Academy of Music
Price: $10 admits a lady and gentleman; $5 ladies’ tickets
7 January 2016
“Maretzek is to open the rebuilt Academy of Muisic early next month with a grand advertising flourish in the shape of a bal d’opera.”
“The music will be provided by Bergmann, Grill and Grafulla.”
“City Intelligence. The New Academy. THE INAUGURATION BALL. It was a happy thought on the part of the directors of the new Academy of Music to open the reconstructed home of the lyrical drama by a ‘Bal d’Opera,’ given in compliment to Mr. Maretzek. No more appropriate means could have been selected whereby to display the results of their labors in behalf of the public, to assemble in a festive gathering those who are likely to be the main patrons of the opera, and to assure Mr. Maretzek of the continued and increased confidence of the public in his managerial ability. On the other hand, no manager ever deserved more entirely the compliment thus offered. That the opera house has been rebuilt is due, of course, to the public spirit of the directors and stockholders. This would have failed, however, of any speedy practical result, had it not been sustained by the [illeg.] Mr. Maretzek’s long managerial career in this city, that he would fulfill his part of the enterprise to the letter.
Undismayed by the severe losses sustained by him last spring, Mr. Maretzek has never fainted or faltered for a day during the interval. His company has not only remained undiminished, but has been materially increased. The great expense attending the renewal of costumes, scenery and general stage outfit has been cheerfully borne, and now the courageous impresario is ready for a season of opera which promises to surpass in brilliancy and success any that we have ever had. The directors might have rebuilt the Academy without using material support of the old walls; they could hardly have done so this year without the moral support of the old manager.
Both as a social gathering and as a compliment to the manager the ball last night was a perfect success, far surpassing in interest and effect that given last year. The appearance of the interior fully justified the confident predictions made by us three weeks since, in an elaborate description of the new building. It was the universal judgment of those present that for all the purposes of an opera house the new Academy is far superior to the old. For seeing and being seen, for hearing and for social intercourse, it is infinitely better. The improvement most noticed last evening was that produced by the change in the prevailing color of the walls, which admirably relieved the beautiful toilets of the ladies.
The entire house was filled with a most fashionable assemblage, who seemed to enter into the spirit of the occasion with unusual vivacity. The music was superb.”
“Amusements. The Bal d’Opera Last Night. The new Academy of Music had its properest inauguration last night. Mr. Maretzek’s grand Bal d’Opera came off, and resulted in the gayest, merriest and most grotesque festival yet held in New York. Usually a American masquerade is only a collection of fine or funny dresses, indifferent dominoes and pink and black fringed masks—walking about and talking in an ordinary way, occasionally dancing, mostly timid and stiff, feeble attempts at flirting and even more execrable essays, here and there, at clownish humor, which is mere idiotic buffoonery. Mr. Maretzek is trying to reform all this, and through these gorgeous Opera Balls seeks to teach our solid men and stately dames what a masquerade ought to be, to be a masquerade in the truest sense. Last evening’s festival taught its own lesson. It was a triumph of the fantastic and the droll. Everything seemed to have been gotten up in the most unique and gorgeous manner. The decorations were novel and numerous. The dancing floor was crowded from ten o’clock in the evening to the little hours in the morning and good humor prevailed throughout. The music was by three monster bands, and was superb, and kept the feet going, the heart dancing, and the blood bubbling all the night long. Grafulla’s arms never moved so gracefully, nor were the strokes of his baton ever more prompt and enthusiastic. Diplomacy, art, literature and science set representatives who made the boxes and circles grand with grand presences. Beauty radiated from every fragrant spot. Miss Louise Kellogg, Mrs. Hosy, Miss Rose Eytinge, Mad. Parepa, Miss Henriques, Mr. and Mrs. Lester Wallack, Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley, Mrs. Dan Bryant, Miss Olive Logan, Mrs. Jennings, Mayor Hoffman, Godfrey Gunther, Leonard W. Jerome, the magnates of the City Hall and their terrible adversaries of the Citizens’ Association and the winner of the ocean yacht race were among the more famous ones present. The costumes worn were as various as human taste and as brilliant as the suggestions of human vanity. Just now hair torture seems to be the fashion among the ladies, and the amount of suffering endured last night for the sake of fashion must have been tremendous. There was hair with diamond, gold and silver dust, and hair powdered; hair frizzled curled, crimpled and in braids; hair in waterfalls, cataracts, rats, and other scenic and omnivorous shapes… [The description continues.] In fact, Mr. Maretzek is to be congratulated on getting off the very nicest public masked ball that has yet taken place in New York, and we hope its actual results were as profitable to him, in a pecuniary sense, as they were to all his guests.”
