Maretzek Italian Opera: La sonnambula

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Angelo Torriani

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
14 January 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

25 Apr 1867, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Sleepwalker; Nachtwandlerin
Composer(s): Bellini
Text Author: Romani


Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 19 April 1867.

Peralta’s engagement for three nights.

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 19 April 1867.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 19 April 1867, 8.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 21 April 1867, 4.
Announcement: New-York Times, 22 April 1867, 4.
Announcement: New York Post, 24 April 1867.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 24 April 1867, 8.
Review: New York Post, 25 April 1867.

“The closing portion of the present season of Italian opera has been enlivened by a genuine sensation. The artist who has afforded us this pleasure is Senora Peralta, whose fame in more tropical latitudes has been, until within a few days past, entirely unheralded here. Her nary ‘puffing,” but the brief announcement made by the press sufficed to draw a full audience, among whom the artistic element was more observable than usual.

The opera selected for the occasion of introducing the new prima donna was ‘La Sonnambula,’ which proved to be a most judicious choice. The music of the part of Amina seemed exactly adapted to bring out the peculiar qualities of Senora Peralta’s voice, and to display her remarkable florid vocalization. Her first appearance on the stage was not—to say the least—impressive, or calculated to predispose to an enthusiastic reception. Her rather stout figure, and lack of the graceful carriage we have become accustomed to in our prima donna assoluta, was but partially redeemed by the winning expression of a countenance strongly Spanish. She failed, whether for this or other reasons, of that cordial first greeting which courtesy demanded, but before she had finished her first aria this apparent lack of warmth was more than atoned for by a burst of enthusiastic applause such as is seldom heard in the Academy; and her feats of execution in the last duo with Signor Baragli called out another demonstration eqully decided.

 It was not, however, until she reached the piece de resistance of the opera—the ‘Ah non giunge’—that Senora Peralta’s full powers were really developed, and—although we could but remember Patti—in this she was superb, especially in the latter part, where the most marvelous vocal gymnastics were achieved with an evenness of execution, purity of tone, and apparent ease, which fairly startled the audience. The bravas would not wait for the conclusion of the song, but were interspersed whenever a moment’s breating place gave opportunity and the applause that followed was continued until after the recall on the stage, the most noticeable tribute to the success of the artist being that which came in the shape of a bouquet thrown on the stage by the prima donna of the Academy.   

Notwithstanding this brilliant success we find it difficult to assign to Senora Peralta the position we think she should occupy. She undoubtedly has what is called one of those ‘phenomenal’ voices, which never fail to excite enthusiasm when first heard. Her range is very great, and, what is uncommon in voices of such compass, she ascends from the lowest to the highest notes with an evenness really remarkable. Vocal difficulties seem to have a charm for her, and are conquered with such readiness that one always thinks she could succeed in bolder attempts if she tried. Her intonations are pure and resonant, but seem somewhat deficient in that sympathetic quality which alone can thrill the sensibilities. Even in the ‘Ah, non giunge,’ that most beautiful expression of the tremulous joy of a young heart suddenly transported from utter despair to the full fruition of love, there was nothing to move the emotions or cause a single pulse to beat faster. The whole attention of the audience was absorbed in the mere admiration of a wonderful piece of execution.

Senora Peralta’s ‘methed,’ as it is called, can hardly be judged by one performance, especially in view of the fact of her evident embarrassment last evening, which may have explained many inequalities in her singing. Whoever have been her teachers have evidently sought to develop strongly the sensational qualities of her voice, which is not one of the rare class that are said to give composers new inspirations. In recitative she is not at all equal to the prima donnas we have been accustomed to hear in the Academy; and the same may be said of her acting.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 25 April 1867, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 25 April 1867, 5.

Manhattan performance will deprive Brooklyn of its customary Thursday of opera.

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 25 April 1867, 8.
Review: New-York Times, 26 April 1867, 5.

