Harrison-Maretzek Italian Opera: Il trovatore

Event Information

Pike's Opera House

Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison

Max Maretzek

Price: $1.50 reserved; $1; 10 boxes

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
9 August 2017

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

11 Mar 1868, Evening

Program Details

Mlle. Lumley’s debut in the role of Azucena.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Troubadour
Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Cammarano
Participants:  Harrison-Maretzek Italian Opera Company;  Euphrosyne Parepa (role: Leonora);  Emilio [tenor] Pancani (role: Manrico);  Eliza [contralto] Lumley (role: Azucena);  Ettore Barili;  Fernando [bass-baritone] Bellini (role: Count di Luna)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 07 March 1868.
Announcement: New-York Times, 09 March 1868, 4.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 March 1868, 7.
Article: New York Herald, 11 March 1868.

“The season at Pike’s so far has been very successful, taking into account the horrible states of the weather since the opening night. There is one significant feature about the opera house on the west side of town. Since opening there has not been a single instance of an artist suffering from indisposition by singing in the Opera House—a remarkable contrast to its rival in Irving place, where hundreds of voices are entombed forever. A promising debût will take place at Pike’s to-night. Madame Eliza Lumley, sister of the well known London impresario, will appear in ‘Il Trovatore,’ as Azucena, for the first time in opera in America. She comes with many flattering endorsements of her abilities by the European public and press, and in Italy and London her success was of a character which must at least excite attention and interest in her American debût to-night. The part of the gypsy in the ‘Trovatore’ is one well calculated to display the singing and acting abilities of a contralto; and as the management has already surprised and gratified us with such an artist as Madame States there is every reason to hope for a similar surprise in the contralto line. If Messrs. Pike and Harrison carry out to the fullest extent their arrangements for the production of ‘Lurline,’ Wallace’s magnificent work, they will create the greatest sensation that has ever taken place in the annals of opera in New York. They purpose bringing out the opera in Italian, English and German successively, and having the chorus, orchestra and mise en scène of unexceptionable power and effect. If they do so there is not the slightest doubt of the success of the opera; but if such a work is brought out in a parsimonious and ineffective manner there cannot be any doubt of its failure. The well known enterprise and business talent of the management are, however, a hopeful guarantee of its success. On Monday next La Grange, Brignoli and Orlandini return to the Academy, and such a trio of artists may justly receive a warm welcome back to the metropolis. The spring may exercise a beneficial influence on the financial prospects of Italian opera in the metropolis for the balance of the season.”

Announcement: New York Post, 11 March 1868.
Announcement: New-York Times, 11 March 1868, 4.
Review: New York Herald, 12 March 1868.

Pike's Opera House—Madame Lumley's Debut.—‘Il Trovatore’ is said to be a hackneyed opera, but no greater compliment could be paid to a work. There is no fear that ‘Tannhauser’ or any other of Wagner’s works will ever become hackneyed in this sense. One thing is certain—that the ‘Trovatore’ is a special favorite with the public and that its charming melodies and dramatic orchestration will be popular as long as Italian opera holds its place on the stage. Last night the best performance of this opera that we have ever heard in this city was given at Pike’s beautiful house. The novelty was the début of Madame Lumley, the niece of the ex-impresario of her Majesty’s London. She appeared as Azucena and came to the metropolis with very high endorsements from the other side. Her success in the rôle was indisputable. A fine contralto voice possessing animation and color and acting of the most passionate and finished order characterized her impersonation of the tragic Gypsy. She was called out and ‘bouquetted’ to a flattering extent, and her début was in general an unqualified success. Madame Parepa-Rosa was the Leonora, and her superb voice was never heard in opera to a greater advantage. We may remark here that she dresses in this opera in extremely good taste.  Bellini as the Count and Pancani as the unfortunate minstrel were splendid. Pancani gave us last night a glimpse of what he was in his palmist days: and his sympathetic tenor voice, which represents the true Italian school, rang forth in the ‘Ah, che la Morte’ in a style that reminded us of poor Giuglini—the best Manrico that ever trod the stage. The orchestra was ably led by Maretzek, and as a whole this opera was given in a superior style to any previous presentations of it witness for many years past in this city.”

Review: New York Post, 12 March 1868.

“A large audience was drawn to Pike’s Opera House last night, on the occasion of the production of ‘Trovatore’ by the Harrison-Maretzek company.  The cast was a strong one. Madame Parepa-Rosa took the part of Leonora, which suffers less from her deficiency of histrionic ability than almost any of her other characters, while the music assigned to the part is such as to display the best qualities of her remarkable voice. Madame Eliza Lumley was assigned the part of Azucena, in which to make her first appearance on the operatic stage in this country. This lady has already become tolerably well known here by her singing in Mr. Harrison’s Steinway Hall concerts, and has made a favorable impression as a vocalist. Her voice is a mezzo of unequal quality, and at times not altogether pleasing. The selection of so strongly dramatic a character as Azucena for her first trial here as an operatic singer showed a good deal of courage, in view of the recent masterly personation of the same character by Miss Philips, although last night Madame Lumley showed a natural nervousness when it came to the actual performance.

