Mascagni’s famous dedication to himself

In March 1900, Notes and queries, a veritable cornucopia of curiosities, published a brief note entitled “Dedication by Author to Himself”, which in turn quoted an announcement in the Corriere della Sera from 15-16 of January regarding Pietro Mascagni’s intent to dedicate his new opera Le Maschere to none other but himself: A me stesso, con immensa stima e immutabile affetto. “Surely this is almost unique,” concluded the magazine’s correspondent.

The joke must have been short lived, as I do not see this phrase in modern editions of the opera’s libretto. Only English-language collections of quotes and anecdotes faithfully reprint this dedication. For some time it seemed to me that the whole thing was due to some sort of misunderstanding and that the author changed his mind before publishing the score. However, I was eventually able to find this image of a libretto cover that bears the quote almost verbatim: A me stesso con grande stima ed immutabile affetto – To myself, with great respect and unchanging affection.

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