[Donizetti, Gaetano. (1797–1848)] Tamagno, Francesco. (1850–1905)
"The day I finish [performing in "Poliuto"] I will get drunk." — Autograph Letter Signed to His Son-in-Law
ALS from the most famous dramatic tenor of the golden age to his son-in-law Alfredo Talamona, regarding various matters and referencing La Scala, Donizetti's Poliuto, and his daughter. 23.4.99; 3 pp., here in part, translated from the Italian. Tamagno discusses his current engagement in Donizetti's Poliuto, writing "last night [was] the second performance of Poliuto. Another splendid evening even though I never feel perfectly well because of the constant wind. The day I finish, I will get drunk." He mentions an unspecified rumor circulating about him and the La Scala committee, addressing his son with what may be either a sharp rebuke or more likely a teasing one, "why do you ask me if it true or not what the members of La Scala's committee are saying? Do I keep secrets from my adored children?" While the tenor never married, he was a devoted father to his illegitimate daughter Margherita, and the remaining letter concerns their personal lives. Tamagno is "happy to hear that [my grandson] little Popolino is becoming a little rascal, that proves that he has a good soul," and pleased to hear that "Margherita will go to Varese soon. The good air and the tranquility will do her a lot of good." He ends by discussing logistics for an upcoming visit, and signs off with "Goodbye and for the time being I kiss you both with all my heart. / Your affectionate Francesco." Light horizontal fold, else in fine condition. 4.25 x 7 inches (10.8 x 17.8 cm.). Together with photocopy letter and handwritten English translation.
One of the most important tenors in the generation before Caruso, Tamagno became best-known as the creator of Verdi's Otello in 1887 (although Verdi reportedly found his legato, intonation, and acting somewhat lacking!). The role brought him great acclaim and opened the doors of the world's opera houses to him. He pursued a busy and highly acclaimed career that lasted for more than three decades, before slowing down in the early years of the 1900's. After Verdi's death on January 27, 1901, Tamagno appeared in a memorial concert on February 1 at La Scala with Coletti, Caruso, and Borgatti. Although Tamagno had a bullish physique and powerful voice, his chronic heart ailment caused his early death at the age of 55, in 1905.