Lot Number 70
Year Published
Place Printed
Printed By
Description REMARKABLE AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT, CONTAINING THREE EARLY DRAFTS FOR THE OPENING OF "FALSTAFF", APPARENTLY SHOWING THE VERY FIRST STAGES OF VERDI'S COMPOSITION OF HIS FINAL OPERA notated in short score on seven three-stave systems per page, written in black ink, with music and words, but without musical phrasing, dynamics or articulation, or any designations of characters or instruments, a working manuscript of the opening thirty bars of Act I (ending with Falstaff's phrase “L'ho fatto apposta”), comprising fifty-eight bars of music in all, with deletions and alterations to pitches, but with the outlines of the musical gestures, shapes and rhythms already present 2 pages, large folio (c.39.5 x 27.5 cm), 28-stave paper, integral blank leaf with the presentation inscription signed by Verdi's granddaughter Maria Carrara Verdi (“S. Agata Sett. 1926, Dono al Maestro Toscanini il presente autografo Verdiano colle prime note del Falstaff, in segno di ammirazione”), [late 1889], overall browning
Comments LITERATURE James Hepokoski, Giuseppe Verdi: Falstaff (1983) CATALOGUE NOTE This is a wonderful manuscript containing the striking opening of Verdi's last, and in some commentators' opinions, greatest and best-loved opera. "The opening seven bars, jaggedly mirroring Cajus's fulminations, are justly famous for the momentum that they impart to both the scene and the whole opera" (Hepokoski, p.1). Autograph composition drafts by Verdi are of the greatest rarity, either at auction or in libraries. This manuscript is exceptional because it was presented to Toscanini by Verdi's heirs. The genesis of Falstaff is shrouded in mystery as his composition sketches are recorded or inaccessible, and also because Verdi's reports on the progress of his composition changed, depending on to whom he was talking. The only sketch we have seen is one produced later for the Paris production of Falstaff in 1894 (see our sale on 4 December 2007, lot 154). Otherwise the only manuscript comparable to the present draft is the orignal version of the 'Ave Maria' from Otello, sold in these rooms on 1 December 1995, lot 375. The manuscript gives every indication of being one of Verdi's first drafts for Falstaff. The music contains the striking rhythmic gestures of the famous opening of the opera already fully formed, but it bears no articulation marks and contains many immediate alterations to pitches. The first continuous draft extends to some twenty-five bars, occupying most of the first page, up to Falstaff's phrase “Ecco la mia risposta”, followed by five unidentified bars. The second page opens with a second sketch of bars 17 to 24 (Dr Caius's “Una vecchia ci sposa”). Verdi then goes back to bar 11 (Falstaff's “un altra bottiglia di Xerès”), and composes a revised draft of the passage, continuing up to bar 30, and providing a version rather closer to the one we recognise today, but still without phrasing, articulation or instrumentation. We are granted a rare insight into Verdi's creative processes. The manuscript is not dated and its genesis is uncertain. Arrigo Boito prompted Verdi into composing his final “effortless miracle” (Budden), and sent the composer a synopsis for Falstaff on 5 or 6 July 1889, and the seventy-six year old composer reacted positively at once. Verdi began work on the opera in August 1889, but apparently by composing fugues rather than the opening. Boito's synopsis has been lost, so we do not know what Verdi's early work was based upon. Boito only brought Verdi the final versions of his librettos for Acts I and II when visiting St Agata during 4 to 11 November 1889, so it seems that the present sketch most likely dates from about this time or shortly after. However, it is also possible that either Boito included some text with his original synopsis, or that Verdi was quite capable of providing his own, as was proved by the sketch for the Paris Falstaff, mentioned above. According to his own account, Verdi completed Act I on 17 March 1890. Arturo Toscanini first conducted Falstaff in Treviso in 1894. Falstaff contains in effect a summation of Verdi's operatic technique honed over fifty years. That his final opera should deal with old age is indeed poignant, for Verdi was 76 years old when he began composition. It is without doubt one of his greatest achievements.
Estimated Price GBP 80,000.00 - 100,000.00
( USD 134,400.00 - 168,000.00 )
Actual Price GBP 157,250.00 ( USD 251,600.00 )



Auction House Sothebys
Auction Name Important Manuscripts, Letters and Memorabilia from the family of Arturo Toscanini
Sale Number #12413
Auction Date November 28, 2012 - November 28, 2012
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