STABAT MATER BY ROSSINI AT SAINT-DENIS FESTIVAL

After the incredible experience at La Fenice di Venezia with Rossini’s Stabat Mater conducts by Maestro Chung, arrives this special concert at the Saint-Denis Festival in France. The piece will be performed on June 13th at 19:30 with the Orchestre de chambre de Paris at the Basilique-Cathédrale de Saint-Denis. The soloist: Joyce El-Khoury soprano, Karine Deshayes mezzo-soprano, Edgardo Rocha tenor, Erwin Schrott bass-baryton, Daniele Rustioni Conductor.

Stabat Mater is a work by Gioachino Rossini based on the traditional structure of the Stabat Mater for chorus and soloists. Initially he used his own librettos and compositions for a portion of the work and, eventually, the remainder by Giovanni Tadolini, who composed six additional movements. Rossini presented the completed work to Varela as his own. 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.

In 1831 Rossini was traveling in Spain in the company of his friend the Spanish banker, Alexandre Aguado, owner of Château Margaux. In the course of the trip, Fernández Varela, a state councillor, commissioned a setting of the traditional liturgical text, the Stabat Mater. Rossini managed to complete part of the setting of the sequence in 1832, but ill-health made it impossible for him to complete the commission. Having written only half the score (nos. 1 and 5-9), he asked his friend Giovanni Tadolini to compose six additional movements. Rossini presented the completed work to Varela as his own. It was premiered on Holy Saturday of 1833 in the Chapel of San Felipe el Real in Madrid, but this version was never again performed.

When Varela died, his heirs sold the work for 2,000 francs to a Parisian music publisher, Antoine Aulagnier, who printed it. Rossini protested, claiming that he had reserved publication rights for himself, and disowned Aulagnier’s version, since it included the music by Tadolini. Although surprised by this, Aulangier went ahead and arranged for a public performance at the Salle Herz on October 31, 1841, at which only the six pieces by Rossini were performed. In fact, Rossini had already sold the publication rights for 6,000 francs to another Paris publisher, Eugène Troupenas. Lawsuits ensued, and Troupenas emerged the victor. Rossini finished the work, replacing the music by Tadolini, before the end of 1841. The brothers Léon and Marie Escudier, who had purchased the performing rights of Rossini’s final version of the score from Troupenas for 8,000 francs, sold them to the director of the Théâtre-Italien for 20,000 francs, who began making preparations for its first performance.

Rossini’s extensive operatic career had divided the public into admirers and critics. The announcement of the premiere of Rossini’s Stabat Mater provided an occasion for a wide-ranging attack by Richard Wagner, who was in Paris at the time, not only on Rossini but more generally on the current European fashion for religious music and the money to be made from it. A week before the scheduled concert Robert Schumann’s Neue Zeitschrift für Musik carried the pseudonymous essay, penned by Wagner under the name of “H. Valentino”, in which he claimed to find Rossini’s popularity incomprehensible:

“It is extraordinary! So long as this man lives, he’ll always be the mode.” Wagner concluded his polemic with the following observation: “That dreadful word: Copyright—growls through the scarce laid breezes. Action! Action! Once more, Action! And money is fetched out, to pay the best of lawyers, to get documents produced, to enter caveats.— — —O ye foolish people, have ye lost your hiking for your gold? I know somebody who for five francs will make you five waltzes, each of them better than that misery of the wealthy master’s!”

At the time when Wagner wrote this, he was still in his late twenties and he had not yet had much success with the acceptance of his own music in the French capital.