Grau Italian Opera: Les vêpres siciliennes

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau

Emanuele Muzio

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
12 August 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

04 Feb 1863, Evening

Program Details

Barili could be Nicolo Barili, the basso who was in Grau's Havana Opera Company in 1862 (See VBL3, p.470) or Ettore, who also performed with the Grau Company.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Vepres; I Vespri siciliani; Sicilian vespers, The
Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Scribe, Duveyrier
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Federico Amodio (role: Monfort);  Virginia Lorini Whiting (role: Elena);  Nicolo Barili (role: Vaudemort);  Pasquale Brignoli (role: Arrigo);  Augustino Susini (role: John of Procida)


Announcement: New York Post, 27 January 1863, 2.
Announcement: New York Herald, 28 January 1863, 4.
Announcement: New York Post, 30 January 1863, 2.
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 31 January 1863.
Announcement: New York Herald, 02 February 1863.
Announcement: New York Post, 02 February 1863, 2.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 02 February 1863, 3.
Announcement: New-York Times, 03 February 1863.
Some of the cast.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 03 February 1863, 8.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 04 February 1863, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 04 February 1863, 4.
“[A]n unusually strong distribution. Mr. Grau’s best artists are in the cast.”
Advertisement: New-York Times, 04 February 1863, 7.
Announcement: New York Post, 04 February 1863, 2.
“The Academy of Music will hold a very brilliant audience to-night, as tickets sold largely yesterday and this morning. The ‘Vespers,’ though a popular work, has not been played here for some time, and with such singers as Lorini, Brignoli, Amodio and Susini, will recall most satisfactorily the palmy days of Colson and Ferri.”
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 04 February 1863.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 04 February 1863.
Review: New York Herald, 05 February 1863, 4.

“A most numerous and fashionable audience filled the Academy of Music from parquet to dome last evening, to hear Verdi’s great work, ‘The Vespers.’ The success which attended this opera in Philadelphia, reports of which reached here, gave additional prestige to last night’s performance, and drew forth the largest audience of the season. ‘The Vespers’ was given for the first time at the Imperial Academy of Music, Paris, June 13, 1855. The artists who sang the opera were Mlle. Cravelli, Gueymard, Bounchee and Obin. Their success was immense, and for months ‘The Vespers’ was the great and unrivalled attraction of the Paris season. The director of the French Opera spent fabulous sums upon the miss en scene; and the ballet, comprising as it did some of the most renowned danseuses, added to the effect produced by the fine music. Here the shortness and uncertainty of the operatic seasons prevent any great scenic display or any very effective choruses, and hence the opera loses a great deal in the performance.

The first act passed off rather monotonously. The house was intensely cold, and this no doubt prevented any evidence of pleasure on the part of the audience, although the artists sang pleasingly. Susini giving with great effect the ‘O tu Palermo terra adorato.’ We have said nothing of the plot of the opera, as it is taken for granted that all are fully conversant with it. The second and third acts passed off like the first, the chilled public not giving any decided applause to their favorite artists. We must add that the latter seemed affected by the demeanor of the public, which was on a par with the temperature of the house. The third act was, however, sung with more spirit than those preceding, Signora Lorini and Brignoli giving the grand duetto, ‘Volgi il aguardo a me sereno’ with great ensemble and effect. The applause which greeted this effort of the artists was chilling. The opera ended without any perceptible change of feeling on the part of the audience, although toward the latter part of the performance the merit of the artists drew forth some warmer acknowledgments from the public. Manager Grau will, of course, see that on Friday night the temperature of the Academy shall be as warm as any could desire. The sudden cold has taken us all by surprise.”

Review: New-York Times, 05 February 1863, 5.

Operatic.—The sudden spell of cold weather had its effect on the places of amusement last evening, although, strange to say, the Academy was less influenced than any other establishment—the house being densely crowded. Verdi’s opera of ‘Les Vespres Sicilliene’ was given—Madame Lorini making her rentrée in the soprano rôle, and singing the music with much skill. The performance, as a whole, was evidently under the influence of the weather, the singers and audience being alike cold.”

