Pike's Opera House
Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison
12 July 2017
“. . .[I]f it does not snow, rain or blow too violently, there will . . . be a good house. . .”
“The ‘Barber of Seville’ was presented last night to a good house. The cast comprised Madame Parepa-Rosa, with Signora Ronconi, Antonucci, Testa and Barili. The ‘Barber’ being a standard opera, very frequently played, all singers are usually well versed in its music, words and action. Good justice was done to all three on this occasion. Ronconi grimaced his comic passages well, but entirely neglected the accessories of a wig, or of ‘making up’ his face by the paint usually employed upon it and the eyebrows. His efforts, which might thus have laughably aided his buffo singing, were much lost upon the audience.
Antonucci rolled out his resonant bass with good effect, and Parepa, in her solos, flooded the rose and gold and crimson scene with melody. Wave sparkled out upon wave, til the voice seemed not here alone, but that of her whole gorgeous surroundings.
The minor part of Bertha contains considerable music and one very pretty aria. It was sung by a lady whose trifling voice was entirely drowned by the orchestra. Her name was not on the bills. The necessity of good secondary singers seems to be entirely unappreciated by managers.”
“A thoroughly charming performance of the ‘Barber of Seville’ was given here on Wednesday evening, and attracted, as it deserved, a good and fashionable audience. Rossini's master-work always calls out the legitimists, and the applause in consequence is usually discreet. The Rosina on the evening in question was Mlle. Rosa, and she rendered the music perfectly. We have always thought that the lady shines to best advantage in the heaviest works of the Italian repertoire, but she is so thorough an artiste that nothing really comes amiss to her. Her vocalism was faultless, and she has the art to display it with the least amount of effort. The character is a light-footed sprightly one—but it lacked nothing in this respect, Mlle. Parepa Rosa being as quick and lively as any of her slimmer competitors. In the singing of the lesson she sang one of Arditi's waltzes (L’Estasi) and received an encore which she responded to by singing a Tyrolienne, accompanying herself on the piano-forte. Both pieces ‘brought down the house.’ Mme. Rosa was well supported. Signor Testa is not perhaps a great Almaviva. It is difficult indeed to find one in these days. But he is an intelligent actor, and has the school to sing Rossini's music, which is saying a great deal for any artist. The Figaro of Signor Ronconi was deficient somewhat in the matter of voice, as it was a dozen years ago, but the admirable knowledge of fun which the gentleman possesses, and which he uses so drolly, made up for all vocal deficiencies, and kept the audience in constant good humor. The smaller parts were in capital hands. Signor Antonucci was a grim and avenging Don Basilio, and the Bartolo of Signor Barili was a nervous and effective representation. The orchestra, under Mr. Maretzek's steady and experienced hand, left nothing whatever to be desired. It is always a pleasure to hear the ‘Barber.’ Sometimes it is even a privilege, for the work is not popular with the masses. It was both a pleasure and a privilege on Wednesday night, so good in every respect was the performance. The clearness and vigor of the representation at this house are attracting general attention. They are so smooth that there is hardly anything for the critic to say.”
“The return of Madame Rosa was kept as a sort of festival Wednesday night at Pike’s Opera House, where full benches and gay costumes, cheerful countenances and liberal applause welcomed the most popular prima donna now on the American stage. When ‘The Barber of Seville’ was brought out at the Academy of Music during the Winter, the performance was generally praised as one of the best of the season. The cast on Wednesday was the same in all the important parts, and the opera was acted with even more spirit and humor than before. Madame Rosa has many qualities which admirably fit her for the character of Rosina. The florid and difficult music runs from her throat with the utmost ease. She misses none of its sparkling beauties, but gives there all a double brilliancy, rolling out the song in the midst of laughter and frolic, like one who never knew a sorrow and for whom art has no thorny paths or arduous labors. She has something more than a mere store of animal spirits to fit her for this part; for she is full of humor; she has a keen relish for a joke; she revels in the bite of drollery which Figaro is perpetually scattering over the scene; she is agile and vivacious to a degree which nobody would suppose possible; and there is a comical archness in her expression, most charming to look at. In the lesson scene she made a sensation by singing Arditi’s familiar L’estasi waltz and a French chanson. The custom of interpolating such compositions in ‘The Barber’ is atrocious; but it has grown inveterate we fear, and the multitude like it; so what is the use in protesting?
For the other characters there was also abundant applause. Ronconi, incomparably the most amusing Figaro extant, was in his funniest mood. His ingenuity seemed inexhaustible, his vivacity unflagging, and his good humor contagious. He kept the stage laughing, as well as the audience. Barili, whom we are accustomed to regard as a useful rather than pleasing artist, developed considerable comic talent as Dr. Bartolo, and Antonucci as Don Basilio was excellent both in voice and action. The only parts which were not good were the Almaviva of Signor Testa—in whose favor, however, it ought to be said that whatever his defects, he sings in tune and has a correct taste—and the Bertha of Miss Ronconi, which was not audible.”