Pike's Opera House
Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison
29 June 2017
“‘Faust’ was given at Pike’s Opera House last night, to a larger audience than we expected to have been seen, considering the attractiveness of a rival performance [Roberto il Diavolo at the Academy of Music]. The cast for the opera was almost exactly the same as that of last season, at the Academy, Miss Hauck, of course, being the Margaret. It cannot be denied that Miss [line illegible] part. Her appearance fits her for it, and her natural style is in conformity with the best conception of the character. The music is also well adapted to her. Altogether she has every reason to prefer the part to any other in which she has appeared. With all these advantages, however, she seems to us to come considerably short of the Margaret of Goethe and Gounod. With all of its simplicity, the character has an intellectual refinement and strength which we miss in her personation.
Mr. Habelman’s Faust was rather heavy and tedious. Antonucci, as Mephistopheles, was in his best vein, and gave the character an unctuousness of diabolism not often seen. His rich voice is heard to the best advantage in the music of this part, and was last night in fine condition. The orchestral performance was worthy of special praise, but the choruses were not fully up to the mark.”
“The caste it will be seen is extremely strong, and will undoubtly attract the attention of the Western folk.”
“Pike’s Opera House.—The old gentleman himself seems to have been to play on both sides of the town last night. Mr. Harrison presented ‘Faust’ at Pike’s Opera House to an audience wonderfully strong considering all the circumstances of the night and the weather. It was not only large and brilliant, but what was more to the point, it was appreciative. Miss Minnie Hauck, in the rôle of Marguerite, carried the house by storm. Her voice, fresh, melodious, and sympathetic, is admirably adapted to the character. Her dramatic attainments, united to her vocal accomplishments, give her first place in the operatic world, and her brilliant rendition of Marguerite last night was not lost upon the audience, which repeatedly applauded her and brought her before the curtain. Madame Testa was exceedingly artistic and charming in Siebel, and received a hearty encore. Mr. Habelmann’s Faust was a careful and very acceptable conception, and although he did not always follow the literal text in Italian his efforts were greeted by repeated rounds of applause. Signor Antonucci, in Mephistopheles, was grand and powerful. He possesses a deep, rich voice, finely cultured, which he used in the most effective manner. Signor Bellini was in fine voice, and gave Valentine with all that artistic grace and vigor which have rendered him so popular with the music-loving people of New York. Signor Barili and Madame Reichart, as Wagner and Martha, were excellent, and the chorus and orchestra seemed to be all that could be desired. In a word, ‘Faust’ was so harmoniously presented as to give pleasure and entire satisfaction to the audience—an event worthy of note and highly creditable to the enterprising manager.”
“The rival companies crossed swords last evening. There were performances at Pike’s Opera House and the Academy of Music. Considering that it was Ash Wednesday, when good Catholics and Episcopalians stay at home, there was in each house a large attendance of the other sort of people. Externally they were quite as respectable as their more scrupulous brethren.
At Pike’s the opera was ‘Faust’—a work with which our readers are familiar. On the west side, however, there is an audience to whom it is still new. They had the advantage of making its acquaintance under favorable circumstances. Miss Hauck's impersonation of the heroine, Marguerite, differs from that of her predecessor, Miss Kellogg. It is more simple, yielding and innocent. The characteristic of all great rôles is that they are capable of widely different interpretations; no one rendering being necessarily the best. Miss Hauck’s manner is ingenuous and winning. It commands the sympathy of the audience. This was clearly demonstrated last night. The lady was in good voice, and sang the music with such effect that she repeatedly won a round of hearty applause. Her voice is an exceedingly pleasing one, and we look to its development with much interest. In the garden scene she was excellent, and deservedly obtained a call before the curtain. Of the other characters, save one, it is unnecessary to speak. Signor Bellini’s Valentine is the best we have had—or are likely to have—on the American stage, Signor Antonucci’s Mephistopheles lacks the force of German conception, but musically it is excellent. Mme. Testa's flower song was, as usual, charmingly sung. The exception was Herr Habelmann, who was the Faust. This admirable tenor satisfied every one. He has an expressive and persuasive voice, to resist which is difficult. He sang, of course, in German—a drawback which seems to be inevitable, but which, in music of this kind is of little import. Gounod's style is entirely German, and Herr Habelmann phrases with a perfect understanding of it. The orchestra and chorus were in every way satisfactory.”
“Pike’s Opera House—Faust. Whether the Margaret of Miss Hauck corresponds exactly with the Gretchen of Goethe’s ‘Faust,’ it is unnecessary to inquire, since hardly two critics will agree as to what the representative of the poet’s heroine ought to be. It is enough for us that her conception of the character is in the main correct, and that her performance, both musically and dramatically, is at any rate very sweet and pleasant. In the celebrated duet at the close of the third act, the freshness and tender quality of her voice, and the good taste manifested in her vocalization, produced last night a lively impression and drew forth an unusually hearty recall. The jewel song was also much applauded. The promise of this young lady’s earlier appearances is rapidly ripening into brilliant achievement. We observe a steady improvement which betokens hard study, and points to a fine career when time shall have ripened her voice and practice perfected her method. Mr. Habelman was very successful as Faust, especially in the romanza of the second act, salve dimora, which he gave with tenderness and delicacy. In the romantic parts of the opera he was better than in those which demand more passion and energy. In these latter his impetuosity sometimes got beyond bounds; yet despite small faults, he is one of the best Fausts we have recently heard. Antonucci, as Mephistopheles, was excellent, and Bellini’s Valentine is too well known to need praise. Madame Testa made a pleasing Siebel.”
Hauck has clearly made progress in her skills; however, she was only able to do justice to selected numbers. Habelmann’s ‘Faust’ deserves praise. The aria in the third act “Gegrüßt sei mir” was performed with gentle and warm-hearted expression, which was immediately rewarded by the audience’s enthusiastic applause. Maretzek’s orchestra and chorus were a pleasant contrast to those of the Academy of Music.