By Stefano Bianchi (AIDA – Club dei 27)

But not everyone agreed on the validity of Verdi’s operas.

Once upon a time, a young student from Reggio Emilia was so disappointed by the Aida he had attended twice in Parma, that he decided to write to Verdi in person the following letter:

“Master Verdi, I travelled all the way to Parma to listen to your opera Aida. I did not like. The same evening, on the train back home, I heard many other passengers talking excited about it; so I thought it was me to be wrong. This is why, a few nights later, I returned to assist again to the Aida. I had the same feeling. No piece that rips the enthusiasm, nothing that excites; withouth that grand scenic design, the Opera would not come to an end. This piece of work will end up in the dust after two or three theaters. Now, dear Master, to go and hear your music, I have spent twice 15,90 lire. Namely:

– The train ticket to go to Parma 2,60 Lire

– The train ticket to go back to Reggio Emilia 3.30 Lire

– Theatre ticket 8 Lire

– Wicked dinner at the train station 2 Lire

Total 15,90 Lire; multiplied by two 31,80 Lire

I come from a very poor family and those 31.80 Lire represent an irreparable loss for me; a lost that disturbs my sleep. So, I kindly ask you to refund me the money.

The good Verdi asked his Publisher to refund the disappointed listener, but for a sum of 27.80 Lire, as they deducted the two dinners (“He could well have dinner at his house!”), Provided, however, that “the student will issue a receipt for the sum received and will sign an agreement, with which he committs not to go to hear my new works, to prevent him other disappointment, and to prevent me the damage to pay him other bills.”

The amount was paid, the receipt was issued and the promise kept by the unhappy listener.