Stabat Mater (Rossini) premiered today in 1842

Stabat Mater is a work based on the traditional structure of the Stabat Mater sequence, for chorus and soloists, by Gioachino Rossini. It was composed late in his career after retiring from the composition of opera. He began the work in 1831 but did not complete it until 1841.

Performed for the first time in Paris, at the Théâtre-Italien’s Salle Ventadour on January 7 1842, the Stabat Mater is one of Rossini’s most beloved works, considered by many to be his authentic masterpiece. Poised between sacred music and opera, the composition recalls the more mature Rossini’s operatic style in vocal writing and highly refined orchestration, without departing from the Italian polyphonic tradition.

It is scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, mezzo-soprano,tenor, and bass), mixed chorus, and an orchestra of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and strings.

Opera, Blood, and Tears
Stabat Mater (Rossini)
January 7 at 1pm EST
on Clubhouse

The cast of the Parisian premiere included Giulia Grisi (soprano), Emma Albertazzi (mezzo- soprano), Mario (tenor), and Antonio Tamburini (baritone) as the soloists. The newspaper Escudiers reported that: “Rossini’s name was shouted out amid the applause. The entire work transported the audience; the triumph was complete. Three numbers had to be repeated…and the audience left the theater moved and seized by an admiration that quickly won all Paris.”

In March Gaetano Donizetti led the Italian premiere in Bologna with great success. The soloists included Clara Novello (soprano) and Nicola Ivanoff (tenor). Here are the words used by Donizetti to describe the public’s reaction: “The enthusiasm is impossible to describe. Even at the final rehearsal, which Rossini attended, in the middle of the day, he was accompanied to his home to the shouting of more than 500 persons. The same thing the first night, under his window, since he did not appear in the hall.”

Written in 1841 for tenor solo, the andantino maestoso section “Cujus animam”, with its rollicking and memorable tune, was also quoted note-for-note in the 1941 Woody Herman jazz number, “Blues on Parade” and is often performed apart from the work’s other movements as a demonstration of the skillful technique of the singer.

Source Opera Lírica di Roma

The Crucifixion of Christ, by an anonymous master (around 1410), for the Castle of Pähl, housed today at the National Museum of Bavaria. A sample of Stabat Mater in the visual arts.

Stabat Mater text

Chagall, Marc; Apocalypse en Lilas, Capriccio (1945); Ben Uri Collection;
— Gouache painting , created as response to the Holocaust.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.