Rossini's conservative, florid treatment of the expressive surface of melody has encouraged recent scholars to differentiate his approach to melodic structure from that of his followers. In particular, the freedom and complexity of his melodic designs have been contrasted with the conventionality and simplicity of the mid-century lyric form A A′ B A′ adopted by Bellini and others. However, Rossini's conception of melodic form embraced a broader range of options than we have previously acknowledged. Many of his melodies in fact prefigure later lyric conventions exactly, while others incorporate numerous aspects of later practice. Rossini's role in the development of the mid-century lyric form suggests that we should regard Bellini not as the originator of the design that would for many years dominate Italian melody, but rather as the composer who solidified and popularized an approach that Rossini had already tested and made successful.
- Copyright 1988 The American Musicological Society, Inc.