Wednesday 12 February 2020

Opera Rara and Casa Ricordi

Opera Rara
When Opera Rara performs or records one of the rarely performed opera, which give the company its raison d'être, a new edition is often required. A new agreement between Opera Rara and Casa Ricordi means that all 35 of Opera Rara's editions will be available through the Italian music publishers, and through them from Universal Music Publishing Classical, a group of which Ricordi is a part, and through all Ricordi agencies internationally. This means that works like Donizetti's L'Ange di Nisida, which Opera Rara premiered at the Royal Opera House in 2018 [see my review], and which required a substantial amount of clever editorial work to re-construct the piece, will have performing editions more readily available.

The linkage is very apt, because Casa Ricordi is the oldest Italian classical music publisher, founded in 1708. Not only does the company's catalogue feature operas by Bellini, Donizetti, Puccini, Rossini and Verdi, but the company's founder, Giovanni Ricordi, was responsible for radical change to the way music publishing, copyright and performance were governed. In the early 19th century, composer's copyright was limited and if the composer was not personally involved in performances then little or no money would be forthcoming.

So Ricordi  started producing proper printed scores and renting material to theatres, and he went beyond publishing and acquired the right to represent composers to opera companies and theatres, and ultimately this meant that subsequent performances of a composer's operas would bring in income too. This transformation happened during Verdi's lifetime, completely transforming the composer's relationship to the theatres performing his music and radically altering a composer's income stream.

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