A defensive letter from a young American in Italy to his father, justifying his decision to abandon college and study opera in Naples; Napoli, [Two Sicilies]. Gustavus Hall.

A defensive letter from a young American in Italy to his father, justifying his decision to abandon college and study opera in Naples; Napoli, [Two Sicilies]

Napoli, [Two Sicilies]: 1859. Envelope or Cover. This one-page folded letter is dated “Napoli Dec 3. 1859”. It bears manuscript “per Liverpool” and postal rate markings and several Italian, French, and U.S. postmarks suggesting it traveled from Naples, through Marseille, Paris and Liverpool before arriving in Boston. It also bears a red rectangular “Br Service” handstamp as required by the United State-France Convention of 1857 indicating that it was carried at the expense of the French via Great Britain.” (See The Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues, Aug 1998.)

In this letter, Gustavus defensively informs his father that he has decided to become a professional opera singer:

“I wrote to you weeks ago giving you my reasons why I could not enter the college! I now wish to explain what I am doing. I have got Maestro Scafarti (sic) & I have also a master of the Italian language & I have placed myself at the disposition of the Rogers Bros & Co. . .. As it is now, I draw checks upon them for my master of music & Italian for my house & piano rent & receive about $1.75 per week for my meals & no other money. . .. I am, Thank the Lord at work at last! . .. You can ask Mr. Bendclari about Safarti (sic)! I think he is acquainted with him! I sent you per U.S. Steamer Wabash to New York & per Adam’s Ex to Boston an Opera for Mr. Harwood – at Chickerings – I received it & sent it in such a hurry that I had no time to write any not to go inside of it!”

Domenico Scafati was a prominent Italian opera teacher, who trained under the celebrated castrato, Girolamo Crescentini, and in turn instructed a number of hopeful English performers at his studio in Naples and later Milan.

Gustavus Hall went on to a long and successful career as a baritone, performing with the famous Parepa Rosa English Opera Company during its U.S. tour in the late 1860s, and later as a member of the Max Strakosch Italian Opera Company of New York, Clara Louise Kellogg’s revolutionary American-based English-language grand opera troop, the Comley & Barton Opera Company (apparently a comic opera “Pinafore troupe”), and the Emma Juch Grand English Opera Company that toured throughout the United States and Mexico. Newspaper advertisements show that Hall continued to sing professionally until 1914. Very good. Item #009566

At time of listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade, recorded in auction results at the Rare Book Hub, nor held by institutions per OCLC.

Price: $225.00

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