BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, July 10, 1822

Today’s Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung at col.439 reminds its readers that the Vienna Rossini Festival is coming to a close. Only five different operas will be performed between now and the end of the festival on the 20th of the month: Zelmira, Corradino, Elisabetta, La gazza ladra and Ricciardo e Zoraide. The next season will promote German operas, including the “most familiar musical masterpieces of recent times.” Among the operas on the schedule for next season are Cora [the German version of Alonso e Cora (1805)] by Simon Mayr (1763-1845), and Euryanthe, which has been commissioned from Carl Maria von Weber [but that opera will not premiere until October 25, 1823. Schubert will complain of Euryanthe, “This is not music.”]

As the Festival winds down, Rossini today writes from Vienna to Camillo Gritti, director of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. A revival of Maometto II there is to be followed by a new opera, Semiramide, during the 1823 Carnival season. Rossini writes, “Since I must leave for Italy in a few days, and I was planning to spend a day in Padua to hear the opera, I failed to write to you about the requirements for me and my wife, believing that it would be better to come to a verbal agreement either in Padua, if you can join me, or in Venice….In case you can’t meet me during my journey, please give instructions to our friend Peruchini, with whom I can negotiate everything. Please pay particular attention to the company because I cannot be of any use to you unless I have fine singers. As to my financial demands, you will find them more than reasonable.”

Under the “more than reasonable” deal, La Fenice bought the opera Semiramide, the manuscript and all attendant rights for the flat fee of 26,000 lire, which constituted about one half of the budget for the entire production. Richard Osborne, Rossini (Oxford Univ. Press 2007) pp. 77-78. Dealing with publishers and pirates would thus be the theater’s problem this time, not Rossini’s.