Article on the current success and future of Italian Opera in New York City

Event Information


Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
9 August 2017


Article: New York Herald, 14 March 1868.

“It has been a long time since an impresario has met with such encouragement from the public as the managers of Pike’s Opera House have during the past brief season. In the face of the most terrible weather Messrs. Pike and Harrison have succeeded in getting good and sometimes very large audiences night after night. There were many prophecies indulged in by operatic wiseacres as to the bad location of the Opera House and the impossibility of securing for it a sufficient amount of patronage to make opera a financial success. What has been the result? Pike and Harrison close the season to-day after a marked triumph in both an artistic and financial point of view. Three debutantes—Madame States, Madame Lumley and Madame Elder—have appeared, the two first with extraordinary success and the last giving promise of future ability in opera. The wonderful voice of Madame States created quite a sensation, and considering that it has been fostered and developed under the balmy skies of California, we may confidently expect that the time will come when the Golden State will replace Italy in the production of operatic artists. The genial influence of our climate tends to give a prima donna’s voice that clear limpid quality and sympathetic expression which heretofore have been ascribed solely to the beautiful skies of Italy. In California particularly the climate is most favorable to the development of fine voices. That State has been celebrated for its luscious grapes and superior fruit and vegetables as well as its auriferous treasures. Now it bids fair to be the greatest exporter of prime donne in the world. Madame States, although first claimed by the Emerald Isle, owes the development of her magnificent voice to the shores of the Pacific. Owing to the previous engagement of the Opera House by Lotta, the management of the Italian opera is reluctantly compelled to suspend the brilliant season for one week, after which it will be renewed with increased energy. The old opera house in Irving place seems to have been thrown entirely in the shade by its young and successful rival. The incubus of the hundred and ninety-nine and a half stockholders, who monopolize the best seats in the house and never think of assisting an unfortunate impresario, is fatal to opera at the Academy. They are in a dreadful state of excitement at present and are canvassing several wild, impracticable projects to get the Catacombs into a proper operatic condition again. Pike and Harrison, however, have struck the right vein opera by bringing out native artists and dispensing with the necessity of calling on Italy for everything in the line of opera. The production of Wallace’s immortal work, Lurline, on Easter week, in Italian, English and German, with the entire strength of the company, magnificent mise en scène and increased chorus and orchestra, will undoubtedly settle forever the rival claims of the two opera houses. The one hundred and ninety-nine and a half chiefs of the Academy will doubtless indulge in the usual ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ when this great event takes place.”