A staged Stabat Mater at the 42nd edition of the ROF

19 August 2021

The last new production in staged form at the 42nd edition of the Rossini Opera Festival is the Stabat Mater, presented at the Vitrifrigo Arena on the 20th August at 8.30 p.m., with Jader Bignamini conducting the Filarmonica Gioachino Rossini and the Chorus of the Teatro Ventidio Basso, the stage direction, scenery, costumes and lighting by Massimo Gasparon.  The solo singers will be Giuliana Gianfaldoni, Vasilisa Berzhanskaya, Ruzil Gatin and Riccardo Fassi.

The opportunity to compose a Stabat Mater arose during a journey to Spain that Rossini undertook in 1831 in the company of a banker friend of his, the Marquis Alejandro Maria Aguado.  In Madrid he met the Archdeacon of the city, Don Francisco Fernandez de Varela, who begged him to compose a Stabat Mater for him.  Rossini returned to Paris and started work on composing the work: he completed six pieces in 1832, while the remaining six were composed by Giuseppe Tadolini, an old classmate of his from the school of Padre Mattei.  In this form the Stabat Mater was performed on Good Friday 1833 in the Chapel of San Felipe el Real at Madrid.  In 1844 Rossini took up the score again, revised it, completed it and composed four numbers to replace the six written by Tadolini ten years previously.

The first public performance of the final version took place at the Théâtre-Italien, Paris on the 7th January 1842.  The work achieved an extraordinary success.  The first Italian performance took place with piano and organ accompaniment and with the choral parts reduced (male voices only) on the 4th March 1842 at the church of Sant’Antonio, Milan, which was followed by a private performance without cuts or reduced numbers of performers in Florence on the 14th March, at the MacDonald house.  The work was publicly performed in the great hall of the Archiginnasio, Bologna, on the 18th, 19th and 20th March 1842; Rossini personally contributed to the mounting of the work and Donizetti was invited to conduct it.