Italian opera composer (1867-1919). Autograph Letter Signed, „Leoncavallo," to the Marquis d'Ajeta, in Italian. Viareggio. 4to. 1 p. Onionskin paper; folds.
$ 1,869 / 1.800 €
With this letter signed „Leoncavallo,“ to the Marquis d'Ajeta („Caro Marchese“), in Italian, dramatically thanking for the gift of cassata [Sicilian sponge cake], hoping that the Marchioness is feeling better and that he might meet her tomorrow, and, in a postscript: „My little she-dog is really of superior intelligence. She licked all the dishes where the portions of cassata were served."
The letter in detail: „[...] An unexpected and great event has stunned the world. Would you guess it to be the submarine warfare? No, not that; something bigger! The United States’ declaration of war on Germany? No, something greater! A slice of spumoni (cassata) has providentially arrived at the Castler Amerigo Vespucci! Profound emotion! Tears of joy! Indeed, Sicily is such a wonderful place! Whereas people are fighting everywhere for one hectogram of sugar, Sicily is able to produce cassate and ship them across the seas, all packaged in foil, and the torpedoes retreat licking ...
their shells. They shout: ,No! We will never dare to strike you, except with a munch!’ This generous gesture on the part of the Marquis of Ajeta will be registered in the Golden Book, and the greatful people will shout hosanna! We hope that Madam, la Marquise, is feeling better and that tomorrow, under the spring sun, (I am speaking about tomorrow because the sun today is hidden), we will meet there in front of the dark place where the paintings of Beautiful Apollo, The Prostitute, The Gaunt Velia, and the Child measuring one meter ninety reside. My women slaves send you their best. Yours, Leoncavallo. My little she-dog is really of superior intelligence. She licked all the dishes where the portions of cassata were served.“
The tone of the letter is in stark contrast to the reality of war. The American entry into World War I, which Leoncavallo refers to in his letter, came on April 6, 1917, the unrestricted submarine warfare was first introduced in early 1915.
Ruggero Leoncavallo, who came to fame with the opera Pagliacci, which represented a reaction against Richard Wagner and against Romantic Italian opera. It substituted for the quasi-historical plot a sensational story from everyday life.
Pagliacci was composed in the verismo, or realistic, style of Mascagni. Produced in Milan in 1892, it was an immediate success. Leoncavallo’s La Bohème (1897) suffered from comparison with Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. Zazà (1900) was more successful, but Der Roland (1904), commissioned by Wilhelm II to glorify the Hohenzollerns, was a failure. A number of later works achieved passing success. For most of his operas Leoncavallo was his own librettist and showed a distinct literary ability and a flair for theatrical effect..