Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
27 November 2016
“With the performance of ‘Linda’ this evening and of ‘The Barber’ to-morrow afternoon, the present season of Italian opera will close. That it has not been pecuniarily successful all of our city readers well know. The causes of this result are not difficult to find. The exceptional prosperity of Italian opera during the war and for the year succeeding was due to the abundance of money easily made and readily spent. The times now indicate the necessity of economy, a virtue which nearly all classes are called on to practise [sic]. Mr. Maretzek recognised [sic] this fact by lowering the rates, but it is very doubtful if the enormous expenses he is obliged to incur can be met at the present prices of seats, especially as two hundred and fifty of the best seats in the Academy are retained by the stockholders, while the rental is very heavy.
“The production of so many familiar operas as have been given the past season was unwise, as we think. Our people desire novelty. There was none at the Academy, while a most attractive one was given at the French Theatre, and so the latter was largely frequented by the former patrons of the Italian opera. When Romeo and Juliet was brought out there was an immense attendance, and nearly all the seats were engaged for the second or third representations, when it was Mr. Maretzek’s aggravating misfortune that the chorus singers chose to strike for higher wages. But for this, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ might have saved the season.
“We sincerely trust that Mr. Maretzek will have better luck the next time. The courage, enterprise and judgment he has exhibited in his past managerial career are the best pledges that he will redeem his losses and correct whatever mistakes he may have made. It is to him largely that we are indebted for the production of Italian opera in New York for several years past, in a style which, on average, has been considerably superior to that attained in either Paris or London. If he had the same facilities and encouragement as the director of Italian opera in Paris, or anything approaching thereto, he could and would entirely eclipse the achievements of his contemporaries across the water. What could and should be done in his first aid is to furnish the Academy rent-free.”
“The last evening of Italian opera, with Linda Di Chamouni [sic], was not brilliant. The chorus and orchestra were below mediocre, and Mme Ghioni, in the role of Linda, didn’t gather the least laurel. Mr. Ronconi exaggerated his acting, and overreached his goal. The dramatic effects that he sought at the end of the first act were the most unfortunate: in place of making [the audience] cry, he made [them] laugh. Only Mme Natali-Testa was pleasing. . . .
“Friday night, on the programmes at the Academy, one read the following notice: ‘Madame Fleury-Longchamps, who habitually filled the small secondary roles at the Italian opera, having been engaged as prima donna at the French opera, Mme Reichardt will sing the role of Madalena in Linda tonight.”