Opera Scotland

Signor Bruschino Il signor Bruschino

Music
Gioachino Rossini (born Pesaro, 29 February 1792; died Paris, 13 November 1868)

Text
Giuseppe Foppa

Source
French play Le fils par hazard (1809) by Alissan de Chazet and E T Maurice Ourry.

Premieres
First performance: Venice (Teatro San Moisè), 27 January 1813.
First UK performance: Orpington, Kent, 14 July 1960.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 4 September 1969.
Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

Background
Rossini launched his twenty-year long career as an opera composer by producing five one-act farces for small theatres in Venice. Il signor Bruschino, ossia Il Figlio per Azzardo (Signor Bruschino, or The Son by Accident) was the last of these and was followed by two huge successes, his serious opera Tancredi, and his full-length farce The Italian Girl in Algiers. It was not a success to begin with, but is a brilliantly composed absurd comedy with several innovative effects, of which the most famous is perhaps the sequence in the overture where violin bows are tapped on music stands.

Characters
Gaudenzio (bass)
Sofia, his ward (soprano)
Bruschino, father (baritone)
Bruschino, son (tenor)
Florville, Sofia’s lover (tenor)
Police Commissioner (tenor)
Filiberto, an innkeeper (baritone)
Marianna, a servant (mezzo-soprano)

Plot Summary
The action takes place at the villa of Gaudenzio. His ward, Sofia, wishes to marry Florville, but Florville’s father was once an enemy of Gaudenzio, so the courtship is carried on in secret. Gaudenzio has negotiated a marriage with the son of an old friend, Bruschino. This deal has been concluded by post, and not only has Gaudenzio not met Bruschino for some time, but he has never met the son. When Bruschino junior is on his way, he puts up at an inn, where due to financial embarrassment he is impounded until he can pay his bill. Florville takes advantage of this to encourage the innkeeper to continue the detention and then he impersonates the son and inveigles his way into the Gaudenzio residence. When old Bruschino arrives, confusion arises due to his failure to acknowledge this new, and supposedly penitent, son. The intervention of the local police only adds to the confusion, but eventually all is resolved happily.

RECORDINGS

DG (1 CD) Sung in Italian Recorded 1991

Conductor: Ion Marin
English Chamber Orchestra
Kathleen Battle (Sofia), Frank Lopardo (Florville), Samuel Ramey (Gaudenzio).

The quality of the cast on this recording is outstandingly good. Claudio Desderi, an expert buffo performer who played Gaudenzio in Edinburgh when he was still a youngster in 1969, plays old Bruschino. The cast also includes such future stars as Michele Pertusi as Filiberto and Jennifer Larmore as Marianna. The ECO is on excellent form and Ion Marin conducts in sprightly fashion.

BRILLIANT (8 bargain CDs) Sung in Italian Recorded 1988

Conductor: Marcello Viotti
English Chamber Orchestra
Patrizia Orciani (Sofia), Luca Canonici (Florville), Bruno Praticò (Gaudenzio).

Il Signor Bruschino takes up the first two discs on Brilliant’s bargain box. Some of the other performances may not be consistently as good, but the cast here is thoroughly practised at achieving the right style for this enjoyable trifle. The other singers featured on the disc include familiar Rossinians such as Natale de Carolis as Bruschino senior and Pietro Spagnoli as Filiberto. This set is certainly an effective way to explore these little-known works of young Rossini.

The Cast

Bruschino figlio
 the son
Bruschino padre
 the father
Commissioner of Police
 
Filiberto
 innkeeper
Florville
 Sofia's lover
Gaudenzio
 a wealthy old gentleman
Marianna
 Sofia's maid
Sofia
 Gaudenzio's ward

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