Gioachino Rossini: Mosè in Egitto 

Critical edition by Charles S. Brauner

Rossini Critical Edition Principal characteristics of the critical edition:

Mosè in Egitto is the fourth opera that Rossini composed for the theatres in Naples. It went on stage for the first time on 5 March 1818. Not all the music was composed by Rossini, who for the occasion made use of the collaboration of a number of local musicians (including Michele Carafa). On at least three other subsequent occasions Rossini was involved more or less marginally in revivals of the opera: in Naples, in March 1819, and again in the spring of the following year; and in Paris, in at least one of the many revivals that the opera had in the 1820s. In the face of such a complex tradition, the critical edition of Mosè in Egitto:





  • presents as the principal text for the opera the version that is still consultable in the form of the autograph score. This reflects the state of the text in 1820, the year of the last important revision on the part of Rossini. In particular:
    • Faraone’s Aria «Cade dal ciglio il velo» (No. 4) composed by Rossini for this revival is incorporated into the base text in place of the original aria «A rispettarmi apprenda» (No. 4a) by Michele Carafa, reproduced in Appendix I;
    • the third act of the opera is presented in the version already composed by Rossini in 1819 (the one including the famous prayer «Dal tuo stellato soglio») in place of the original finale of 1818 which no musical source maintains and which is known to us only thanks to the libretto printed for that production;

  • although almost certainly cut in the production of 1820, Amaltea’s Aria «La pace mia smarrita» (No.7) is included in the principal text of the edition, because it is present in the autograph score of the opera.

  • In Appendix II the edition reproduces an alternative version of the concluding bars of the recitative after the Duet (No. 3) composed by Rossini on the occasion of an as yet unidentified revival of the opera in Paris with the aim of making it possible to perform the subsequent Faraone’s Aria «A rispettarmi apprenda» (No. 4a, music by Michele Carafa) a semitone higher. This autograph version was tracked down inside a manuscript copy of the opera conserved in the National Library in Paris.

  • In Appendix III the edition reproduces the Ritornello per il Quartettino (No. 8), a short piece for piano composed by Rossini in 1866. The composer wrote this fragment on the occasion of the chamber orchestra performance of the entire piece to be held in his home in Paris in the course of one of his famous Samedis soir.

  • The edition emends the errors and inconsistencies in Rossini’s autograph score and restores the musical text to its original state. In particular, it resolves the many problems posed by the non-autograph music in this source which, as in the case of many of Rossini’s other autographs, is not completely attributable to the hand of the composer himself. In particular:
    • it presents a philologically accurate version of the non-autograph recitatives (the one after No. 3 in the first act and all the ones in the second act) thanks to the study of the secondary sources. In the critical commentary it also raises the possibility of transposing the tonality of these recitatives so as to better tie them in with the self-contained pieces that they are placed between;
    • it reconstructs the parts for trumpets and horns for Amaltea’s Aria (No. 7) missing in the body of the score most probably because they were attached by the copyist to an ancillary score that has since gone missing. The reconstruction has been conducted on the basis of the secondary sources for Mosè in Egitto that preserve the aria and a number of copies of Ciro in Babilonia, the opera from which Rossini drew the aria. The critical edition also presents an appropriate part for the bassoons, written in an imprecise manner in the sources.

  • At the end of the principal text the edition offers the autograph instrumentation for the stage band for the Preghiera (No. 12), the only case of its kind in Rossini’s entire opera output. It provides for the use of:
    • 1 piccolo in D Flat;
    • 1 soprano clarinet in E Flat;
    • 2 clarinets I in B Flat;
    • 2 clarinets II in B Flat;
    • 2 horns in E Flat;
    • 2 trumpets in C;
    • 1 trumpet in B Flat;
    • 1 trumpet in G;
    • 2 trombones;
    • 1 serpent;
    • 1 bass drum