Gran potpourri sull'opera
This is the most mature of the opera commentaries reflects a period when Ponchielli was buoyed up by his confidence in the virtuosic band he had created and (likely) the prospect of the career as an opera composer, the superstar career in nineteenth-century Italy. As earlier commentaries on Verdi operas, Ponchielli recasts familiar and beloved arias, even entire sequences of events.
The "rules" of opera scenes is closely followed with mezzo arias performed by the E-flat trumpet and tenor solos by the flicorno basso. The instrumentation with pairs of cornets and flugelhorns and two bass clarinets mark this as Ponchielli's most sophisticated work of all. There is even an elaborate joke for cognoscenti - the famous "Anvil Chorus" receives all four of its anticipated preparations, never to arrive.
The scene of execution with its somber funeral march is some what jarred by Ponchielli's instructions" to the performer instructions to play as though "strung up their male parts" and with "the expression of an out-of breath comedian." In spite of the usual belief that only copyist Belforti and vicemaestro Bissocoli ever saw the scores, these notes suggest the small circle to see the scores may have extended to other principal soloists as well. The rough humor suggests that Ponchielli was familiar and jocular and proud of the ensemble he had built.
Date on score: Thursday, June 2, 1870, 7 PM, "day of maturity,""Thanks to the grace of God."
Performances: Thursday, June 16, 1870, Piazza Garibaldi; Monday, November 7, 1870. Piazza Cavour; Thursday, April 27, 1871, Piazza Garibaldi.