Rossini – Il viaggio a Reims

In 1824 Rossini was commissioned by the Paris Opera to compose an opera for the occasion of the coronation of Charles X the following year. He wrote this comical opera about the voyage to the place of the coronation, Reims, by aristocrats, officers and other luminaries. Rossini never intended it to be performed outside of the four times it was performed in Paris. He cannibalised it for his first French opera, and the work was lost.

In a weird twist of fate, an overture to the opera was published in Milan in 1938. The original opera did not have one, but this popular overture was derived from later remnants that were popping up in Rossini’s French operas. Its popularity kept the name of the lost opera alive and in the public attention though.

The real thing was rediscovered in the 1970s, and reconstructed by musicologist Janet Johnson. This is the world premiere of that reconstruction, performed as part of the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Italy. A short explanation about the festival is included. It has been recorded a couple of times since then, but not that much. That might have to do with the enormous soloist cast that is needed to perform it: 14 in total!

I think, given this interesting history of the work, that it deserves a bit more attention from me. I haven’t listened to it that much, and that makes it practically unknown to me. The quality is good though. Give it more attention and it might turn into a cherished gem.

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