Under the circumstances it would be hardly fair to judge of Madame Lumley’s quality, histrionic and vocal, by her Azucena. Perhaps it is very near to the truth to say that her acting was an uneven and unsatisfactory sketch, and that her singing was suggestive of the possibility of far better achievements. Pancani, as Manrico, rewarded those who have been expecting a revelation of his old powers. He astonished and delighted by the power and quality of a voice whose best characteristics are too often obscured. Bellini, as Count di Luna, also caught an extra inspiration, and surpassed himself, which is doing a good deal.” 

Review: New-York Times, 12 March 1868, 4.

“The season interrupted by the Purim Ball, was resumed here last evening when ‘Il Trovatore’ was performed. The distribution was an unusually good one, and was noticeable also for a début. Mme. Eliza Lumley made her first appearance on an American stage as Azucena the Gypsy mother. The part, although not of great importance as regards length, is firmly and graphically portrayed, and commands the sympathies of the audience. For this reason it requires a good artist to render justice to it, and the best of artists have been proud to essay the task. In Europe Mme. Lumley has made the character a specialty.  She has sung it innumerable times in leading houses of the Continent. It is her good fortune, indeed, to enjoy a reputation in the rôle. She is therefore only a debutante so far as our own City is concerned, and may be judged from the usual standpoint. In the second act, where she has a grand scena filled with horrors, she electrified the audience by the intensity and excellence of her acting. In the third act she is an artiste of routine—thoroughly familiar with the exigencies of the rôle, and capable of rendering justice to it. Her voice is a true contralto, and its tones give satisfaction to the audience. We hope on some future occasion to have more to say of Mme. Lumley.

Signor Pancani astonished every one. He was in excellent condition, and sang like a true artist, as he is. We have not heard a Manrico in America who can at all compare with him. Signor Bellini was of course capital as the Count. 

In characters like Leonore, Mme. Rosa is always good. Her handsome face and commanding figure are seen to advantage, and her voice has a free dramatic scope which, notwithstanding of its tractability it cannot find in lighter works. One of her earliest successes was made in this popular work, and her rendering of the part of the heroine, will always remain one of her best efforts. The largeness of her voice, its clearness in vehement passages, and its capacity in the various tours-de-force, all contribute to make it so. She was admirable last night in every way, and has seldom, if ever, been heard to such advantage.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 12 March 1868, 4.

“Mrs. Eliza Lumley, who made her first appearance on the American stage at Pike’s Opera House last night, as Azucena, in ‘Trovatore,’ has sung two or three times in concerts at Steinway Hall with considerable applause. She has an excellent contralto voice, of more than ordinary power and of good range. Its quality is not of uniform excellence throughout the register. Some of the upper notes are rather wiry; the middle ones are mellow and agreeable, and several of the lower tones are really superb. Very few are unpleasant, and all are resonant.  She is an excellent actress, of the intense school, appearing to greatest advantage in such passionate scenes as the first one of the third act. Of her culture it would be unfair to judge from last night’s performance, as she was evidently unable, through excessive nervousness, to do herself justice. In her first scene the action was good, but the vocalization seemed quite crude. Encouraged by a very cordial reception, she afterward did better, but we may safely say that she is not an accomplished artist, and until she has overcome certain defects of execution, especially a disagreeable sort of throat-singing, she will neither display her fine natural gifts to their proper extent nor come up to the popular conception of the parts which have been heretofore so admirably filled by Miss Phillips and other favorites. She has abundant capacity, but she needs study. As for the rest of the performance, we fear that we shall be suspected of undue enthusiasm if we give it all the praise it deserves. But the plain truth is that ‘Trovatore’ has never before been so well sung in New-York as it was sung last night. Madame Rosa’s Leonora is one of her best parts, and, considered merely as a musical exercise, is incomparably the finest on the American stage. It is in such characters that this splendid singer ought always to appear. In such she can safely challenge comparison with any singer whom we have ever heard. She has not the dramatic power, nor the deep feeling, nor certain of the artistic delicacies of La Grange; but her voice! Ah, if there is anything more delicious than her Tacea la note, or her L’amor sull’ali rosee, or the glorious ring of her pure tones in the finales of the first and second acts, it has never been heard in our theaters; it is hard even to imagine it. And Pancani, the most thoroughly cultivated tenor who has sung here for many years, displayed a purity, sweetness, and power of voice, for which not even his most constant admirers—ourselves among the number—ever gave him credit; if he could do as well always! With the recollection of Brignoli’s old-time triumphs fresh in our minds, we yet regard his Manrico as the best we ever heard. Brignoli excels him in the pathos of the serenade; but in all else Pancani is infinitely the better Troubadour of the two. The Ah! Si ben mio was perfect; the Di questa pira produced a positive sensation; and at the end of the act he received a stormy call before the curtain, in which well-seasoned old opera-goers and cold critics joined as heartily as the rest of the large audience. Bellini was the Count di Luna, and he, too, as if the whole company had been put upon their metal, surpassed his usual excellence. The two celebrated scenes between Leonora, Manrico, and Di Luna were so fine that it is a delight to remember them. When we add that the choruses, one scene excepted, were good, and the orchestra, under Mr. Maretzek’s able management, was entirely satisfactory, we have said enough to justify the warm commendation which we have given to last night’s representation.”   

Review: New York Clipper, 21 March 1868, 398.

“She [Eliza Lumley] met with a favorable reception and is pronounced a good singer and actress.”