Gioachino Rossini: La Cenerentola ossia La bontà in trionfo

Rossini Critical Edition

Edited by Alberto Zedda (1998)

Two-volume score pp. LIX, 1115 + critical commentary pp. 216
GR 21
Piano vocal score available
CP 131821

The first performance of Cenerentola took place in Rome at the Teatro Valle on 25 January 1817. Because of the extremely limited time available to compose the work, Rossini decided to make use of the help of the Roman musician Luca Agolini, entrusting to him the composition of the dry recitatives and three numbers of the opera (No. 6, Alidoro’s Aria «Vasto teatro è il mondo»; No. 8, the Introduction (Chorus of Kinghts) «Ah! Della bella incognita»; and No. 15, Clorinda’s Aria «Sventurata! Mi credea»). The three pieces are included in the principal text of the edition which thus faithfully reproduces the opera as it went on stage in its premiere.

The principal source of the critical edition is the autograph manuscript that for the most part contains music that Rossini and his collaborators composed for the first performance in Rome in 1817. To this can be added – among the major sources – four other autographs by Rossini:

  • The autograph manuscript of the opera La gazzetta, the sinfonia of which was imported directly into La Cenerentola without making provision for a new score. Rossini, however, did add an extended part for trombone. The self-borrowing of the sinfonia is described in detail in the preface (the section Historical Notes – Self-borrowings) and in the relevant critical notes.
  • The autograph of Alidoro’s Scene and Aria «Là del ciel nell’arcano profondo» (No. 6a), composed by Rossini for the revival of the opera at the Teatro Apollo in Rome in 1820. In 1821 the bass Gioachino Moncada was cast for the carnival season and Rossini – in Rome to prepare Matilde di Shabran at the same theatre – did not pass up the chance to compose for the singer a new scene and aria which replaced the one previously composed by Agolini. No. 6a is reproduced in Appendix II.
  • The autograph of a group of variations and cadences for Cenerentola’s Rondò (No. 16). The variants are reproduced in Appendix I.
  • The autograph of a vocal variant for Bars 165-169 of Cenerentola and Ramiro’s Duet (No. 3). The variant is reproduced in the score at the bottom of the page.

So far as the pieces composed by Agolini are concerned, the principal sources for the dry recitatives and for Clorinda’s Aria (No. 15) are the manuscript pages contained in Rossini’s autograph. The autographs of No. 6 (in Rossini’s manuscript replaced by an aria by an unknown composer «Fa silenzio, odi un rumore», added in 1818) and No. 8 have not been found, so this edition has adopted as the principal source a manuscript kept in the Biblioteca di Santa Cecilia in Rome, the sole source containing the Chorus of Knights.

As secondary sources for the realisation of the edition particular attention has been paid to the manuscript extracts that offer interesting performance suggestions like cadences and variations. Finally, the printed reductions for voice and piano have proved extremely important; not only do these provide precious information on the music practice of the era but they also often offer effective corrections of errors and re-workings of problematic passages.

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 recount of the outcome of the first performance. To these is added an important section on the most important revivals of Cenerentola  - following the premiere and up to 1830 - which makes it possible to reconstruct the most important changes made to the structure of the opera in the years immediately following its first performance:

  • Naples, Teatro del Fondo, 1818. Although there is no evidence testifying to Rossini’s direct participation in this production, it appears highly likely that he did have a role given the close ties that he had at the time with the impresario Domenico Barbaja. For this reason the editor has chosen to reproduce in Appendix III of the critical commentary the literary text of the libretto prepared for the revival, which makes provision for the translation of the part of Don Magnifico into Neapolitan dialect. The translation did not entail any musical changes within the self-contained numbers, but some recitatives were modified in the structure. Since no manuscript containing these recitatives has been found, it has not been possible to include in the edition any musical material pertaining to this revival.
  • Rome, Teatro Valle and Teatro Apollo, 1818. Rossini did not have any role on this occasion, but this production nevertheless remains important for two reasons: firstly, the librettist Ferretti made a number of major changes to the much-criticised libretto of the premiere; and secondly, the revival led to the inclusion in the autograph of the aria of unknown authorship «Fa silenzio, odi un rumore»  in place of Alidoro’s Aria «Vasto teatro è il mondo» (No. 6), composed by Agolini.
  • Paris, Théâtre-Italien, 1822. During these performances the part of Cenerentola was sung by the soprano Emilia Bonini, whose vocal tessitura was significantly higher than that of the first interpreter Geltrude Righetti-Giorgi. In the critical notes to No. 16 the edition includes the vocal variants with the tessitura adapted for soprano in the Finale II.

The introduction to the score (the section Particular problems) deals with a number of problematic questions relating to Rossini’s writing (rhythmic inconsistencies between the note of the bass and voice and that of the other instruments at the end of phrases, the inappropriateness of certain rhythmic formulas, abbreviations, changes and corrections, embellishments and appoggiaturas, and dry recitatives), the instrumentation (with particular attention to the horns and trumpets, the flutes and piccolos, the base drum, the drums and timpani, and the trombone), and the vocal parts. Finally, a final section provides useful advice on how to effect possible cuts or add pieces in a modern production of the opera.