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Il «Corriere delle dame». Spoglio e indici delle notizie musicali (1804-1818)

Giuseppina Mascari


The «Corriere delle Dame». Scrutiny and indexes of musical information (1804-1818)

The «Corriere delle Dame» first appeared in 1804, in Milan, as a periodical featuring articles on «the literature, theatre and fashions of France and Italy», and continued to be published without any interruption up to July 1875 – that is, spanning almost the whole nineteenth century. Given the long life of the publication, it was necessary to limit the initial phase of research to the analysis of the musical news items published in the first fifteen years (1804-1818), the period during which the «Corriere delle Dame» was founded, directed and (to a great extent) written by Carolina Arienti, the wife of Giuseppe Lattanzi.
During these years the periodical, which came out every Saturday, had eight pages and a fairly invariable layout with regard to articles and features: the first four pages were devoted to stories and poems, letters, moral aphorisms, brief medical notes, observations on various subjects; ample space was also reserved for theatrical criticism: the feature «Theatres» (almost always present) occupied the fifth and sixth pages, followed by that of «Fashion» and «The Political Thermometer». From 1812, the first pages were dedicated to reviewing theatrical performances.
For the first two years the articles on music were limited to reviews of the performances given in Milan theatres, but already in June 1806 an excerpt from a letter from Trieste was published containing some observations on Niccolò Giuliani’s opera Armiro e Daura which had been given there.
After a time, these occasional reports on performances in other cities became more frequent (either extracts from letters or articles picked up from other newspapers). The articles on music contained in the weekly magazine during the period under consideration are not usually signed, but many details give us the impression that they were written by Carolina Lattanzi herself who frequently, in reviewing Milan performances, refers to the criticisms carried by the other two periodicals of the city, the «Giornale Italiano» and the «Corriere Milanese», underlining her desire to give in the pages of her paper her own impartial judgement. Analysis of the musical articles appearing in the «Corriere delle Dame» during the period 1804-1818 is consequently extremely enlightening, since it gives us a contemporary picture of the first twenty years of the nineteenth century: in addition to information on performers, singers and ballet dancers we frequently find many observations on librettos and librettists as well as notices on the music, the composers and the scene designers.
The work of sorting out the musical information has been completed by three appendices, which represent a highly useful research tool. Appendix 1 includes the Spoglio delle notizie musicali contenute nel «Corriere delle Dame» negli anni 1804-1818: that is, the selection of some of the more significant articles on music appearing in the periodical.
Appendix 2 - Catalogo cronologico delle notizie - lists in chronological order all the numbers of the «Corriere delle Dame» which contain news of musical interest. Appendix 3 instead contains three indexes: a) Indice dei nomi, b) Indice delle opere e dei balli, c) Indice dei luoghi teatrali giving, respectively, names, titles of operas and ballets, and theatres which appear in the musical notices of the «Corriere delle Dame». The indexes refer to all the musical notices which appeared between 1804 and 1818 and not just to those quoted in the initial selection.

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