Harrison-Maretzek Italian Opera: Ernani

Event Information

Pike's Opera House

Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison

Max Maretzek

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
12 July 2017

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

02 Mar 1868, Evening

Program Details

New York debut of soprano Agatha States.

Performers and/or Works Performed


Advertisement: New York Herald, 29 February 1868.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 29 February 1868, 7.
Announcement: New York Herald, 02 March 1868.

“A new prima donna, Madame Agatha States, will make her debut at Pike’s to-night in the opera of ‘Ernani.’ Madame States is an American artist and enjoys a very high reputation.”

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 02 March 1868.
Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 02 March 1868, 8.

The event attracted a large audience. Mme States possesses a very beautiful mezzo soprano; however, her presentation and acting skills were limited. Because a strong voice usually impresses the audience, States received enthusiastic applause after every major number. She was well supported by Antonucci and Bellini.

Review: New York Post, 03 March 1868.

“A genuine sensation was created in ‘Ernani’ last evening by the remarkable power and effect given to the part of Elvira by Mme. Agathe States, a new singer here. Without much previous notice, and with an audience not over-enthusiastic at first, Mme. States, by the clearness and beauty of her singing and the force of her acting, made for herself a multitude of friends, and certainly deserved the success she won. Her voice is quite phenomenal. In the upper register it is one of the clearest and finest we have lately heard on the stage. The lower notes are fair, but not very full.  There was an evident tremor and embarrassment visible last night that somewhat detracted from her acting; and in fact, in this respect she needs to practice ease and quietness. There is too much haste in all of her stage movements. The support given Mme. States was good, Ronconi, Bellini and Antonucci each investing his part with interest. The audience was large, considering the extreme coldness of the night and the blocked-up condition of the streets.”

Review: New-York Times, 03 March 1868, 4.

Verdi’s opera of ‘Ernani’ was given here last evening for the début of Mme. Agatha States, a lady who has recently returned from Europe, where she has had several opportunities of proving her claim to the high position of prima donna. Mme. States is, we believe, from California, and if we are informed correctly is engaged by Mr. Maguire for his various establishments in that happy land. The lady possesses an extraordinary voice; soprano in its character, but capable of very extensive coloring. It is free and penetrating; particularly clear, also, and fresh. It seems to have been trained moderately, and only requires practice to become one of the great organs now on the lyric stage. Her success was in the highest degree encouraging, and it is to be hoped that the lady may have other opportunities of playing before our public. We are persuaded that she has a larger and better voice for the serious services of the lyric drama than any of the American prima donna now before the public; and we may even go a little further. Her voice is so exceptionally pure and good that we hardly think she has a superior in these particulars on the American stage.

The performance last evening was unusually good in every particular. Signor Pancani, whose merits as a thoroughly accomplished artist have been fully indorsed by the public, was in excellent voice. He has not been heard to such advantage during the present season. Signor Bellini and Signor Antonucci were also thoroughly admirable. The result was a performance which we have not heard excelled for some time. The applause was frequent and genuine, Mme. States being several times called before the curtain. The splendid finale to the third act was encored according to universal custom. The opera can evidently be repeated.”  

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 03 March 1868, 4.

“The audience which witnessed the first appearance of Mrs. Agatha States last night in ‘Ernani,’ was large and enthusiastic, if not very discriminating. The debutante, though new to our boards, is by no means new to the stage. She has sung in Europe with the same tenor who supported her last night, and we believe she has also sung in California. She is in the heyday of her charms, and they are by no means inconsiderable. Short of stature, slight and well proportioned in figure, with regular Grecian features which are not only handsome but expressive and prepossessing, her personal appearance is strongly in her favor. She came upon the stage with a good deal of self-possession, receiving a very cordial welcome. The favor of the audience rose after her first aria to the pitch of enthusiasm, and if her success is to be measured by the round of applause, we must call her appearance in opera a decided hit. Her voice is a mezzo-soprano of fair compass and of a peculiarly ringing quality. Some of the notes in the lower register especially—are rich and mellow; the others are more or less tinged with acidity. She has no natural pathos, and not enough culture to supply by artificial expression the defect in her organ. When we have said, in fact, that her voice is wonderfully sonorous for its timbre, and that in the Verdian blare of operas, such as ‘Ernani,’ she often displays it to great advantage, we have said, we fear, the most that a conscientious critic can say. She has no method. She conceives of a song simply as a torrent of sound, and her execution bears the same relation to the performance of a true artist that a transformation scene in a pantomime bears to a landscape by Turner. For all this, we cannot deny that she pleases her audience, and success being a matter of dollars and cents we suppose she ought to be satisfied. A strange contrast to the soprano was presented by Signor Pancani, the tenor. He has all the culture that she lacks, but he unfortunately lacks the voice. The part of Ernani required more robust tones than time and hard work have left him; but he is an artist of such excellent taste and such a correct method that we are ready to forgive him for being no longer in his prime. The other chief singers, Bellini and Antonucci, were admirable. The popular baritone had a part which suited him well, and the encore given to the finale of the third act was owing principally to his superb singing. Antonucci gave the Infelice delightfully. The opera was carefully placed on the stage, the dresses were rich, the choruses were good, all the concerted pieces went very well, and the entire performance was smooth, and, notwithstanding the faults we have noticed, generally satisfactory.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 07 March 1868, 382.
Review: New York Clipper, 14 March 1868, 390.

“Mad. Agatha States, a lady who is an American by birth, but who for several years has been in California and Europe, has made rapid progress in her profession and a most favorable impression abroad, made her debut in this city at Pike’s Opera, on the 2d inst., in ‘Ernani,’ and created a favorable impression.”

Review: New York Musical Gazette, April 1868, 45.

“An interesting event of the past month has been the debut of a new American songstress, Mme. Agatha States, who gives promise of the highest excellence. When the celebrated Rubini was asked what was the most important requisite for a good singer, he replied, ‘Voice.’ ‘Yes, surely,’ said the querist, ‘that is to be taken for granted, but what comes next in importance?’ Rubini again answered, ‘Voice.’ ‘Well, what beyond that?’ Again he gave the same answer, ‘Voice,’ implying that without this gift nothing would avail, and with it all elements of success were possessed. In Mme. States this requirement seems completely met, and it will be strange if her career is not a remarkably brilliant one. Her first appearance was in the difficult part of Elvira, in Ernani.”