The operas of Giachino Rossini are staples of the operatic stage, and the overtures from those operas are staples of the concert world. But even within Rossini’s well-known work, some works are more well-known than others. William Tell and The Barber of Seville are some of the best-known works of all time, including their overtures, which have enjoyed (or endured!) second lives in popular culture outside of the context in which Rossini originally wrote them. Less well-known, but still a staple of the repertoire, is Rossini’s take on the Cinderella folk tale, La Cenerentola.
La Cenerentola was Rossini’s follow-up after the huge success of The Barber of Seville, and its success was more uneven than the earlier opera’s. La Cenerentola did not open particularly well, but it grew quickly in popularlity through the 19th century. However, the style of singing its music required did fall out of favor, and thus La Cenerentola fell into relative obscurity. The opera was revived in the mid-20th century and has enjoyed stable popularity and performance ever since.
The overture is pure Rossini, starting with an air of subdued mystery before giving way to the kind of infectious energy and earworming, propulsive melody that is his hallmark. I’m always interested in how many of Rossini’s overtures don’t start with any kind of Bang!, instead starting pensively and building up their energy.
Here is the overture to La Cenerentola by Giachino Rossini.