“The representation of ‘La Sonnambula,’ at the Academy of Music last evening, had some exceedingly charming features. The opera itself is always a welcome one, for it is in Bellini’s happiest vein, and is characterized by all of the composer’s great simplicity and apparent facility. The profound harmonies and learned contrivances of the later composers and the German style may be imitated by dint of application and study; but Bellini’s simple notes, so full of grace and beauty, so deep and various in the expression, are beyond the reach of imitation. Sounds at all resembling his must flow, without labor and without effort, from a fountain of melody as pure and abundant as his own. His very simplicity is the surest sign of his plentitude. It was never necessary for him to have recourse to artifice and complication for the purpose of concealing poverty of invention. In ‘Sonnambula’ Bellini is altogether himself. The music is full of noble simplicity, beautiful melody and strong expression. In the airs dramatic truth is never sacrificed to vocal display; and the concerted pieces are broad, grand and effective. In last night’s performance, Amina, to whose lot falls some of the loveliest vocal labor in any opera, was represented by Senora Angela Peralta, the débutante from the land of Cortez and Cortinas, whom Mr. Maretzek has secured for some of the closing performances of his season. The duties of that rôle could not have fallen to a happier ambassadress. The style of the new singer is as pure as her thoroughly pure soprano voice; for Senora Peralta, to express her great charm briefly, sings in the true lyrical manner, without any apparent regard to the fact that an audience is listening to her, and as if solely to give expression to her own emotions. In this she sustains the spirit of her composer with nice equality. Her ornamentation is singularly perfect and unconventional. There is a separate melody in her expression of bravuras that add an unusual charm to the traditional fringes with which singers insist on bordering their arias. Her trills, indeed, are little songs in themselves. Senora Peralta’s success with the very brilliant audience that listened to her initial effort appeared to be fixed from her utterance of ‘Come per me seveno [sereno],’ Amina’s first aria; but her rich, free notes in expressing the agony air, ‘O mio dolor,’ gave rise to greater sensation. This, and indeed the entire finale of the first act, were so superbly given as to call out an emphatic demand for repetition. The new singer’s powers, indeed, seemed to increase with the duty required of them, and thus in the aria which preludes the joyful finale of the opera, ‘L’anello mio,’ she was better than before. Her utterance of the outburst, ‘Io son felice appiano,’ was a marvelously-sustained expression of ecstasy. Of course, ‘Ah, non guinge,’ was above all, however, and not only secured Senora Peralta a double recall at the fall of the curtain, but fixed her success amid a little storm of enthusiasm. The débutante was ably seconded by Sigs. Baragli and Antonucci. Miss Stoughton was the Lisa.”     

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 26 April 1867, 4.

“Senora Angela Peralta’s success last evening at the Academy of Music, has partly justified the cordial predictions which have been uttered in her favor from so many quarters. She appeared as Amina, in La Sonnambula, an opera full of honey and innocence, as trite as it is sweet, but nevertheless abundant in certain vocal opportunities necessary to the display of the least affected, and most genial and emotional qualities of the singer. It was the one of all others to select for the debut of such a vocalist and actress as Peralta, who has the simple ease, purity, and volubility of expression which we look for in the representative of a part which Sontag has enriched and Patti brightened. Amina doubtless shows Senora Peralta at her best for it is a part quite capable of containing the most charming individuality of a music method like hers. That best is admirable indeed, and no serious fault is to be found with her utterances of Bellini. The nervousness of a debutante may have made plain some thinness of her lower and ordinary tones, but in her higher reaches of vocal skill and embellishment and dramatic fervor, the new prima donna has fulfilled expectation. Her presence is not conspicuous for merely personal advantages, though a light, buxom figure, graceful movement, a Spanish complexion, and large black eyes, are likely to win upon the [countenance?] of the public even in the absence of positive and startling beauty. With the youthful freshness of her voice, Senora Peralta combines a delicacy and maturity of method which is only to be commended. Her acting, whether natural or not, is very dainty artifice; her vocalism, seldom or never disguised and impaired by the silly and rhapsodical tremolo, is rich and sweet, and there are passages of her execution in which nothing better could be desired for either hight [sic] or fullness. The finales of the first and last set were distinguishing instances of the power and clearness of her high-note, and the delicacy and beauty of her trill. In a word, much of Peralta’s Amina was simply exquisite, and the running commentary of applause which it received was often very judiciously bestowed.”

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 26 April 1867, 8.

Although Peralta supposedly was not in very good disposition, her New York debut was a success. Her voice is a quite lovely, light, and high soprano with a wide range. Because the role of Amina is a pure singing part until the last scenes of the third act, Peralta had little opportunity to display her acting skills. Already with the first cavatina in E flat major, which she overloaded with tasteless frills, she won the audience, and she was called back several times after the finale of the second act. The opera was quite well performed. Baragli and Antonucci supported Peralta excellently.

Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 28 April 1867, 4.

Despite Peralta’s somewhat unpleasant appearance, her friendly expression, the beauty of her voice and her skill as a bravura singer were overwhelmingly convincing. Her warm and sentimental, yet also fiery, pure and noble performance aroused the audience to a wave of applause that the Academy of Music has not heard in years.

Review: New York Clipper, 04 May 1867, 30.

“Maretzek’s latest acquisition, made her debut at the Academy of Music in this city on the 25th of April, and sang herself into favor at the first pop.  Her voice, of a light soprano character, is pronounced, sweet and clear, and her execution of difficult passages rank her as A No. 1.”

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 04 May 1867, 616.

The press has not announced the arrival of the new prima donna Angela Peralta for the Italian Opera as it usually does with newcomers. That is why the attendance of her debut performance was not high. However, “she came, sang and conquered”. The initial reserve of the audience, especially about her unpleasant appearance, melted away during the first act already. Enthusiastic applause thundered after the finale of the second act, and after the grand aria and scene in the third act the audience had reached a state of ecstasy. She was called out several times. (…) She possesses a very pleasant high soprano voice of light quality and accurate pitch, with which she sings the most difficult fiorituras.