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On Stage: Stabat Mater


Gioachino Rossini wrote his first opera, Demetrio e Polibio, as a student. From the age of 18 until he retired at 37 at the height of his fame, Rossini created 37 operas, sometimes conducting them as well as supervising their productions. We know that he was born on Leap Day in 1792 in Pesaro, Italy, and we know that he died in what was at the time a suburb of Paris in 1868, but the details of his life beyond his work are cursory.

The standard version of Rossini's Stabat Mater premiered in Paris in 1842, but the first version was written on commission in 1831 for a wealthy Spaniard, Fernández Varela. In this iteration, Rossini set only six numbers to music; the remainder he handed over to his friend, the composer Giovanni Tadolini. After Varela's death, his heirs sold the piece to a publisher. By this time, Rossini had gone back to Stabat Mater and refinished it so that the work was fully his own. He refused the publisher's request to bring out the earlier version, and both parties took the matter to court. The end result was a publication of the original work, but without Rossini; and a publication of the second version by Rossini's publisher, which no longer included the six Tadolini numbers.

Rossini's Stabat Mater is beloved by critics and audiences. The Wichita Grand Opera is presenting a pre-season production of this work at Holy Cross Lutheran Church at 3 pm on September 10th.