Why did Rossini start composing opera?

Composer Gioachino Rossini - Gluttony in C Major

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To retire at 37 and then just eat: Rossini apparently lived the dream. Or did he suffer unbearable agony?

Fry a slice of beef fillet in butter on both sides. Take out and place on slices of white bread. Then fry a piece of foie gras briefly in the same pan and place on the still warm fillet slices.

Deglaze the stock with Madeira wine and pour some chopped truffles over the meat. Voilà the Tournedos Rossini. A famous dish.

This extravagant culinary delight did not come from the Italian opera composer Gioachino Rossini.

But it was probably a dedication to him or a chef's self-promotion: Rossini was a superstar of his time, celebrated by the high society of the 19th century.

It remains unclear to this day why Rossini stopped composing at the age of 37. In Paris, where he spent about half his life, but also in Italy, he was extremely successful.

Was it the stomach or the crotch?

Had he earned enough with his operas to only devote himself to the "essential" things from now on, that is, truffles and foie gras? Might be.

Was it tired and simply written out after 39 operas in 19 years? In any case, Rossini has commented on this. He once said that anyone who started composing early should also stop early.

One reason for the sudden silence could also be Rossini's medical history. He suffered from the venereal disease gonorrhea, a urethral constriction, which was not treatable at the time, as well as from depression and severe sleep disorders.

Rossini was always sick for weeks. Unable to write.

The small sins of the upper class

Nevertheless, food may have been a passion of Rossini. Pictures show him as a corpulent man.

"With his fine, fleshy hand he took a piping bag with a silver nozzle, filled it with truffle sauce and carefully injected this incomparable sauce into each rolling pin," says a contemporary of Rossini's culinary passion.

A passion that connected him perfectly with upper-class Paris of the 19th century. Even though they probably ate more than they cooked themselves.

Orgies of the senses

In his last years Rossini regularly organized so-called "Samedis Musicaux" in his house near Paris. On these musical Saturdays, people ate, drank, sang and made music in equal parts.

A feast for the senses and a combination of food and music that has its roots in ancient Greece and its famous banquets. These Saturday feasts are likely to have contributed to the legend of the old Rossini, who was only now greedy.

The one recipe of the master composer

The fact is: Rossini continued to compose as an opera composer after he fell silent. With a performance of 90 minutes, his Petite Messe Solenelle is by no means a minor thing. And the 150 pieces in the Péchés de vieillesse (“Sins of Age”) collection first had to be written.

Three recipes to cook at home

It is also a fact that neither the Tournedos Rossini nor the Tarte Guillaume Tell (named after Rossini's last opera) nor the numerous other Rossini recipes come from the master himself. They were all named after him or dedicated to him.

The only exception: Maccheroni alla Rossini. Her recipe was supposedly written down after a dictation by Rossini.

In any case, they are delicious.

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