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International Music and Drama

(New York, 1914-1916)

Prepared by Richard Kitson, Nicoletta Betta
Introduction by Richard Kitson
Online only (2019)

The weekly International Music & Drama [INT] was founded in 1914 by its editor, Ernesto Valentini, with offices at the Longacre Building, 42nd Street and Broadway in New York City. Publication continued fairly regularly until April 6, 1916, after which it appeared bimonthly and finally as a monthly in June and July 1916. Throughout the run the editor claims to have a circulation reaching 10,000 subscribers. The major part of each sixteen-page issue is published in English, while the “Sezione italiana,” the Italian language section, is restricted to one or two and occasionally to three final pages, often reproducing reviews of musical events from Italian newspapers. From volume IV number 21 (13 May 1916), the journal became the organ of the Bertrand de Bernys Opera and Oratorio Society, located at 58 West 72nd Street.

At the outset of the International Music & Drama, Valentini provides a rationale for his publication in an editorial entitled “The Reason Why.” He claims that the leading American music periodicals — among them Musical America, The Musical Courier and The Musical Observer — give “an almost uniform tint which is sometimes narrowly localized and almost always has a strong Teutonic savor, with criticism and judgments being a direct reverberation of the German atmosphere and spirit,” therefore the “potent and vigorous Latin and Italian art determines and justifies” the publication of his journal. Valentini’s opposition to things German reflects the political hostilities and anti-German sentiment felt in the Italian-American community during the years of the First World War.

The central issue for International Music & Drama is the performances of Italian opera by the many opera companies, large and small, in many parts of the United States. Foremost are the seasons at the Metropolitan Opera House under the direction of the noted Italian general manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza, formerly director of the Teatro alla scala in Milan. Considered by Valentini to be the most important events of the New York musical season, performances are reviewed extensively in the both the English- and Italian-language sections. The August, September and October issues feature announcements and biographical information about the composers, singers and the conductors and overviews of the forthcoming Metropolitan Opera Company repertory. All these musicians are represented in numerous photographs showing performers both in costume and street clothes and as caricatures. Many remarkable Italian singers and musicians active in the Italian and French wings of the Metropolitan Opera House are reviewed: Italian tenors Enrico Caruso, Giovanni Martinelli, Beniamino Gigli, Lucca Botta and baritones Pasquale Amato, Giuseppe De Luca and Antonio Scotti, the Polish bass Adamo Didir, the Italian sopranos Amelita Galli-Curci and Claudia Muzio, the Spaniards Lucrezia Bori and Maria Barrientos and the American Frances Alda.

Hostility toward German and Austrian music and toward the German military’s actions against Italian and other nations’s singers and instrumentalists is a major topic throughout the years of the war. A column entitled “War notes of music and theatre” contains reports on the effects of the war on American musical productions and gives lists musicians either conscripted or exempted for wartime service. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean became a serious problem that limited both European and American singers and instrumentalists from fulfilling contracts for operatic and concert appearances in the United States, or from returning to Europe at the American music season’s conclusion, and then returning westward for the beginning of the following American season.

No reason is given for the journal’s demise, though competition from Alfredo Salmaggi's Music and Musicians / Musica e Musicisti, another music journal published in New York for the Italian-American community, may have played a part.