La gazzetta

Composer: Rossini Gioachino

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La gazzetta, ossia Il matrimonio per concorso (The Newspaper, or The Marriage Contest) is an opera buffa by Gioachino Rossini. The libretto was by Giuseppe Palomba after Carlo Goldoni's play Il matrimonio per concorso of 1763. The opera satirizes the influence of newspapers on people's lives. There is critical disagreement as to its success, although the New England Conservatory's notes for their April 2013 production state that the opera "was an immediate hit, and showed Rossini at his comic best."
Following the success of his Il Barbiere di Siviglia in Rome, the composer arrived in Naples in February 1816 to discover that fire had destroyed the Teatro San Carlo, that he was obliged to compose a cantata to celebrate a royal wedding, plus supervise a production of his Tancredi. And the music for La gazzetta was due for August performances. It would be Rossini's second opera written for Naples and the only comedy he wrote there.
As was his wont, Rossini borrowed music from some of his previous works, These included Il Turco in Italia (1814), La pietra del paragone (1812), and also from Torvaldo e Dorliska (1815). None of these pieces would have heard by Naples' audiences of the time. However, musicologist Philip Gossett stresses that:
While the overture was written specifically for this opera, it is probably the best known piece from the work, because, along with other music from La gazzetta, it was incorporated into La Cenerentola. These borrowings may have speeded up the process of composition, but Charles Osborne notes that "on this occasion, Rossini failed to complete the opera with his usual alacrity" and speculates that it may have been caused by his attraction to the soprano Isabella Colbran. It opened a month later than originally scheduled.
19th century performances
The opera was first performed on 26 September 1816 at the Teatro dei Fiorentini in Naples, where it ran for 21 performances. Osborne would appear to disagree, since he notes that "after a few performances it was withdrawn, the general opinion being that its libretto was clumsy and its music undistinguished."
Following the initial performances there was only one revival of the opera in the 19th Century, when it was performed during the 1828 Carnival in Palermo.
20th century and beyond
While Osborne does not mention a revival in 1828, Philip Gossett's recent work would seem to support its existence. But, as Osborne notes, the opera did not re-appear until a 1960 Italian radio performance and a staging in Vienna by the Vienna Chamber Opera in 1976.
The UK premiere was given by the Garsington Opera in Oxfordshire on 12 June 2001, with the first performances of the new critical edition prepared by Fabrizio Scipioni and Philip Gossett which, at that time, did not contain the act 1 quintet. La gazzetta was presented by the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro that summer and Pesaro repeated it during the summer of 2005, directed by Dario Fo. Because the quintet "was just identified in the Spring of 2012, after the librarian in Palermo at the Conservatory, Dario Lo Cicero, found the manuscript [so] in Pesaro [and all other productions prior to 2013], the stage director, Dario Fo, arranged something else for the spot where the Quintet should have gone." Fo's production for Pesaro was later presented at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2005. This production has been recorded on DVD. It was also given by the Rossini in Wildbad Festival.
The American premiere of not only the critical edition but the newly found act 1 quintet of La gazzetta was presented by the New England Conservatory between 6 and 9 April 2013 in Boston, the first time since the 19th century that the opera was given in its complete form. Prior to the performances, Dr. Gossett led two panels at the Conservatory.
The first professional presentations of the critical edition of the opera containing the recently found quintet were presented at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège in Belgium in June 2014.
The opera was also given at the Royal College of Music in London in late June 2014.
A new production of the opera was presented at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in August 2015, when the chorus and orchestra of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna were conducted by Enrique Mazzola
The opera tells the story of a pretentious Neapolitan, Don Pomponio Storione, who travels the world in search of a husband for his daughter, putting ads in the newspapers. He arrives in a city, and after a series of ridiculously inadequate suitors, such as the Quaker Monsù Traversen or the waiter at the hotel, who usually end up beating poor Pomponio, he finally resigns to let his daughter marry her lover, the only suitor he seems to consider inappropriate.
Borrowings from earlier operas
As has been noted, Rossini borrowed melodic fragments from some of his previous works. These include a quintet from largest musical contributor, Il Turco in Italia (1814), as well as other pieces, such as a second-act trio from La pietra del paragone (1812), plus a Largo from Torvaldo e Dorliska (1815). All would have been unknown to audiences in Naples.
The lost Quintet
Musicologist Philip Gossett, who oversaw the preparation of the critical edition in 2002 and who, in 2012, identified music found in Palermo as belonging to the opera (in fact, it was the lost act 1 quintet) discussed the preparation for the US premiere performances in an interview in The Boston Globe:
The lost Quintet and the critical edition
In an essay originally published in German in the Rossini studies journal, Gossett describes the evolution of the Quintet:
He continues by noting the absence of music for the Quintet, in spite of the presence of the text in the printed libretto: "[The libretto] was "without the "virgolette" which generally indicate that a passage of text was not set to music by the composer."
Then he notes other factors:
Gossett continues by saying that maybe the reviewer was mistaken "since the Finale I opens with a Quintet of voices", suggesting, then, that the reviewer had mixed them up. The second issue concerns the misbinding of "the Recitative after the Quintet [....] in Rossini's autograph manuscript of the opera. It is found in the second act [...] where it makes no sense whatsoever."
To get around this problem, Gossett suggests that:
Next, in discussing performance practice, Gossett states that:
Gossett continues by noting that he has now revised the critical edition with the new-found discoveries and states:
Premiere performances which included the lost quintet
When La gazzetta was given its American premiere on 6 April 2013, it was conducted by Joseph Rescigno. Singing (and sharing) the major roles were Conservatory students Leroy Y. Davis and Kyle Albertson as on Pomponio. His daughter Lisetta was sung by sopranos Bridget Haile and Soyoung Park and the baritone role of Filippo, the innkeeper, was shared between Jason Ryan and David Lee. The tenors Marco Jordao and James Dornier sang the role of Alberto.