“Amusements. The Bal d’Opera. But few words are needed to describe the absolute success of the bal d’opera which, last evening, appropriately inaugurated not only the new Academy itself, but a season of high endeavor and artistic brilliancy. The first occasion of the kind was that which took place under the able direction of Maretzek, in the old Academy when the elite of the Metropolis shared the activities of the evening, and the notable caricatures of a resident artist lined the walls and afforeded mirth and sport for us all. Shortly after that the Academy was destroyed, leaving nothing, save the ashes and its memories, and until that destruction, we little realized to what extent the Academy and its entertainments had become part and parcel of our best and most delightful living. The energy and enterprise of its Directors, spurred in no light degree by the necessities of the public and the arguments of Maretzek, insured an immediate rebuilding, the result of which stands monumental in its approximate perfection on the traditional ground, ready for the accommodation and service of the people.
We have on a previous occasion described at length and with fullest detail the external and internal apprearance and peculiar conveniences of the Academy, which is vastly improved by the new arrangement in the boxes and the shortening of the parquet length. The chief annoyance in the old building was the garish, gaudy type of adornment about the circles’ front, the pillars and paneling generally. This is entirely obviated by the better taste of the decorations, who, in the artistic frescoing of the ceiling and the delicate tinting of the interior, have consulted rather the cultured desire of the few than the extravagant hankerings of the multitude. The greatest effort has been made to secure the comfort and ease of the attendants at the Academy. The dressing-rooms, lobbies, boxes and chairs are arranged with this grand point of personal comfort mainly in view, and we think it will be universally conceded that in this essential element the house is, literally, unapproached by any other.
This bal d’opera was given for two reasons. The gentlemen who are on the Academic Board of Direction, with others of our best-known citizens and leaders of society, deemed it due to Mr. Maretzek that when he again assumed control, it should be known and seen among all men that he did so with the most absolute confidence of the people for whose entertainment he is to cater. A great loser by the fire and its unavoidable results, Maretzek held on to his company, engaged new artists, and before the smoke had ceased curling above the blackened walls of his ruined temple reorganized his troupe and laid plans for the coming season. The plucky endurance, the reckless indifference to combinations of avowed hostility and the dogged perseverance exhibited by the impresario won the regard of his fellow-citizens, so that when a public-spirited member of the Board proposed a complimentary inaugural ball the suggestion was at once adopted by the directors and indorsed [sic] last night by the people.
The issue of tickets from the sales office was limited to one thousand, and which, with the extra ladies’ tickets and the few complimentaries, made an aggregate of perhaps three thousand. These were all represented last night and no more, so that while there was an attendance quite sufficiently large to insure brilliancy and geniality, there was not enough to give discomfort or cause annoyance.
By 10 o’clock the boxes were filled and the floor closely occupied, and at that hour the quadrille band, under the skillful conduct of Messrs. Bergmann and Grill, opened with ‘L’Africaine Quadrille,’ in which several hundred couples participated. The number of fancy dresses was unusually large, and the elegance of the toilettes was universally remarked. The usual variety, from the impossible Yankee to the hand-rubbing clown—from Queen Elizabeth to Mrs. Grundy—was noticed, and the traditional representatives of Sunday newspapers attracted the traditional attention.
The music was superb, the dancing jolly, the promenade universal, the supper passable, the ball a success.”
“The event was very successful. People of the highest society in their finest wardrobes mingled in the halls of the very impressive new Academy of Music.The seats, galleries and box upholstery are in Bordeaux red, which matches with the light colors of the walls and ceiling. The lighting of the venue is superb: a grand crystal chandelier displays a beautiful rainbow light, which illuminates every niche and every detail of the audience’s toilette. Among the audience, we recognized Mayor Hoffman, George Frances Train, J. Bennet, the winner of the world championship of yachting, and others.”
“The southern front façade of the new building is less impressive than of the old building; however, the interior of the new academy is despite less elaborate décor, much more beautiful and comfortable. Although the new academy holds fewer seats, there are no seats with limited view anymore. The broad pillars downstairs, which limited the view before, have been replaced with much thinner and better positioned pillars. The highest balcony, in which the audience could hear very well but view very little, does not exist anymore. The triple rows in the very elegantly designed procenium boxes are very pleasant. The ‘plasond’ contains a painting that depicts a large music temple with figures on three sides whose names are inscribed Meyerbeer, Rossini and Bellini. In the four corners are portraits of Mozart, Beethoven, Donizetti and Verdi – the colors of the German flag black, red and gold under Mozarts painting. All-in-all it was the consensus that the new Academy of Music is in all aspects better than the old. Regarding the Opening event, the audience was more elegant than carnival-oriented, more sober than joyful and lively. Despite the lack of sillyness, faces were lit up with smiles and happiness.”
Announcement follows long description of new venue. “The grand Bal de l’Opera takes place at the Academy of Music, Friday, March 1, and inaugurates Maretzek’s tenure of that establishment.”