Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gioachino Rossini: A New Italian Opera Tradition

During the early 19th-century, several Italian opera composers went about creating a new Italian opera tradition. One such composer, Gioachino Rossini, made it his goal to depict characters on stage as real human beings. Like Mozart, he also often times combined serious and comic characters within the same opera.

Rossini often focused his opera composition on the voice. He believed the voice to be more important than the opera’s plot, the staging, orchestration, etc. He required a style of singing we call “bel canto” (beautiful singing). Singers were expected to use their entire range with ease, singing in a beautiful, soaring, and effortless manner.

You may notice when you hear Rossini on WGUC that many of his pieces sound fun and tuneful. He also often tended to enjoy repeating musical phrases, making it louder each time to add to audiences’ excitement. This became known as the “Rossini crescendo.” Rossini also furthered the plot by adding plot twists or changes in mood within arias or duets.

Here is an excerpt from one of Rossini’s famous operas, The Barber of Seville
Notice how Rosina’s singing style changes throughout the scene. In your opinion, how does this compare to other operas we’ve looked at thus far?


  1. I listened to Kathleen. I like the changing style throughout the piece.

    After watching that piece, I listened to Kathleen sing "O Mio babbino caro" and listened to four other divas. Kathleen has the best voice. What a shame she couldn't keep her diva tendencies in check.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Tom. I certainly agree. Did you know that Kathleen Battle actually attended music school at CCM right here in Cincinnati?