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Stefano 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.

Recensione:
Notiziario bibliografico. Periodico della Giunta regionale del Veneto, 46, settembre 2004, p.47 (Francesco Passadore)
Presentazione libro Gobatti
PRESENTATION: Bergantino, Sala Consigliare del Municipio, January 18 2003.


Stefano Gobatti. Cronache dei Teatri dell'Ottocento
If 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.
It 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.

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