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Into the Smoke


On June 27, 1847, Giuseppe Verdi was in London, hoping to further the cause of his operas, when he wrote to Giuseppina Appiani:

Glory to the sun, which I have always loved so much, but which I now worship, since Ive been dwelling in this fog and smoke, which chokes me and blinds my spirit! Nonetheless, what a magnificent city! It has things that stop you in your tracks. But the climate ruins all the beauties. Oh, if only there were a Neapolitan sky here, you’d have no need to wish for Paradise.

I have yet to begin the rehearsals for my new opera because I haven’t yet had time to do anything. Not a thing. That’s it in a nutshell! By the way, Jenny Lind still makes the same impression on me: I am the very embodiment of loyalty!…If you laugh, by heaven, I’ll blow my top.

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The theaters are crowded to overflowing. The English enjoy such performances–and they pay so many lire! Oh, if only I could stay here for a couple years, how I’d like to carry off a bag of those oh-so-holy lire! But there’s no point in getting ideas like that into my head, because I couldn’t tolerate the climate. I can’t wait to go to Paris, which holds no particular charm for me, but which I will enjoy greatly from the start because there I’ll be able to live as I please! When I consider that I’ll be several weeks in Paris without getting tangled up in musical business, without hearing anyone talk about music (I shall throw all publishers and impresarios out the door), I all but lose my senses, and the thought is so consoling.

My health is not half bad in London, but I’m always afraid that some misfortune will swoop down on me. For the most part, I stay home to write (or at least intend to write). I go into society very little, very little to the theater, to avoid the annoyance.