Stefano Gobatti, un protagonista dell’Ottocento operistico bolognese, exhibition held at the Respighi foyer of the Teatro Comunale in Bologna (13-24 April 1999), by Tommaso Zaghini, Corrado Ferri and Luigi Verdi.
The exhibition was reproposed at the auditorium of the Palazzo Municipale in Bergantino (10-19 September 1999).

Video report (Tele Estense):
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Real Player 45 Kbps 1.2 MB

Video interview (Tele Estense):
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There is a deep link between Polesine composer Stefano Gobatti and Bologna. In the prestigious teatro Comunale of Felsina city, infact, there blossomed and realized  the young composer’s  hopes: when he was about twenty years old, he met with an incomparable success in the history of melodrama.

Stefano Gobatti-MostraLocandina della mostra su Stefano GobattiStefano Gobatti-Catalogo

Omaggio a Stefano Gobatti
Stefano Gobatti was born in Bergantino (province of Rovigo) in 1852 from a humble family of peasants. In spite of his relatives’ hesitation, he followed his natural talent and studied music so as to arrive at Bolognese maestro Giuseppe Busi’school and then, in Milan and Naples, at maestro Lauro Rossi’s. When he was only eighteen years old, he composed, as an exercise, an opera entitled “I Goti”. Lauro Rossi convinced him to have it performed and the work went on the scenes on 30 Novermber 1873, at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna.  It was an unprecedented success and, in a few weeks, the unknown little maestro was glorified and honoured with the honourary citizenship of Bologna, the honourary membership of the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna, the appointment to Knight of the Italian Crown given by Vittorio Emanuele II.
Gobatti’s enormous success was achieved in a historical moment of confusion in the Italian musical art. In 1871, Wagner had presented Lohengrin right at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna: it was the first time that one work by the German composer was put on in Italy and it was a revolution. It  was made an idol of him in Bologna. On the  contrary, Milan, a Verdian city, opposed Wagner since the man from Busseto was recognized as the indisputed top of the Italian melodrama tradition. They were years of an intense passion for opera, which resulted in burning antagonism: the successful operas in Bologna often used toplk flop miserably in Milan. Even musical critics used to show some confusion in their opinions, though apparently indisputable.
Gobatti and his music were unexpectedly considered as close to Wagner, although the “Bolognese” composer had not even seen the title page of one of the German composer’s works. Yet Bologna had been too impatiently looking forward to being the place of artistic birth of  one star of its own and twenty-year-old unwary Gobatti, became one “Case”, the expected idol to be opposed to Verdian Milan. This could do  nothing but damage the young Maestro: his music did not have the honour  of a balanced critical opinion; his artistic path began at the top of an indisputed success which was impossible to maintain. Therefore, while I Goti were being successful in the most important Italian theatres, the ingenuous and unexperienced Maestro started to be plotted behind. He was also an easy prey  to publishing houses and to their merely economic interests, and his following operas, Luce (1875) and Cordelia (1881) were inevitably marked by contrasts and adversities. Gobatti wrote to Tito Ricordi a few years after Cordelia’s flop as follows: “a thick veil arose between me and humanity, whith whom I did not want to have relationships any longer”. Yet, they were years of intense creative fervour: little by little, difficulties undermined Gobatti’s health, but his isolation fostered his musical inspiration.
In those years he was busy working on church and chamber music, he revised I Goti, the work which had given him honour and fame and to which then he connected his hopes of being back to success. He also planned one French version of it. He wrote a new opera called Massias. He held a correspondence with true friends and with the most prominent figures in the musical field of his time. In 1885 he conducted a vocal and instrumental concert with his own compositions at the Teatro Comunale, where he presented church and chamber music pieces. In 1898 I Goti were put on scene once more in Bologna, at the Teatro Politeama D’Azeglio: it was a success, again. Then, silence came.
Yet, during these years, the “Gobatti case” has never been closed. All the “histories of music”, infact, mention I Goti, but practically no researcher has ever examined the scores, nor listened to music performances, and all of them have always taken as a reference point for their judgements, the appraisals dating back to the second half of the 19th century, a transition period of confusion and of excessive melomaniac fervour. The opera I Goti revealed Gobatti’s talent in a too violent and unexpected way; he was surrounded with an atmosphere of great expectations and hopes which was followed by a possibly excessive disillusionment. Triumph and silence: two extreme positions which it is necessary to examine closely today,  out of any passion. After the years of excess, Maestro Stefano Gobatti  deserves a fair, objective and detached judgement.

Corrado Ferri and Tommaso Zaghini

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