Gioachino Rossini: Le siège de Corinthe Overture


Le siège de Corinthe is the name of an 1826 opera by Gioachino Rossini. With a French libretto by Luigi Blocchi and Alexandre Soumet, the opera is based on Rossini’s re-worked music from his 1820 opera, Maometto II. His first French opera, Le siège de Corinthe was given its premiere at the Paris Opéra in October of 1826. 

Based on the siege of Missolonghi in the Greek War of Independence just a few years before this opera was composed, the story has been one that has been used by a number of composers and writers. Unlike the title suggests, the allegory of Rossini using Corinth in the title has actually next to nothing to do with the opera itself. 


The Music

The overture to Le siège de Corinthe opens the opera and gives the audience a taste of what kind of music is to come. The tutti opening is full of energy, with the sparkling percussion adding to the effect. The quiet interludes make the loud sections even more dramatic, in classic Rossini style. Warm brass lead into the next section, which is led by the woodwind. The overture takes you through a number of different phases, from soft and sentimental, to vigorous and aggressive to thrilling excitement. 

Unison string motifs bounce off the lyrical woodwind as the overriding theme is played and developed. Brass interludes often signify the next section, which becomes a trend throughout the opera. Rossini manages to pack in numerous characters and atmospheres into one overture, which shows the breadth of music within the opera itself. A reprise of the opening blasts of sound from across the orchestra leads into the quick coda. The bold last thirty seconds of the overture showcases Rossini’s colourful use of harmony, his rich orchestrations and his effective handling of the main themes as they finally unite as one.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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