rossini

Rossini: "The best time to compose an overture"

From a letter, addressee and date unknown.

"Wait until the evening before opening night. Nothing primes inspiration more than necessity, whether it be the presence of a copyist waiting for your work or the prodding of an impresario tearing his hair. In my time, all the impresarios in Italy were bald at thirty. 

"I composed the overture to Otello in a little room in the Barbaja palace wherein the baldest and fiercest of directors had forcibly locked me with a lone plate of spaghetti and the threat that I would not be allowed to leave the room alive until I had written the last note.

"I wrote the overture to La Gazza Ladra the day of its opening, in the theater itself, where I was imprisoned by the director and under the surveillance of four stagehands who were instructed to throw my original text out the window, page by page, to the copyists waiting below to transcribe it. In default of pages, they were ordered to throw me out the window.

“I did better with The Barber. I did not compose an overture, but selected for it one that was meant for a semi-serious opera called Elisabeta. The public was completely satisfied.

“I composed the overture to Contra Ory while fishing, with my feet in the water, and in comapny of Signor Agnado, who talked of Spanish finance. The overture for William Tell was composed under more or less similar circumstances. And as for Mose, I did not write one.”