In 2014, Dario Salvi, musical director at the Imperial Vienna Orchestra in the United Kingdom, contacted Mills Music Library to say the Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain was looking to produce Franz von Suppé’s 1883 operetta Die Afrikareise (A Trip To Africa) in 2016.
They were in need of orchestral parts, scores, promptbooks, and dialogue books, all of which Mills had in our Tams-Witmark Wisconsin Collection. Salvi said they had not been able to locate these materials anywhere else in the world, despite having “contacts everywhere.”
Thus began the correspondence that led to digitizing materials necessary for the production. Those are now also available online via the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.
In 2016, a concert-performance occurred at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich, England, with Salvi conducting the Imperial Vienna Orchestra, joined by the Octagon singers, soloists, and a cast of eight principals, as previewed in an Eastern Daily Press article.
Additionally, Salvi and his wife, Hannah, published A Trip to Africa: A Comic Opera by Franz von Suppé, a book of their compiled research, which includes the libretto in English, German, and Italian, as well as an appendix of historical reviews. In his preface, Salvi thanks “the amazing staff” at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries. Mills Music Library staff are glad to know materials from one of our special collections helped Salvi realize his vision of reviving this long dormant operetta.
Throughout the process of providing Salvi with the materials he needed, the Libraries and Salvi coordinated to have the entire process filmed: from pulling the materials out of boxes in Mills Music Library, scanning them at UW–Madison, Salvi receiving and reworking the materials, to rehearsals, and finally the full public performance of the operetta. We thank the Imperial Vienna Orchestra, Salvi, and our librarians for providing the opportunity to share a perfect example of the Wisconsin Idea, gone international!