Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
Price: $1.50; $.75 family circle; $9 - $20 private boxes
27 April 2016
Ronconi and Kellogg excelled in their parts. The theater was completely filled.
“Amusements. Italian Opera. The full and brilliant house which was called out last evening by the second performance of the regular opera season gave promise that the entire season is likely to be as successful as the manager could desire. The opera, ‘Fra Diavolo,’ we never thought much of, and its poverty in melodies was all the more noticeable, coming as it did the next night after an opera so opulent in this respect as the ‘Barber.’ We fear, however, that with a large portion of our operatic audiences the former is the more acceptable and enjoyable. It has one beautiful melody which—by a judicious economy—is used over and over again, so that the most uncultured listeners find it easy to ‘keep the run of the music.’ The ‘Barber’ has, on the other hand, a succession of marvelous melodies, any one of which would suffice as the basis of a better opera than ‘Fra Diavolo.’
This very opulence of the former demands a somewhat cultivated and quiet ear for its appreciation. Hence the latter is much more generally appreciated. It may be, also, for the same lack of culture that an audience which did not encore Miss Kellogg’s delightful rendering of the song of the opera, did encore Mazzoleni for singing the same melody immediately afterward. Comment is unnecessary.
The general performance of the opera was excellent. Madame Testa’s acting was very good. If she would not break her voice so often we should enjoy her singing much more. Ronconi in his make-up as the Cockney lord was inimitable, and if he gives too much French vivacity to the character, it only adds to its piquancy. The orchestra was admirably led by Carl Bergmann, and the choruses were given with spirit and precision, with one exception—when the time was slightly hurried.”
“Amusements. Italian Opera—Academy of Music.—Mr. Maretzek had the happy fortune to find a repetition of his opening success in the representation of ‘Fra Diavolo’ last evening, and in the very handsome audience that attended it. The familiar terms upon which, by this time, everybody must be with Auber’s merry opera does not seem to have bred indifference, and its stirring airs appear to make for themselves fresh welcome wherever they are sung. Perhaps something of the favor which the work has latterly received may be credited to the admirable way in which it has been acted as well as sung by Mr. Maretzek’s troupe. Certainly the histrionism of Signor Ronconi is beyond question, and Miss Kellogg gives a piquant expression to everything she does which entitles her to as many praises as an actress, as her constant improvements in vocalism compels admiration. There is also a vigorous animation about Signor Mazzoleni which grapples the attention as forcibly as his lusty notes do, while Mme. Testa would at any time be as much at home in the theatre as in the opera house. These praises are all the more pleasant to give since we are so seldom called upon to extend them—for nature is seldom so lavish in her gifts as she has been with some of the artists of the present opera company; just as she generally withholds brains where she bestows great beauty, so does she withhold the ability to act becomingly when she gives the power to sing diveinely. Most singers can’t act, or they won’t act—which amounts to the same. They are always thinking too much of their flats and sharps and the time and tune, to pay any regard to the expression of dramatic feeling. The performance of ‘Fra Diavolo’ was a happy exception to this ruling. It was acted admirably, and had but a single drawback to entire pleasantness otherwise. The double sensitive acoustics of the new house were not regarded tenderly, as they proabably will be hereafter, by Sig. Mazzoleni, and the volume of the excellent artist’s voice seemed almost leonine. Everybody and everything otherwise was pleasant—singularly so as far as the chorus was concerned; and the orchestra, under Mr. Carl Bergmann, was harmonious and merciful, and forebore to use its giant power like the giant.”
Reviews multiple performances. “Maretzek has thus far produced three favorite operas, none of which boast absolute novelty, but all of which have presented a fresh and excellent vocal strength. The Barber and Fra Diavolo have introduced Ronconi in some of his very drollest impersonations.”