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Donald Macleod presents five takes on the life and music of Gioachino Rossini. Today, the composer’s on-off relationship with the city of Paris.

This week, Donald Macleod presents five takes on the life and music of Gioachino Rossini. Today, the composer’s on-off relationship with the city of Paris.

Rumours that Rossini was planning to leave Italy for Paris started doing the rounds in 1818, after his comic opera L’Italiana in Algeri created a sensation at the Théâtre Italien there; but it wasn’t until the end of 1824 that he finally signed on the dotted line and relocated to the French capital. Rossini’s contract with the French government required him to write operas for both the Théâtre Italien and the Opéra, which had been struggling commercially. His two major contributions to the Opéra were Count Ory and William Tell, comic and ‘serious’ operas respectively: the former, a glorious musical salvage operation from an operatic entertainment originally devised for the coronation of Charles X, Il viaggio a Reims; the latter, a sprawling six-hour epic that set the template for French Grand Opera and perhaps, down the line, the music dramas of Wagner. In 1836, Rossini left Paris for Bologna, where he spent nearly 20 years in a downward spiral of ill-health and depression whose root cause was the venereal disease he had in all probability contracted in his 20s. In 1855, he and his former mistress, now wife and carer, Olympe Pélissier, returned to Paris, so that Rossini could benefit from the attentions of an expert urologist. The Rossinis settled in Passy, where they established weekly musical gatherings – Samedi soirs – and Rossini started to compose again. His Péchés de vieillesse – Sins of Old Age – run to 14 volumes; a Rossinian byway well worth exploring.

Il viaggio à Reims; Scene 20, ‘Signor, ecco una lettera’
Katia Ricciarelli (Madame Cortese)
Lucia Valentini Terrani (Marchesa Melibea)
Lella Cuberli (Contessa di Folleville)
Cecilia Gasdia (Corinna)
Francisco Araiza (Conte di Libenskof)
Samuel Ramey (Lord Sidney)
Ruggero Raimondi (Don Profondo)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Le Comte Ory; Act 2 No 11, ‘A la faveur de cette nuit obscure’
John Aler, tenor (Count Ory)
Diana Montague, mezzo soprano (Isolier)
Sumi Jo, soprano (Countess Adèle)
Lyon Opera Chorus & Orchestra
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor

William Tell; Act 3 Scene 3, ‘Sois immobile’
Gabriel Bacquier, baritone (William Tell)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Lamberto Gardelli, conductor

Soirées musicales; 2. Il rimprovero; 3. La partenza
Stella Doufexis, mezzo soprano
Bruce Ford, tenor
Roger Vignoles, piano

Stabat Mater (1842 version); 2. Cujus animam gementem; 3. Quis est homo
Anna Netrebko, soprano
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo soprano
Lawrence Brownlee, tenor
Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Antonio Pappano, conductor

Assez de memento: dansons (Péchés de vieillesse, vol 6)
Frederic Chiu, piano

Mi lagnerò tacendo in D (Musique anodine)
Cecilia Bartoli mezzo soprano
Charles Spencer, piano

Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Gioachino Rossini

    Il viaggio a Reims, ossia L'Albergo del Giglio d'oro (extract)

    Singer: Katia Ricciarelli. Singer: Lucia Valentini Terrani. Singer: Lella Cuberli. Singer: Cecilia Gasdia. Singer: Francisco Araiza. Singer: Samuel Ramey. Singer: Ruggero Raimondi. Orchestra: Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Conductor: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG 477 7435.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 7.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Le Comte Ory: Act 2, No 11

    Singer: John Aler. Singer: Diana Montague. Singer: Sumi Jo. Choir: Lyon Opera Chorus. Orchestra: Lyon Opera Orchestra. Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
    • DG 422 406-2.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 10.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    William Tell: Act 3, Scene 3

    Singer: Gabriel Bacquier. Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli.
    • WARNER 6407632.
    • WARNER.
    • 16.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Les Soirees Musicales (Nos 2 and 3)

    Performer: Roger Vignoles. Singer: Stella Doufexis. Singer: Bruce Ford.
    • Hyperion: CDA67647.
    • Hyperion.
    • 2.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Stabat Mater: Cujus animam gementem; Quis es homo

    Singer: Anna Netrebko. Singer: Joyce DiDonato. Singer: Lawrence Brownlee. Orchestra: Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia Rome Orchestra. Conductor: Sir Antonio Pappano.
    • WARNER 6 40529 2.
    • WARNER.
    • 2.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Assez de memento

    Performer: Frederic Chiu.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907102.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 4.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Aragonese (Mi lagnero tacendo)

    Performer: Charles Spencer. Singer: Cecilia Bartoli.
    • DECCA : 430-518-2.
    • DECCA.
    • 8.

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