Pike's Opera House
Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison
Price: $2 reserved; $1.50; $.75 family circle; $12 boxes
8 August 2017
“Mr. Max Maretzek is the conductor—a guarantee of the excellence of the musical arrangements.”
“After a few repetitions of standard operas it is the intention of the management to produce in a style of lavish splendor Wallace’s legendary and romantic opera of ‘Lurline.’”
“Mr. Harrison, having assumed the management of Grand Opera in Pike’s establishment, begs to announce that he has completed arrngments with the following eminent artists, forming an Opera Troupe equal to any in the world…”
“Mr. Harrison is comparatively new in the operatic business, but in such esssays as he has made he has displayed a liberal spirit, and a judicious mind. We have no doubt whatever that he will prosper, for there is not a more hard-working man in the City of New York.”
“Since the announcement last week that the Grover-Maretzek company would open Pike’s Opera House on Monday, the 17th, for a season of Italian opera, there has been commotion and civil war in the greenrooms, and the lobbies of the Academy of Music have heard no talk but of the tribulations of managers. The opening, as our readers know, did not take place at the time announced. The cloud of troubles which encompassed the great combination troupe all through their prosperous provincial tour finally gathered and broke; and when the storm cleared away the combination had vanished. There was a prospect that some at least of the surviving artists would be added to Mr. Strakosch’s company; but a new manager has now appeared, under whose guidance the discomfited Italians and Germans have a fair chance of singing themselves into wealth and glory. Mr. Lafayette Harrison, who has taken the venture in hand, brings to his operatic enterprise the good wishes of all musical people, and the prestige and experience of a successful career as a concert and oratorio impresario. He promises to reopen the new opera-house on Monday next, with Madame Parepa-Rosa as his prima donna, and an excellent company, including the bright little Miss Hauck, Madame Testa, Pancani, Habelmann, Antonucci, Bellini, Ronconi, and other popular favorites. In the course of the season Mrs. Jenny Kempton will make her first appearance in opera. Mr. Harrison ought to do well, and we earnestly hope that he will. Madame Rosa is pretty sure to draw overflowing houses for the four nights of her engagement, and there is certainly merit enough in the rest of the company to insure prosperity for the balance of the season. Our old favorite, Maretzek, is to be the musical director. There are rumors of mighty undertakings to grow out of this venture of Mr. Harrison’s, and for the sake not only of the manager, who deserves so well of us, but of the public, who will be likely to profit from his good fortune, we wish him fair winds and a prosperous voyage.”
First week of opera season at Pike’s: featuring ‘Norma’ on Monday, ‘Faust’ on Wedenesday. — “As opera will be given on the same nights at the Academy, it will be seen whether New York can sustain two operatic companies at once.”
“Mr. Strakosch has no reason to complain of lack of patronage during the past week, the opera having been well sustained both here and in Brooklyn. Next week he will come into competition with the Maretzek company, under the management of Mr. Harrison, whose past successful career as a manager gives him considerable prestige.
On Monday evening Madame Parepa-Rosa will appear at Pike’s Opera House as Norma, and on Tuesday evening Madame Lagrange will appear as Norma at the Academy. We are thus at liberty to pay our money and take our choice between the two rival singers, each of whom has a small army of admirers and friends. Comparisons, however odious, will be inevitable and in place.”
“There will be two Normas in the field this week—enough surely to nerve the stoutest-hearted critic, and drive him to the contest. They are both good, and both well known in the role. The weight of the metal is decidedly on the side of Mme. Parepa-Rosa, and indeed she steals a day’s march on the enemy by appearing to-night at Pike’s Opera House, while Mme. La Grange, owing to the Charity Ball at the Academy, cannot do so until tomorrow night. The last-named lady, however, has plenty of trusty friends, and quite recently has won much favor in the rôle of the Priestess. Mme. Parepa-Rosa made her first operatic appearance in this character, and was immediately successful. Her rendering of ‘Casta Diva’ has probably never been equaled in America. The lady’s skill as a singer, the freshness and beauty of her voice, and her splendid style place her here unquestionably at the head of the lyric profession. How clearly this is remembered by the public was demonstrated last week when the lady made her rentrée in ‘Judas Maccabeus.’ The house was the largest ever attracted within the walls of Steinway’s Hall. On the following night Mme. Parepa-Rosa sang in Newark with the same pleasant result. There is naturally a greater degree of interest to see Mme. Rosa in opera than there is to hear her simply in oratorio and concert. We may safely anticipate then that Pike’s superb building will be crowded from pit to dome. The general distribution of the characters is very good, incudign the names of Mme. Natali-Testa, Signor Pancani and Signor Antonucci. The orchestra will be under the personal direction of Mr. Max Maretzek. The chorus has been selected with care.”
