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Puccini Writes During the Doria Scandal, Discussing His Attempts to Complete The Girl of the Golden West

$2475 net
Item: 22919
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PUCCINI, GIACOMO. (1858-1924). Italian composer; modern Italy’s most successful opera composer after Verdi. ALS. (“G. Puccini”). 1p. Narrow 4to. Torre del Lago, April 2, 1909. On his personal self-enclosed stationery mailer. To his long-time confidante and former mistress SYBIL SELIGMAN (1868-1936). In Italian with translation.

“Every day I have been meaning to write you, but I just have not the desire, or rather the peace of mind, to do so. Everything is getting so complicated Elvira burst out at me in a rage about the lawsuit; she said that I had done nothing to get it withdrawn whereas I have in fact been trying and am still doing so. Even my son is not sympathetic to me, and all in all, such poisonous things as are not fit to be mentioned have been poured out against me. I am about to go to Milan for Elektra, and then I am coming back here. In June I hope to come to London, but I would like to have my own bedroom, small sitting-room, etc. etc., with a ‘bonne a tout faine’ [housekeeper] and a piano for working, somewhere I could just touch the piano even at night; such a place as I believe will be impossible to find. The Girl is languishing; my spirits are too battered to start off any work. I am here with my sister and two nephews. I am doing some hunting, and I am miserable and bored. Ciao, my dear friend; all greetings, and thanks for remaining so kind towards me… Write to me here. Regards to all at Folkestone; how long will you be there? Did you ever get the famous handbag?”

Photo of Puccini

Giacomo Puccini

Torre del Lago in Tuscany had become Puccini’s refuge in 1891 after he created an enormous scandal by running away with the married Elvira Gemignani and fathering a child, Antonio Puccini (1886-1946), with her. This refuge, however, became the scene of another scandal in 1909 when Elvira, now Puccini’s wife, became jealous of their servant-girl Doria Manfredi. Having found past suspicions justified, Elvira tormented the girl by publicly accusing her of carrying on a relationship with her husband. Not wanting to increase Elvira’s antagonism by giving her cause for suspicion, Puccini did not attempt to defend Doria from Elvira’s rage, which soon drove the girl from the Puccini home. The accusations and Elvira’s cruelty were so devastating that on January 28, 1909, Doria swallowed poison and died. A post-mortem examination determined that she was still a virgin, and therefore innocent of the accusations. Subsequently, her family brought charges against Elvira for persecution and defamation. In the ensuing trial, to which our letter refers, Elvira was found guilty. However, she was not sentenced, and Puccini rectified the situation by paying damages to the Manfredis.

In 2007, a trove of documents and photographs from Puccini revealed that throughout this period, and later, Puccini was having an affair with Doria’s cousin, Giulia, and that Doria was likely engaged as a courier for letters between the two. Giulia bore Puccini a son, Alfredo, in 1923, 15 months before the composer died. Alfredo died, impoverished, in 1998. The composer’s overwrought state, described in our letter, is ironically written to a former mistress! The entire episode delayed the composition of The Girl of the Golden West for over nine months, a fact mentioned in our letter, but a triumphant premiere took place at New York’s Metropolitan Opera on December 10, 1910. Puccini was no doubt on his way to attend the Italian premier of Richard Strauss’s Elektra, on April 6, 1909. Its blood-curdling score and story could hardly have offered solace to Puccini who was attempting to survive his own tragedy.

With some slight wear along the folds. Signed with a scrawled signature and in fine condition.

Puccini Writes During the Doria Scandal, Discussing His Attempts to Complete The Girl of the Golden West

$2475 net • item #22919

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