The conductor Riccardo Muti, a noted proponent of fidelity to the score, said in an interview that Mr. Gossett’s contributions were “a blessing for the conductors that wanted, really, to bring back a certain dignity to the scores, to bring back the original ideas of the composers.”
Mr. Muti lamented that many Italian operas had become corrupted over the years by bad scores and inauthentic performance traditions.
“There were all these changes that, if you were to do them in Mozart, or in Wagner, or in Strauss, you would be killed, completely crucified,” he said. “But in the Italian repertoire, all these things had been permitted.”
He gave one example of the kind of restoration Mr. Gossett specialized in: Traditional productions of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” had the lascivious Duke of Mantua appear at a tavern in the last act and ask for “Una stanza, e del vino” (“A room, and some wine”), a seemingly innocuous request that is oddly met with disgust by the others on stage.
The original line, which was cut by censors, made more sense when it was restored in the critical edition of the score: “Tua sorella, e del vino” (“Your sister, and some wine”). Mr. Muti conducted the premiere of this version — which was edited by Martin Chusid, and was the first volume to appear in a Verdi series of which Mr. Gossett was general editor — in 1983.
Mr. Gossett helped spur the Rossini revival that has brought attention to works beyond the evergreen “Barber of Seville.” The mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, an early champion of Rossini’s less-famous serious operas, recalled meeting Mr. Gossett in the early 1970s, when he suggested that she should consider singing the title role in “Tancredi.”
The opera, based on a play by Voltaire, was originally given a happy ending for its 1813 premiere in Venice. For a revival in Ferrara, Rossini rewrote it, giving it a tragic ending closer to Voltaire. But it was not…