La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) is taken from a French melodrama, and deals with a little servant girl, Ninetta, who is condemned to die for the theft of a silver spoon. Only her father can prove that she is innocent and he is not to be found. Just in time, her pet magpie is discovered as the thief who removed the spoon.
The Overture is scored for the usual symphonic combination, plus a bass drum, and two military drums placed at either side of the orchestra. It opens with two drum rolls; the orchestra then introduces a vigorous march melody, which is briefly developed. The two main themes of the allegro are a delicate one for strings, and a piquant one for woodwind and strings. A stirring crescendo, a trademark of Rossini's overtures, marks the exciting climax.
- Robert Turner