Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
Giuseppe Nicolao [cond.]
29 August 2018
“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.” Goes on to favorably critique Parepa-Rosa; full article included in the event for the Grover-Maretzek Norma performance of 2/24/68.
“Academy of Music.—‘Norma’ at the Academy on Tuesday night, after ‘Norma’ at Pike’s on Monday night, would probably have filled the house, for the purpose of a comparison between the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York, had the skies been propitious. But a northeast snow storm wielded the balance of power, and so the Academy was not full, although a much larger audience was present than we had expected to find. Of La Grange, as Norma, it is sufficient to say, especially as it is true, that she surpassed herself on this occasion in her spirited singing and acting. Miss McCulloch, as Adalgisa, had a fine opportunity for the display of her artistic training and her fresh, sweet and high reaching voice, and she did it handsomely. Signor Massimiliani was in good condition, and executed his rôle with a conscientious sense of duty, if with no livelier inspiration. Signor Susini, according to Druidical traditions, is the very figure for a high priest of those Gothic Puritans, and in his majestic presence we forget the Susini of ‘a long time ago.’ An overflowing house readily takes fire, a house that is not packed is comparatively cold; and yet as evidence that ‘Norma’ last night was spiritedly performed we need only mention that there were very enthusiastic and spontaneous rounds of applause and an undeniable call or two of the leading artists before the curtain.”
“‘Norma’ was performed last night at the Academy to a good audience, with Madame Lagrange in the title character. Between the Normas of Madame Ristori, Madame Parepa-Rosa and Madame Lagrange, we have had sufficiently varied illustrations of this favorite character of modern opera. The Norma of Madame Parepa-Rosa, however, had not enough dramatic pretensions to even bring it within the possibilities of comparison with the superb personations of the other two great artists. Charming her audience by her singing, her hearers forgot whether she was representing the Druid priestess or Lucia or Leonora. She was certainly not deficient in animation, but it might as well have been the animation appropriate to any other of her characters. She was simply and always Madame Rosa, only singing with a trifle more spirit than she would have shown in the concert room. As such she was accepted and admired.
Madame Lagrange, however, is not only a great singer, but a dramatic artist of excellent method, of more than ordinary powers, and with a presence which gives both intensity and dignity to her assumption of the character of Norma. Her acting has, however, the unvarying accuray of the French school, and is somewhat deficient in the unreserved abandon which is needed to produce the highest effects. As compared with any Norma we have ever seen on the operatic stage, her personation comes nearest to our conception of this strong and impressive character. As compared with Ristori’s Norma, it is deficient in passionate power, and also in the deep womanly tenderness which Ristori alone can impart to the character. A Norma which should unite the best feats of the singing and acting of these three great artists in the character would be something almost inconceivably grand and effective. The three separate performances have, at all events, widened our conception of the possibilities of the character, and established an ideal toward which our prime donne may profitably strive.”
“‘Norma was repeated last evening at the Academy of Music, with the same cast that made it so attractive to the public a few weeks since. Mme La Grange is seen to decided advantage in this favorite work. It exhibits her dramatic as well as her vocal powers in their best lights. The reception last evening was in every way warm and merited. Miss McCulloch is an interesting Adalgisa, and her sweet, fresh voice is a charming contrast to the many artists who assume this important rôle. Signor Massimiliani was in voice, and Signor Susini astonished everyone by singing with unusual accuracy and power. Of the others it is unnecessary to speak. The performance in general particulars was good.”