>From the desk of Giorgio Migliavacca
GREECE ISSUES STAMP TO HONOUR CALLAS
ITALY TO ISSUE DONIZETTI STAMP
OTHER OPERA STAMPS ISSUED AND TO BE ISSUED
Greece has honoured Maria Callas with a brown stamp depicting a close-up of
the diva. At left, sideways is her autograph. The stamp was issued 31
October 1997 and has a face value of 170 which is the exact postal rate for
airmail to overseas destinations. It was nice to receive mail with this
stamp on it, I may add. Get in touch with your Greek penpals.
After rejecting the proposal of honouring Italian opera composer Gaetano
Donizetti with a stamp in 1997, the Italian Postal Authorities have
reconsidered, on the advise of the stamp advisory committee called
"Giunta". Italy is therefore expected to issue a stamp honoring Donizetti
this year but it will come under the wider banner of the celebrations of the
400th anniversary of opera which will also include a postcard to boost
public awareness about the reconstruction of the Fortuna Theatre at Fano.
The proposed Donizetti stamp celebrating the composer' 200th birth
anniversary (1797-1997) was discarded by the Italian Post Office on the
basis that a stamp had already been devoted to him in 1948. Now the Giunta
is having second thoughts and Donizetti will be honoured philatelically this
year which marks the composer's 150th death anniversary.
It is not clear why the Post Office thought a new Donizetti would be
redundant when other opera composers have not been subjected to such
restrictions. Italy has honoured Bellini three times (1935, 1952 and
1985), Verdi in 1951 and 1963, Rossini in 1942 and 1968, Boito in 1968,
Monteverdi and Giordano in 1967, Mascagni in 1963, Puccini in 1958 and
1974, Cilea in 1975, Cimarosa in 1949, Cherubini in 1977, Ponchielli and
Pergolesi in 1986, Spontini, Vivaldi, and Alfano in 1975, and Mercadante
in 1970. In fact Italy has issued several opera-related stamps commemorating
Caruso, Toscanini, La Scala, Pertile, Martinelli etc.
In related news, Italy will issue another opera stamp in 1999 as part of
the on-going series devoted to Italian artistic and cultural heritage. The
1999 segment of this series will include a stamp devoted to La Fenice
Theatre in Venice.
The famous theatre was destroyed by fire on 29 January 1996; investigations
resulted in the arrest of an electrical contractor who had allegedly set the
fire to avoid paying penalties on his unfullfilled contract. La Fenice is to
be rebuilt by the year 2000 to the tune of $90million, but new developments
and disagreements with the contractor may cause substantial delays.
Meanwhile the island nation of St Vincent & The Grenadines in the Caribbean
has issued a souvenir sheet honouring famous people of the 20th century; the
stamps included in this souvenir sheet depict Enrico Caruso as the Duke of
Matua (Rigoletto) and Luciano Pavarotti as Nemorino (Elisir d'Amore).
Mario Lanza and Placido Domingo as Cavaradossi (Tosca) are also
philatelically honoured by this souvenir sheet.
Adding to the opera theme is also a recent souvenir sheet issued by Bulgaria
depicting Donizetti, Schubert, Mendelsohn Bartoldy and Brahms. Pavorotti
also makes a "guest appearance" on a Niger stamp included in a set of nine
issued in memory of Princess Diana. The Italian tenor is shown on this
stamp in the company of Lady D.
Not to be outdone, last year, the Grenadines of Grenada issued sheetlets
commemorating famous composers such as Mozart and Rossini.
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DR. GIORGIO MIGLIAVACCA
P.O. BOX 704 - ROAD TOWN - TORTOLA
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS - West Indies
DR. GIORGIO MIGLIAVACCA
RUSHIT BOX 11156 - ST THOMAS VI
"If this has not entirely displeased you, do feel a little warmth for the
man who wrote and patched it together. But if I have succeeded in boring you
instead, believe me, I certainly didn't intend to."