‘Il n'ya qu'un Paris au monde, et j'y reviendrai planter mon drapeau!': Rossini's second grand opéra
Everist, Mark (2009) ‘Il n'ya qu'un Paris au monde, et j'y reviendrai planter mon drapeau!': Rossini's second grand opéra. Music & Letters, 90, (4), 636-672. (doi:10.1093/ml/gcp079 ).
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When Rossini left Paris in 1836, he left a city with which he had been closely associated for nearly fifteen years. But he also departed with the nagging sense that Paris was owed more than the single grand opéra represented by Guillaume Tell, an obligation that emerged anew in the early 1840s. The Paris premiere of the revised version of the Stabat mater in 1842 laid the ground for Rossini's return to the city in the following year. Expectations that he was coming to Paris to provide a successor to Guillaume Tell were not matched by Rossini's own ambitions: to consult with the world-famous urologist Jean Civiale. While a wide range of new Rossini endeavours were mooted for the Académie Royale de Musique—translations of La donna del lago, Semiramide, and L’italiana in Algeri—none came to fruition. The question of Rossini's second grand opéra continued in the background alongside various rumours of new works—an opera based on Jeanne d’Arc and one on a new libretto by Scribe—the concrete results were a French translation of Othello (1844) and the pasticcio Robert Bruce (1846). In 1844, a statue of Rossini was proposed for the foyer of the Académie Royale de Musique in the Salle Le Peletier, and it was inaugurated in 1846. Rossini was the only living composer to be so honoured, a fact that triggered a number of discourses—formal and informal—that equated Rossini's creative silence with death.
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