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A tribute to Gioacchino Rossini and Isabella Colbran

The Consulate of Italy in Goa is all set to present a soprano and harp concert, ‘Gioacchino Rossini and Isabella Colbran: a Musical Marriage’ on July 19 at Institute Menezes Braganza, Panaji. NT BUZZ  has the details

Maria Chiara Pizzoli and Marianne Gubri will be performing a soprano and harp concert – Gioacchino Rossini and Isabella Colbran: a Musical Marriage. The programme is dedicated to Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) on the 150th anniversary of his death and Isabella Colbran (Madrid, 1785 – Bologna, 1845) the singer, muse and wife of the Italian composer.

Even before becoming the diva of Italian theatres, Isabella had a short but intense period of fame as a singer and composer at the Parisian salons where she was introduced by her father Juan Colbran, the then violinist of the Royal Chapel of Spain.

From the end of 1809, Isabella opened a long and unique season as an opera singer, first at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, then at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, at the Fenice in Venice, in Rome and finally from 1811 in Naples, the city where she was declared ‘First Absolute Singer’. The aria ‘Assisa a piè d’un salice’ from Otello and ‘Arpa Gentil’ (Viaggio a Reims) were composed with the accompaniment of the harp to enhance the vocal qualities of Isabella, in particular her virtuosity, vocal range and dramatic sensibility. The arias composed by Isabella, all published between 1805 and 1809, on the model of the arias of her contemporaries and masters were composed in Italian with accompaniment for piano or harp. These arias have been recorded by Pizzoli and Gubri in a First World Recording for the Italian Tactus record label.

The accompaniment of singing with the harp was a custom of the nineteenth century for the ‘Opera da salotto’ where the instrument, thanks to important technical and interpretative advances, had gained a prominent place and skillfully replaced the piano. There were numerous transcriptions and variations on arias of opera made by harpist-composers, the most important of all, the English Elias Parish Alvars (1808-1849), named by H. Berlioz the ‘Liszt of the Harp’ for his musical technique. Rossini himself dedicated to a French noblewoman called ‘Cécile’ a harp sonata elaborated during a trip to Bordeaux in 1832.

As for the performers, Pizzoli attended a singing course at the Conservatorio ‘G B Martini’ in Bologna and the ‘G Frescobaldi Conservatory of Ferrara within the Conservatory’. It was immediately brought to debut on the opera stage, produced in collaboration with the Teatro Comunale di Ferrara. She began her solo activity with the role of Tamiri in Mozart’s work ‘Il Re Pastore’, and has participated in numerous concerts. She has also recorded the ‘Mass of Glory’ by Rossini, with Torre del Lago orchestra. At the Teatro Regio di Parma she played several roles including in ‘Butterfly’, ‘Turandot’, ‘Traviata’, ‘Suor Angelica’, ‘Barbiere di Siviglia’, ‘Bohème’, ‘Carme’.

A finalist at the international competition ‘Anselmo Colzani’ 2003, she won the first prize as the best Mozart performer at the Nuovi Orizzonti 2006 in Arezzo. She also won the contest ‘Città di Pistoia 2006’ and for the role of Donna Anna in ‘Don Giovanni’ by W A Mozart.

Gubri meanwhile started studying the harp at a young age and obtained a Bachelor Music Degree in 1997. In 2002, she achieved her diploma in Ancient Harp at the Conservatory of Tours, and a diploma in Musicology at the University F Rabelais of Tours, Venice and has performed in numerous concerts and international tours.

She has participated in more than 10 recordings for labels such as: Mondo Musica, Tactus, Alman Music, L’Empreinte Digitale, Brillant Classic. From 2006 to 2008, Marianne taught Renaissance and Baroque harp at the Conservatory of Ferrara, then in Pesaro, Parma and Vibo Valentia, and for Colorado University. She is also the director of the Bologna Harp Festival.

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