"Di me non so dirè nulla": Giuseppe Verdi's secrecy about "Otello"

Verdi, Giuseppe, Italian composer (1813-1901). Autigraph letter signed ("G. Verdi").

Genoa, 1. IV. 1883.

8vo. 3 pp. on bifolium.


To the pianist and composer Ferdinand von Hiller (1811-85) concerning an invitation to the Lower Rhenish Music Festival and rumours about the composition of "Otello". Verdi assumes that it was Hiller who sent him the festival programme and thanks him warmly for it but declines an invitation to participate due to the distance, his age, and lack of time: "Voi potete immaginare quanto piacere ne avrei a potervi assistere; ma voi capite altresì che io sono tanto lontano, che ho molti anni che pegano e rendono difficili i viaggi, e che anche il tempo mi manca". He will think of him during the festival, which will "bring back happy memories of joyful hours in your company", and asks Hiller to inform him about the "surely excellent result" upon its conclusion. After a few words about the weather and his plans to go to the countryside, Verdi goes on to deny rumours that might have reached Hiller about having written "Otello": "Caso mai aveste sentito dire che io st. facendo qualche cosa, o che io abbia terminato un Iago, un Otello et ca, non credete niente. Io non ha fatto nulla, assolutamente nulla" ("If you heard that I am doing something, or that I have finished an Iago, an Otello etc., do not believe anything. I have not done anything. Absolutely nothing").

While Verdi only started composing "Otello" in early 1884, he had first seen Arrigo Boito's draft for the libretto in the summer of 1881, commented on it, and appears to have been intrigued. Verdi's reluctance and secrecy are due to his official retirement after the success of "Aida" in 1871 and his fear of adverse criticism of what might be his last work. When "Otello" finally premiered in Milan on 5 February 1887, it proved a resounding success.

In 1877, Verdi had followed Ferdinand von Hiller's invitation to conduct his "Messa da Requiem" at the 54th Lower Rhenish Music Festival in Cologne. Hiller retired from the directorate of the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne and the organisation of the Lower Rhenish Music Festival in 1884; he did not live to see the premiere of "Otello".

Traces of folds. Some yellowing to the first page.

Stock Code: BN#58456 Tag: