Milano, 24 Marzo 1893
Ricevo stimata s/. d’jeri, cui mi affretto rispondere, anche per mettere le cose in chiaro: e poiché riconosce ch’io sono abituato ad essere franco e leale, così non le torni uggioso, se seguito su tale via. Alle di Lei osservazioni sulle difficoltà incontrate per precedenti impegni, risponderò che queste provengono tutte dalle incertezze da Lei avute. Si rammenti bene che, fino dal settembre scorso io l’ho consigliato non una, ma dieci volte ad accappararsi [sic] addirittura gli artisti del
Quanto all’orchestra, mi pare di leggere tra le righe ch’Ella crede che le mie richieste possano essermi state suggerite dal
Ella ritorna sul progetto della
Tutto ciò dunque non è fatto per ispirarmi fiducia, e per di più si aggiunge ciò che vengo ora a sapere: cioè che non si può sciogliere il
Se quasi non bastassero tutti gli impicci di
Conclusione: rispondo con questa all’
Milan, 24 March 1893
Eg. Sig. Luigi Piontelli
I received your esteemed letter of yesterday and hasten to respond, also so that things are clearly understood; and since you know that it is my habit to be frank and sincere, I hope you will not find it tedious of me to continue in that same manner. With regard to your observations about the difficulties you have encountered due to previous commitments, my response is that they all derive from your uncertainty. You will remember well that since last September I urged you not once but ten times to secure the artists for Falstaff for the upcoming seasons as well. If you had done so, there would have been no commitment conflicts of this sort: you had all of the artists available to you and would have been able to negotiate their contracts to your benefit, and you were entirely in command of the situation. Yet, let’s be honest, you did not truly believe in the opera and preferred not to take a risk for something you perhaps found too uncertain. All of these annoying complications are the result, not the least of them having to do with the orchestra! For my part, I did everything possible so that the management of La Scala would not be cut out. It would have been easy enough for me to accept [any of] the various offers and have things immediately settled; but since there was also an issue of trust involved, I preferred to wait until this messy affair was untangled, and only out of deference toward Sig.ri Piontelli e C.! –
However, for me Signor Piontelli is not one person but two distinctly different people. Do not think ill of me if I say that Signor Piontelli e C. is…. frightening! while Signor Luigi Piontelli inspires trust: that is, the first is a profiteer who only looks after his own interests; the second is another person altogether. But the difficulty lies in not knowing just where the one stops and the other begins… not to mention many other things, for example, how will the contracts with the artists be respected? I had a hand in many of them, pleading, insisting for better terms, and now I don’t want to seem the villain. From the beginning we always spoke of the necessity of having a substitute ready for Maurel, and it was even feared that Pessina would not accept – at which point I took it upon myself to speak to Pessina and teach him the part, persuading him to accept. Now this necessity has vanished and I look like a fool, to put it mildly! You understand perfectly well that this position is something I truly cannot accept! No, absolutely not – and this will have taught me yet again to stop getting involved in affairs between the Theatre Management and the Artists, that playing the part of a pesky agent does not sit well with me at all, let someone else do it. You have the artists?.. good! – You don’t have them?... then I put the operas back on their shelves.
As far as the orchestra is concerned, I seem to read between the lines that you think my requests may have been suggested by M. Mascheroni; but you are enormously mistaken, because I follow no one’s suggestions. Indeed, I find it deplorable that there has always been a certain air of suspicion between you and the Maestro, which is a sticking point for many things. M. Mascheroni came to see me yesterday, but it was quite late, and when I asked him if he knew what the components of the orchestra were he answered that he was not completely informed. Now let’s be honest: at this point, nearly on the verge of leaving, shouldn’t the Maestro know exactly what elements he will have available? You say yourself that 2 first and 2 second [violins] need to be added – but when will they rehearse? Even if they were the finest players in the world, they could not be ready and able to work properly with the ensemble after only one rehearsal. And if De Angelis should absolutely not be present?... But a concertmaster has to play the opera at least 3 times before being able to perform it properly. Now, with De Angelis missing, and with 4 new string players (and eight for Rome), it’s natural that I am preoccupied and wonder what the devil kind of performance will result!! – and the thing is too clear, too crystal clear for my request not to be justified.
You return to the idea of bringing in Sig.ra Melba!... but how can Sig. Piontelli not understand that this is like saying that Falstaff is not sufficient to ensure a successful outcome, and that reinforcement is needed to keep the theatre on its feet?... But this interpretation is as evident as 2 plus 2 make 4. It would no longer be an artistic tour of Verdi’s opera, but one of those usual traveling shows: either the thing is already good as it is, and requires nothing else; or it needs a supplemental boost, so to speak, in which case it is not good and should not be done.
All this hardly inspires my confidence – and what is more, I have just come to learn that Signor De Angelis cannot be released from his obligation with the [Teatro] Dal Verme, so here we are without a concertmaster.
As if all the problems with Rome were not enough, now we have those with Berlin! Read the attached telegram (which I ask you to return to me): who ever would have presumed he had the right to send an ultimatum in my name?... But this is outrageous! – I intend to get to the bottom of this, having received no explanation, without knowing who abused of my name. All of this, dear Signor Piontelli, does in no way leave me feeling tranquil. And if you add in the Brescia affair, for which nothing has been concluded, you can see what the consequences may be for me. I might note that Signor Luigi Piontelli gave me his word for both the Falstaff orchestra and for Brescia, saying that it was worth more than a written contract. But with all of this happening, I repeat, I have little hope things will turn out well – all the better if I am wrong, and I will be the first to admit my mistake.
Conclusion: Am I responding with this letter to the Theatre Management Piontelli e C.?... then that’s one thing; or am I responding to Signor Luigi Piontelli? … which is something else – and in this case I would ask that you tell me yourself, so that we can put an end to all of this complicated confusion.
I must also tell you about a private telegram to Sig. Pollini, and I can do that tomorrow morning if you like. Meanwhile my regards, as always
Most sincerely yours,