Gioachino Rossini: Tancredi

Rossini Critical Edition

Edited by Philip Gossett (1984)

Two-volume score pp. XLIX, 818 + critical commentary pp. 299
GR 04
Study score available
PR 1397
Piano vocal score available
CP 132572

The principal advantage offered by the critical edition is that it presents in a single publication all the music that Rossini composed for this opera. In fact, the composer personally prepared three different versions of Tancredi:

  • Venice, Teatro La Fenice (6 February 1813);
  • Ferrara, Teatro Comunale (21 March 1813);
  • Milan, Teatro Re (18 December 1813).

None of these has found a place in the existing (traditional) editions of the score which in most cases present a “mixed” version never prepared by the composer.

Venice version
This is the version found in the principal text of the edition. It gathers together all the music that was performed on the evening of the very first performance of the opera; in particular it presents the original version of the Gran Scena di Tancredi (No. 16) absent in all the existing editions. The opera concludes with the so-called ‘finale lieto’ (Finale II «Fra quai soavi palpiti» (No. 17)).

Ferrara version
A few weeks after its opening in Venice, Rossini revived the opera in Ferrara composing a number of new pieces and effecting cuts and substitutions as well as approving the insertion of music not composed by himself. All the specifications relating to the staging of this version are provided in the preface to the score and in the critical commentary. Appendix III provides the newly composed musical pieces, with the new finale – the so-called ‘finale tragico’ –, presented here for the first time (none of the existing versions present it) following the discovery of Rossini’s autograph in a private library. This finale represents one of the most important musicological discoveries of last century and offers a surprising perspective on the personality and musical output of the young Rossini.

Milan version
Rossini almost certainly oversaw the subsequent revival of Tancredi for the inauguration of the Teatro Re in Milan in December 1813. In this case too numerous adjustments were made to the score, all pointed out in the preface and in the critical commentary. Appendix IV provides the newly composed musical pieces.

In the face of such a large number of variants, a guide to the staging of Tancredi is offered in the prefix so as to help modern interpreters to correctly realise one of the composer’s three versions or an ‘intermediate’ version according to the spirit and aesthetic conceptions of the era. The vast range of possibilities offered to performers is the fruit of a deep and systematic study of the contemporary sources and as such it makes it possible to realise a range of performance outcomes all philologically correct and plausible.

Finally, a large number of autograph vocal variants are published in Appendixes I and V, a useful guide for modern performers. The critical commentary also includes for every number of the score the most significant vocal variants not ascribable to Rossini but found in the principal musical sources of the era