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15 curiosities about Rossini that you (perhaps) do not know
Gioachino Rossini (Pesaro 1792 - Passy / Paris 1868), is one of the most important and famous opera players in history. His works, especially the famous Barber of Seville, never released from the repertoire, and titles such as L'italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola, Il turco in Italia, Semiramide, Guglielmo Tell are the most performed in all theaters in the world.

After a first phase that can be placed in the 40-50s of the last century, the so-called 'Rossini Renaissance ', the 'Rossinian Renaissance'was definitively consolidated with the foundation of Rossini Opera Festival of Pesaro in 1980. The festival, which takes place annually in August, proposed the performance of all 39 Rossinian operas in a critical edition. From there, many titles have taken the way of the international stages, meeting the extraordinary favor of the public.

Rossini could only celebrate 19 actual birthdays despite having lived to the age of 76 - he was born on February 29 of the leap year 1792.

Music surrounded Rossini from an early age: his father Giuseppe, known as Vivazza, a fervent supporter of the French Revolution, was a horn and trumpet player in the town band and orchestras, and his mother Anna Guidarini, a singer of a certain talent, undertook a short career (1798-1808) in the theaters of Emilia Romagna and Marche.

Rossini had a nickname that sounds curious for a composer who is the very emblem of the Italian musical style: 'the German'. This is what his fellow students of the Liceo musica di Bologna called him, because of his absolute passion for the compositions of Haydn and Mozart. It was 1806, and Rossini was then 14 years old.

He wrote his first work, le Six Sonatas to four, at 12, and his first work, Demetrius and Polybius, in the teenage years. He came to the fore as an opera composer at the age of 18 with the dazzling debut of 'The marriage bill ' at the San Moisè Theater in Venice (November 3, 1810).

In 1812 Rossini staged six operas of different genres in four important cities: in Venice, at the Teatro San Moisè, the three farces Happy deception (January 8) , The silk stair (May 9) e Opportunity makes the thief (November 24) in Ferrara the serious work Cyrus in Babylon (Teatro Comunale, March 14) in Rome the youth work Demetrius and Polybius (Teatro Valle, May 18), opera buffa in Milan The touchstone, which marked his debut at La Scala (26 September).

From then on, Rossini's career will continue at a frenetic pace - between 1810 and 1823 he will make his debut in over 30 works in the various funny, serious and semi-serious genres, and between triumphs and some sensational fiasco, Rossini will be the undisputed ruler of the scenes . He had a prodigious ease of writing (aided by a few self-loans). He claimed, probably exaggerating a little, that he had composed the Barber of Seville in just twelve days.

At 23 he became musical director of the San Carlo Theater in Naples, hired by the famous impresario Domenico Barbaja. He will hold this post from 1815 to 1822.

One of Rossini's most performed and most loved operas made its debut with a sensational fiasco: on February 20, 1816 at the Teatro Argentina in Rome the premiere of 'Barber of Seville'between mocking laughter, whistles, various accidents and a black cat crossing the stage. A cabala, as it was called then, probably organized by the supporters of the great and now old Paisiello, who had put Beumarchais' comedy to music several years earlier (1782). Although at the time it was customary to write new operas on libretto and plots already used by other composers, the fact that the twenty-four year old Rossini was Barber shop, it seemed an affront to the famous master. To give support were probably also some troublemakers paid by the impresario of the competitor Teatro Valle (where on December 26th another Rossini opera had made its debut with little success, Torvaldo and Dorliska), worried about any successes of the Argentina Theater. . .

The following evening, however, the opera was much applauded and began its triumphal journey that still makes it one of the most represented works in the world. Rossini, who had directed the premiere, had given himself sick and did not show up in the theater. They went to take him home to take him in triumph.

Rossini married twice, but had no children. The first marriage was celebrated in 1822, with the singer and composer Isabella Colbran, prima donna of the San Carlo Theater, eight years older than him. They remained together until 1830, and legally separated in 1837. In 1832 Rossini met the model and courtesan Olympe Pélissier, with whom he began a relationship. They lived together in Paris and Italy, and married in 1846, a year after Isabella Colbran's death.

Rossini was so famous and loved throughout Europe that the great French writer Stendhal dedicated a biography to him when he was not yet 32 years old. The famous'Vie de Rossini ' it is not entirely reliable, but it makes the atmosphere of the time marvelous and demonstrates how one of the great nineteenth-century novelists was literally subdued by the music of the Pesaro area.

After composing 39 operas, as well as various chamber pieces and other music, at the height of his success and career, Rossini at 37 retired from the stage without providing any explanation.

He will continue to live in Paris where he had moved, dedicating himself to evenings with friends (le Tout-Paris frequented his house, artists, intellectuals, bankers...).

Its so called silence however, he was not such: he had withdrawn from the stage but not from music, so much so that he composed about 150 vocal pieces, for piano and chamber music collected in the 14 volumes of the 'Péchés de vieillesse', i Sins of old age (denomination that is not lacking in irony). He was very jealous of these works, so much so that he had strictly forbidden their execution in public.

A famous cocktail is dedicated to Rossini, consisting of 1/3 of strawberry smoothie and 2/3 of cold prosecco.

One of Rossini's greatest passions was gastronomy. His Parisian receptions, with lunches of up to 14 courses, became legendary. There are many anecdotes about his love for good food and fine wines.

Here are some of his most famous sayings:

He said he had cried only three times in his life: when the first opera whistled at him, when he heard Paganini play, and when during a boat trip on Lake Como a turkey stuffed with truffles fell into the water.

“After doing nothing, I know no more delicious occupation for me than eating, eating properly, mind you. Appetite is for the stomach what love is for the heart. The stomach is the choirmaster who governs and operates the great orchestra of passions. "

“Eating and loving, singing and digesting: these are in truth the four acts of this funny opera called life and which vanishes like the foam of a bottle of champagne. Whoever lets it escape without having enjoyed it is a fool. "

Rossini died in 1868 in his villa in Passy near Paris. He was buried in the famous Parisian cemetery of Père Lachaise, but his grave is now empty. On the initiative of the Italian government in 1887 his remains were in fact transferred to Italy, to Florence, where they rest in the Basilica of Santa Croce.

Rossini (apart from some legacies in favor of his wife and some relatives) appointed universal heir of his huge fortunes "...the Municipality of Pesaro, my homeland, to found and equip a musical high school in that city ... " The inheritance was used for the establishment of a city high school of music. When, in 1940, the high school was nationalized, becoming the Gioachino Rossini State Conservatory of Music, the Moral Body to which ownership and management of the Rossini inheritance had been conferred, it was transformed into the Gioachino Rossini Foundation, still in full operation.

They said of Rossini:

  • “It is difficult to write the story of a man who is still alive… I envy him more than anyone who has won the first prize in the lottery of nature… Unlike that, he has won an imperishable name, genius and, above all, happiness. " (Stendhal, preface a Vie de Rossini)


  • After Napoleon's death there was another man who is talked about every day in Moscow as in Naples, in London as in Vienna, in Paris as in Calcutta. The glory of this man knows no bounds (...) and he is not yet thirty-two " (Stendhal, Vie de Rossini)


  • “Rossini is a titan. Titan of power and audacity. Rossini is the Napoleon of a musical era. " (Giuseppe Mazzini, Philosophy of Music)


  • Vincenzo Bellini defined the William Tell, Rossini's last work "Our Divine Comedy"


  • Gaetano Donizetti of the same work said “the first and third act Rossini wrote them, the second act God "
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