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Leap year baby Rossini was a celebrity composer, chef and party thrower. Celebrating his birthday on Feb 28!

Leap year baby Rossini was a celebrity composer, chef and party thrower. Celebrating his birthday on Feb 28! featured image

Shrimp Rossini pasta.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Rossini sounds like that fun, entertaining guy you always invite to parties. An opera child prodigy – he was composing and having them performed by his early 20’s – he was successful enough to maintain a rate of two to four operas a year on demand. He had that Italian flair for utterly singable melodies, and wasn’t above borrowing from himself now and then.

Rossini wrote The Barber of Seville when he was 24 and it has been an audience favourite ever since. Rossini took the light approach, going for the laughs and sheer entertainment value and didn’t delve into the deeper storylines. When Beethoven first heard it, he knew its lasting value: “It will be played as long as Italian operas exist.” He was right. Rossini moved to Paris, and composed William Tell, which he considered his crowning achievement (and is known to many as the “Lone Ranger”, when the Finale of the Overture was used for the opening credits of the TV series in the 1950’s). This piece has serious lasting power. It is often used in advertising, and during breaks in sporting events, when an audience member has to get the ball in the hoop or when things need to be moved around before the game resumes.

After composing nearly forty operas in twenty years, Rossini, by this point, was like David Foster or Andrew Lloyd Weber today – a music biz celeb whose movements were reported by the press. He retired, and for the next forty years, did a lot of cooking and eating. There are many dishes ending with “… alla Rossini” because he either created them or they were named after him. If he were around today he’d appear on the big network morning shows, doing cooking demos of his favourite dishes while singing, and milking the crowd.

A bon vivant, Rossini enjoyed the good life, gained a lot of weight, and swapped one beautiful soprano wife for another. Born on a Leap Year, Rossini died on Friday the 13th at his home in Paris, two weeks after throwing his last party.

Here’s the Finale to the William Tell Overture. You know this tune. It’s humorous, dramatic, full of excitement, and high-energy. Enjoy.

Gioachino Rossini was born on February 29, 1792, in Pesaro, Italy, and died November 13, 1868 in Passy, France.


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