Grau Italian Opera: Don Giovanni

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)

06 Feb 1863, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Barili is Nicolo Barili, the basso who was in Grau's Havana Opera Company in 1862 (See VBL3, p.470), not Ettore, who also performed with the Grau Company.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Dissoluto punito, Il; ossia Il Don Giovanni Libertine Punished, The; or Don Giovanni
Composer(s): Mozart
Text Author: da Ponte
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Amalia Patti Strakosch (role: Donna Elvira);  Amati Dubreuil (role: Masetto);  Pasquale Brignoli (role: Don Octavio);  Augustino Susini (role: Leporello);  Federico Amodio (role: Don Giovanni);  Virginia Lorini Whiting (role: Donna Anna);  Clara Louise Kellogg (role: Zerlina);  Nicolo Barili (role: Commendatore)


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 Daily Tribune, 02 February 1863, 3.
Announcement: New-York Times, 05 February 1863, 5.
“[L]ast night of the season.”
Advertisement: New-York Times, 05 February 1863, 7.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 05 February 1863.
Announcement: New York Herald, 06 February 1863, 4.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 06 February 1863, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 06 February 1863, 5.

Academy of Music.—Mr. Grau’s short season at the Academy of Music comes to an end this evening, when Mozart’s opera of ‘Don Giovanni’ will be given. This work, introducing three prime donne, and the usual force of male singers is seldom played except on the last night of the season, the impression prevailing that its attractions are too strong for any other time; that the public will not care to listen to one prima donna after having heard three. In accordance with custom, therefore, Mr. Grau plays his trump card, and we may rest assured the house will be crowded. The two performances already given attracted the largest and most fashionable audiences ever seen here, and have, we are glad to hear, been a source of considerable profit to the impresario. The house, we are told, will be made sufficiently warm; on Wednesday it was miserably heated.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 06 February 1863, 3.
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 06 February 1863.
Tonight, for the only time this season, Don Giovanni.
Review: New York Herald, 07 February 1863, 4.

“To say that the Academy of Music was crowded last night, will give but a feeble idea of the immense and most fashionable audience which was brought together to witness the performance of Mozart’s chef d’œvere [sic]. The weather was unpropitious, but the attraction proved too great, and wind and rain were forgotten alike in the general anxiety to get into our temple of music. Certainly a more brilliant or numerous audience never was seen in New York. The performance was an admirable one; and, before giving any details, we may assert it was a triumph for all the artists who sang, while Manager Grau had substantial proof of the popularity of the opera he had chosen to close the season with. The public will the more regret the inevitable departure of Manager Grau and his artists after the enjoyment of last night’s musical treat.

            The first act passed off most pleasantly. Mme. Strakosch, as Donna Elvira, sang the music of her role most acceptably, and received hearty applause. As the public were indebted to her kindness in volunteering for the role of Elvira, we thought the audience might have received her with more warmth than was displayed. As for the applause which she received later on, she fully merited it by her performance. The aria sung by Miss Kellogg, ‘Zerlina,’ was rendered with great sweetness, and was enhanced by the arch acting of the favorite artist. She was encored amid great applause. The terzetto between Donna Elvira (Mme. Strakosch), Donna Anna (Lorini), and Ottavio (Brignoli) was sung with great ensemble and purity, and was likewise encored. The Leporello of Susini was a great performance, and we will merely add here, that he was most successful, affording great amusement by his acting as well as by his singing, which was in his usual large style. The second act was equally successful, the artists giving ample satisfaction to the audience. Signor Amodio, who sang the role of Don Giovanni for the first time, was a most satisfactory representative of the popular mauvais sujet. The efforts of this artist were the more meritorious when it is taken into consideration he never saw the opera performed, had but few rehearsals, and was dependent upon his own ideas of the role for success. He may have slighted some of the traditions of the past, but he certainly sang the music delightfully and acted it very well.

            We have no space to enumerate the points of the third act. We will but add that it passed off most brilliantly, and conclude by pronouncing the ‘Don Giovanni’ of last evening a most pleasing and successful performance. The artists richly merited the applause which was bestowed upon them.”

Review: New-York Times, 07 February 1863, 4.

Academy of Music.—The best performance of Mr. Grau’s short season, was undoubtedly the ‘Don Giovanni’ of last night. The principal characters were intrusted [sic] to most competent hands, and the orchestra and chorus were more than ordinarily perfect. Miss Kellogg’s Zerlina has already been recognized as one of her best rôles, a little too refined, perhaps, for the innocent village maiden, but none the less delightful for that reason. Mme. Lorini was excellent in the dramatic music of the first act, and generally satisfactory elsewhere. Mme. Strakosch, who made her first appearance this season as Elvira, was, as usual, thoroughly perfect in the part. Of the male characters, it is only necessary to say that Signor Amodio essayed the part of Don Giovanni for the first time, and, as we understand, without even the advantage of having heard it performed elsewhere. It was a very acceptable substitute for Signor Gassier, who was certainly the most gallant Don we have ever had in this country. Signor Brignoli was the Octavio [sic] and Signor Susini the Leporello, characters in which they are already known. The performance was, in almost every respect, a good one.”

Review: New York Post, 07 February 1863, 2.
“[T]he largest paying audience ever held within [the Academy of Music’s] walls on an opera night. Every seat in the house was sold, and many were obliged to stand. The opera was respectably performed, and encores were awarded to Brignoli’s ‘Il mio Tesoro’ and Miss Kellogg’s ‘Batti, batti.’ Madame Lorini sang the high music to Donna Anna with considerable effect, and Madame Strakosch’s personation of the lachrymose Elvira was one of the most finished of the evening. Susini was satisfactory as Leperello, and Amodio, who played the Don for the first time, only lacked more dash and spirit. As a whole, the opera, though often better performed here, was very fairly done, and with the matinee to-day formed a brilliant close to Mr. Grau’s short and successful season.”
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 07 February 1863, 5.

