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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 530

Teatro alla Scala business letters and contracts


Contracts with, and letters sent from artists engaged with the opera house of Teatro alla Scala, in Milan, Italy.


  • Creation: 1917-1973=
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1920-1942

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in Italian, a few in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


1.5 linear feet (2 boxes)

Approximately 380 documents and letters concerning the engagement of singers (primarily) as well as conductors and repetiteurs for the Teatro alla Scala [La Scala, Milan]. Also includes some materials concerning other personnel.

Materials include: contracts that specify the terms of the engagement and are signed by the artists; extensions or modifications of contracts; 'regolamenti del teatro' or printed regulations of the theatre, also signed by the artists; letters sent to La Scala from the artists (only two artists' files include letters from La Scala); and some miscellaneous items including receipts for music borrowed from the Scala library.

Includes the names: Franco Alfano, Gina Cigna, Toti Dal Monte, Manuel de Falla, Giuseppe De Luca, Victor De Sabata, Beniamino Gigli, Tito Gobbi, Vittorio Gui, Italo Montemezzi, Luigi Nono, Ettore Panizza, Tullio Serafin, Siegfried Wagner, Bruno Walter, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, among many others.

Biographical / Historical

The Teatro alla Scala was founded under the auspices of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, to replace the Royal Ducal Theatre which was destroyed by fire on 26 February 1776 and had, until then, been the home of opera in Milan. La Scala, the more common name, opened on 3 August 1778 with Antonio Salieri's opera L'Europa riconosciuta, to a libretto by Mattia Verazi. La Scala today continues as one of the world's most famous opera houses.



Arranged alphabetically by name of artist. Unidentified items are at end.

Physical Location

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2008MTW-1. Deposited by John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward; received: 2008 August 5.

Related Materials

See also the John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection of the Harvard Theatre Collection itemized in the HOLLIS database. The collection is comprised of thousands of books, scores, librettos, playbills, illustrations, contracts, and ephemera relating to public performances that incorporate music in an essential way, such as ballet, opera, social dance, pantomime, operetta, and burlesque.

See curatorial file for the dealer list received with this material.

General note

  1. Position for which individual was contracted.
  2. Page on which the artist is indexed in Giampiero Tintori. Cronologia : opere, balletti, concerti 1778-1977. Bergamo: 1979.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Teatro alla Scala. Teatro alla Scala business letters and contracts, 1917-1973: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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