The Stabat Mater is one of the most profound of all Catholic liturgical
compositions. One might at first be surprised that Rossini, one of the
greatest of all opera composers would address such a subject. But in my
opinion, his Stabat Mater far surpasses all others ever written. Up to
the time of Rossini, the most dramatic, and musically richest version
of the Stabat Mater was the remarkable composition by Pergolesi.
But Rossini goes far beyond tradition, and introduces his mastery of the
emotional possibilities of operatic singing. In this composition, the
point at which Mary sings her grief, standing at the foot of Christ's
crucifix, one hears REAL grief. I find it almost impossible to hear that
passage without coming to the verge (or sometimes beyond the verge) of
tears. This is NOT music for the casual listener, or the faint of heart;
it is overpowering, and leaves one transfixed. Had Rossini written no
other composition, this one alone would have made him immortal.
The orchestra, soloists, and chorus are utterly superb. I cannot help but
think that had Rossini heard this performance, he himself would have felt
overpowered. In short, this is Rossini at his deepest, and very best. In
every respect it is magnificent.