Instrumental music that derives from operas of the nineteenth century belongs to a rich tradition based on vocal and instrumental techniques and performing styles that also include a large element of unwritten performance practices and conventions. These include tempo rubato, phrasing, articulation and imitating orchestral instruments. The instrumental performance tradition based on vocal models has been filtered through modern performance practice, however, as modernist aesthetics have prevailed. Mauro Giuliani (1781–1829), in his Sei Rossiniane (opp. 119–124), takes his thematic material from Giaochino Rossini’s most popular and early operas. In the quest to perform these works in a historically informed way one must examine the historical practices that pertain to this repertoire.
Understanding the emotional context of the arias from which composers borrow is an important link to conveying the original intention of the music. Whilst there is evidence to suggest that Rossini did not pay close attention to the literal meaning of the libretti in setting them to music, it is significant to be able to grasp the emotional context.
This research sets out to investigate Mauro Giuliani’s musical upbringing, influences, performance style and ability to compose in a tasteful way so as to appeal to the mass market of amateurs that desired to have opera music dispersed in their homes. Ideas of instrumentation, voice type, vocal quality and tone colour, keys, tempi and expressive indications can be immediately identified upon perusal of the original aria scores, and provide important clues for guitarists about how to approach the Rossiniane. This research also looks at the specific vocal and guitar techniques that were widely employed at the time and suggests ways in which a modern guitarist performing on a modern classical guitar can try to emulate these techniques for audiences of today. Also included are score excerpts, audio examples and a case study of Giuliani’s arrangement of a Rossini aria in his Rossiniane, “Assisa a piè d’un salice”, from Otello.