Leon Robbin Gallery



Gaetano Donizetti
Among the most famous of Italian composers of opera, Donizetti (1797-1848) is represented at Georgetown by a number of autograph manuscripts. These include music composed both in his student days at Padre Mattei’s Liceo Filarmonico Comunale in Bologna and during his long residency in Naples.

Items in the Exhibition:

Autograph note, signed, 1 page, 23 [no month or year] to “Monsieur.”

In the minuscule handwriting of the composer’s maturity, inviting an acquaintance to dinner, noting that he will dine at the Café Anglais promptly at six. The note probably dates from the early years of Donizetti’s residence in Paris, the late 1830s or early 1840s. Gift of Leon Robbin.

“Troppo e vezzosa la ninfa bella,” autograph manuscript, not signed, 2 pages, no place or date indicated.

Unpublished. Another autograph version of the same piece, in the Museo Donizettiano in Bergamo, is recorded as showing the text beginning “Troppo vezzosa è la ninfa bella.” Probably written in Bologna in 1816 or 1817, as the paper and handwriting are very similar to those of “Il Nome Indovinato.” Gift of Leon Robbin.

“Il Nome Indovinato Canzonetta,” autograph manuscript, signed, 2 pages plus title, Bologna, 7 August 1816.

Published in the collection Donizetti per camera as “Il Nome.” On the fourth page of the bifold is the autograph manuscript, neither signed nor dated, of a duet by Donizetti thus far not identified, but almost certainly also dating from his years in Bologna. Gift of Leon Robbin.

Autograph manuscript, not signed, 1 page, no place or date indicated [but very likely Naples, 1832]

Lengthy (more than 120 measures) sketch for an unidentified, possibly operatic (but not Fausta), composition. Text beginning “Tanti oggi” starts at right on the fourth stave. Apparently written about 1832, as the paper and handwriting are quite similar to those of the draft of the Fausta overture with which this manuscript was acquired. Purchased on the Leon Robbin Endowment Fund.

Autograph manuscript, not signed, 8 pages, no place or date indicated [but certainly Naples, 1832]

Extensive preliminary draft for the “sinfonia” (overture) written for the second staging of Fausta, which took place at La Scala, Milan, in December, 1832. The opera was first sung at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples, in January of the same year. The manuscript displays Donizetti’s compositional method clearly, melody and bass line written out first, the inner parts to be filled in later on. Purchased on the Leon Robbin Endowment Fund.