Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
29 August 2018
“Signor Ronconi, after having so often delighted us by his inimitable humor, last night gave his admirers a genuine surprise, and won the most emphatic triumph of his American career by his masterly assumption of the serious character of Antonio in ‘Linda.’ There were a few at the Academy who knew that the great buffo was by no means confined to the range of acting in which he has become so especially distinguished, but to the most of the audience his personation of the part of Antonio was a new revelation of his powers. As all were predisposed to give him a cordial reception, irrespective of the merits of his farewell performance, it may well be imagined that the actual brilliancy of Ronconi’s achievement kindled a degree of enthusiasm such as is rarely manifested at the opera. He was especially successful in the famous cursing scene near the close of the second act, which developed a tragic power rare on any stage, and called out a shower of floral tributes really embarrassing to the modest artist.
Whether or not Ronconi’s acting gave a special inspiration, it is certain that the other leading parts were assumed with an artistic fervor not often manifested. Miss Kellogg never before seemed to us to exhibit so high a degree of dramatic power, as in her beautiful and impassioned representation of Linda, while Madame Testa excelled herself as Pierotto. In fact the whole performance was unusually spirited, impressive and brilliant.”
“It is not often that that ever fresh and ever charming work ‘Linda di Chamounix’ has been more satisfactorily sung than it was at the Academy last evening on the occasion of Sig. Ronconi’s benefit—sung too, we are happy to say, to an audience as appreciative and intelligent as it was humorous and fashionable. The Linda of Miss Kellogg recalled delightful memories of Sontag. The bewitching airs with which the opera is so profusely bestudded were deservedly encored, and if it were possible for the heroine of the evening to add greener laurels to the many which already adorn the lyric crown she so gracefully wears, she certainly proved her opportunity on this occasion—and improved it—especially in the O luce di quest’anima and a consola rini in the final act. Ronconi’s Antonio, we have no hesitation in saying, fully realized the anticipations even of the most partial of his friends, at the same time that it dissipated whatever questionings may have been entertained by others as to the qualifications of his voice to respond to the arduous requirements of a rôle of that character. Throughout he was the great actor, if not altogether the great singer; and in some scenes, (particularly the malediction scene at the close of the second act,) it is best just to say, in both respects he thrilled his audience, and surpassed himself. Of floral tributes from the boxes he was an abundant recipient. The remainder of the cast, including the Pieroto [sic] of Natali Testa, and the Prefeta of Antonucci, was in perfect keeping with its general excellence in other respects. In short the performance, as an entirety, may be set down as one of the most brilliant successes of an unusually successful season.”
“Last evening occurred at the Academy Signor Ronconi’s chef-d’oeuvre of conscientious lyric acting—Antoine [sic] in Donizetti’s Linda, the first tragic part in which the famous artist has appeared for many seasons. Very few roles in opera treat us to more than suggestion of character, and in those of the rhapsodic school it is not always reasonable to expect a perfect mutuality of personation and sentiment. Antoine, however, is, with all the extra prettiness and sweetness of his school, as true and touching a character as the fecund Donizetti could muse out of one of his numberless spoils of creativeness. Ronconi steps into the part a veritable Antoine to order. He is not a Lablache, but, old as he is, a singer of good force and method, peculiarly abrupt and explosive when excited by the needs of the situation still more than by the beauties of the scene. We see that he has a much rarer spirit than that of the buffo hardihood; so often the most desperate artifice to persuade a fashionable world that it is jolly in spite of itself. Ronconi is no manufacturer of effect, though operatic comedy and tragedy are necessarily artificial, and his cunning he a humorist is not to be questioned. In the part of Antoine he show us how tragedy is allied to comedy as humor is to pathos, and how a broad and genial nature can aptly conceive and recreate both, while there is much in the serious spirit of his acting to recall one of his grandest successes, that in Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan. Thus has an inestimable actor taken his farewell of us, much to the loss of the American, and greatly to the gain of the English stage, on which he next appears, under engagement of Manager Gye.”
This performance was the last here for Ronconi who will start his London engagement next week. He had chosen “Antonio” from Donizetti’s Linda von Chamounix as his farewell-role in an opera performed for the first time. He proved again that, although his voice lost some of its strength over the years, his performance still abounds with perfection, natural authenticity and flow, and deepest emotion. We can not remember to have ever heard the farewell scene in the first act and the scene of the curse in the second done more effectively. After the last mentioned scene, Ronconi was called back onto stage several times, and was also presented with fresh laurels adorned with a blue-white ribbon. Kellogg was the graceful and perfect “Linda” as usual. All other performers did their best to give justice to their parts.
Brief comments on Maretzek’s success in introducing Peralta to his season.