In a letter of 2 January 1851, Verdi suggested for the first time Antonio Garcia Gutierrez play El Trovador as a possible subject for his new Opera: 'It seems to me very beautiful, imaginative, and full of strong situations'. Once he had settled on the subject, the composer immediately began looking for a theater in which to produce the Opera and after protracted negotiations he decided to stage Il Trovatore in Rome. The premiere occurred on 19 January 1853 at the Teatro Apollo and was an enormous success. The appreciation of the new work increased from performance to performance. The third performance was the last the composer was contractually obliged to attend: at the end of the evening the audience presented Verdi with two laurel wreaths. Verdi's account of the performances, contained in a letter to his friend Clarina Maffei, was eloquent: 'They say that this Opera is too sad and that there are too many deaths. But ultimetley in life everything is death! What exists?...' Notwithstanding Verdi's pessimism, Il Trovatore circulated rapidly. In fact, no other Opera of Verdi except 'Ernani' enjoyed such instant and widespread success.