Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
Max [impressario] Strakosch
Giuseppe Nicolao [cond.]
29 August 2018
“The grand romantic Symphony, entitled THE SAILOR’S DREAM, composed by Signor P. Brignoli, will be performed between the second and third acts under the direction of the composer.”
“Academy of Music.—Donizetti’s ever popular opera, ‘Lucrezia Borgia,’ in which the darkest scenes of Italian history are faithfully photographed in speaking music, was given last night before an immense audience. Madame La Grange, of course, was the heroine, and we venture to say that there is not an artist living, at present, with the exception perhaps of Titiens (Grisi being placed long since hors de combat), that can unite the great tragedienne and great prima donna in this rôle like Madame La Grange. Her school of acting and singing leaves nothing to be desired, and when, after such long and severe campaigning on the stage, she can produce such an effect as she did last night we can only say it is the perfection of art. The rest of the cast was in general satisfactory, with the exception of Susini, who was completely hoarse, and whose Duke was not that of former days. Brignoli’s romantic symphony, ‘The Sailor’s Dream,’ was performed between the second and third acts under the direction of the composer, and drew an encore and a floral tribute in the form of a ship of flowers. It was repeated and pleased the audience to an enthusiastic degree.”
“‘Lucrezia Borgia’ was performed last night at the Academy to a large house, with Madame La Grange as the heroine, Miss Stella Bonheur as Orsini, Massimiliani as Gennaro and Susini as the Duke.
Madame La Grange was in excellent voice, and sang with the exquisite finish and delicacy for which she is noted. A long experience of the stage has rendered it a second nature to her, and the ease and grace with which she moves and gesticulates add a great charm to her admirable acting.
Miss Stella Bonheur wins interest in advance by her very pretty name. She is a correct singer, with a powerful voice, which, however, lacks delicacy and sweetness. Her lower tones, especially, are quite rugged. Further and severe culture is much needed. She sang the drinking song very acceptably to the audience, and was encored. The swell in this air displayed the natural richness and capability of her voice, and indicated what additional study might effect.
Signors Masimiliani and Susini both gave pleasure in their respective parts.
The orchestra performed between the second and third acts a composition of Birgnoli’s entitled ‘The sailor’s Dream.’ The composer wielded the baton, received much applause, with an encore, and was presented with a floral ship.”
...Brignoli’s symphony was not impressive. It does not deserve the title “symphony” for it is certainly not a masterwork....The performance of the opera was satisfactory except for the seemingly chronic hoarseness of Sufini. La Grange still knows how to sing and act. Stella Bonheur excelled in her role as “Orsini”. Her performance of the “Trinklied” in the third act was applauded enthusiastically. She rewarded the audience with an encore. Massmilliani satisfied only in the main scenes of his role. The chorus and the orchestra were stronger and more secure than in the two previous performances.
“. . . There were two features of interest in Friday’s performance. Mlle. Stella Bonheur appeared successfully as Maffio Orsini, and Signor Brignoli produced an orchestral piece which he was pleased to call ‘A Grand Romantic Symphony.’ The lady, as we indicated on the occasion of her re-entree has greatly improved. Her voice has gained strength, and she delivers it with force and effect. It is so large, however, that it still needs moderating by constant use. She has ability as an actress, and an appearance that is prepossessing. Her rendering of the rôle was excellent. In the Brindisi she received as a matter of course, an encore, and elsewhere was warmly applauded. Signor Brignoli's work is a symphony simply in the Italian sense of the word. Its form is harmless, scarcely approaching the innocent severity of the overture. The themes, which fluctuate between a barcarolle and a serenade, have evidently been selected with care. They are sweet and melodious, and are treated in a dashing and spirited way by the composer. The connecting links do not display much range of thought or facility of invention, and some of the phrases are so obviously borrowed that their recurrence is laughable, from the fact that every one recognizes them. But this is a common fault with young composers. Sig. Brignoli has succeeded in producing a sonorous orchestral piece, heavily laden with brass effects, but likely to please a mixed audience. The handsome tenor presided in the orchestra.”
“The last night of Mr. Strakosch’s season of Italian opera was signalized by the performance of ‘Lucretia Borgia,’ and the introduction of a brief bit of orchestral fancy work, composed by Signor Brignoli, and entitled in the bills ‘The Sailor’s Dream.’ Between the opera and the symphony—so called—the Academy obtained rather a brilliant audience, though it may be doubted whether the attendance could be computed at a very paying quantity. Of ‘Lucretia’ as given on Friday night, we are not anxious to furnish reminiscences. Those who were prepared to sup on horrors ought not to have complained on the [illeg.] of any insufficiency thereof, either historically or musically speaking. But, though the orchestra was wild, and Susini became vocally befogged at an early period, and Massimiliani did more or less violence to the part of Gennaro, and the chorus contributed lustily to the promotion of an unmistakably disorderly representation, in the musical sense, there was some gleam of light amid the prevailing shadows. Madame LaGrange bore up nobly against strong odds, and maintained her prestige admirably. Mdlle. Stella Bonheur also appeared with credit, and although immature in method, her voice told effectively in the various scenes, and her ‘Il Segreto’ was a marked success. Signor Brignoli conducted his symphonic poem in person, and upon its conclusion was presented with a floral ship almost large enough to carry him in any navigable waters, and which the lobby-loungers lost no time in christening the Brig-Nolia. The symphony is fluent and melodious, not very happily instrumented, and rather boisterous and capricious. It might with equal point have been named the ‘Tailor’s Dream’ or the ‘Policeman’s Reverie.’ But it found much favor with the audience, and was, at the popular suggestion, duly repeated.”
“Friday evening, they gave Lucrèce, and they performed M. Brignoli’s symphony, the Songe du Marin [The Sailor’s Dream]. Let’s get the opera out of the way first.
M. Massimiliani sang consistently flat; M. Susini, whose chronic hoarsemess we’re acquainted with, hawked up the role of the duke in a manner to afflict the least delicate ears. Mme La Grange had some beautiful moments. When we speak of this artist, our resolve to speak the whole truth weakens, and we forget the failings in order to admire only the last sparks of a talent that was immense. The chorus and orchestra were below mediocre.
M. Brignoli’s symphony isn’t a symphony. This product has at most the dimensions of an Overture. It begins with an introduction, noisy enough. Afterwards comes the principal motive, a kind of barcarolle that sings well and lulls the ear sufficiently; that’s probably the Sailor’s Dream. The various instruments take up the abovementioned motive by turns, which finally resolves into a tutti with a very good effect, with sweeping enough accompaniments, but which would gain by being less uproarious. So there’s the Symphony. It’s not disagreeable to listen to; it would bring more pleasure if we hadn’t already heard it fifty times. This composition absolutely falls short of originality: it’s the summit of banality. From the point of view of craft, it’s well written and testifies to a quite sufficient knowledge of harmony.
The Symphony, if Symphony it is, was encored, and a spectator spontaneously paid homage to the composer with a little cone of flowers, that’s to say a little vessel rigged with presents from Flora. As it was obvious that the thing hadn’t been prepared [in advance], and that it was about a pure burst of enthusiasm, the audience applauded to bring down the house.”
Announces performance after it happened. “It appears that Signor Brignoli has written a ‘romantic Symphony’ called ‘A Sailor’s Dream,’ and that it is soon to be performed at the Academy of Music under the composer’s personal direction. Ye Gods! ‘here’s [sic] richness!’”