Music: Valkyrie of Milan

Musicians great & small, obscure impresarios, shabby maestros, raffish editors, theatrical agents, garrulous critics: these compose a group which congregates in the Caffè Biffi in the great Galleria (Arcade) Vittorio Emanuele near Milan's La Scala Opera. Drinking vermouth con seltz by the hour, the clique finds much to gossip about. In July 1930, its conversation might have run like this: "So! So! A woman in La Scala. . . . Our Colombo, per l'amor di dio, our dove! What will become of the opera, with her in...

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