This bronze bust, a copy by Lorenz Von Gedon (stored in Monaco), depicts Richard Wagner, born the same year as Verdi in 1813 but who died almost 18 years before him, in 1883.
Wagner is a composer much less associated with La Scala than Verdi in that none of his operas had big premières at the Milanese theatre, however they have been staged here hundreds of times, often with memorable performances.
One of his letters to Arrigo Boito is held in the archive and dates from the Bologna première of Lohengrin. In it, the composer reveals a very important hidden detail: “I don’t know if it was a demon or a genius of the kind which takes hold of us in those decisive moments, however, I was lying sleepless in a hotel in La Spezia when the inspiration for the music for Das Rheingold came to me”.
The composer is alluding to the prologue from the Ring Cycle which was successfully performed in full at La Scala, with the four operas performed
in one week in 2013.