This chapter discusses current interpretations of Rossini’s dramaturgy. They have tended to focus on Rossini’s comic works, characterizing them primarily in terms of distance and objectification; a related critical theme is metatheatricality, even if this term seldom appears explicitly. A metatheatrical dimension, though, pervades all Rossini’s opere buffe to an extent largely unrecognized thus far. Moreover, the dramaturgical implications of Rossini’s comic style in terms of distance and objectification are different manifestations of the heightened sense of self-referentiality generated by the music’s reliance on repetition. Largely analogous deductions can be drawn from the scores of opere serie or semiserie as well, since the stylistic traits on which analytical investigations have focused are mostly common to all genres. The salient traits that Rossini’s contemporaries perceived in his operas regardless of genre, such as their non-imitative setting, their crucial reliance on repetition, and the looser connection that they establish between reality and representation--also recently highlighted by those who have analyzed Rossini’s style--promote these interpretative categories as both historically and analytically grounded.
Keywords: dramaturgy, metatheatricality, opera buffa, opera seria, opera semiseria