Irving Hall

Event Information

Irving Hall

George W. Colby

Price: $1; $1.50 reserved

Event Type:
Chamber (includes Solo)

Record Information


Last Updated:
6 July 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

27 Oct 1866, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Severini also sang an unidentified canzonetta Neapolitana.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Ye merry birds that sweetly sing; Ye pretty birds; Come ye pretty birds
Composer(s): Gumbert
Participants:  Signor Severini
Composer(s): Schubert
Participants:  Signor Severini
aka Adelaida
Composer(s): Beethoven
Participants:  Signor Severini
Composer(s): Rossini
Composer(s): Hall
Text Author: Linley
Participants:  Signor Severini
Composer(s): Donizetti
Composer(s): Traditional
Text Author: Moore
Participants:  Signor Severini
Composer(s): Bellini


Article: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 10 October 1866, 154.

The diligent young pianist Alfred Pease, former student of Bülow, had planned to go back to Europe to conclude his studies. The Bismarck War is preventing him from doing so; he will therefore stay until next year. He will probably give a performance in the course of the winter.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 18 October 1866, 8.

“Signor Severini, the artist just arrived from Italy, will give a concert on Saturday evening, Oct. 27, at Irving Hall, assisted by several prominent artists. Signor Severini brings with him an excellent reputation. He is a tenor di grazia, and his voice is said to be exceeding, pure and beautiful. His style is spoken of as in the best Italian school, combining grace and expression, with an executive power competent to perform the most florid and difficult music. We hope that a large audience will witness the debut of Signor Severini.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 21 October 1866, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 October 1866, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 October 1866, 7.
Announcement: New York Herald, 23 October 1866, 7.

“Signor Severini, a tenor from Paris, will give a concert at Irving Hall on Saturday evening. He will be assisted by Madame Johannsen, Signor Centemari and Messrs. Pease and Colby.”

Article: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 24 October 1866, 185.

A tenor named Severini has announced a concert at Irving Hall. We recall a tenor named Severini who performed the role of Manrico in Il Trovatore in Berlin (Germany) two years ago. He was laughed at by the audience and thus had Mr. Woworsky take over his part after the first act. Is this Severini possibly a relative? The one here is also a German.

Announcement: New York Herald, 25 October 1866, 7.

“Signor Severini, a tenor, from Paris, and pupil of Panofka, announces his first concert in America at Irving Hall for Saturday evening. Madame Johannsen, Signor Centemari, and Messrs. Colby and Pease, will assist them.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 26 October 1866, 4.

“Signor Severini, a young tenor from Paris, and a pupil of the celebrated teacher Panofka, will give his first American concert at Irving Hall, on Saturday evening next, Oct. 26, assisted by Mme. Bertha Johannsen, Signor Centemeri, Mr. A. H. Pease and Mr. G. W. Colby, (conductor.) Report speaks highly of Signor Severini’s abilities.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 27 October 1866.

“Signor Lorenzo Severini, a new tenor of whom report speaks very highly, will make his first appearance in America this evening, at Irving Hall. He is said to have a voice of exquisite sweetness and large compass, and his education, completed by Panofka of Paris, to be in the purest Italian school, combining both passion and brilliant execution. He will sing in English, German, and Italian, in all of which languages his pronunciation is said to be perfect. He will be assisted by Mme. Bertha Johannsen, Signor Centemeri, Mr. A. H. Pease, and Mr. G. M. Colby.”

Review: New York Herald, 28 October 1866, 5.

“Signor Severini, a Parisian tenor and a pupil of Panofka, made his first appearance in America last evening at Irving Hall. The debutant was favorably received and merited a large share of the plaudits bestowed upon him. Signor Severni—who in the reading of no less than eleven pieces must have sought to prove his versatility by skipping from Beethoven’s cantata to Rossini’s Barbiere duo, and from a canzonetta Neapolitana to one of Schubert’s melodies—is merely a pleasing tenore di grazia. His voice is by no means powerful nor of great compass, but its lower notes are full, well rounded and under good control. His method is that of the French school, and the frequent recourse had to the falsetto seems particularly unpleasant from the fact that his head voice is harsh and untrained, and that the transition from the natural tones to the fictitious notes is not skillfully effected. These are defects rarely to be noticed in singers of the French school, whose falsetto invariably brought into use in the performance of light opera are cultivated with great care. Signor Severini sings with taste and ease. His rendering of Gumbert’s Die Vogelein, Beethoven’s Adelaide, and Hall’s Ever of Thee were artistic and showed that the singer will become a favorite if he discriminates in the choice of his pieces and avoids the more difficult works of the masters. This is to be inferred from his attempt to give the aria from Marino Faliero in the original key, as [illeg.] by Rubini, which attempt proved a very failure. The voice of the great tenor, rising in chest notes, continued in falsetto notes to the F in an [illeg.] of perfect justness and evenness, while the harshness and unevenness of Signor Leverail’s head-voice were bit too apparent. The debutant, who was cordially received, was assisted by Madame Bertha-Johannsen, accomplished musician, Signor Centemari, one of the best buffo baritones on the stage, and Messrs. Pease and Colby, pianists. Mr. Pease is a brilliant, if not a thoroughly accomplished player. Both he and Mr. Colby were recalled and responded to the encores.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 29 October 1866, 8.

