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By Jason Sundram

Overture to La Cenerentola (1817)



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Gioachino Rossini (February 29, 1792–November 13, 1868)

Known for the breakneck speed at which he wrote operas, Rossini purportedly finished composing an aria in the time it took him to cook a pot of noodles. His operatic overtures were frequently reused and hastily composed. His most famous opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, was written in 13 days, and, as was usual for Rossini, the well-known overture was actually taken from another of his operas. Although his theatrical career began at age 18, by the time Rossini was 37, he had written 37 operas. La Cenerentola, written at age 25 (a fairly early work for Rossini) was premiered on January 25, 1817 in Rome’s Teatro Valle.

Like other of Rossini’s overtures, the overture to Cenerentola was taken from an earlier opera, La Gazzeta (1816). However, the spirit of the overture seems appropriate to Cenerentola. The librettist took a few liberties with the Cinderella story most of us know it. There are no magical aspects to it. Instead of a fairy godmother, there is Alidoro, a kindly philosopher. Instead of glass slippers, there is a bracelet that is placed on Cinderella’s wrist by the prince. The opera itself, however, is pure magic.