2 pp. Octavo. With decorative embossed blindstamp ("BATH") to upper inner left corner.
An important letter regarding I Lombardi, including commentary regarding orchestration for the character of Pagano, the necessity for a large orchestra and choir, staging, the composer's plans to write operas for Naples and Venice, future performances of his works, etc.
Verdi states that he has written to his publisher Ricordi about the part for Pagano "arranged for baritone with the orchestra properly adjusted." He describes the opera as his "most difficult" and states that, "in addition to the three principal artists, it also needs a ensemble of orchestra and choruses" in order that the work be properly staged.
The composer goes on to say that he will write for Naples and Venice next year, and that he "will be free in two years from now, that is to say from October 1845 to March 1847" if Mr. Vatel would like to discuss the possibility of making a "deal," but Verdi would like one of his operas to be performed before then. He then states that a "Mr. Torre of Genoa" has given him a Romanza that he will set to music as soon as he has "a spare moment." In closing, Verdi thanks Escudier for his "kind words and for the care [he] takes of giving notoriety" to the composer's "poor name."
Browned, especially at upper edge; small old tapemark; creased at folds and somewhat overall; small pinholes. Archivally repaired and restored.
Apparently unpublished and unrecorded.
I Lombardi alla prima crociata [The Lombards on the First Crusade], a dramma lirico in 4 acts to a libretto by Temistocle Solera after Tommaso Grossi’s poem of the same name, was first performed in Milan at the Teatro alla Scala on February 11, 1843; the part of Pagano was sung by the bass Prospero Dérivis. The vocal score was published by Ricordi in Milan in 1843.
The opera was revised as Jérusalem to a libretto by Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz and first performed in the revised version in Paris at the Opéra on November 26, 1847.
"I Lombardi has often been compared to Nabucco, the immensely successful opera that preceded it in the Verdi canon. It is easy to see how such comparisons usually find the later opera less satisfactory. I Lombardi has a wider-ranging action than Nabucco, but Verdi, at this stage of his career, was less able or willing to depict various sharply contrasting locales, and many of the opera’s choral sections (which traditionally carried the weight of such depictions) are pallid and routine. The great exception is the chorus ‘O Signore, dal tetto natio’, which rightly stands beside ‘Va pensiero’ as representative of Verdi’s new voice in Italian opera. The opera’s musical characterization is strangely uneven: the presence of two leading tenors seems to divide attention where it might usefully have been focussed, but the leading soprano, Giselda, stamps her personality on the drama at a very early stage and succeeds in emerging with impressive effect."
"Although Jérusalem was soon converted into the Italian Gerusalemme, and published in Italy, Verdi’s revision failed to oust I Lombardi from the Italian stage and gradually disappeared from the repertory. This is in some ways regrettable, as the opera simplifies somewhat the complex action of the Italian original, adds convincing new music (in particular the fine crowd scene of Act 3 scene ii), cuts some of the weaker portions and, by converting Arvino from a tenor to a baritone, solves one of the problems of vocal distribution that occurred in I Lombardi. Whatever its ultimate merits, Jérusalem serves as a fascinating first document in charting Verdi’s relationship with the French stage, a relationship that was to become increasingly important during the next decade." Roger Parker in Grove Music Online.
The French brothers Marie (1809-1880) and Léon (1815-1881) Escudier were Verdi's publisher's in France; they also translated the libretti of two of Verdi's works into French: Le proscrit, or Le corsaire de Venise in 1845 (from Ernani), and Les deux Foscari in 1846. Marie Escudier first met Verdi in Milan in 1845, the same year Verdi ceded rights for publication of his works in France to the Escudiers (October), and Marie's first letter to Verdi has been commonly said to predate June 30, 1845. Providing that our assumption that the present letter is, indeed, to Marie Escudier, we now know that Verdi's first letter to Marie dates back to October of 1844.
Marie Escudier was Verdi's correspondent through 1847; his brother Léon took over in either the summer or autumn of that year, informing Verdi about events in France and acting as intermediary between Verdi and impresarios, theater directors, singers, and librettists in France. Their relationship terminated in 1877 due to disagreements regarding the staging of the first performance of Aida in Paris, at the Théâtre Italien.
The two operas that Verdi refers to in the present letter as writing for Naples and Venice were Alzira (first performed in Naples at the Teatro di San Carlo on August 12, 1845) and Attila (first performed in Venice at the Teatro La Fenice on March 17, 1846).
The "Sigr. Vatel" referred to in the letter is August-Eugene Vatel, director of the Théâtre Italian in Paris at the time. Verdi went to Paris and attended the Opéra for the first time on June 1, 1847; Jérusalem premiered there on November 26th; "Sigr. Torre" can be identified as Giuseppe Torre, a poet and author of the text of many romanzas.
I Lombardi was the first of Verdi's operas to be staged in the United States; it premiered at Palmo's Opera House in New York City on March 3, 1847. Palmo's, located on Chambers Street between Broadway and Centre Street, was one of the earliest opera houses in New York City.
We would like to thank Dr. Daniela Macchione for her kind assistance in our preparation of this description. Item #28808
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