Gioachino Rossini: Sigismondo

Rossini Critical Edition

Edited by Paolo Pinamonti (2010)

Two-volume score pp. LX, 657 + critical commentary pp. 168
GR 36

The critical edition of Sigismondo was realised on the basis of the autograph score of the opera, today held in the Archivio di Casa Ricordi in Milan, and it restores the musical text of the opera as it was prepared by Rossini in view of the premiere of the opera in Venice in December 1814. All the problems tied to the correct reading of Rossini’s manuscript are resolved in the text of the score and are amply discussed in the critical commentary. In addition to the usual procedure of correcting obvious errors and resolving vertical incongruities of rhythms or dynamics, the editor provides information on performance practices related to the markings of trills, tremolos and vibratos in the parts of the strings, timpani and horns and to the unusual slurs extending over rests.

Close attention is given to the description of the numerous cuts indicated by Rossini throughout the autograph score. The majority of these were inserted by the composer in the composition phase, during the rehearsals, and in the course of the additional performances in the first production in Venice. The editor offers a detailed account of all these interventions in the introductory section of the critical commentary, thus providing the modern interpreter with a well-founded guide to possible cuts to effect in the performance context.

Appendix I provides Aldimira and Sigismondo’s Duet «Se ricuso i doni tuoi» (No. 12a), composed by Rossini to replace the original Aldimira and Sigismondo’s Duet «Tomba di morte e orrore» (No. 12) and bound to the back of the second volume of the autograph score. Rossini probably composed this alternative piece in the course of the additional performances in the first production in Venice in order to lighten the vocal load of the two female interpreters.

The preface to the score (the section Notizie storiche (Historical notes)) contains a meticulous reconstruction of the genesis of the libretto and the music, a section dedicated to self-borrowings present in the original text, and a detailed account of the outcome of the first representation. It also includes an important section on the 19th century revivals of Sigismondo that makes it possible to reconstruct the most important changes effected to the structure of the opera in the years immediately following. Particular attention is given to the first 19th century revival of the opera, which took place in Cremona (in the carnival season of 1819) and in respect of which it cannot be totally ruled out that Rossini himself played some (albeit indirect) role.

The verbal text has been derived principally from the autograph score. When this source is incomplete or patently wrong the editor relies on the printed libretto published on the occasion of the premiere in Venice, the source from which the stage directions and the description of the scenery, almost totally absent in the autograph score, have been drawn.