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About Gioacchino Rossini

Despite his long life, this native of Pesaro, Italy (who moved to Bologna at the age of 12) pursued a remarkably short career as an operatic composer, for he retired from stage work in 1829 after a remarkable stretch as opera's most spectacular young genius. It seems to have been some kind of nevous condition which impelled him to avoid the pressures of the very iffy world of producing new operas. For the last 40 years of his life, approximately, he lived handsomely off the proceeds of his operas, composing dozens of charming piano miniatures (known collectively under the title Sins of Old Age) and a couple of large church works for soloists, chorus, and orchestra. The style of Rossini's time was considered old-fashioned for a considerable period of time. Most of his operas were virtually ignored, though his two most popular operas, The Barber of Seville and L'Italiana in Algeri always retained their popularity. Recently the operatic world has appreciated a major Rossini revival.

He introduced major innovations in the craft of composing operas. He was one of the first to dispense with using a keyboard instrument to accompany the recitatives (the quasi-spoken passages in which most of the story is conveyed). He expanded the color of the orchestra, was one of the first to write out the decorative passages for the singers (before these were largely improvised), and virtually created the standard form of an aria consisting of contrasting "cavatina" (slower) and "caballeto" (faster) passages. In the end he transformed the sound and effect of opera and set the preconditions of the formal innovations of Verdi and Wagner.

And he was remarkably prolific, as the attached list of his compositions will show. If the majority of these titles are unfamiliar, one must remember that Rossini was one of the legendary fast workers of music history, virtually pouring out music, often to texts which nowadays are pretty inferior. ~ Joe Stevenson


The list includes the year of composition or first performance. An English translation of the composer's designation of the type of opera it represents is given in parentheses. Highlighted titles are linked to descriptive profiles of the opera, or at least of the overture associated with it.

Demetrio e Polibio, (serious drama) (before 1809)

La cambiale di matrimonio, (comic farce) (1810)

L'equivoco stravagante (jocular drama) (1811)

L'inganno felice (farce) (1812)

Ciro in Babilonia, or La caduta di Baldassare (drama with chorus) (1812)

La scala di seta (comic farce) (1812)

La pietra del paragone (jocular melodramma) (1812)

L'occasione fa il ladro (burlesque) (1812)

Il Signor Bruschino, or Il figlio per azzardo (jocular farce) (1813)

Tancredi (heroic melodramma) (1813)

L'Italiana in Algeri (jocular drama) (1813)

Aureliano in Palmira (serious drama) (1813)

Il turco in Italia (buffo drama) (1814)

Sigismondo (drama) (1814)

Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra (drama) (1815)

Torvaldo e Dorliska (semi-serious drama) (1815)

Il barbiere di Siviglia (originally titled: Almaviva, or L'inutile precauzione) (comedy) (1716)

La gazetta (drama [opera buffa]) (1816)

Otello, or Il moro di Venezia (1816)

La Cenerentola, ossia La bonta in trionfo (jocular drama) (1817)

La gazza ladra (melodrama) (1817)

Armida (drama) (1817)

Adelaide di Borgogna (drama) (1817)

Mose in Egitto (tragic-sacred play) (1818)

Adina (farce) (1818)

Ricciardo e Zoraide (drama) (1818)

Eduoardo e Cristina (drama) (1819)

La donna del lago (melodramma) (1819)

Bianca e Faliero, or Il consiglio dei tre (melodramma) (1819)

Maometto II (drama). (1820)

Matilde (di) Shabran or Belezza, e cuor di ferro (jocular melodramma) (1821)

Zelmira (drama) (1822)

Semiramide (tragic melodrama) (1823)

Il viaggio a Reims, or L'albergo del giglio do'oro (jocular drama) (1825)

Le siege d Corinthe (revision of Maometto II) (lyric tragedy) (1826)

Mose et Pharaon, ou Le passage de la Mer Rouge (rev. of Mose in Egitto) (opera) (1827)

Le Comte Ory (opera [comic opera]) (1828)

Guillaume Tell (opera) (1829)


Messe di gloria for soloists, orchestra, & chorus (1820)

Stabat Mater, for soloists, chorus & orchestra. First version (1832, with about one-third composed by Tadolini). Second version (1842, revised and totally composed by Rossini)

Three religious choruses for soprano, female chorus, & piano (1844)

Petite messe solennelle

First version, with accompaniment of two pianos and harmonium, (1864)

Second version, with orchestral accompaniment (1869)


Rossini's considerable output of choral and vocal music is little heard, with the exception of:

Aurora (cantata) (1812)

Dalle quite e pallid'ombre (cantata) (1812)

Egle et Irne (cantata, 1814)

Soirees musicales (12 songs) (1830-1835)


Six sonatas for strings (c. 1804)

Sinfonia in D (1808)

Sinfonia in E flat (1809)

Variations for clarinet & orchestra (1809)

Andante and theme with variations for four woodwinds (1812)

Sins of Old Age (many short pieces for instruments, voices, & various combinations) commonly published in 12 volumes., Rovi

Pesaro, Italy
Feb 29, 1792

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