Center for Italian Opera Studies takes opera scholarship from page to stage

A Rossini autograph manuscript in the Regenstein, Special Collections, Codex Manuscripts obl Ms637, which contains variants for the Rondo finale of La Cenerentola.

In 2010, CIAO has continued its long standing tradition of synthesizing research and performance through the publication of new scores, collaboration with leading opera companies, and additional research towards future publications and productions.

In the 2009-2010 season, the Metropolitan Opera mounted new productions of two operas using scores edited by CIAO – Verdi’s Attila (ed. Helen Greenwald, University of Chicago Press and Casa Ricordi) and Rossini’s Armida (ed. Charles S. Brauner and Patricia B. Brauner, Fondazione Rossini Pesaro). The Pierre Audi production of Attila was the opera’s premier performance at the Met, and also marked the much anticipated Met debut of acclaimed Verdi conductor Riccardo Muti. Mary Zimmerman’s production of Rossini’s Armida featured Renée Fleming in the title role, and was also a Met premier for the work. Armida was broadcast as part of the Peabody and Emmy Award-Winning “The Met: Live in HD” series which reached over 2.4 million viewers last opera season in 1,200 movie theatres world-wide.

Chicago Opera Theatre (COT) mounted a new production of Rossini’s opera seria Mosè in Egitto (ed. Charles S. Brauner, Fondazione Rossini Pesaro), a work which has not been performed locally since 1863. With COT, Philip Gossett hosted a round table discussion along with editor Charles Brauner and musicologists Roberta Marvin (University of Iowa) and Jesse Rosenberg (Northwestern University). The panel was joined by Mosè director Andrew Eggert and conductor Leonardo Vordoni. The symposium was broadcast on WBEZ 91.5 and the podcast can be accessed online

The The Royal Opera House’s critically acclaimed 2009 production of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (ed. Patricia B. Brauner, Bärenreiter – Verlag) was recently released on DVD. The vibrant and youthful production features an ideal cast including Joyce di Donato, Juan Diego Florez, and Alessandro Corbelli, and can be purchased online at amazon.com.

The first critical edition published by CIAO in 2010 was Rossini’s Petite Messe solennelle (ed. Patricia B. Brauner and Philip Gossett, Bärenreiter – Verlag) which received high praise from classicstoday.com: “[T]hey offer all of the material that artists will need to make their own decisions, while offering perfectly reasonable and practical suggestions on how this material might best be used. This is so different, and so refreshing, as compared to what we find in some recent and purportedly critical editions.” ( http://www.classicstoday.com/features/RossiniMesse.pdf, p. 4) CIAO also published study score and piano-vocal score companions to its previously published Il barbiere di Siviglia (ed. Patricia B. Brauner, Bärenreiter – Verlag). The study score offers an accessibly affordable full-score printing of Rossini’s most famous opera. The piano-vocal scores offer singers and scholars alike the opportunity to explore Il barbiere in a beautifully bound hard-copy edition, and also present underlaid singing translations available in English or German. To ensure the piano-vocal scores were functional for singers, stage directors, accompanists, and conductors, the final editions were made in una prova al pianoforte with Philip Gossett playing while singing all of the roles in the opera (with Patricia Brauner, Stephen Raskauskas, and Claudio Vellutini joining for ensembles)!

Volumes in progress at CIAO to be published by Bärenreiter – Verlag as part of the Works of G. Rossini series include Music for Band (ed. Denise Gallo), La cambiale di matrimonio (ed. Alexandra Amati-Camperi), Songs for Voice and Piano (ed. Patricia B. Brauner and Philip Gossett), Messa di Gloria (ed. Martina Grempler), Sei sonate a quattro (ed. Daniela Macchione), Sigismondo (ed. Domingos Mascarenhas), and Maometto II (ed. Hans Schellevis). Paris-based musicologist Damien Colas joins CIAO this September as a visiting scholar in order to complete the final stages of his much anticipated edition of Le comte Ory.

Stephen Raskauskas and Claudio Vellutini working with Rossini sources at CIAO

Research Assistants Stephen Raskauskas and Claudio Vellutini have joined CIAO and continue in the Center’s strong tradition of bringing opera scholarship from page to stage. Both contribute their skills as musicologists and performers in order to assist in the production of practical yet scholarly critical editions. Claudio Vellutini is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Music who earned his BA (2004) and MA (2007) in Musicology at the University of Pavia, Italy, and his Violin Diploma (2004) at the Istituto “Claudio Monteverdi” (Cremona, Italy). Professionally, he has collaborated with the Early Music Festival “Claudio Monteverdi” (Cremona), Festival Pergolesi (Jesi), and Festival della Valle dell’Itria (Martina Franca). Stephen Raskauskas, who earned his BA in music from the Department of Music in 2008, has collaborated with many of Chicago’s leading arts organizations from the Lyric Opera of Chicago to the Goodman Theatre. Since joining CIAO he has produced three stage works with the Department of Cultural Affair’s Summer Opera (Handel’s Acis and Galateai), with DePaul Opera Theatre (Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria), and with the Building Stage (Wagner’s Ring Cycle). Also this year, he helped produce the very first Chicago Early Music Festival in conjunction with Department of Cultural Affairs, participated in the Amherst Early Music Festival’s Winter Weekend Workshop on Telemann, and was the recipient of a Community Arts Assistance Program Grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs.

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