Gioachino Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia

Rossini Critical Edition

Edited by Alberto Zedda (1968; new revised edition, 2009)

Two-volume score pp. XLIX, 953 + two-volume critical commentary pp. 146 / 229
GR 35
Piano vocal score available
CP 139906

Ricordi, together with Fondazione Rossini in Pesaro, has published a new critical edition of The Barber of Seville. Based on the now historical edition by Alberto Zedda, this modern edition – the work of the same scholar - has been entirely revised and updated both in the light of the discovery of new, unpublished sources and in line with the philological criteria that have developed over the course of the last forty years. The original critical edition of the Barber was published by Ricordi in 1968. Alberto Zedda had put forward a series of criticisms of Ricordi’s traditional score and he convinced the publishers to invest in a new edition of the opera based on Rossini’s original manuscript as well as a number of other sources, still considered today to be fundamental. They are: the New York Public Library’s manuscript copy, the copies originating from the copyist Cencetti, now held in the Library Media Centre of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, in the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma and in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris; the Naples and Florence copies, the principle printed scores and reductions of the era, the first printed libretto and the various manuscript copies of Aureliano in Palmira, the opera in which Zedda recognised the source for the overture of the Barber.

The publication of this edition led to a revolution in the approach to the Barber vis-à-vis the late 18th century textual and performance tradition, which had overloaded the orchestration and distorted many aspects of Rossini’s original musical dictation: the articulation, the dynamics, the phraseology. The 1968 edition not only made it possible to restore to the Barber its perfect balance between voice and orchestra as well as the absolute transparency of its composition but it also made available in an authentic text the fundamental final aria of the Count, Cessa di più resistere, a recovery without which it would have been impossible to give back to the Count of Almaviva the central role in the opera that Rossini had assigned to him.

Taking this fundamental scholarly achievement as a starting point, the editor of the new critical edition published by Casa Ricordi - Fondazione Rossini has rethought and revised the whole musical text. All the sources in the archives and libraries both in Italy and abroad, the librettos and the printed sources as well as the documents relating to the history of the opera, have been analysed so as to fully define the complex lineage that lent precise form to the context in which Rossini’s masterpiece came into being and evolved, eventually winning a permanent place in the operatic repertory. The autograph sources and the most important manuscript sources, previously examined by Zedda for the first edition, have been re-examined on the basis of new research which, as well as making it possible to track down at least one hitherto unpublished and largely unknown manuscript, has also paved the way for the preparation of a text that is comprehensive both from the point of view of the musician and the musicologist. In this way, in addition to the original text and the authentic versions, it has been possible to reconstruct the interpretative history of the opera: besides the new edition makes fully available that precious array of original variations that Rossini composed for various interpreters. These include the variations for the cavatina Una voce poco fa originally composed by Rossini for the singer Matilde Juva in 1852, the variations in the Fonds Michotte at the Brussels Conservatory and Rossini’s variations for Eugénie Rouget held in Paris.

The new edition also makes it possible to reconstruct for the first time the complete version of the opera performed at the Teatro Contavalli in Bologna in August 1816, in which Rosina sings a transposed version of the aria Cessa di resistere, entrusted in the autograph to the Count of Almaviva. Special attention has been given to the text of the overture, in view of the instrumentation problems it poses: the new edition presents the orchestral make-up that appears in the principle sources for the piece, drawing particular attention to the fact that the timpani and the bass drum are present only in the manuscripts of the principle sources of the overture deriving from Aureliano in Palmira (an opera whose original manuscript has never been found) and offering a detailed discussion of all the problems relating to the orchestration, as well as the Finale I, which presents one of the most complex and intriguing musicological problems of the opera.