Review: New York Post, 06 February 1863, 2.

“The Sicilian Vespers.

            It was in the ‘leafy month of June,’ during the great exhibition of 1855 at Paris, that Guiseppi [sic] Verdi’s opera of ‘the Sicilian Vespers’ was first produced. The composer is now but forty-eight years of age, and during seventeen of this number he has written some twenty operas. This extraordinary musical fecundity may well give rise to the question whether the quality is equal to that quantity. That he is shallow as a contrapuntist, that he employs orchestral effects to hide poverty of scholarly resources, that there is a great deal of noise and clatter in his operas, and that his music is destructive to vocal powers, cannot be fairly questioned. Yet with all these drawbacks he is the most popular composer of the day, and this popularity is due to his vein of beautiful melody—the boon of his land and race—which mellows and tones down all his works, and to his dramatic effects and his choice of librettos often interesting and sometimes highly tragic.

            ‘The Vespers’ attracted a very large audience to the Academy Wednesday evening, but the cold produced a kind of musical hibernation among them, in which the artists seemed to sympathize. A lethargy, to be attributed to the chilly atmosphere, influenced both performers and listeners. It must not be understood that though the spell of enthusiasm was drooping, that the four leading artists were behind their important roles. The uniformly good voice of Signora Lorini was effective enough; the grace and finish of Signor Brignoli were apparent in all he did—the pensive and sympathic [sic] tones of Signor Amodio told delightfully on the ear, and the grand and sonorous vocalisation of Signor Susini swelled though [sic] the house as usual.”

Review: New York Herald, 09 February 1863, 8.
“[A] triumphant operatic week we have just gone through. We have had ‘Martha,’ ‘The Vespers,’ ‘Don Giovanni,’ ‘Norma’ and ‘Les Noces de Jeanette.”
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 09 February 1863.

"The flutter caused by the almost monstrous pairing of Barnum's two dwarfs isn't, by any means, the only manifestation of the American people's facility for enthusiasm and for its penchant to try to forget the adversity of the times. The short opera season that marked last week is another example, scarcely less striking, although less abnormal. The four farewell performances given by M. Grau produced four of the handsomest receipts ever in the memory of the Academy of Music.... Martha, the Vepres Siciliennes, Don Juan, and Norma found the public more eager than in the most prosperous days of yore. [Note: the critic neglects to mention Les Noces de Jeannette here, though he cites it later.] It is accurate to say that all these operas were mounted and rendered in such a manner as to justify the attention of the crowd. Except for the disadvantages inseparable from having such diverse productions organized in such a short space of time--inconveniences to which one must begin to become accustomed--the three evenings and the matinee were satisfying on all points. One applauded Brignoli, reappearing with his voice fresher than ever, though not having recovered all its power; Amodio coming without warning to the role of Don Juan which he had neither ever sung nor even seen played by others; Susini, with his acting so simple and so intelligent; Mlle Kellogg, with her singing so correct in its coldness; Mme Lorini, always the excellent singer; Mlle Morensi, of whom the present already holds so much, in awaiting the promises of the future; finally, Mlle Cordier, who transported us to Franch for an hour, in acting Les Noces de Jeannette with the charm that she brings to all her roles. If, at moments, the critics felt themselves tempted to find fault here and there, they were disarmed by the thought that it's a question of saying goodbye for a long time to these artists who, on the whole, gave us the best ensemble company this winter that we've had in these past years."

Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 14 February 1863, 364.
“[N]ot very satisfactory. The lack of fires in the furnaces tended to chill somewhat the enthusiasm of the audience, who of late are prone to stately reserve, if not stolid indifference. This had also a similar effect upon the artists, and everything seemed cold and forced until the last act.”
Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 21 February 1863, 375.
Only a mention that it was performed.