Herbert, Victor. (1859–1924)
Natoma - Signed AMQS Presentation Copy to Harold Sanford
New York: G. Schirmer. 1911.
Signed presentation copy of the opera Natoma from the American composer, cellist and conductor known for his many successful operettas. Herbert has signed and inscribed on the first page to his assistant Harry Sanford, dating March 1911, and has added an autograph musical quotation from the opera (marked "Lento.") Stamped signature to the title. Piano-vocal score. 335 pp. Hardcover, tan cloth boards with decoration. Some light shelf wear; overall fine. 7.5 x 11 inches (19 x 28 cm).
Natoma is a 1911 opera with music by Victor Herbert, famous for his operettas, and libretto by Joseph D. Redding. It is a serious full-scale grand opera set in Santa Barbara, California in the "Spanish days" of 1820; the story and music are colored by "Indian" (Native American) and Spanish themes. It premiered in Philadelphia at the Metropolitan Opera House on February 25, 1911 and was later mounted at the New York Metropolitan Opera House on February 28, 1911. Starring as the Indian character Natoma was legendary soprano Mary Garden. Although awaited with great anticipation, the opera was a flop. Meredith Willson recounted: "Oh, the lucky, lucky few thousands who were able to beg, steal, or forge tickets to the Metropolitan on that gala night! And of course the plans for the reception after the undoubted triumph included every kind of caviar, pheasant, and dignitary under glass that could possibly be squeezed into the banquet room at the Friar's Club.... The disaster became apparent early in the first act, and by the intermission all the people who were able to attend the reception... were clutching at their bosoms in agony, knowing they couldn't possibly go to this reception and that they couldn't possibly not go...." (See: Meredith Willson, And There I Stood with my Piccolo, 1948. Willson was only 9 years old at the time of the premiere, but his account shows that the legend of the premiere lived on!) In 2014, the opera was given a successful reading by New York-based Victor Herbert Renaissance Project.