Rossini’s Risky Business
“Please don’t throw me out the window!! I’m a MAESTRO!”
Does Procrastination lead to Defenestration?
Professor Robert Greenberg, in a wonderful lecture for the Teaching Company, read a letter in which opera composer Gioachino Rossini (nicknamed “The Italian Mozart”) confessed his last minute habits.
According to Rossini:
“Wait until the evening before opening night- nothing primes inspiration more than necessity!
Whether it be the presence of a copyist waiting for your work or the prodding of an impresario tearing at his hair (In my time, all the impresarios of Italy were bald by 30).
I wrote the overture to La Gazza Ladra the day of its opening-
in the theater itself-
where I was imprisoned by the director
and under the direct surveillance of the stage hands who were instructed to throw my original text through the window, page by page, to the copyists waiting down below.
If I did not compose quickly enough-
the stage hands were instructed to throw ME out the window, instead.”
Lucklly, Rossini finished the overture to La Gazza Ladra in the nick of time.
Thus, avoiding the fate of the gentleman in pantaloons above.