STRAUSS Richard - Autograph Letter Signed 1908 thanking the conductor for a performance of Salome
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)Autograph Letter Signed (“Richard Strauss”) to “Cher confrère et ami” [the conductor Leopoldo Mugnone], sending his congratulations and gratitude for a successful performance of Salome in Rome.
1½ page 8vo in French with integral blank leaf, Berlin, 10 March 1908.
Trans: “I have heard from Rome that you conducted Salome in a ravishing and inspired way and that it is to Madame Bellincioni and you to whom I owe the great success. I cannot thank you for your great talent, but I can thank you for your great and excellent work, which you did for Salome and for your enthusiasm and the personal and artistic love, without which the production of Salome would have lacked the fire which it so needs. A thousand thanks, dear friend, and my best regards and compliments to all your wonderful artists, especially your excellent orchestra. What a shame that I cannot hear Salome under your baton! But it is impossible to return again to beautiful Rome! Bravo, bravissimo ancora e tante grazie!”
In a postscript, he adds: “My best regards also to the excellent Mariani! Many thanks also for your kind letter!”
Gemma Bellincioni, known for her dramatic interpretations and sometimes considered the operatic equivalent of the great Italian actress Eleonora Duse, performed Salome at the opera’s Italian premiere in Turin in December 1906, with Strauss himself conducting.
The conductor in this instance was Leopoldo Mugnone, much respected for his talents as a conductor and especially well regarded by Verdi. In 1900 he conducted the world premiere of Puccini’s Tosca at the Rome Opera.
Salome was considered a particularly scandalous opera, and encountered resistance in many important opera houses. It was not heard in Vienna until 1918 (after an exchange of letters with the archbishop of Vienna) and in New York it was removed from the repertoire after protests from several quarters, including J. Pierpont Morgan. The first London performance did not take place until 1910.
The news of the success of this performance in Rome must have travelled quickly, as the first (of fifteen) performance took place on the 9th of March.
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