Gioachino Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia 

Critical edition by Alberto Zedda

Rossini Critical Edition Principal differences between the critical edition and the existing versions of the score:

The critical edition is based on the classic edition edited by Alberto Zedda and published by Casa Ricordi in 1969. The opera has been entirely revised in the light of new and previously unpublished sources and updated on the basis of philological criteria that have emerged over the years since the publication of the Edizione critica delle opere di Gioachino Rossini. 

The critical edition emends the errors and inconsistencies in the sources and restores the musical text to its original state. It discusses in the critical commentary and provides solutions in the score to recurrent problems in the interpretation of Rossini’s autograph that have generated different and at times erroneous readings in the existing versions.

The principal source for the critical edition is the autograph manuscript which for the most part contains music composed by Rossini and his collaborators (who wrote almost all the recitatives) for the first performance in Rome in 1816. The autograph does not contain the score of the sinfonia; instead, bound to the beginning of the first volume, is a manuscript copy of the part for cellos and double basses that clearly derives from the sinfonia of Aureliano in Palmira, itself already revised and reworked by Rossini for Elisabetta regina d’Inghilterra. To define the text of the sinfonia, then, the editor took into consideration three separate sources: Aureliano in Palmira (the autograph of which has not come down to us), Elisabetta regina d’Inghilterra, and the manuscript and printed copies of the Barbiere di Siviglia that contain the sinfonia. Following a careful examination of these sources, the editor chose to consider as the principal source the manuscript copy of the only sinfonia bearing the seal of Cencetti (official copyist at the Teatro Argentina), considered the closest to what Rossini wrote. Other major sources include other autograph sources bearing witness to variants and cadences composed by Rossini on various occasions, all relating to the part of Rosina and reproduced in Appendix I. The manuscript copies, on the other hand – often held to be of limited use in the resolution of textual and philological problems posed by the autograph – have been used as the principal sources for those pieces in respect of which it was not possible to refer to the autograph, as in the case of «Ah s’è ver» (No. 14bis), and have played an extremely important role in the reconstruction of the traditional versions of the opera. Finally, the printed musical sources have proved useful to the extent that, on the one hand, they advance effective corrections and re-workings of problematic passages in the vocal parts and, on the other, offer invaluable information on the performance practice of the era.

The preface to the score (the section Historical notes) contains a detailed reconstruction of the genesis of the libretto and the music, a section dedicated to the self-borrowings in the original text, and a detailed report of the outcome of the first performance. To these is added an important section on the most important revivals of the Barbiere which makes it possible to reconstruct the most important changes made to the structure of the opera in the years immediately following:

Bologna, Teatro Contavalli, 1816. Even though Rossini did not have any role in the first revival of the opera, it remains particularly important from the point of view of the history of the tradition of the opera because it was precisely on this occasion that there took place the principal alterations and the principal cuts that were taken up again in subsequent years. Specifically:

The Count’s Canzone «Se il mio nome saper voi bramate» (No.3) was cut.
Rosina’s Aria «Contro un cor che accende amore» (No. 11) was replaced by «La mia pace, la mia calma» by an unknown composer. The composer of this piece kept the tempo di mezzo as originally written by Rossini for No. 11. The aria and the section of the recitative after the Count and Bartolo’s Duet – modified to introduce a new number – are reproduced in Appendix III.
The recitative with instruments «Il Conte! Ah, che mai sento!...» and the Count’s Aria «Cessa di più resistere» (No. 17) was sung by Righetti-Giorgi, thus passing from the character of the Count to that of Rosina. This version of the aria, transposed to F Major, is reproduced in Appendix III. 
Florence, Teatro della Pergola, 1816. Although there are no direct and reliable testimonies as to the involvement of Rossini, this revival remains important nonetheless due to the replacement in it of «A un dottor della mia sorte» (No. 8) with «Manca un foglio» (No. 8a), written by Pietro Romani. Romani’s aria is reproduced in Appendix IV.

Naples, Teatro la Fenice, 1818. During these performances the dry recitatives were replaced by prose dialogues and the part of Don Bartolo was translated into Neapolitan dialect.

Venice, Teatro San Samuele, 1819. For this theatre’s carnival season the soprano Joséphine Fedor Mainville was cast in the role of Rosina and Rossini decided to write for her an aria – the Recitative «Ma forse, ohimé» and Rosina’s Aria «Ah s’è ver» (No. 14bis) –  reproduced in Appendix II.

Appendix I contains Rossini’s autograph vocal variants for Rosina’s Cavatina (No. 5),  Figaro and Rossina’s Duet (No. 7), and the Trio (No. 16).

The introduction to the score (The section Particular problems) deals with some problematic questions relating to Rossini’s notation (rhythmic inconsistencies between the note of the bass and voice and that of the other instruments at the conclusion of phrases, the inappropriateness of certain rhythmic formulas, abbreviations, changes and corrections, and the treatment of passages marked “As above”), the instrumentation (with particular attention to the guitar, double basses, sistrums, bass drum, thunder, stage noises, the Turkish band, and the harpsichord/piano), the vocal parts (Rossina, and Lisa/Berta), the ornamentation, the embellishments, and the dry recitatives. A final section provides useful suggestions on how to effect possible cuts in a modern production of the opera.