Bottesini's first major assignment was with Havana's Italian Opera Company from 1846-49. It was there he met his life-long friend Luigi Arditi. He loved the Cuban capital, and it was there that he wrote his first opera, Cristoforo Colombo.

It has been suggested elsewhere that Bottesini contributed mightily to the spirit of liberation that (at least until recently) has flowered so brilliantly on the Island. However, given Bottesini's distinctly apolitical approach to life (when discussions turned to politics he would shrug and say, "What do I know? I'm just a Bass player."), this appears doubtful. (See "Bottesini and the risorgimento")

The Italian Opera Company

This excellent and widely touring group was a front for a sugar smuggling operation. It is unlikely Bottesini ever knew this; only the singers were party to the Company's criminal activities.

Nevertheless, its unusually high level of musicianship recommended the Italian Opera Company wherever it went. "The Italians," as they were called, had an incalculable impact on the music scene in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, as well as many smaller centers.

"We all must learn where to place our fingers."
© 1997, Jeff Brooks (mtic@aol.com)