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Milan 15 Dec. 1770
The first rehearsal footnote1 with instruments took place on the 12th, but only with 16 people, in order to see if everything had been correctly copied. The first rehearsal with the full orchestra will be on the 17th and involves 14 first and 14 second violins, in other words, 28 violins, 2 keyboards, 6 double basses, 2 violoncellos, 2 bassoons, 6 violas, 2 ob and 2 transverse flutes, which play as 4 ob when there are no flutes, 4 corni di caccia and 2 clarini footnote2 etc., in other words, 60 players in all. Prior to the first rehearsal with the smaller orchestra there had been no shortage of people willing to satirize the music in advance as immature and pitiful and in that way to prophesy failure, claiming that it was impossible for such a young boy and, moreover, a German to write an Italian opera and that, whether or not they acknowledged him to be a great virtuoso, he couldn`t possibly understand and grasp the chiaro ed oscuro necessary for the theatre. But from the evening of the first brief rehearsal, all these people have fallen silent and haven`t said another word; the copyist is altogether delighted, which in Italy is a very good sign, because if the music turns out a success, the copyist can sometimes earn more money by selling and marketing the arias than the Kapellmeister does by writing them. The singers, male and female, are very pleased and altogether delighted: the prima donna and the primo uomo in particular are delighted with their duet, and the primo uomo even said that if people don`t like this duet, he`ll have himself castrated all over again. Enough! It now depends on the whim of the public at large: as for the matter itself, it is of little interest to us, the only exception being the modicum of honour that attaches to it, and even this is not without vanity. We`ve already done much in this strange world in which we find ourselves, and God has invariably stood by us. We now stand on the very brink of our present enterprise, various aspects of which make it a matter of no slight import; but here, too, God will be with us. A few days ago it snowed here for the first time. This was followed by dry weather, so that the water on the streets froze, as did the ground. Imagine how cold it was without stoves! It was then a question of O terrible cold in this temperate land! But it was our hands that suffered the most, as our feet were protected by our felt shoes and our bodies by our furs. The cold has abated today as it has rained a little. Look round for some good linen for shirts, because as soon as we`re back - with God`s help - we`ll have to get some shirts made for Don Amadeo, they`re all too short and will scarcely last till we get home as the sleeves are all too short. I hope that my letter footnote3 to H Grace has arrived. I`ll let you know as soon as the opera is staged. On St Stephen`s Day, footnote4 a good hour after Ave Maria, you can imagine Maestro Amadeo at the keyboard in the orchestra pit, while I myself am a spectator and listener in a box or palco high above him, and in your thoughts you may wish him a success[ful] performance and also say a couple of paternosters for him. We kiss you both 10000000 times, and I am, as always, your old
Mozart

All conceivable good wishes to all our friends inside and outside the house. When is Victoria? footnote5 - - Write and tell me.
Please use the following reference when citing this website:
Eisen, Cliff et al. In Mozart's Words, Letter 223 <http://letters.mozartways.com>. Version 1.0, published by HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.
In Mozart's Words. Version 1.0, published by HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.