Rediscovering the Unique Role of the Contralto in the Operas of Gioachino Rossini
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractGioachino Rossini was perhaps more prolific than any known composer in his operatic writing for the mezzo-soprano and contralto voices. While modern practice casts many of these roles as somewhat interchangeable among mezzo-sopranos, recent writings have lamented the decline in the number of contraltos. This asks the question of whether or not the composer's own distinctions indicate that contraltos should be uniquely represented in these roles. This paper is an examination of Rossini's writing for some of his favorite singers, including Marietta Marcolini, Adelaide Malanotte, and Isabella Colbran, as well as later interpretations by Giuditta Pasta, in order to discover the unique imprint that they left on these roles. In addition, this paper will outline the history of the contralto as it pertains to the development of Rossini as a composer and the facets of character, tessitura, range and ensemble writing to explore how Rossini may have heard and appreciated the central part of the female voice, and what makes his writing for these voice types historically distinct and significant.
Degree ProgramGraduate College