“The first concert of Signor Lorenzo Severini took place at Irving Hall on Saturday evening, and was attended by a large, brilliant and very critical audience. Signor Severini is a young man of very pleasing manners and appearances, but Italian only in the name. He is an accomplished gentleman, speaking several languages, and singing in all with equal fluency, grace and comprehension. His voice is a tenor of light and very beautiful quality, which he uses tastefully and skillfully. Its compass is sufficient, and the quality is equal and melodious throughout the scale. His school is ornate, the natural flexibility of his voice has been improved by study, and his execution is free, facile and well articulated. There are few living tenors who can execute with such lightness and precision. He sang the German Lieds with much taste and expression, closing them with great effect by his perfect control of his voice. His Italian singing illustrated to points we have described, and proved that beside possessing brilliance and pathos, he has an excellent appreciation of humor. The use of the falsetto, which is so generally accepted in Europe, proved an unquestionable failure in the scena ed aria, from Marino Faliero. Our public dislike the quality of the tones, and emphatically disapprove of their use. Besides, Signor Severini did not achieve the same results by the same means as Rubini controlled. Rubini struck the highest notes with a clear, warm, but attenuated chest tone, which was as beautiful as it was remarkable, while Severini reached them in falsetto, and by an effort which roughened and depraved the quality, producing rather a thin shout than a clear and well-defined note. The contrast of the qualities of the tones was unpleasant, and produced an effect by no means intended by the singer. The aria itself was very charmingly sung, exhibiting the true concert style, namely, an absence of all shouting, but in its place, grace, taste, expression, and an emphasis sufficient without stage exaggeration.

In Beethoven’s beautiful aria, Adelaida, his rendering was deficient in depths of expression and impulsive passion; but he sang it tenderly and smoothly, and won a determined encore, to which he responded by singing that old favorite but rarely heard ballad, ‘Oft in the Stilly Night,’ in a manner so sweet, tender, and expressive as to call forth the enthusiastic applause of the audience. He sang the ‘Addis,’ duo from “La Sonnambula,’ with Mme. Johannsen, very charmingly; but its delicate effects were marred by that lady constantly falling from the pitch.

Signor Severini’s other marked success was the popular English ballad, ‘Ever of Thee,’ which he sang deliciously, charming his hearers by the admirable management of his voice, and by his tender and expressive style. He gained an enthusiastic encore, and sang in response a pleasant Italian canzone, with spirit and effect. Signor Severini displayed on the occasion of his debut, a versatility in style but rarely achieved by a vocalist, and in each he displayed a thorough mastery of its sentiment and character. His pronunciation of the several languages was refined and beautiful, and his annunciation in all was so clearly articulated that every word could be distinctly heard. This is one of his secrets of success, and in this he affords an example which all our singers would do well to follow. His debut was an unquestionable success. He exhibits attractive qualities which mark him out as a star singer and when he becomes more familiar with the taste of our American audiences, he will achieve a popularity which but few artists have attained in this country.

We would suggest to Signor Severini, either never to accompany himself, or to learn the correct harmonies of the songs he does accompany. 

Mame [sic] Johannsen sang her selection well, but rapid execution is by no means her forte, and therefore she should leave it to younger and fresher voices. 

Signor Centemeri sang in capital style. He exhibits a rich vein of humor, and dashes through his music with a genial spirit which makes his singing both attractive and effective. He is a talented and excellent artist.

Mr. Alfred H. Pease gives evidence of considerable improvement since we last heard him. His touch is better, his manipulation is more certain, and he has gained more self-assurance. His solo playing, however, still bears evidence of a want of self-possession, in a certain hesitation and a loss of delicacy of technique which degenerates very often into an appearance of thumping. His solo playing is also very deficient in coloring; he misses the delicate effects, and the total want of contrast, arising from the want of aplomb, renders his solo playing unimpressive. In his piano duets with Mr. Colby (clever and affective compositions by himself) he exhibited fine taste, and great delicacy and brilliancy. In these he displayed his real merits as a pianist, and his efforts were rewarded by warm appreciation and a hearty encore.

Mr. Colby accompanied carefully and judiciously. In this line of duty, he is fast becoming accomplished.”

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 31 October 1866, 202.

This Severini is without a doubt the same Severini who was laughed at and thus had another singer take over his part after the first act when performing in Trovatore in Berlin (Germany) two years ago. He repeated this act here. He has no voice, no understanding of the material, has no idea what a tremolo is, nor any idea about anything. His performance was terrible. Mrs. Johannsen sang beautifully and tastefully as usual as did Mr. Centemeri. Mr. Pease played two pieces with more skill and taste than ever heard before.