“Duetto buffo di due gatti”

Gioachino Rossini, "Duetto buffo di due gatti"
Ryan Opera Center Ensemble Members; Enrique Mazzola, piano

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) had the greatest sense of humor in the history of comic opera, on display in many of his songs as well. The famous "comic duet for two cats," which has caused gales of delighted laughter in audiences for nearly 200 years, is generally attributed to Rossini, but we're not certain that this is totally true. If Hubert Hunt, biographer of the nineteenth-century English composer Robert Lucas Pearsall, can be believed, then Pearsall (under the pseudonym "G. Berthold") assembled the duet in 1825, using the "Katte-Cavatine" by Danish composer C.E.F. Weyse, as well as two excerpts originally written for tenors—Rodrigo's aria and the Otello/Iago duet—in Rossini's Otello.

This is actually not the only cat duet in classical music: nearly six decades after the death of Rossini, Maurice Ravel included a seductive feline duet—like its predecessor, entirely on the syllable "miau"—in his one-act opera L'enfant et les sortilèges. That version is slow and sensuous, whereas the nineteenth-century duet moves from a grand, stately "miau" to music of a bouncier character, leading to charming bits of florid singing in the final section of the duet.

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*** Ryan Opera Center Ensemble

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About the Ryan Opera Center

About the Ryan Opera Center

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is Lyric's preeminent artist-development program that nurtures the talents of some of the most promising operatic singers and pianists of each generation. The program's Ensemble members earn their coveted spot by successfully auditioning among more than 400 artists worldwide. Its alumni are among the dominant names in opera today. Donor generosity ensures continued unparalleled training, performance experience, and professional readiness of Ensemble members. This highly competitive program, established in 1974, is honored to enjoy the support of acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming as Advisor, along with full-time staff Director Dan Novak, Music Director Craig Terry, and Director of Vocal Studies Julia Faulkner.

Photos: Kyle Flubacker