Fantasy on Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” - BSN/PN
Composer: Sommer, Cornelia
for bassoon and piano
by Cornelia Sommer, American bassoonist, composer and arranger
La Cenerentola (1817) by Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868) is one of the earliest operas based on a single fairy tale that is still popular today. Although ostensibly inspired by Charles Perrault’s Cinderella, La Cenerentola eliminates the magical elements of the story—no fairy godmother, no rats transformed into coachmen, no ball gown that disappears at midnight. However, prevalent throughout the opera are dreams and transformations; while there is no literal representation of magic, these plot elements serve as a substitute and help the story retain its fairy tale affect.
This new piece for bassoon and piano is modeled on opera fantasies written in the nineteenth century. Often for a solo instrument and piano, these fantasies were a low-budget way for the public to hear opera music, sometimes acting as advertisements for the opera itself. As was typical for such pieces, this fantasy features several virtuosically embellished arias from La Cenerentola, including Cinderella’s first aria, “Una volta c’era un rè,” and the comic aria of the Prince’s valet, “Come un’ape ne’ giorni d’aprile.”
Cornelia Sommer is a bassoonist, arranger, and educator dedicated to sharing music with diverse audiences and expanding the bassoon’s repertoire. Based in New York City, she recently earned her D.M.A. at The Juilliard School. Cornelia’s performance and research projects have focused on fairy tale music, exploring the connection between the universal narratives embedded in fairy tales and the unique way that music conveys those narratives. As a recipient of grants from the Presser Foundation and IDRS, she will release her first album, “New Enchantments,” in 2022; the album includes three commissioned works and three of her own arrangements, all inspired by fairy tales. Cornelia’s doctoral dissertation, also on fairy tale music, was awarded the Richard F. French Prize. She regularly performs with orchestras throughout the country, including the Seattle Symphony, International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico, American Bach Soloists, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, where she is the Principal Bassoonist. In addition to private instruction, Cornelia has taught music history at Juilliard and given bassoon masterclasses at universities around the U.S. A graduate of Juilliard, Yale, and Indiana University, Cornelia studied bassoon with Frank Morelli, Kathleen McLean, William Ludwig, and Francine Peterson, and baroque bassoon with Dominic Teresi. Learn more about Cornelia and her arrangements at www.corneliasommer.com.