Thursday, 19 September 2013

National Library of Spain discovers rare fragment of Vicenzo Bellini score

Spain's National Library (BNE) announced on Wednesday the discovery of a rare fragment of an opera score, handwritten by 19th century Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini - an outline of seven bars of notes from a duet in the opera "Il Pirata" (The Pirate).

The manuscript was found lying within the archives in "La Biblioteca Nacional de España", Spain's National Library (BNE).

According to BNE, the find, consisting of a single page, shows an outline of seven bars of notes from a duet in the opera "Il Pirata" (The Pirate) and was a rough draft for a small part of the duet scene 'Tu m'Apristi in Cor Ferita' (the original version of which is included below).

The opera debuted at Milan's "La Scala" on October 27, 1827.

An image of the manuscript is included at the foot of this article. 

As proof of its authenticity, the manuscript has annotations at the bottom of the page and a phrase written in the right-hand margin: "Manuscript of Vincenzo Bellini and his brothers Mario and Carmelo". 

The library said in a statement (in Spanish) that this phrase was commonly used as a form of authentication on manuscripts sought after by 19th century collectors of "relics" of the most memorable composers. 

This newly discovered Bellini manuscript is unusual, as the notes do not correspond exactly to the final score of "Il Pirata", even though there were barely any changes.

"This rarity makes it of even more interest from a musicological point of view," the library said. The statement continued that this fragment was found after the library's catalog service requested identification of a "sheet of music bound in an album of 19th century photographs and drawings with landscapes of Malta and Sicily." 

Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835) was born in Catania, Sicily and is said to have composed his first pieces at six years old. Bellini wrote sacred and chamber music but his greatest popular successes came with operas such as "Il Pirata", "La Straniera" (1828) and his most famous work "Norma" (1831). Bellini died in Puteaux, France at the age of 33 on September 23, 1835, nine months after the premiere of his last opera, "I puritani."

With this important find, Spain's National Library has joined the ranks of Catania's Museo Belliniano, New York's Pierpont Morgan Library and the British Library as custodians of Bellini manuscripts. 

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