Music in the Present Tense: Rossini's Operas in Early Nineteenth-Century Italy

Proponente Emanuele Giuseppe Senici - Professore Ordinario
Sottosettore ERC del proponente del progetto
Componenti gruppo di ricerca

No composer in the history of Western music had ever experienced the measure of prestige, wealth, popular acclaim and artistic influence enjoyed by Gioachino Rossini during his career as an opera composer in Italy, between 1810 and 1823. Rossini's music reached an unprecedented of number of listeners, whether in opera houses or concert halls, or played in countless arrangements for all sorts of performing forces in spaces both public and private, or simply whistled in the streets. It is all the more surprising, then, that with few exceptions Rossini's works have played a decidedly secondary role in twentieth- and twenty-first-century accounts of nineteenth-century music. One of the reasons is that the causes of the instantaneous and enormous success with which his operas were greeted at their first appearance have not been examined in sufficient depth: the call of history has not been answered precisely because, by and large, Rossini's operas have been kept out of history. The foremost aim of this project, therefore, is to think afresh about the motives behind the Rossinian furore in early nineteenth-century Italy by putting his works back into history, which is to say, into the culture and society within which they were conceived, performed, seen and discussed, and to which they made self-evidently important contributions. In order to do this, this project first examines a wealth of new documents concerning, on the one hand, the genesis of Rossini's operas in Italy, and, on the other, their discourse. It then builds a new interpretation of their musical dramaturgy on the basis of both these documents and of some key texts of contemporary Italian literature and thought (by Foscolo and Leopardi among others). The working hypothesis is that Rossini's operas can be interpreted as a reaction to the trauma that the Napoleonic wars constituted for Italians, which these works tried to counter through their highly repetitive dramatic shape and musical style.

SH5_5, SH5_8, SH5_4

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