Prepared by Giovanni Mazzucchelli and Marco Capra
Published from December 1880 until December 1892, the monthly Il Teatro illustrato comprises 144 issues, a trial copy and a supplement. The journal was an organ of the Milanese publisher Edoardo Sonzogno who concurrently published the weekly La Musica popolare. The two journals merged in 1886 to form Il Teatro illustrato e la Musica popolare. In the past a journal was identified with its editor. With Il Teatro illustrato the identity is with the publisher Sonzogno, and not with Amintore Galli, the editor. In the then new Kingdom of Italy, development of general education spurred an increase in readers for periodicals, and the influence of publications such as the present journal on public taste was notable. In its 120 portraits of composers, singers and musicians, Il Teatro illustrato reflects the growing demand for illustrated magazines introduced by L’Illustrazione italiana and La Scena illustrata.
Valuable portraits of lesser-known composers include Antonio Cagnoni, Nicola De Giosa, Filippo Marchetti, Carlo Pedrotti and Lauro Rossi. Many important singers of the period active on the international stage—Gabriella Krauss, Jean Lasalle, Victor Maurel, Jean-Alexandre Talazac, Francesco Tamagno, Elena Teodorini and Maria Van Zandt among them—are featured in portraits and treated in extensive reviews. The advance of instrumental music in Italy is reflected in reviews of concerts by the Società del quarteto; the pianist-composer Giovanni Sgambati; many violinists, including Ignaz Ondricek Pablo Sarasate, Camillo Sivori, Teresina Tua and August Wilhelmj; and the pianists Guglielmo Andreoli, Hans von Bülow, Teresa Carreño and Emil von Sauer.
In the 1860s it became evident that Italian musical theater could count only on Verdi’s strength to develop further the proven structures of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. This crisis of ideas led to the massive importation of French—Meyerbeer, Halévy, Gounod, Auber—and later German opera, opening a new chapter in Italian music: the staging of works by Wagner, Bizet, Thomas and Massenet. New generations of Italian musicians, from Boito to Marchetti to Ponchielli, to the new composers of the giovane scuola, and to the young Puccini were enriched by these experiences. Il Teatro illustrato is witness to the new Italian operas influenced by the new foreign works: Cilea’s Tilda, Giordano’s Mala vita, Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, L’Amico Fritz, and I Rantzau, and Puccini’s Le Villi and Edgar. At the same time, reviews of productions of established operas by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi are numerous.