Giovanni Battista Rubini

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Giovanni Battista Rubini Giovanni Battista Rubini Portrait.jpg
Giovanni Battista Rubini

Giovanni Battista Rubini (7 April 1794 3 March 1854) was an Italian tenor, as famous in his time as Enrico Caruso in a later day. His ringing and expressive coloratura dexterity in the highest register of his voice, the tenorino, inspired the writing of operatic roles which today are almost impossible to cast. As a singer Rubini was the major early exponent of the Romantic style of the bel canto era of Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti.

A tenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone voice types. It is one of the highest of the male voice types. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A2 (two As below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.

Enrico Caruso Italian opera singer 1873-1921

Enrico Caruso was an Italian operatic tenor. He sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the Americas, appearing in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic. One of the first major singing talents to be commercially recorded, Caruso made approximately 260 commercially released recordings from 1902 to 1920, which made him an international popular entertainment star. All of these recordings, which span most of his stage career, remain available today on CDs and as downloads and digital streams.

Bel canto —with several similar constructions —is a term with several meanings that relate to Italian singing.


Rubini is remembered as an extraordinary bel canto singer, one of the most famous in Europe in the 1820s to 1840s. [1] He also popularized the use of a pervasive vibrato as a means of heightening the emotional impact of his operatic performances. [2] However, if his upper register was exceptional—he could effortlessly go up to a "ringing" high F (F5) (a note that most tenors today escape because of their "chesty" technique), [3] he was reported as barely audible in the others parts of his voice and his tone was "slightly veiled". [4] He also had a limited volume control, struggling to produce mezzo-forte or mezzo-piano dynamics. [4] On the other hand, he was admired for the "infectious" joy he took to sing, his great agility and refined musicianship. [4]

In music, the dynamics of a piece is the variation in loudness between notes or phrases. Dynamics are indicated by specific musical notation, often in some detail. However, dynamics markings still require interpretation by the performer depending on the musical context: for instance a piano (quiet) marking in one part of a piece might have quite different objective loudness in another piece, or even a different section of the same piece. The execution of dynamics also extends beyond loudness to include changes in timbre and sometimes tempo rubato.


Giovanni Battista Rubini Giovanni Battista Rubini.jpg
Giovanni Battista Rubini

Born in Romano di Lombardia, Rubini began as a violinist at twelve years of age at the Teatro Riccardi in Bergamo. His first appearance as singer was 1814 in Pavia in Le lagrime d'una vedova by Pietro Generali.

Romano di Lombardia Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Romano di Lombardia is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Bergamo in the Italian region of Lombardy, located about 45 kilometres (28 mi) east of Milan and about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Bergamo. It received the honorary title of city with a presidential decree on September 17, 1962.

Violin bowed string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths

The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments exist, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings, usually tuned in perfect fifths with notes G3, D4, A4, E5, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.

Bergamo Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Bergamo is a city in the alpine Lombardy region of northern Italy, approximately 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Milan, and approximately 30 km (19 mi) from Switzerland, the alpine lakes Como and Iseo, and 70 km (43 mi) from Garda and Maggiore. The Bergamo Alps begin immediately north of the city.

After ten years spent in Naples between 1815 and 1825, during which he also scored spectacular successes in France in the 1825/26 season in opera by Rossini, he moved permanently to Paris, performing in Rossini's La Cenerentola , Otello , and La donna del lago . He divided his time between Paris (in the Autumn and Winter) and London (in the Spring).

<i>La Cenerentola</i> opera by Gioachino Rossini

La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo is an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. The libretto was written by Jacopo Ferretti, based on the librettos written by Charles-Guillaume Étienne for the opera Cendrillon (Isouard), with music by Nicolas Isouard and by Francesco Fiorini for Agatina o La virtù premiata, with music by Stefano Pavesi. All these operas are versions of the fairy tale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault. Rossini's opera was first performed in Rome's Teatro Valle on 25 January 1817.

<i>Otello</i> (Rossini) opera by Gioachino Rossini

Otello is an opera in three acts by Gioachino Rossini to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Berio di Salsa. The work is based on a French adaptation of the story, not Shakespeare's play Othello as neither Rossini nor his librettist knew the English drama.

<i>La donna del lago</i> opera by Gioacchino Rossini

La donna del lago is an opera composed by Gioachino Rossini with a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola based on the French translation of The Lady of the Lake, a narrative poem written in 1810 by Sir Walter Scott, whose work continued to popularize the image of the romantic highlands. Scott's basic story has been noted as coming from "the hint of an incident stemming from the frequent custom of James V, the King of Scotland, of walking through the kingdom in disguise".

His special relation with Vincenzo Bellini began with Bianca e Fernando (1826) and continued until I puritani (1835), when he was one of the long-remembered "Puritani quartet" for whose voices the opera was written. The three other members of the illustrious quartet were Giulia Grisi, Antonio Tamburini and Luigi Lablache, The four appeared together again in Donizetti's Marino Faliero during the same season, then travelled to London with the Irish composer Michael William Balfe for a further round of operatic engagements.

Vincenzo Bellini Italian opera composer

Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini was an Italian opera composer, who was known for his long-flowing melodic lines for which he was named "the Swan of Catania". Many years later, in 1898, Giuseppe Verdi "praised the broad curves of Bellini's melody: 'there are extremely long melodies as no-one else had ever made before'."

<i>Bianca e Fernando</i> Opera seria by Vincenzo Bellini

Bianca e Fernando is an opera in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini.

<i>I puritani</i> opera by Vincenzo Bellini

I puritani is an opera by Vincenzo Bellini. It was originally written in two acts and later changed to three acts on the advice of Gioachino Rossini, with whom the young composer had become friends. The music was set to a libretto by Count Carlo Pepoli, an Italian émigré poet whom Bellini had met at a salon run by the exile Princess Belgiojoso, which became a meeting place for many Italian revolutionaries.

Rubini was admitted as an honorary member of the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna and retired with a great fortune in 1845. He died in his hometown of Romano in 1854, and is buried in the cemetery there, within a large marble monument.

Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna organization

The Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna is a music education institution in Bologna, Italy.

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  1. Osborne 1990, p. 71: Osborne notes in regard to an aria from Rossini's 1821 "pastoral cantata", La riconoscenza, which was "written for the preternaturally gifted young tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini" whom the composer had heard singing the Prince in [Rossini]'s La cenerentola and whose singing he described as "singing which you can feel in your soul".
  2. Scott, Michael, The Record of Singing : he discusses Rubini's influence on subsequent tenors
  3. Green 2008, p. 167.
  4. 1 2 3 Zucker, Stefan, (February 13, 1982), "Last of a Breed: Giovanni Battista Rubini Ruled as the Paragon of Virtuoso Tenors, King of the High F's", Opera News, Volume 46, No. 12.


Institutions relating to Rubini's career