Gioachino Rossini: L’occasione fa il ladro

Rossini Critical Edition

Edited by Philip Gossett, Giovanni Carli Ballola, Patrycia B. Brauner (1994)

One-volume score pp. XXXIX, 544 + critical commentary pp. 107
GR 13
Piano vocal score available
CP 134552

L’occasione fa il ladro is the fourth of the five farse composed by Rossini in Venice between 1810 and 1813; the opera went on stage at the Teatro di San Moisè on 24 November 1812. The critical edition emends the errors and inconsistencies in the sources and restores the musical text to its original state.

The edition contains all the music performed in the course of the first performance of the opera taking as its principal source the autograph manuscript that contains all the musical numbers written by Rossini and the dry recitatives prepared, according to the usual practice of the time, by an unknown collaborator.

The critical edition reconstructs with particular attention the original texts of the dry recitatives. In the autograph score these have undergone numerous interventions (markings of cuts, insertion of pieces of paper to cover portions of the musical text, etc.) subsequent to their initial compilation with the intention of indicating what were in all likelihood changes tied to the performance history of the opera. The most important changes are published and commented on in the critical commentary.

The editors dealt with a further issue connected to the reconstruction of the original dry recitatives: the verbal text contained in the libretto printed on the occasion of the first performance does not correspond to that which was actually intoned by Rossini’s unknown collaborator; probably the collaborator composed the recitatives on a preliminary version of the text, later modified in the printed libretto. This difference has generated numerous misunderstandings and errors (as well as opening the door to numerous awkward attempts to render the two tests uniform) both in the secondary sources of the time and in more recent editions. The critical edition re-establishes the original reading.

Finally, the edition clarifies the vocal register of the character of Martino. Rossini wrote the role for the basso buffo Filippo Spada, but the unknown composer of the recitatives always notated the part in the tenor key. The critical edition therefore transcribes all the recitatives into the bass key (without modifying their range, which gravitates towards the central register of the voice and can thus be adapted without difficulty to a basso buffo) thus adopting the vocal register chosen by Rossini.

The historical introduction, in addition to the usual reconstruction of the genesis and performance history of the opera, provides a section dedicated to particular problems of a performance nature. It deals with the issue of the re-writing of the parts of the flutes in some passages of the Quintet (No. 4). It’s probable that Rossini put his hand to the orchestration again during the rehearsals of the opera. Thus, the critical edition publishes the revised version in the principal text, but in the critical commentary presents the transcription of the preceding version.