Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
Giuseppe Nicolao [cond.]
15 August 2017
“The Rival Opera Houses: In the race for public favor between Pike’s and the Academy the former has so far distanced its tortoise-like competitor that the contest may be fairly considered at an end. The result could not be otherwise; considering the weight of one hundred and ninety-nine and a half stockholders borne by the opera house on the east side, the avenging shades of hundreds of departed voices and managers, the cold, cheerless, forlorn appearance of both stage and auditorium, and the antipathy of the American public to anything in the shape of monopoly. The La Grange and Brignoli Opera Company entered the Catacombs in an evil hour; for both the artists in whose name the troupe has been organized, and even the trusty Orlandini, have been obliged to succumb to the deadly atmosphere that, like the malaria of the Pia de Tolemei, surrounds those fatal walls. If the history of both houses were dramatized the usual finale of ‘virtue triumphant over vice’ would be exemplified in the present state of affairs; for the willful murder of splendid voices may be reckoned among the capital offences. The perplexing question for the worth one hundred and ninety-nine and a half now is, what will they do with their mausoleum? Opera has failed in it and met with extraordinary success elsewhere; Janauschek, one of the first of tragediennes, was obliged to seek a more congenial element, and her pathway has alone been one uninterrupted series of triumphs; and even the ‘Devil’s Auction,’ with its ballet troupe, ruined the managers to such an extent that their subsequent success in other houses can hardly make up their losses at the Academy. We suggested before the idea of turning the establishment into a circus; but then the horses and their riders might fall victims to the same complaints that have carried off so many prime donne and tenors. As a factory it would require too costly a steam apparatus to keep it warm, and the same reason unfits it for a menagerie.
On the other hand, Pike’s has commenced well and proved itself satisfactory during the two seasons of Italian Opera given there. The admirable acoustic qualities of the house, and its cheerful, brilliant appearance, have made opera enjoyable, and the artists have never been heard before to greater advantage. The élèves of Torriani and Errani and the other American artists who are now coming forward every day have distinguished themselves in this house. At the same time the proprietor and manager should not lose sight of the object for which the house was built and its reputation, by allowing every kind of entertainment, down to negro minstrelsy, like the present week’s programme, to be held there. The public will soon frown down such degradation of a magnificent opera house, and the sooner the management restores its legitimate entertainment the better.”
“There was a large and brilliant audience last night at the Academy, gathered to witness Meyerbeer’s great work, ‘Roberto il Diavolo,” which was presented by Manager Max Strakosch in a style that strongly recalled the best days of the opera in New York. Everything seemed to conspire to give éclát to the occasion. The night was clear and magnificent and the audience was enthusiastic but critical. The splendid music of the grand composer fell upon appreciative ears, and the repeated rounds of general and hearty applause gave the audience’s tribute to the artists for their excellent and successful efforts to rightly interpret the music. Madame La Grange as Alice was in fine voice last night. It was rich, powerful, sympathetic and expressive. She was repeatedly encored. Signor Brignoli, as Roberto, was splendid. He seemd to give more care to the rendition of his part, and throw into it a spirit that we wish we could see more of. Herr Hermann’s baritone Bertram was most complete and powerful. His voice is undoubtedly the deepest, fullest and richest bass on the continent, and last night it was developed in the best possible style. Miss McCulloch sang in the character of Isabella with her usual happy method. Mr. Nicolao’s orchestra is yet too strong and vigorous, and partially drowns the voices. This needs a change. Madame Teresa Woods in the salatatory [sic] part, was all that could be desired; and it was only on account of her funereal surroundings that she did not win the most encouraging applause.”
“The attraction of ‘Roberto il Diavolo’ drew a very large and fashionable audience to the Academy last night. It is not often that an opportunity is given of hearing three artists of the ability of Lagrange, Brignoli and Hermanns, to better advantage than in this superb opera. The cast was very evenly distributed, the comparatively subordinate part of Isabella finding a much abler interpreter than usual in Miss McCulloch, and the music set down for Raimbault receiving a careful and satisfactory rendering from Lorini. The whole opera passed off to the satisfaction of a very large audience. The orchestra, though the music often demands great strength and power, was sometimes a little too prominent, and in one of the choruses the difference in time between orchestra and chorus was annoying. Another repetition of the opera will doubtless remedy this defect. Mlle. Wood made a passable Elena, and danced charmingly, but the rest of the ballet, if it can be so called, was simply atrocious.”
“‘Roberto il Diavolo,’ the principal success of Mr. Strakosch's last season, was given here last evening, and attracted a full audience. The cast, in all leading particulars, was the same as heretofore, and gave very general satisfaction. The only alteration was in the non-vocal part of Elvena [sic], which on this occasion was intrusted to the pretty and dashing Theresa Wood, who we have no doubt thoroughly fascinated Signor Brignoli, as it was her duty to do. She danced very prettily, and was properly applauded. Of the other artists it is unnecessary to speak. Their merits are well known in this important and always attractive work, which, we may add, will be repeated to-night.”
“Academy of Music—Robert le Diable: The performance of ‘Robert le Diable’ drew a very large audience to the Academy of Music last night. The opera was upon the whole well done, both La Grange and Brignoli surpassing the expectations of their friends, and Mr. Hermanns, as Bertram, gaining considerable applause, which in one scene at all events, that he certainly did not deserve. His powerful voice is very apt to go out of tune, and the trio scene we have mentioned suffered a great deal from one of these mishaps. The temptation scene in the abbey graveyard is intrinsically incapable of being made effective, but a commendable effort was apparent to do as well as the libretto will permit. The Elena [sic] of Miss Teresa [sic] Wood was very good.”
The opera performance was attended by a large audience. The audience was less attracted by the Brignoli in the leading role, but by the popularity of La Grange and Herrmanns. Herrmanns was in perfect disposition yesterday, and he sang the big duet in the second act and the grand aria in the third with much success. La Grange as “Alice” also had very good moments.