Gioachino Rossini: Adina ossia Il Califfo di Bagdad

Rossini Critical Edition

Edited by Fabrizio Della Seta (2000)

One-volume score pp. LIV, 418 + critical commentary pp. 106
GR 24
Piano vocal score available
CP 138259

The critical edition of Adina (1818) constitutes an absolute novelty with regard to this Rossini opera. The only previous edition (Florence, OTOS, 1967) was actually a rehash of the original score, both in terms of instrumentation, which underwent arbitrary additions and alterations at various points, and in terms of the order of the pieces. The new edition is based not only on an in-depth examination of the Rossini autograph (Pesaro, Fondazione Rossini), but also on the sifting of a series of secondary sources, each of which helps to clarify aspects of the text.

The problems faced in preparing the critical edition of Adina stem from two orders of factors: the state of the autograph and the performance history of the opera.

The ‘autograph’ score was actually written by several people, at least five. Of the nine pieces that make up the opera, Rossini composed only four ex novo (Introduction, Cavatina Adina, Quartet, Adina’s Aria and Finale), and of one of these, the Cavatina Adina, he prepared only the fundamental part (the so-called skeleton score, consisting of the vocal part and the bass), leaving a collaborator the task of completing the orchestration. The same collaborator is the author of two other pieces, the Duetto Adina-Califo, the original of which can be found in the autograph, and the Aria Califo. The latter was originally written for another opera and with a different text; the original is in Brussels, while the autograph contains a copy, written by a copyist, with the new text. Three other pieces, a Chorus, the Scene and Aria Selimo and the Aria Alì, were instead taken from an earlier Rossini opera, Sigismondo (1814), and the autograph contains a copy with the new words. Finally, the recitativi secchi were composed by two different collaborators.

While the edition of the five ‘new’ pieces (one of which was by the collaborator) could use the Pesaro autograph as the main source, the identification of the derivations of the other four pieces required recourse to the original autograph scores, by Rossini with regard to the pieces derived from Sigismondo, and by the collaborator with regard to the Aria Califo. These sources were, however, constantly compared with the ones contained in the autograph, which were important for the reconstruction of the poetic text of the pieces. In this regard, however, a previously unknown group of sources, belonging to the Brussels Fund, has proved to be of even greater importance: these are copies of the vocal parts for two pieces from Sigismondo and the Aria del Collaboratore, in which Rossini added words in his own hand to indicate to the copyists how to adapt the new words to the pre-existing melodies. Although in carrying out this operation Rossini was not exempt from errors or ambiguities, these unique sources have proved of fundamental importance in establishing the text for which there is no source entirely in the author’s own hand.

Adina’s recitativi secchi present a very rough drafting, which makes correct declamation of the poetic text difficult or even impossible in many cases. This is a shorthand way of writing, very common at the time, which left it to the performers to complete the notation with their own interpretation. In all these cases, the critical edition intervened by suggesting alternative solutions to those written down, or even replacing them with a corrected version, and reporting the original version in the Critical Commentary.

The autograph is lacking the timpani part of the Introduzione, a part that Rossini announced on the first page by referring to a ‘spartitino’ at the end of the piece, which is however missing here, as well as in the secondary sources. In this case the part has been added by the editor, naturally well differentiated from the rest of the score.

Finally, it should be noted that the autograph was subject to some alterations in the order of some pieces, notably the Cavatina Adina and the Coro, which originally followed one another in this order, and are now found in the reverse order. Careful examination has led to the conclusion that the inversion of these pieces was made by Rossini’s father, Giuseppe, at an unspecified time, and that Gioachino had no part in it. The edition has therefore restored the original succession, which is much more musically and dramatically logical.

Composed in 1818, commissioned by an unknown patron in Lisbon, Adina was performed in this city in 1826, for one evening only, and this remained the only performance until the revival in 1963 (it seems, however, that there was a revival in Rio de Janeiro in 1828, not further documented). The main witness to the Lisbon production is the libretto printed for the occasion. It attests that the opera was performed in a different form to that imagined by Rossini: a second chorus was added («Il regio talamo») and the Aria Alì was suppressed. A comparison of the libretto with secondary sources (the London copy and the Ricordi score, as well as the manuscript libretto in the Ricordi Archive) shows that the latter do not derive directly from the Pesaro autograph but represent a branch of the tradition from Lisbon. In particular, the Ricordi score, which was for a long time the only means through which Adina became known, presents the opera as it was performed in 1826, and is the only source that preserves the music of the chorus «Il regio talamo». Although it does not belong to the original conception of the opera, and although it is certainly not by Rossini, this Chorus has been reproduced in the Appendix as evidence of Adina’s only ascertained historical performance.