“There was a very large crowded audience last night to attend the obsequies of ‘the Season’ of the three nights at the Academy. So much has been said and sung of Don Giovanni, that it is very stupid to repeat anything more about it. All that can be essayed now is as to the performance. The character of Don Giovanni has next to nothing to execute in singing, and accordingly relies wholly upon the actor for its effect. If he be good, the part is fine for its dare-deviltry and dash; and beyond that little else. We have given our eulogiums on Madame Lorini several times, and have only to repeat them. Her voice is a beautiful soprano, and in the very high music as to pitch, of the Donna Anna, she resolutely ‘attacks’ the most formidable notes with success. Zerlina is the pet of the opera – and her music is best known and admired by the public. This character was entrusted to Miss Kellogg, who is constantly improving in her gradus ad parnassum. Donna Elvira is a walking part in the singing – and was neatly rendered by Madame Strakosch. Ottavio may be summed in the Il mio tesoro air; which lies well under the beautiful tenor of Signor Brignoli. Leoporello requires all the fine deep bass voice of Signor Susini for its effects; and it was highly relished.

The remarkable success which has attended the effort to render opera here – even in these calamitous times – is proof that the public wants lyrical entertainment and is well-disposed to give heed what is respectable.”

Review: New York Herald, 09 February 1863, 8.

“The great event of this meteoric season was the production of Mozart’s master piece [sic], ‘Don Giovanni,’ which was a decided success. This is saying much, as even to produce the work tolerably is a rare achievement. We had not space while briefly mentioning the opera before to enter into any details as to a performance which certainly merited a more extended review; but the hour was late, and time, tide and the New York Herald wait for none. We now have the opportunity of repairing the inevitable omissions which were made. The Donna Anna of Signora Lorini was certainly most successful. The music of this role is exceedingly difficult and trying to the voice, which must be one of sustained power to go through the performance. The grand recitative, in which Donna Anna reveals her suspicions that Don Giovanni murdered her father, was admirably rendered. Her appeal to Ottavio (Brignoli) to resent this crime, calling upon him, as proof of his love; to swear vengeance, was sung with great spirit and force. The audience applauded most heartily this effort of the artiste. In the concerted music Signora Lorini was heard to great advantage, especially in the terzetto sung by herself, Madame Strakosch and Brignoli. A tumultuous encore was insisted upon by the public. Lorini labored under one disadvantage—the role of Donna Anna is not one which excited the sympathy of the public, who usually mark out Zerlina as their favorite. We presume this result goes to prove that we like the gay and the lively much more than the grief-stricken or the melancholy; and Donna Anna is certainly the latter. Spite of this drawback [sic], Signora Lorini achieved by her fine singing a success, as she met with great applause. We would suggest to Miss Kellogg a little less refinement in acting the role of Zerlina. She must be a peasant girl, not a lady in peasant’s dress. We do not say this with any desire to carp at a performance which gave universal pleasure, but merely as a hint to a favorite artiste. We wish now to refer to Signor Brignoli, who received on the night of the performance of ‘Don Giovanni’ a telling proof of his popularity with a New York audience. He sang the music of his part (Ottavio) with great success until he came to the gem of his performance, ‘Il mio Tesoro,’ which was rendered delightfully up to the last note. Here Brignoli’s voice, as yet not fully reliable (he has been very ill), broke. A pause ensued, during which the artist, evidently annoyed, walked off the stage. Then came thunders of applause. The public appreciated that such accidents are unavoidable with the best voices, and they wished to convince the favorite tenor of this. He reappeared, sang with more animation than before, and retired amid long and continued applause.”

Review: New-York Times, 09 February 1863, 5.
“Miss Kellogg, who, as . . . Zerlina in ‘Don Giovanni,’ gave evidence of improved style and lightsome appreciation of seriocomic character. In parting with Miss Kellogg the public loses the best native prima donna the country has yet produced.”
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 [critic omits Les Noces de Jeannette, which he references later] found the public more eager than in the most prosperous days of yore. 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; Amodion 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 France 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 tofind faults 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.

“‘Don Giovanni’ was given on Friday evening with Lorini, Strakosch, Kellogg, Brignoli, Amodio and Susini. The house was one of the most brilliant of the season. The Academy of was filled to overflowing, and such a dazzling array of bright faces and expensive toilets is rarely seen.—The performance was commendable. Very few could find fault with it.”

Review: Musical Review and World, 14 February 1863, 39.

“Miss Kellogg as Zerline [sic] did most likely not quite come up to the expectations of many, who enjoyed her former performances. This must be especially attributed to the thinness of that part of her voice, which is chiefly demanded by the role of Zerlina. She acted the part with that intelligence and originality of conception, which is one of the chief attributes of her talent, she, too, sang correctly, but after all a young peasant girl of eighteen is expected to have a little stronger voice, than is at command of the very gifted young artist. Mad. Lorini was Donna Anna, Signor Amodio Don Giovanni, and Signor Brignoli Don Ottavio. If there was ever a role suitable to the usual spirit and energy of this tenor, it is that of the silent, tender-hearted and faithful attendant upon Donna Anna, and most contended listener to her wails and sorrows. The orchestra conducted Signor Muzio [sic] with its usual skill and experience.”

Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 21 February 1863, 375.
“Of course the cast of Don Giovanni professed to be ‘immense,’ and, almost as certainly of course, it was nothing of the kind. When shall we have an established Italian opera season in New York, with a company sufficiently good to spare managers the necessity of resorting to the tricks of humbug, so degrading to artists, and injurious to art; with a reasonably complete chorus, &c., and variety and reliability of repertoire?”