New-York Theatre (1866-69)
Opera, Variety / Vaudeville
8 June 2016
“The American comic opera, The Doctor of Alcantara, according to the version so successfully rendered at the New York theatre, Broadway, will be repeated at the house this (Monday) and Tuesday, the last evenings. Wednesday evening, October 17, will be presented the lively and sparkling operetta, A Night in Rome, by Julius Eichberg, author of the Doctor of Alcantara. Both pieces will be given with the whole strength of the company.”
“During the opera, a Ballet and a new feature, entitled the Dance of the Jumping Jacks, The Knaves of Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and Clubs will be introduced.”
“A Night in Rome, another of Julius Eichberg’s brilliant little operettas, was produced last night at the New York theatre for the first time this season. This laughable trifle is already familiar in New York, by the appearance of Miss Richings and Mr. Campbell in it last summer at the French theatre. It was placed on the stage last evening in a superior manner as regards scenery, effects, chorus and orchestra. As for the regular cast, the same cannot be said without exceptions. Mrs. Gomersal was very good in the character of Ninetta. She should not forget, however, that in the dungeon scene, where she represents Moccolont’s wife, that a veil or mask is necessary to conceal her features. Otherwise the best points of the operetta are lost, and it becomes ridiculous. Mr. Farley sang very well, but he cannot compare with his predecessor, Mr. Wylie, in point of acting. Those drawbacks may be remedied at the second representation tonight; but there is one very serious obstacle in the way of the success of A Night in Rome which must be instantly removed. We have seldom or never witnessed anything so irredeemably bad, both in singing, dress, and acting as the impersonation of Pietro, the gondolier, by the gentleman intrusted [sic] with that part. There are some defects which can be partly excused at a first representation, but the one of utter incompetency is too glaring to be passed over. The clever and mirth-provoking pantomime duet of Coco and Giglio, the mock inquisitors, was received with applause and deservedly encored. The laughable comedietta, Wanted: A Thousand Milliners, followed the operetta. If any one is afflicted with the blues, the best cure we could prescribe is to go and see Mr. Mark Smith as Mrs. Vanderpants, and Mr. Gomersal as Miss Smithers, surrounded by a bevy of charming young milliners. Mrs. Wilktos acted the old maid, Angelica Tod, to the life. The same bill will be offered to-night.”
“An operetta in one act, composed by Mr. Julius Eichberg, called ‘A Night in Rome,’ was produced at the New York Theater on Wednesday, before a good though not crowded audience. The music is lively, spirited, and effective. It exhibits many reminiscences of popular works which have the advantage of earlier date, which if not positive plagiarisms are strong resemblances, diverted from similarities by a note or two here and there turned up instead of down or vice versa. Still these detract but little from the merits of the work, for some of the best motives are original, and the whole is treated in a clever and musicianly manner. The ‘Serenade,’ which was very badly sung by Mr. Farley, is a nice piece of writing, and the composer is blameless that it did not make an effect. The first chorus, ‘Come Fill the Bowl,’ is a spirited, melodious, and well worded subject, and was capitally sung by a chorus of fresh and excellent voices , with the addition of pretty faces, which is a luxury to observers not often vouchsafed by female choristers. The ensemble piece, No. 7, and the chorus, No. 13, are conceived in good spirit, well constructed and essentially and effectively dramatic in character. The Duettino Bouffe and pantomime, No. 10, is a bit of pure crystalized fire, in which specialty Mr. Eichberg stands supremely excellent. It was so broadly humorous, that it convulsed the house with laughter. The ballad, No. 8, and the ‘couplet,’ No. 12, are pleasing and characteristic compositions, very charmingly sung by Mrs. Gomersal, who only lacks artistic aplomb to become one of the most popular singing actresses of the stage. The orchestration is ingenious, varied and effective, but Mr. Eichberg has only one merit as a conductor—the faculty of keeping the thing going. From the first note to the last, there was not an atom of color. Every movement was forte; grace, delicacy and contrast were abjured by off-hand flourish. The tenor serenade, with chorus, which is really a charming and effective composition, was butchered by a perpetual forte. The chorus is supposed to be unobserved observers, but they shouted loud enough to awake the dead, when they, with the orchestra, should have breathed out whispers. It may appear cool, to tell a man how his own music should be performed, but if he is oblivious to his own obviously intended effects, he must be told by those who go to hear, and have coolness and knowledge enough to detect his glaring shortcomings. It is true that his work was wretchedly executed, excepting by Mrs. Gomersal and the chorus, but more, under such circumstances, was it necessary for him to bring to bear all his knowledge, energy and tact, in order to save it from utter failure. He merely used his baton to keep time, and the work owed nothing further to his efforts.
