Best remembered for such light-hearted works as Il barbiere di Siviglia, Gioachino Rossini produced a sequence of large-scale serious French operas after his move to Paris in 1824 which overwhelmed audiences with their musical power, and responded to the French Restoration. Rather than presenting a traditional account of Rossini's life and works, Benjamin Walton traces instead the shifting patterns of Rossinian criticism from before the composer's arrival in Paris to the end of the 1820s, outlining a type of musical history that uses immersion in a narrow time period as a way to reconceive the relationships between opera and the wider currents of life outside the opera house. In place of the comic Rossini of later memory, this book argues for a composer whose music resonated with the experience of contemporary life, and was integrally bound up in the struggle to define French romanticism at the time.
List of illustrations and note on translations; List of music examples; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction: music in the present tense; 1. 1824: deciphering hyperbole: Stendhal's Vie de Rossini; 2. 1825: 'Quelque peu theatral': the operatic coronation of Charles X; 3. 1826: 'Les Grecs sont francais': musical philhellenism in Paris; 4. 1827: dying for music: Rossini and Moise; 5. 1828: the discovery of the 'twin styles'; 6. 1829: looking for the Revolution in Guillaume Tell; Epilogue: 1830: beyond the Rossinian Moment; Bibliography; Index.