October 11, 2014 7:30 PM
October 12, 2014 3:00 PM
Central Performing Arts Center
Il Signor Bruschino Overture
As the sole support both for himself and his parents, Rossini raced to complete one opera after another. From Tancredi in 1813 through La gazza ladra in 1817, Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) composed more than two dozen operas, ranging from comedy to tragi-comedy. With no effective copyright legislation existing in a disunited Italy, Rossini's earnings from an opera were limited to performances in which he participated, and payments to a composer seldom matched those to a prima donna.
Thus, as a result, this four-year period was one of constant traveling and frenetic compositional activity. He prepared operas for the stage within a month, often in less time; for example, Rossini's masterpiece, Il barbiere di Siviglia, occupied him for about three weeks. During this period he produced his great comic operas, works ranging from pure buffo to sentimental comedy, his more ‘classical’ serious operas, and his finest opera in the semiseria genre. His operatic farce Il Signor Bruschino was the ninth of this group of hastily composed and produced works. It premiered in Venice in 1813 and proved an abject failure. The Venetians were harsh critics as Guiseppe Verdi discovered forty years later when his La Traviata was booed from the stage in its first public performance. Rossini never produced Bruschino again, nor did he attend an 1857 revival of the work in Paris under the guidance of Jacques Offenbach.
The plot of Bruschino is the typical comedy of the time - a farce involving frustrated lovers, a shunned suitor, a derelict son, and an overbearing father. Confusion and comedy ensues, but all ends well in a rollicking finale.
Il Signor Bruschino is seldom performed today, but the overture has become a concert staple as a rousing showpiece for orchestra. As a side note, Rossini utilizes the string players' bows as percussion instruments at select points in the score - the players tap their bows on their music stands. This created quite a stir at the time, but among modern audiences this bow-tapping is not considered as unusual.
Program Notes © William H Driver and Clinton Symphony Orchestra Association