Gioachino Rossini: L'equivoco stravagante 

Critical edition by Marco Beghelli and Stefano Piana

Rossini Critical Edition Principal characteristics of the critical edition:

The critical edition of L’equivoco stravagante (The Bizarre Misunderstanding) is the first to be realised for a Rossini opera whose autograph manuscript has not come down to us. The study of the secondary sources has made it possible to identify two versions of the opera:

the first version, prepared by Rossini before the beginning of the rehearsals for the first 19th century production of the opera and before the intervention of the censors, and testified to by a single manuscript held today in Paris at the Bibliothèque nationale de France;

the second version, corresponding to the text that actually went on stage in Bologna in 1811, the fruit of a great deal of reworking due to extensive interventions on the part of the censors and to a number of problems tied to the realisation of that production (such as, for example, the less than perfect physical condition of the tenor Berti, the interpreter of the role of Ermanno). Specifically, this second version of the opera contains:
  • a syrupy rendering of the verses of the Chorus in the tempo di mezzo of Ernestina’s Cavatina (No. 4; Bars 64 – 81);
  • a simplified version (compared to the original) of the part for 1st and 2nd Violins in the stretta of the Quartet (No. 6; Bars 174, 178, 182, and 186);
  • an alternative musical version of Bars 44-61 in Ernestina and Ermanno’s Duet (No. 9), simplified in the instrumental accompaniment and three bars longer compared to the original (reproduced in Appendix II);
  • a different version of the conclusion of the recitative after No. 8 (Bars 50-52). 

In addition, the following bars are cut:

  • Bars 151-153 of Ernestina’s Cavatina (No. 4);
  • Bars 24-47 of the recitative after No. 6;
  • Bars 50-106 of the Finale Primo (No. 10);
  • Bars 99-118 of Ermanno’s Orchestrated Recitative and Aria (No. 14);
  • the bars from 28/III to 35/IV of the recitative after No. 14;
  • Bars 79-82 and 84-100 of the Quintet (No. 15);
  • Bars 1-6 of the recitative after No. 16. 

The principal text of the edition, then, is the first version of the opera, prior to the intervention of the censors. Nonetheless, all the variants introduced in view of the premiere of the opera are recorded in the extensive critical commentary, signalled in the footnotes throughout the score and in one case (Bars 44-61 of Ernestina and Ermanno’s Duet (No. 9); cf. above) reproduced in Appendix II, so as to make it possible for the modern interpreter to perform it.

In addition, in the extensive preface to the score (in the section Elementi editoriali (Editing considerations)) there is a detailed discussion of all the problems of a philological and performing nature tied to every single musical number of the opera. In particular, the edition:

  • discusses problems tied to the uncertainty about which sinfonia should open the opera. After establishing that the lost autograph manuscript of the opera almost certainly did not contain any opening instrumental piece, the editors provide in the principal text the sinfonia testified to by a complete set of separate parts conserved in the collection of the Accademia Filarmonica in Ravenna. This piece is nothing other than a reworking of the well-known sinfonia of La cambiale di matrimonio, a piece which, in its turn, is a reworking of the youthful sinfonia in E Flat Major that Rossini composed during his years at the Bologna Music High School. Appendix I, on the other hand, contains the sinfonia at the beginning of the Paris manuscript, a piece almost certainly not by Rossini. Finally, by way of providing all the relevant documentation, the appendix also contains as an attachment an anastatic copy of a further sinfonia (a reduction for piano) testified to in the reduction for solo piano of the entire opera prepared in Vienna in 1826 by M. J. Leidersdorf;
  • clarifies doubts tied to the presumed substitute cavatina for the character of Buralicchio, almost certainly never performed in the course of the first production of the opera in place of the original No. 2 of the score;
  • discusses the use of the flautino (a transverse flute a minor third higher than an ordinary flute – cfr. instrumentation) in the course of the Introduction to Act II (No. 11) and provides the modern interpreter with suggestions about its replacement with a flute and/or piccolo, in the event that such a rare instrument is not available;
  • provides the modern interpreter with general information regarding historically informed performance practice, with particular attention to the numerical rapport between the cellos and double basses, the choice of instruments in the accompaniment of secco recitative, stylistically appropriate prosodic appoggiaturas to insert in the contour of the vocal lines, and the practice of introducing variants and embellishments (those for Ernestina's Recitative and Rondò with Choruses, N. 18, which appear in a manuscript owned by Isabella Colbran, are reproduced in their entirety in the critical commentary).