Recorded on 08/15/2011, uploaded on 09/29/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Gioachino Rossini ended his highly successful career at the age of thirty-eight with the production of Guillaume Tell in 1829, his thirty-eighth opera. Once retired, Rossini indulged in his great love for food. He was a well-known gourmand and became an excellent amateur chef himself. Yet, during these years, Rossini never fully gave up composing and lost none of the proficiency in his craft. For the next thirty-nine years of his life, he composed small pieces intended for private performances, usually in the drawing room of his estate in Passy. Many of these were essentially salon music, albeit tempered with Rossini’s skill, and ranged from compositions for solo voice, to piano solos and chamber music. The aging composer collected 150 of these pieces into fourteen albums to which he gave the self-deprecating and ironic title Péchés des vieillesse (“Sins of Old Age”).
Among the Péchés des vieillesse 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. 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. Joseph DuBose
Courtesy of the Steans Institute
The Steans Music Institute is the Ravinia Festival's professional studies program for young musicians.
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