Gioachino Rossini: La cambiale di matrimonio

Rossini Critical Edition

Edited by Eleonora di Cintio (2022)

Critical Edition | GR 49

La cambiale di matrimonio (The Marriage Contract) was Rossini’s first staged work, and enjoys a special place in the compendium of operas composed by the master from Pesaro. It appears to have been born out of murky circumstances. Word got out, much after the fact, and accounts regarding the work’s origins are rife with contradictions. The path that led to the premiere of La cambiale di matrimonio on November 3, 1810 at Teatro San Moisè in Venice was a rocky one. Rossini was just 18 at the time. His original composition may have been fine-tuned by others involved in the production, including at least one other composer and a handful of singers hired for that season.

Teatro San Moisè was known for its productions of comic operas, or farse. By the time La cambiale di matrimonio made its debut, music lovers had been congregating there for more than 150 years. However, Teatro San Moisè was by no means a darling of the local press. Indeed, at the time, not one review of La cambiale di matrimonio ever appeared. Such dearth of documentation, coupled with problems inherent to deciphering the work’s textual tradition, only adds insult to injury, inasmuch as the original manuscript of La cambiale di matrimonio has not survived – yet another Rossini manuscript that has gone the way of the winds.

It is in this context that the critical edition seeks to circumscribe the shadowy spheres that have beleaguered the history of La cambiale di matrimonio from the get-go. The editorial work provides a reconstruction that lays the groundwork for an all-new onslaught of appreciation for Rossini’s first opera. The rigor shines a light on the efficacy of Rossini’s compositional skills. The critical edition makes use of two successive Rossini scores, the first of which no doubt takes its cue from the original manuscript for La cambiale di matrimonio – probably a handwritten copy. It recaptures the essence of that fateful debut in Venice, back in 1810. Revamped are several musical sections that had been cut – by people other than Rossini, and without his consent or knowledge – once the opera began circulating.

Along with the score, the critical edition also includes material that was omitted at the world premiere in Venice, thought to be the work of Rossini himself. It comprises an alternative version of a section of the famed duet featuring the soprano and the tenor, “Tornami a dir che m’ami”, (No. 2), which until now had remained virtually unknown to devotees the world over.

WP of the critical edition: 24.11.2022 Muscat (Oman), Royal Opera House