Autograph manuscript of part of the libretto of Otello, a draft of the original words of the "Willow Song" in Act IV, 1885
comprising twenty-four lines of text beginning "Sotto ad un salice -- sedea la mesta", and ending with the couplet "Egli era nato -- per la sua gloria/ Io per amarlo -- e per morir", being a transcription in Verdi's hand of Arrigo Boito's first version of the scene, radically different from the second version, in which Verdi has excluded some passages and rearranged others, the resulting text also diverging from his first musical setting of these words
Sotto ad un salice -- sedea la mesta
E senza speme -- languia d'amor
Lenta chinava -- sul sen la testa
Lenta la mano -- premea sul cor ...
1 page, 8vo, (c.21 x 13.5cm), part of integral blank, [probably 1885], overall browning, splitting at fold slightly affecting a few letters
THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT BY VERDI: a draft for the best-loved scene in his final tragic masterpiece.
Verdi set Arrigo Boito's original version of the Willow Song in Act IV, sometime before September 1885, the autograph manuscript of which survives in a private collection (see our sale on 1 December 1995, lot 375). It is likely that Verdi wrote out the present draft of the words in preparation for setting it to music, although the sequence of the lines is slightly different from his setting. Boito's original text is printed by A. Luzio in Carteggi Verdiani, Volume 2 (1947), p.118, but not Verdi's transcription. Verdi dispenses with two of Boito's lines and replaces them here with "Ei m'abbandona -- la mia memoria/ Più non lo scuote -- nè i miei sospir"; they are taken from later in Boito's text and used by the composer as a refrain in his musical setting.
Verdi apparently asked Boito for a new version of the "Willow Song" in September 1885. Desdemona's aside to Emilia "Riponi quest'anello", Emilia's answer "è il vento" and the final couplet, "Egli era nato -- per la sua gloria/ Io per amarlo -- e per morir", are the only lines that were retained by Boito and later used in the second and final version of Verdi's "Willow Song".
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate.
We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE.