Gioachino Rossini: Ermione

Rossini Critical Edition

Edited by Patricia B. Brauner and Philip Gossett (1996)

Two-volume score pp. XLVIII, 846 + critical commentary pp. 119
GR 16
Piano vocal score available
CP 134548

The critical edition of Ermione is the first and only printed score of the opera in existence. It has been realised on the basis of the autograph manuscript, today held in Paris (the Bibliothèque-Musée de l’Opéra, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France), and it restores the musical text of the opera to its state as prepared by Rossini in view of its premiere in Naples in March 1819.

All the problems tied to the correct reading of the manuscript are resolved in the text of the score and are amply discussed in the critical commentary. In addition to the usual procedure of correcting obvious errors and resolving vertical incongruities of rhythms or dynamics, the critical edition updates in line with modern practice the marking of alterations in the transposing instruments (clarinets, horns, trumpets); it proposes entrusting to the 3rd trombone the numerous ‘a solo’ passages noted by Rossini on the line in the autograph reserved for the three trombones without however providing a precise indication as to which one (or more) of the three instruments should actually perform them; it resolves the terminological ambiguity in the autograph between “Sistro” (sistrum) and “Triangolo” (triangle), terms that were equivalent for Rossini, who used them interchangeably to indicate the modern triangle.

As in other Neapolitan operas, in two numbers (No.s 5 and 9) Rossini employs a stage band for which in the autograph score he writes the music in the usual reduced, outline form on a single line. Because no source from the epoch has passed down the orchestration for these two passages, the editors do not furnish any actual realisation; instead, they provide performance materials necessary for its realisation, taking account of the instrumental make-ups of orchestras employed in two Neapolitan operas of the same period: Mosé in Egitto and La donna del lago.

In Appendix I the editors reproduce two album sheets (one realised for Maria Szymanowska, the other for August Vincent) prepared by Rossini in subsequent years and containing two versions of the melody of «Un’empia mel rapì», the central section of Ermione’s Gran Scena (No. 9). These two documents – as well as presenting important textual variants – testify to how Rossini’s interest in this opera did not wane in the years subsequent to its premiere.

The verbal text is derived principally from the autograph score. When this source is incomplete or patently wrong, the editors rely on the printed libretto published on the occasion of the premiere in Naples, the source from which the stage directions and the descriptions of the scenery, almost totally absent in the autograph score, have been derived.

The preface to the score contains a careful reconstruction of the genesis of the opera and the music as well as a section dedicated to a description of the reuse of the music of Ermione in subsequent operas and other works. An even more detailed examination of this theme is offered in Appendix II of the critical commentary.

Appendix III of the critical commentary provides a complete transcription of a precious, previously unpublished document: the scenario in which the librettist Andrea Leone Tottola planned the whole first act of the opera. This invaluable text thus makes it possible to reconstruct the phases of the elaboration of the theatrical component of the libretto.