Is combining Italian and Viennese music a crazy idea? It certainly wasn’t during the Viennese periods of Beethoven and Schubert: Rossini was a celebrated theatre composer in Vienna, and the Viennese masters were continually visiting the theatres. Schubert even wrote overtures in the “Italian style”, and this clearly meant à la Rossini. The Overture to the opera “L’Italiana in Algeri” is one of the roguish (at least in the original version played tonight), with a remarkable find: a bassoon and ottavino (piccolo) playing the same melody three octaves apart (at least in the original version; later it was thought that this was a mistake and the ottavino part was given to a flute, because after all, this was serious music!)! The Symphony by Schubert is in c minor. In his time, the writer and composer Schubart said that the key of c minor “ist Liebeserklärung und zugleich Klage der unglücklichen Liebe”. Is this why Schubert added “Tragische” in his autograph score? In the fourth movement, however, we are confronted with a sense of drive worthy of Rossini. And in between Rossini and Schubert: Beethoven’s Second Symphony, which Berlioz called a true masterpiece, music sprinkled with eternal smiles. Could Beethoven be happy? Certainly! Thus, an Italiana in Algeri, and an Italiano in Bruges? Absolutely, he has and understands the “anima eterna”!
Jos van Immerseel
Translation by Anne Hudgkinson
*This production is made possible by the financial support of Tax Shelter Podiumkunsten.