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Celebrating Puccini
September 15 through January 10, 2010

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Adolf Hohenstein (1854–1924)
Poster for the original production of La Bohème
Milan: Officine Grafiche Ricordi, 1895
101.6 x 66 cm
James Fuld Collection

In 1874 the firm of Ricordi established an in-house printing operation to promote its music. Adolf Hohenstein, a set designer at La Scala, joined Ricordi in 1889. As its art director, he produced covers for librettos, music scores, posters, playbills, and postcards. A master of the Art Nouveau style, Hohenstein is often referred to as the "father of the Italian poster." Under his direction, a host of graphic designers emerged.

Leopoldo Metlicovitz (1868–1944)
Souvenir postcard depicting scene from Tosca
Milan: Officine rafiche. Ricordi & C., 1899–1900
14 x 19 cm
James Fuld Collection

Metlicovitz joined Ricordi's lithographic workshop in 1891, working under the instruction of Adolf Hohenstein. Metlicovitz became one of Ricordi's most prolific artists and its art director after Hohenstein left the firm. Shown here is one of the twelve postcards that made up the set issued for the production of Tosca. The designs were originally created in watercolor.

Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)
La Bohème
Sketches for Act IV
Autograph manuscript, 12 December 1895
The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection; Heineman MS 173B

This 36-measure sketch begins on the reverse side with a draft of material that precedes Mimi's Act 4 "Sono andati?" followed by Puccini's signature and date: Torre del Lago / 12.99. Further down, on the page that is displayed, are the first five measures of Colline's arioso "Vecchia zimarra" (which in the opera precedes this 36-measure sketch), followed by Puccini's self-caricature, signature, and date: Torre del Lago / 12.12.90cinque (12 December 1895). It has been suggested that the 1895 inscription dates from the completion of the work, while the signature and date of 12.99 were penned when Puccini gave the leaf away. With the success of Manon Lescaut and La Bohème, Puccini became financially secure.

Fan containing musical quotation and autograph of Puccini
Germany? 1890-1912
James Fuld Collection

This fan contains autographs of several musical figures. On the slat shown is the melody that begins the famous aria "Mi chiamano Mimì," from Act I of La Bohème, with Puccini's signature and the date, 1912. To the right is Johann Strauss, Jr.'s autograph with the first six measures of his Kaiser Waltz, along with a dedication to Fräulein Else London, the owner of the fan.

Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)
Text by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (after Victorien Sardou's La Tosca)
Milan: Officine Grafiche Ricordi, 1899
First edition libretto
20 cm
James Fuld Collection

Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)
Letter dated Torre del Lago, 6 July 1911, to Carla Toscanini in Rome
Mary Flagler Cary Collection; MFC P9774.T713

After the world premiere of Fanciulla in New York, Puccini worked with Toscanini to make revisions to the score before its Roman debut, under Toscanini's direction, at the Teatro Costanzi on 12 June 1911. In this letter to Carla, Toscanini's wife, Puccini comments on Fanciulla's good reviews and sends his affectionate greetings to both Arturo and Carla. He also refers to preparing for the ardita navigazione (perilous voyage), possibly meaning a trip to Buenos Aires for the Fanciulla premiere on 25 July. Though he did not make this journey, Puccini devoted much of his time to attending and supervising performances of his works so as to ensure their quality.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.