I hope that in Maria, you will find him the inimitable actor and singer! – See you next week, then –Monday D. Sebastian, and maybe Tuesday Maria – two shots simultaneously… If after these two shots I do not fall dead, I am entitled to immortality, or at least the invulnerability (forgive me this word if it is not French) of Achilles – Your devoted… at noon rehearsal of Maria.”
Though he had composed more than 30 operas by 1830, it was not until after the death of Vincenzo Bellini in 1835 and the retirement of Gioachino Rossini that Donizetti came to dominate Italian opera. Heavily influenced by Rossini, Donizetti’s operas showcased the talents of virtuoso singers, ranging from the comic Don Pasquale to the dramatic Roberto Devereux. In 1835, capitalizing on the public’s interest in Scottish culture, Donizetti composed the tragedy Lucia di Lammermoor, his best-known work, based on Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel The Bride of Lammermoor, which premiered in Naples in September 1835 (the same year another of his Scottish tragedies, Maria Stuarda [Mary Stuart], premiered at La Scala).
After royal censors banned his opera Poliuto, Donizetti moved to Paris, where he lived from 1838 until his failing health finally forced him to return to Italy. Our letter regards the November 14, 1843 staging of a revised version of Donizetti’s tragic opera Maria di Rohan at Paris’ Théâtre-Italien, the day after his grand opera Dom Sébastien, Roi de Portugal (Don Sebastian, King of Portugal) premiered at the Paris Opéra, which he refers to with trepidation as “two shots simultaneously.” The male vocalists in Maria di Rohan were tenor Lorenzo Salvi as Riccardo, baritone Giorgio Ronconi as Enrico, bass Giovanni Rizzi as the Viscount of Suze, and Nicola Ivanoff as Aubry. Both performances were successful. Dom Sébastien was the last opera Donizetti completed before succumbing to madness due to neurosyphilis.
Written on a folded sheet and in fine condition.