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Strenna Teatrale Europea

(Milan, 1838-1848)

Prepared by Marcello Conati
1 volume (1989)

The Strenna Teatrale Europea began publication under the direction of Francesco Regli in Milan in 1838 as a supplement to Il Pirata, and was issued in annual volumes until 1848. Important events in the history of nineteenth-century Italian musical theater took place in this decade which saw the production of the major works of Donizetti (Lucia di Lammermoor, Lucrezia Borgia, Don Pasquale) and Mercadante (Il Bravo, Il Giuramento, La Vestale), the growing popularity of Luigi Ricci—a composer forgotten today—and the rapid ascent of Giuseppe Verdi (Nabucco, I Lombardi, Ernani, Macbeth), who was destined to dominate the Italian stage for the rest of the century. This period also witnessed a new phase of operatic singing which came at the time to be known as the “rivoluzione del do di petto.” It is also a legendary period in the history of singing renowned for its richness of talent. Those that emerged from the new generation of singers include Gaetano Fraschini, Erminia Frezzolini, Carlo Guasco, Sofie Loewe, Ignazio Marini, Antonio Poggi, Giorgio Ronconi, Giuseppina Strepponi, Eugenia Tadolini and Felice Varesi, names destined to fill theater chronicles for decades to come. These years also saw the definitive establishment of a new direction in dance, characterized by the danse aérienne and by the virtuosity of dancing on point introduced by Salvatore Taglioni. The new ballet was enriched by the talents that emerged from Count Blasis’ school of La Scala, and was developed by a comparatively small circle of leading proponents of the history of this art, namely Maria Taglioni, Fanny Elssler, Lucille Grahn and Fanny Cerrito.

Substantial space is given both to reviews of performances in Milanese theatres, in particular at La Scala, and to productions of operas in Paris, London, Vienna and several major Italian cities. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this periodical lies in its biographical sketches by Regli. For the most part these sketches, which on occasion also appear within reviews, today constitute an irreplaceable source of information about numerous personalities of the period (composers, singers, instrumentalists, choreographers, dancers, and actors). Only a small number of these biographies appear in much reduced versions in the Dizionario biografico dei pij celebri poeti e artisti melodrammatici che fioriono in Italia dal 1800 al 1860, a publication linked primarily to Regli’s name. The typographical style of the Strenna, enriched with decorations and finely-crafted lithographs, reveals that the journal was addressed to the highest social class, a fact that in turn reflects the latter’s active interest in musical and theatrical activities.