Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
13 February 2016
“This evening Parepa will make her second appearance. Norma will be produced. General Grant, Mr. George Peabody, and the Governors of North and South Carolina are to be present. We shall enlarge on these debuts again.”
General Grant and Mr. Peabody will attend the performance.
“Amusements. Academy of Music—‘Norma.’—Mme. Parepa Rosa’s appearance as Norma, last evening, was even a greater success, because a success in a higher order of lyrical drama, than the performance of her début. On the first night the warm and responsive audience, only too willing, perhaps, to see her successful, might be supposed in some instances to have accepted the will for the deed and crowned her with triumphal favors before they were sufficiently contested for. After impulse comes thought, and with thought judgment. But Mme. Parepa Rosa’s position after the severer ordeal, passed in ‘Norma’ last night, was even more assured, and more emphatically assured than when she had revealed her new powers in the gentler emotions and simpler musical requirements of the tender Leonora. Here Mme. Rosa exhibited, more than ever, the ingenious power of exciting that sense of personal sympathy, that idea of hearty mutual good-will which—rightly or wrongly—our American audiences love to have established with their entertainers; and in two nights of opera, she has done more to make the public acquainted with this rarer merit than might otherwise have been effected in ten years of oratorio or any amount of concert singing. Her performance last night was particularly effective in this particular. Originally the character of Norma, as furnished by the librettist, must have been ‘a part to tear a cat in,’ but Bellini had no taste for tearing cats, or tearing lungs, in music, and he has given to the tremendous situations of the story some of the rarest and most beautiful strains. To hear Madame Parepa in these, is to hear her in delighting duty and in delighting moods, and always displaying, naturally, the most characteristic features of her genius. In ‘Casta Diva’ she was simply irresistible, and her phenomenal sustaining of the high note called forth an overwhelming response of enthusiasm which was almost as long sustained by the audience, and was resumed in the tumultuous recall she received after the act. Succeeding this comes the famous duet with Adalgisa, and here again Mme. Rosa was great, and was most admirably companioned in the aria by Mme. Testa, and secured an imperative encore, as did also their duet in the last act. The Histrionism of this and the last act was very perfect, and completed the triumphs of the evening for Mme. Rosa. In short, daguerreotyped at any moment during her personation of Norma, and though she may be only passing at that moment from one gesture to another, you will have fixed on the plate a picturesque and expressive figure. In the rôles of Polito and Oroveso Signors Mazzoleni and Antonucci gratified expectation and assisted in making the representation thoroughly complete. The performance was witnessed by Gen. Grant, Mr. George Peabody and several other distinguished public gentlemen, who, on being recognized as they entered their boxes, were warmly greeted by the rest of the audience.”
“Amusements. Madame Parepa Rosa in Opera. The removal of Madame Parepa Rosa from the concert room to the opera house cannot be called a change—it is simply a transfer of triumph from one scene to another. From the confines of sedateness, full dress and etiquette—in which but one sense can be appealed to—to an expancse where the passions have free field, where the picturesque is unchecked, and where every pulse of nature and every mortal feeling are called into responsive throb. On the concert platform, and in those simple ballads of the heart which she there sang as they had not been sung before, Madame Parepa Rosa’s penetrating notes first stirred the enthusiasm of the New York public—then in the grand Oratorios in which she was later brought forward, she lifted herself in unanimous estimation to the pinnacle of that school of lofty music—an eminence which she no sooner attains, as we see, than she plunges from it into another and broader and yet grander field, and crowns herself after the daring venture, in a single night, with a triple crown of triumph. We remember no excitement in the operatic world since the Picolomini rage so feverish and wide-spread as that which has reigned in the new Academy on the two evenings in opera. On Monday night, when at first aim the arrow of her genius sped to every heart, and brought, with a wild outburst, the audience to her feet at the end of the passionate and tumultuous aria for the soprano, tenor and baritone which closes the opening act of Il Trovatore;—an outburst which was repeated in the third and in the fourth acts of that melodious and dramatic opera; and last evening, again, when in the stern, grand Norma she re-aroused popular fervor for a very different sort of person from the love-tossed and extremely human Leonora, and in a class of music altogether different periods of recent operatic history. There can be but little doubt that Il Trovatore is the most popular opera in this country, and is likely to remain so while the present class of opera goers exist or hold together. Years since, when the only patrons of music belonged to the class of the most refinement, and, by consequence of the severest taste, Norma held the first place in esteem. But as a recent critic has said ‘the lovers of the lyric drama are now recruited from every class of citizens, and the entertainment demanded must satisfy tastes as diverse in character.’ Incapable of construing notes into coherent language the vast majority of the new patrons demands the fullest explanation, by incident of the purpose of the composer; and educated fully up to the most sensational dramatic standards, it demands no common degree of incident in connection with the music. Now Il Trovatore combines a novel and interesting story and a succession of dramatic surprises which delight these audiences. Norma, on the other hand, appeals to nobler feelings, and satisfies higher desires. Not that the story of the secret love of the haughty Druidess and her struggle against jealousy and revenge, of her tender, innocent rival, is not a powerful drama of itself,—but the incidents are few, and the sensations naturally evolved by such a plot are left to themselves without elaboration, save what is lavished on the mighty airs, which sweep the feelings from first to last. Madame Parepa’s noble presence and the dignified dramatic feeling which she can assume, and eminently suited to the character of Norma, while the harmonious volume of her magnificent voice, so capable of sustaining high notes at phenomenal periods finds congenial duty in the great ‘Casta Diva’ of the first act, and the impassioned duet with Adalgiza (Madame Testa)—in both of which this marvelous prima donna accured from her distinguished audience last evening the most spontaneous signals of enthusiastic favor. It is needless to particularize more. To dwell on the appreciative force of delicacy with which she unfolded each grand melody that Bellini has given to Norma in this work would simply be to exhaust the dictionary of its terms of praise. We look, from this, to see in Donna Anna, which is the next character promised by Madame Parepa, her still noblest effort. It is something, too, to be able to add that the Pallio (Sig. Marroleni) [sic] and Oroveso (Sign. Antonnia) [sic], last night were also as nearly perfect as merely human voices can make them, and that the choruses were noble to the last.”
Parepa-Rosa has proved last night that she is equally at home on the theater stage as in the concert hall. Her Norma was an artistic performance as we have rarely heard before. She sang the “Casta Diva” and the duet with Adalgisa in the second act in a masterly fashion, and she thrilled the audience to a point of rousing enthusiastic applause. Mazzoleni and Antonucci did their roles perfect justice. Mme. Testa; however, made us feel the lack of an effective alto last night again.
General Grant, Geo. Peabody, Governor Orr and other famous persons attended the opera yesterday. In General Grant’s honor, the orchestra played the National Anthem after the first act.
Parepa-Rosa is a big success on the opera stage. We already knew her excellent skills as a singer; however, it was questionable if she possessed any dramatic talent. According to the press and audience she has proven to be a very talented actress as well.
“Parepa-Rosa has sung in Italian Opera through the past week with Adelaide Phillipps, Brignoli, &c., to great acceptance. Her characters have been Leonora in Il Trovatore (!) Norma, Donna Anna (best of all).”
...Rosa celebrated a big success as Norma. Her first recitative and the following casta diva were performed in a fashion that can only be called ‘art’. The last note of the recitative was so softly breathed into the auditorium that it proved her excellent breath control.
The effect was magical; the effect could have been even better if she had used dynamics. Jenny Lind used to excel with this effect.
We hope Mad. Parepa-Rosa will remain on our opera stage for a long time. She would not only improve the audiences’ taste, but also that of some artists.