Sunday, May 02, 2010


I came to Rossini late in life. I had seen Barbiere and Cenerentola, of course, and even The Italian Girl in Algiers, but they made no great impression. It seemed like singing just to show off, something that has never moved me.

I was most impressed when Caballé and Horne came to San Francisco to present Semiramide. Only the absurd costumes blunted the full effect.

Then came the passionate explosion of Bartoli's Rossini Heroines. My enthusiasm knew no bounds. She was 26 and had already recorded two Rossini albums. What sets this album apart is the stylistic perfection and maturity in one so young. I wondered how to account for this, and found the answer in the book Divas and Scholars. The album represents the joining of two musical minds: Cecilia Bartoli and Philip Gossett.

His influence can also be heard in Joyce DiDonato's recent Colbran album. I know that he also advises Juan Diego Florez.

Now this glorious Armida traces its stylistic sophistication back to him. All who would be Rossini singers make the pilgrimage to Chicago. Or perhaps to Rome, since he teaches there, too.

These singers, young and more established, come to the music with such incredible self-confidence. They come to the music with their individual personalities not only intact but enhanced and established through the individuality of their ornamentation. Each is true to himself and to Rossini.

I am starting to wonder what more wonderful thing could happen than the revival of interest in Rossini, especially serious Rossini. There can never be too much Rossini.

Dr. Gossett's life in music is an extraordinary one and certainly extends beyond notes on the page to living music. I want to express my gratitude.

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