“Pike’s Opera House—Norma.—Lafayette Harrison, the new impresario and Field Marshal Pike having organized their forces, and placed Madame Parepa-Rosa at the head of the attacking party, made a brilliant charge on the public last night, and hurled defiance from Eighth avenue across both squares—Madison and Union—against the Irving place foe. The maginificent opera house was pretty well filled and the opera was very well sung. Madame Rosa’s Casta Diva was unexceptionable; so was Pancani’s Pollio. Applause and bouquets were frequent, and the orchestra was not insubordinate. Thus the first demonstration from the west side in the present great operatic war has proved a formidable one, and to-night Strakosch will have to make a stout defence at the Academy. Considering the admirable quartet he possesses there is every prospect that the struggle will be an exciting one, and that for the remainder of the week the operatic public will be in the same condition as the parties in Washington. Pike and Strakosch are like Johnson and Stanton, only that the former has no desire to take possession of the Academy.”
“A more unpropitious night for the opening of a new season of opera than was last evening could scarcely have been selected during the whole winter. The Charity Ball diverted a large share of the more fashionable frequenters of the opera to the Academy, and the cold and blustering storm inclined most people to stay within doors. We were, therefore, surprised to find Pike’s Opera House so thoroughly filled as it was last night. The opera of ‘Norma’ was wisely selected as that in which the prima donna of Mr. Harrison’s company, Madame Parepa Rosa, should make her reappearance on the stage. The noble opportunities it offers her for the display of her remarkable vocalization are, perhaps, enough to offset her deficiencies as an actress. With scarcely any dramatic quality, her voice is so marvelously pure, her execution so easy and wonderful, and her method so artistic, that one forgets to reproach her for not possessing the other requisites of a great operatic singer.
The general rendering of the opera differed so little from that given, with nearly the same cast, at Academy under Mr. Maretzek’s direction, that any further criticism would be needless. We will only say that the best support given to Madame Rosa was that furnished by Antonucci, whose full, rich and well-managed tones were seldom heard to better advantage. The orchestration deserved especial praise, as it generally does when Mr. Maretzek wields the baton. The orchestra was too small for such an opera as ‘Norma,’ but it was well-balanced and admirably managed.”
“The opening at Pike’s Opera-house last evening, notwithstanding the intensity of the weather, was extremely brilliant. The house was almost crowded, the lower part being entirely so. Nearly all these artists have appeared in the various castes [sic] of this work, but it is, we believe, the first time that they have been combined. The result was exceedingly satisfactory. Mme. Rosa was in admirable voice, but in the opening recitative a little nervous. She recovered herself quickly and sang with her usual skill, certainty and variety of coloring. Mme. Natali-Testa was a fair Adalgisa, but the lady endeavors to do more than she can safely accomplish, and hence exaggerates and deflects from correct intonation. Signor Pancani sang like an artist. He was a little veiled at the opening, but became warmer as the opera proceeded. Signor Antonucci was profound, and sang capitally. The orchestra was under the direction of Mr. Max Maretzek—which is enough. The chorus was stronger than usual, and thoroughly up in the music.”
The opera event was attended by a large and elegant audience. Although Parepa and Antonucci excelled in their roles, the audience did not listen much. Everybody was talking politics during the intermission and performance. Nevertheless, Maretzek’s new opera company was a true success.