Autograph letter signed "R. Leoncavallo" to an unidentified male correspondent. Ruggero LEONCAVALLO.

Autograph letter signed "R. Leoncavallo" to an unidentified male correspondent.

3 pp. of a bifolium. Octavo. Dated [Rome,] December 25, 1893. In black ink. On stationery with the name and illustration of the Hôtel Belle-Vue in Rome printed at head. In Italian (with translation).

Leoncavallo describes at length, and with considerable anguish, some of his problems with publishers, journalists, and librettists. This letter is particularly interesting for its account of the intense rivalry between the two greatest publishers of Italian opera in the late 19th-century: Ricordi and Sonzogno.

"A group of people [at the Milanese newspaper, La Tribuna] are determined to make me suffer for the double sin for which I am not to blame: The first is that of belonging to Sonzogno... The second is that of not belonging to Ricordi, and so this is the way that petty journalists and politicians judge a work of art, which has cost me so much work, so much anxiety, and so many tears!... And for the first time all around me I feel discord and coldness and indifference and it brings me great sorrow."

Slightly worn, soiled and stained; creased at edges and folds; two small tears to edges of central fold; two small holes to center of second leaf.

Together with:
A postcard photograph of the composer. Slightly worn; small stains to verso.

"Ricordi owned the rights to nearly all of the traditional Italian repertory, including the works of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi; and through Lucca, the Italian rights to Wagner's operas. Sonzogno, beginning in 1874, had acquired the Italian rights to the works of virtually the entire body of contemporary French composers, including Bizet, Massenet, and Thomas. Among the emerging composers of the 1880s and 1890s, Puccini was the prize of Ricordi's 'stable '... Sonzogno, who was far more aggressive in seeking out younger composers, had nearly the entire giovane scuola under contract, including Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Giordano, Cilèa, and a number of lesser-known figures ..." Mallach: The Autumn of Italian Opera: From Verismo to Modernism, 1890-1915, p. 212.

Less than two months before Leoncavallo wrote this letter his opera I Medici premiered in Milan with little success. Indeed, in spite of the successful premiere of Pagliacci the year before, it became increasingly difficult for Leoncavallo to have his works performed in Italy. Both Pagliacci and I Medici would be well-received in Germany, however, "where audiences were favorably inclined to works of the Giovane Scuola." Michele Girardi in Grove Music Online.

Item #23392

Price: $500.00  other currencies

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