No one will presume to accuse us of being exacting or unkind to those English or American opera undertakings, but we must protest against the abominations which have been foisted upon the public during the past few months. Incompetent and irresponsible managers have brought out incompetent singers in half rehearsed operas, without scenery, dresses or properties, have postponed and changed, humbugged the public in every conceivable way, to the vital injury of the cause they pretend to represent. That shameless dynasty died out, never, if we can prevent it, to reign again. Messrs. Mark Smith and Baker have, with the best intentions, taken up the cause when it was exploded, defunct and how! They have selected, or trusted the selection to others, the worst singer-actors, omitting Mrs. Gomersal from the charge, that could be found in New-York. We have heard Mr. Farley, in a concert room, sing with exquisite grace and expression; but on the stage he is only equal to Mr. Shattuck, the hero of the operetta, who can neither sing nor act. Such exhibitions should not be tolerated; they are an insult to our advanced musical taste, and only a New York audience would have born the infliction.
Mrs. W. Gomersal sang and acted with grace and piquancy. She has a charming voice, sings in excellent style, lacking only a knowledge of artistic effect, and is, moreover, a beautiful woman, and a spirited and graceful actress. A queen among clowns, and very much out of place, but still the only redemption of the performance.
English or American Opera is yet unexplored gold mine. There is talent enough in New-York to form a company which will not only command the public’s respect, but will be found competent to execute efficiently and brilliantly. Messrs. Smith and Baker have shown by the admirable surroundings they have given to their execrable company, considering the resources of their theater, that they have the spirit to carry the undertaking out, if they only know how. Let them take good advisors, and they will win success yet. The public will support them heartily if their operatic company is worthy of support.”
“Did you ever spend a night in Rome? No? More’s the pity. Well, the first night in New York of Julius Eichberg’s ‘Night in Rome’ is fixed for Wednesday, Oct. 17th, at the New York Theatre, where the ‘Doctor of Alcantara’ has made such a hit. They give these English Operas very cleverly at this cosy establishment.”
“Two nights in New York was all that was necessary for ‘A Night in Rome,’ which was produced at the New York Theatre on the 17th and 18th inst., but withdrawn on the 19th, and ‘The Doctor of Alcantara’ reproduced. The music of ‘A Night in Rome’ is not of the highest order and is as free as possible of all ideality. It is cleverly distributed between grave and gay, as the nature of the scene would indicate, the latter, however, greatly predominating. We do not remember that any of it was brilliant, although the execution of Mrs. Gomersal was remarkably so. The dance of ‘The Jumping Jacks’ was heartily applauded, and the four gentlemen who did it were obliged to repeat it. Mr. Shattuck; of minstrel fame, made his debut in a white face, appearing as Pietro, and his debut was about the worst we recollect ever having witnessed. He appeared to be aware of what he ought to say and do, but he was laboring under a stage fright. His gestures were painful to behold. He would occasionally shoot out his arm to its full length, and hold it in a straight position for a minute or so, and all his actions on the stage were bad. He was laughed at and guyed by the audience until it began to tell upon him, when he became so nervous that he could scarcely speak. Mrs. Gomersal had a duet with him, and we really pitied the lady, who tried her best to hide his defects, but it was of no use. The opera was a failure, and was withdrawn after a second representation.”