boasts that all of Venice is talking about him. A lilting tune in the piano opens the song with festivity. Over a waltz-like accompaniment, the voice enters with a flirtatious melody and seductive chromatic appoggiaturas as Anzoleta offers the victorious Momolo kiss after kiss. The music then becomes more declamatory and shifts suddenly away from the tonic of F major through the keys of A minor and D-flat major during Anzoleta’s boast of Momolo’s victory and fame. She returns to her coquettish melody in the final stanza as she offers him yet another kiss, but concludes the song triumphantly as she declares Momolo the greatest of all gondoliers. Joseph DuBose
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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