Gobatti: Cronache dai teatri dell'Ottocento. Un 'caso' clamoroso nella storia
della musica, edited by Tommaso Zaghini, Corrado Ferri, Luigi Verdi,
Bologna, Pàtron 2001, 288 pp.
Notiziario bibliografico. Periodico della Giunta regionale del Veneto, 46,
settembre 2004, p.47 (Francesco
PRESENTATION: Bergantino, Sala
Consigliare del Municipio, January 18 2003.
nowadays composer Stefano Gobatti seems to be scarcely
known, however, around 1870 he met with a period of great fame, when
his first opera I Goti was staged on its first prémière at the Teatro
Comunale of Bologna on 30 November 1873 and received such enthusiastic welcome
to be remembered by historians as one of the most resounding successes of the
whole history of serious opera.
Stefano Gobatti was born in Bergantino ( today in the province of Rovigo) in
1852; after his success with I Goti, he was conferred the
honorary Bolognese citizenship, which had only been conferred to
composers Giuseppe Verdi (1867) and Richard Wagner (1872) before him.
Stefano Gobatti’s case is emblematic of the way in which a young musician’s
career could be affected negatively by the theatre background, in the second
half of the 19th century. In this view, Gobatti’s name could be approached to
many other rather underestimated composers’, who were contemporary to him and
who did not have time enough to express their talent in full.
Although boasting one of the most prestigious theatres in Italy, Bologna had not
staged any of the prémières that were to contribute to the history of Italian
serious opera: the very first prémières of all major works then in repertoire
had taken place in other towns. However, the first Italian stagings and great
successes of Lohengrin (1871) and Tannhauser (1872) in Bologna had aroused
burning discussions and set the grounds for the success of a new forthcoming
Italian opera to juxtapose to the undisputed success of Verdi’s works. Thus,
when in December 1873 the Comunale of Bologna staged the first opera of a young
Bergantino composer, I Goti, its anyway deserved success was amplified out of
all proportion by the wild enthusiasm of the public and of the local Bolognese
press, so as to produce an undesirable hming effect on the composer, who, it is
to be remembered, was only 21 years old.
Ricordi Publishing Home, in particular, having undergone the abstraction of the
publishing rights for
I Goti (which appeared to be undoubtedly a gold mine) by a competing
publishin home from Lucca, probably considered Gobatti as a possible hindrance
to their business, and started to look at him with indifference. Gobatti, in
turn, was still too young unexperienced to manage the dangers of the theatre
world, and ended in giving himself up under the pressures, expectations and
responsibilities around him.Giuseppe Verdi , on his part, always showed openly
his hostility towards young Gobatti, who was not yet
strenghtened /hardened enough, and
contributed to his eclipse. After I Goti had
triumphed on the major Italian theatre stages, Gobatti’s next works,
Luce (1875) and Cordelia (1881), represented on their prémières at the Teatro
Comunale of Bologna,
received a less enthusiastic welcome, while his last opera, Massias was
never staged. Gobatti lived the lasat period of his life as a guest of
Osservanza Convent in Bologna, and died
in poverty and forgotten.
Today we can listen to Gobatti’s music with a new , unprejudiced attitude, in
order to weigh its value in full. The revaluation and discovery of Gobatti’s
work , the work of a musician who marked an although short period of the
Bolognese and Italian musical life, appears to be today as a greatly important
and proper cultural initiative. For this reason, the project of the Bergantino
Commune is particularly remarkable, consisting in the publication of an
anthology of the most relevant texts dedicated to Gobatti, taken from newspapers
and reviews of those times, so as to offer a wide picture of the importance of
Gobatti’s phenomenon for the musical culture of his age.
is desirable that this publication can foster the path leading to a staging of
Gobatti’s operas, that have been missing from the Italian stages for over a
century. In the next few years the history of the Italian serious opera could be
updated , thanks also to a right reconsideration, in the right perspective, not
only of Stefano Gobatti, but also of many other composers today forgotten.
to request the complete text (Italian version only)