In The Barber of Seville and his many other operas, Gioacchino Rossini gave singers plenty of opportunities to show off their talents. But in a letter he wrote in 1851, Rossini made it clear that he didn’t have much patience for the cult of the great singer, or for singers whose pretensions got the better of them.
“To fulfill his part properly,” Rossini wrote, “the good singer needs only to be a capable interpreter of the ideas of…the composer, trying to express them to full effect and bring them out in the clearest light… In short, the composer and the poet are the only serious creators. Some skillful singers occasionally try to show off with additional embellishments; and if this is to be called creative, well and good; but it is a form of creative work which is quite often unsuccessful and frequently spoils the composer’s ideas, robbing them of the simplicity of expression they were intended to have.”
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.