Monday, December 24, 2012

Schubert and Rossini

I enjoyed the Mannes Opera's wonderful production of Rossini's La Scala de Setta  just one day after reading how much Schubert admired Rossini--a connection I would not otherwise have made.  In the Rossini there is a magnificent drunken scene in which the servant, Germano, holds forth at length about how smart he is, leaving the audience to substitute for the word "smart" the more apt word "drunk," as inferred not just from the bottle from which he repeatedly swigs, but even more explicitly from his nonsensical coloratura singing.  Displaced accents, unresolved harmonies, abrupt switches of direction are the giveaways.  When coupled with the text it functions as a lesson in the technical skill required to render total inebriation.

Schubert;s delight in drunken music is explicit in some pieces, especially the four-hand piece Notre amitie est invariable, which veritably hiccups.  But there are traces of it in many of his works.