Maestro Domingo at the Archivio Ricordi in Milan: “What an emotion to hold the original manuscripts of my favourite operas”
The President of Europa Nostra, Plácido Domingo, visited the Archivio Ricordi at the Braidense National Library in Milan on the afternoon of 18 November. “What an emotion to hold the original manuscripts of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and Puccini’s La Bohème, two of my favourite operas, which were recently restored. Bertelsmann is to be congratulated for protecting and restoring these unique testimonies to Italian and European musical heritage,” stated Maestro Domingo. The Archivio Ricordi, which is one of the world’s foremost privately owned music collections, was acquired by the international media company Bertelsmann in 1994.
“I know that Bertelsmann is very proud to be the owner of the Archivio Ricordi and has a strong feeling of responsibility for conserving it, making it accessible and communicating about it. I am delighted to see that the company is taking very good care of this unique treasure. Let us hope that many more companies in Europe and beyond will follow this example and decide to support Europe’s cultural heritage and Europa Nostra’s action to save this heritage,” affirmed Plácido Domingo.
“The visit of Plácido Domingo to the Archivio Ricordi is an historic moment. He is an opera legend and also a great supporter of Europe’s cultural heritage. Bertelsmann sees the Archivio Ricordi as a distinct responsibility to treat this culturally and historically significant legacy with great care and to ensure its preservation for posterity,” stated Thomas Rabe, CEO and Chairman of Bertelsmann.
Maestro Domingo was joined by Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, and Irene Braam, Vice-President for Government Relations of Bertelsmann, on this exclusive tour to the “Cathedral of Music”. Pierluigi Ledda, Managing Director of Ricordi & C, and Maria Pia Ferraris, Archivist of Archivio Ricordi, guided Maestro Domingo through the treasures of the archive. Philippe Daverio, Italian cultural journalist and lecturer, also participated in the event.
Members of Europa Nostra President’s Circle, several representatives from the organisation – Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President, Álvaro Santa Cruz, Vice-President, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General, Rossana Bettinelli, Board Member, and Tom Henkemans, President of the Heritage Tours Committee – and other special guests were welcomed at the Archivio Ricordi in the morning of 7 November. This was the first official visit made by a delegation. On this occasion, Irene Braam and Helen Muller, Head of Cultural Affairs and Corporate History of Bertelsmann, paid tribute to Androulla Vassiliou, former European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, who was part of the Europa Nostra’s delegation, for raising the profile of cultural heritage in Europe.
The Archivio Ricordi encompasses the estate of the Casa Ricordi music publishing company, which was founded in 1808. The archive currently contains 7,800 original scores from over 600 operas – including precious original handwritten manuscripts by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini – as well as some 10,000 librettos, around 6,000 historical photographs, and the publishing company’s complete business correspondence from 1888 to 1962, which provides far-reaching insights into the thinking and work of the cultural industry of that time. The archived materials are being restored in a comprehensive indexing and digitization process, and are gradually being made available digitally as well.