Posted by Verdi's words... on December 26, 2003 at 19:40:25:
In Reply to: Re: Re: Re: Opera/tuba question posted by curmudgeon on December 26, 2003 at 12:53:22:
...(more or less) are below:
LA STRUTTURA DELL’OPERA E L’ORGANICO STRUMENTALE
a cura di
Enrico M. Ferrando
La Traviata uses the customary instrumentation for the Italian opera orchestras of the period. The woodwinds are "a due", with one of the flutes alternating piccolo. The family of the brass also includes the "cimbasso”, a term that was not reported to be a specific instrument, but it generically indicated the function of the contrabass of the brass. In that period, a brass part in that register was still not customary in the writing for orchestra, and therefore it was normally realized with instruments in use in the bands (ophecleide, serpentone, bombardone, contrabass trombone a piston,) using whatever was available at the time. Today, the part of the cimbasso is unfortunately almost always played by the bass tuba, the “contrabass” of the modern symphonic brass section, even if Verdi, when specifying the desired instrument, expressly indicated "trombone basso" as the instrument that he preferred for the best blend with the trio of trombones. But that does not happen in the scores of Otello and Falstaff. Here, Verdi clearly indicates “Trombone Basso”. However, in the time of Aida, Verdi wrote "cimbasso", and a letter to his editor Giulio Ricordi in December 1871, regarding the preparation of Aida’s premiere in Milan, is significant. "I would love a bass trombone that is of the family of the others”, wrote the master, “ but if it is too laborious and difficult to play, you then may use one of the usual ophecleides that reach the low B. In fact, use anything you like, but not that devil of a tuba, which does not blend with the others".