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A fascinating series of letters by opera Maestro Verdi, his publisher and a disgruntled opera-goer have been published by the website 'Letters of Note'.
The letters, written in 1872, are the correspondence of Verdi and an Italian gentleman named Prospero Bertani who decided to write to the great composer after seeing his opera 'Aida' in Parma - twice.
So unsatisfied was Mr. Bertani with Verdi's opera after the second viewing that he personally wrote to the composer with a damning review of Aida, arguing "the opera contains absolutely nothing thrilling or electrifying, and if it were not for the magnificent scenery, the audience would not sit through it to the end." The letter ends with Bertani demanding not only a refund for the theatre tickets, but also his food and travel expenses!
Amused, Verdi forwarded the letter to his publisher, Giulio Ricordi, with instructions to refund Bertani for everything he demanded except for the "disgustingly bad dinner". Bertani accepted the refund, sending Verdi both a receipt and a written promise never to watch another of his operas again.
It would seem that Verdi was relatively nonplussed by this loss of a fan, as he later arranged for Bertani's letters to be published in a number of Italian newspapers.
The full correspondence can be seen on the Letters of Note website.