Milan, 23 January 1888
Illustrious Maestro ,
I hasten to respond to your most welcome letter of yesterday . I will write immediately to the German translator with the changes you have indicated, and I will have the edition corrected not only for the reprints but also in the copies that have already been printed.
Regarding Otello , you have touched on a serious and painful issue that has kept me agitated for many months, imagining how such abominations are even possible!!.. I firmly believe that you presume I have left no stone unturned to discover where and how the pirate scores are produced – but what can be done?... even some theatrical agents work with these scoundrels, and they cannot be made to confess, even with the promise of money. Our attorney the Hon. Panattoni, a member of Parliament, was in Milan for this very reason, and every means possible and impossible was imagined to try and thwart the thievery and the artistic disfigurement that comes from these falsified and reorchestrated scores; but unfortunately our laws are impotent, and the American ones ..... don’t exist. I will stop expressly in Rome when I return from Naples to ask for a hearing at the Ministry of Justice , hoping to explain the state of things and see whether it is possible to modify the law. We have sent telegrams to Mexico, protesting.... but without obtaining any satisfaction. I fear that with the laws as they are now, nothing can be achieved in Buenos Aires . You rightly say that it is necessary to attack the thief with public exposure, and in part that has already been done: I telegraphed the Italian Consul and wrote to the Argentine Consul in Genoa , who seems to have taken the matter very much to heart. But there is still one more step to take, which would perhaps be decisive, and it is that you send a telegram there. I believe you have every right to do so in order to safeguard your art, and if you are in agreement with this line of reasoning I would formulate the telegram something like this:
H[is] E[xcellency] President Republic Argentina – Buenos Aires – To avoid public deception and offence to art I advise H.E. my Otello granted only to Impresa Ferrari from Ricordi Publisher sole proprietor. Verdi .
If any sense of decency prevails, that should carry considerable weight: it seems impossible to me that the Argentine authorities would allow themselves to tolerate a thief!!...
Given the urgency of sending such a telegram, if you approve it telegraph me saying simply: Send; and I will see that it is dispatched immediately.
Si vera sunt exposita [if what they say is true], it would appear that these pirate copies, orchestrated by some musician in Florence , sell for 7,000 lire each!... It’s enough to make your blood boil!!...
See how I have used the pretext of your long letter to respond with one that is longer still: please feel free to do the same, since I have never gained so much as from the time you call wasted!!!! with your most welcome letters.
Again and always, and also to Sig.ra Peppina , my cordial respects and an affirmation of my utmost gratitude.
Most devotedly yours,