Suo Nipote affesmo Vincenzo che l’ama –
P.S. = Farà le mie parti con mio Cognato Ascanio, e alla Sorella Michiela per la grata risposta che ho ricevuto alla mia lettera dal primo.
D:n Vincenzo Ferliti
Napoli = Per = Catania –
[Milan, 29 October 1827]
Vincenzo Bellini to Vincenzo Ferlito. Letter.
AUT.US-NYpm, MLT B4445. F357. One folio, two sides (incomplete).
ED. FLORIMO 1882, pp. 285-287 (incomplete); LIBERTINI, p. 2; CAMBI 1943, pp. 25-30; NERI 2005, pp. 29-30.
My dearest uncle - Rejoice in these glad tidings along with my parents and relatives: your nephew has encountered such a favorable response to his opera that he hasn't the words to express it, and neither you, nor all of my family, nor I myself could have hoped for so gratifying an outcome. - The first performance took place this past Saturday the 27th, but word had already spread following the dress rehearsal that the music was good, so when I came out to the pianoforte at the appointed hour the public greeted me with great applause. The opening sinfonia was very well received, followed by a choral introduzione which met with some few voices of discontent, but since it happened during a storm scene the audience took no notice, although there was scant applause at the end. The response to Rubini's entrance aria defies description, and I rose no less than 10 times to thank the public. The cavatina for the prima donna was also applauded. After that came a chorus of pirates with a novel and most imaginatively conceived echo effect that went over quite well, after which they conclude with another 30 bars as they exit the scene, their voices fading away to the accompaniment of an onstage wind orchestra. It all made a wonderful impression, and I received so much applause that in my happiness I was seized with a fit of uncontrollable weeping for more than five minutes. Then came a scena and duetto for Rubini and Lalande, at the end of which the public, all shouting enthusiastically like madmen, made so much noise that it seemed to raise the devil. The following cavatina for Tamburini was applauded but without much enthusiasm. Finally, in the [first] finale the largo made a splendid impression for its notable artistic merit and the captivating effect of the principal theme, which drew effusive applause, and when the curtain fell you can't imagine the ovations from this cultured public, who then called me to the stage by general acclaim, followed by all of the singers as well. The second act begins with a female chorus which I had set in a most harmonious manner, but the few women who sang it were conspicuously out of tune and it fell flat. Next came a duetto for the bass Tamburini and Lalande, which was found quite charming, followed by a resoundingly successful terzetto for the three principal parts and then a chorus of warriors, which was also warmly received. Finally, Rubini's scena and the one for Lalande generated such enthusiasm that there are no words in all of the Italian language to describe the tumultuous excitement that had overtaken the public, calling me insistently to the stage to take a bow not once but twice, as did all of the singers. At the second performance yesterday evening the applause was greater still, and I was called out as before but on this occasion no less than three times. Tomorrow will be the third performance, since tonight they will do one act of Mosé so that Lalande can rest. These were the reactions of the public; later I will send you the newspapers, which come out after the third evening, and we'll see what the critics have to say, and how accurately they're able to identify the opera's genuine merits. I'm as happy as I can possibly be because I did not expect so fortunate a result, and all of these accolades encourage me to continue the pursuit of my career, which I intend to do honorably and with studious application. Please give this news to all of my friends, and later on the newspapers can persuade my enemies if I have any there. Meanwhile it makes no sense for me to return for now to Naples, not before I have fortified my reputation throughout Italy with further demonstration of what I can do, so I will make my plans according to the commissions I'm offered and inform you what new developments lie ahead. All of my friends here are beside themselves with contentment. They've told me they didn't have much hope for my music because they thought I was too demure, and that this kind of conduct belongs to wise old men or to arrogant youth quick to presume they have some quality worthy of admiration; but I told them all that my education provided me with an understanding well beyond my years of how one should behave, and that I consequently try to distinguish myself only by virtue of what little I truly know, detesting condescension as the manner of those whose talents are mediocre or perhaps altogether worthless. Meanwhile my dear Uncle, I can imagine how pleased you and my good Uncle Don Ciccio must be, and I already envision the tears of contentment in the eyes of my parents and grandfather and all those who love me like all of my own family. Rejoice, yes rejoice, for I am overflowing with happiness and could have desired nothing better. Do send this letter to Grandfather Bellini if you are unable to see him, and share the news with all of those friends who care for me, especially to Don Ciccio and to Don Tatà Zappalà, who came to see me in Milan and spent the entire time they were here with me. Give them my greetings and tell them I will send the seeds and the book we spoke of very soon. My affectionate respects to all: to Papà, Mamà, Uncle Don Ciccio, Aunt Donna Sara, Aunt Donna Agata, Aunt Mara, and the rest of my relatives. Give my respects also to Grandfather and Grandmother Bellini, and with an embrace to my brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends I remain
Your most affectionate and loving nephew Vincenzo –
P:S:- Please remember me to my brother-in-law Ascanio and to my sister Michiela, and thank the former for his welcome response to my letter.
Don Vincenzo Ferliti
Catania - Via - Naples