A “treasure” emerges from the attic: the libretto of the first Aida of 1921

MACERATA – During a day of cleaning, the descendants of the Simoncelli family, now living in Corso Garibaldi, found a dusty box containing a real heirloom for opera enthusiasts. The many advertisements present tell of a rich, modern and avant-garde city

July 24, 2021 – 7:58 pm

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The graphics of the cover of the first booklet of Aida 1921

from Marco Ribechi

Kept for a hundred years in a dusty box in the attic, it comes back to light after a day of cleaning. An ancient libretto from the Aida of 1921 emerged unexpectedly from the memories of the past, the first opera ever performed in the history of the Sferisterio of Macerata.

The front and back booklet

A booklet of over 30 pages, made in Art Nouveau style, sold at the price of one lira with all the information on Giuseppe Verdi, the Sferisterio and the opera in the program inside. A document capable of recovering in detail all the protagonists of that fantastic very first season, which gave way to the consecration of the Sferisterio as a world temple of opera. To find him the descendants of the Simoncelli family, now residing in Corso Garibaldi: “For several decades that box had been lying half-forgotten in the attic of our home – explain the authors of the discovery – we knew that it contained material that belonged to our great-grandparents and that this material had no economic value. And in fact, when we decided to reopen it, we found many ancient scores because the family had a passion for classical and opera music and there were also those who played the piano. But then the surprise when, among all those sheets, this 1921 booklet appeared, perfectly preserved in another book ».


The advertisement of the Simoncelli pharmacy

The reason for saving what, at the time, could have looked like an ordinary libretto was also soon clarified. «Our ancestors, the Simoncellis – continue the authors of the discovery – were pharmacists. Inside the booklet you can also find the advertising space of their pharmacy, probably a donation had been made to support the opera or, at least, the printing of the booklet. We believe that this is the reason why the libretto has been kept safe up to the present day ».


The advertising of the Cioci Brewery

Inside the booklet there is a real world to explore that emerges thanks to the many advertisements of activities that have now almost completely disappeared. Apart from companies such as the Borgani piano factory or Nazareno Gabrielli, in fact, there is no trace of that productive economic fabric that characterized Macerata in the 1920s. However, it exudes a rich and avant-garde city since there are many advertisements for hotels, credit institutions, factories active in the agricultural sector capable of satisfying the needs of the surrounding countryside. There are advertisements of all kinds of professionalism, testifying that Macerata was a center where nothing was missing. In particular, the presence of a brewery (the famous Birra Cioci whose name is still used to define the Rampa Cioci) and of many car and motorcycle dealers as well as workshops and gas stations is also striking, evidently in Macerata the cars had a certain market .


From San Severino the first Italian factory of beekeeping material C. Perucci & F.

The advertising sales were also made in the neighboring municipalities, Civitanova (Chalet Miramamare), Monte San Giusto (Tommaso Mazza canned biscuits), San Severino (C. Perucci & F. Beekeeping Material), Pollenza (Factory, Fixtures, Furniture) and even Pescara (Ditta Bucco and Capaccini mechanical woodworking ). This means that the event was considered very important not only in the city but throughout the territory, even outside the region. Dozens of advertising pages in support of the first opera season therefore which, already at the time, had given glorious dreams to the people of Macerata who perhaps already saw the consecration of the Sferisterio in the years to come.


On the one hand the description of the Sferisterio, on the other the advertising of the musical instrument company Borgani




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