We quote an opinion also from another able authority: “The drama of ’Gli Orazi’ is taken from Corneille’s tragedy ‘Les Horaces.’ The music is full of noble simplicity, beautiful melody, and strong expression. In the airs dramatic truth is never sacrificed to vocal display, and the concerted pieces are grand, broad, and effective. Taken as a whole, the piece is free from antiquated and obsolete forms; and it wants nothing but an orchestral score of greater fullness and variety to satisfy the modern ear. It is still frequently performed in Germany, though in France and England, and even in its native country, it seems to be forgotten.”
Cardinal Consalvi, Cimarosa’s friend, caused splendid funeral honors to be paid to him at Rome. Canova executed a marble bust of him, which was placed in the gallery of the Capitol.
The “Swan of Pesaro” is a name linked with some of the most charming musical associations of this age. Though forty years silence made fruitless what should have been the richest creative period of Rossini’s life, his great works, poured forth with such facility, and still retaining their grasp in spite of all changes in public opinion, stamp him as being the most gifted composer ever produced by a country so fecund in musical geniuses. The old set forms of Italian opera had already yielded in large degree to the energy and pomp of French declamation, when Rossini poured into them afresh such exhilaration and sparkle as again placed his country in the van of musical Europe. With no pretension to the grand, majestic, and severe, his fresh and delightful melodies, flowing without stint, excited alike the critical and the unlearned into a species of artistic craze, a mania which has not yet subsided. The stiff and stately Oublicheff confesses, with many compunctions of conscience, that, when listening for the first time to one of Rossini’s operas, he forgot for the time being all that he had ever known, admired, played, or sung, for he was musically drunk, as if with champagne. Learned Germans might shake their heads and talk about shallowness and contrapuntal rubbish, his crescendo and stretto passages, his tameness and uniformity even in melody, his want of artistic finish; but, as Richard Wagner, his direct antipodes, frankly confesses in his “Oper und Drama,” such objections were dispelled by Rossini’s opera-airs as if they were mere delusions of the fancy. Essentially different from Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, or even Weber, with whom he has some affinities, he stands a unique figure in the history of art, an original both as man and musician.
Gioacchino Rossini was the son of a town-trumpeter and an operatic singer of inferior rank, born in Pesaro, Romagna, February 29, 1792. The child attended the itinerant couple in their visits to fairs and musical gatherings, and was in danger, at the age of seven, of becoming a thorough-paced little vagabond, when maternal alarm trusted his education to the friendly hands of the music-master Prinetti. At this tender age even he had been introduced to the world of art, for he sang the part of a child at the Bologna opera.