Bateman French Opera: La Belle Hélène

Event Information

Academy of Music

Proprietor / Lessee:
H. L. [impressario] Bateman

Manager / Director:
H. L. [impressario] Bateman

Price: $1

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
25 August 2017

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

02 May 1868, 1:00 PM

Program Details

Gala matinee, grand testimonial benefit to H. L. Bateman.

Performers and/or Works Performed


Announcement: New York Post, 28 April 1868.
Announcement: New-York Times, 01 May 1868, 5.

Tribute to Bateman.

Announcement: New York Herald, 02 May 1868, 10.
Announcement: New-York Times, 02 May 1868, 4.
Article: Courrier des États-Unis, 02 May 1868.

“It’s today that the French company migrates with arms and baggage to the Academy of Music. M. Bateman, the generalissimo, will head up the march, followed by the Grand Duchess, Boum, M. Bergfeld, his intelligent aide-de-camp, Menelaus, Puck, M. Valter, Wanda, Philocome, etc., etc. The carriages containing the troupe’s incalculable riches and all the booty won during a brilliant campaign will come along behind [them]. They won’t occupy more than a mile in length, and will be guarded by General Fritz, Boum’s soldiers and Agamemnon’s watchmen.

“Before one o’clock, the little army will be camping in the Academy of Music, and the public will be convened there to hear a matinée of La Belle-Hélène. We know the program of the evening’s extraordinary performance. The ‘re-appearance’ of M. Bateman won’t be the least attraction there. We’ll see him as an old soldier in The Old Guard by Dion Boucicault, which one could translate as Le Vieux Grognard. [Old soldier of Napoleon’s time, or bust of Napoleon.]

“O audience! You’re going to gaze upon M. Bateman on the stage, but you’ll see him playing an old man, hidden, disguised for the requirements of the drama. Here, for those who don’t know him, is the portrait of the direct of the French [Opera] company. He’s tall and robust. His age? Well, but M. Bateman is a man who doesn’t look his age, a man between two ages if you will: he has good color, is hale and hearty, is sharp-sighted, and has a hearty appetite. At first glance, you’d believe he was born to play financiers, literally and figuratively, but his large and easily opened hand denotes an expansiveness of character which isn’t habitual for those characters. His eye is piercing, quick, and indicates an indomitable energy. His constitution is [made] of iron and of a nature that resists the rudest assaults. M. Bateman is endowed, in his spare time, with a straightforward bluntness, which is more pleasing than lots of crafty compliments. He flies into a passion and composes himself with equal facility: the Herald compared him to a boiling-hot Achilles. Proof of a rich parentage. Our director laughs readily at pomp, Horace called this laugh a ‘plash of waves’. One must distrust the people who never smile. M. Bateman, man of devoted affection, is completed by a son, a charming young man, very much to the point in administrative issues and speaking French marvelously, and by M. Bergfeld, his assistant, consummate musician and able administrator. . . .”

Review: New York Herald, 03 May 1868, 7.

“The army of ‘La Grande Duchesse’ marched out of the French theatre yesterday and planted their banners on the battlements of the operatic Tour de Nesle, announcing the benefit of their worthy commander-in-chief, Mr. H. L. Bateman. His friends turned out in strong force on the occasion and filled the Academy completely—box, parquet and dress circle—with a goodly array of brilliant toilets, good humored and, in many cases, pretty faces and enthusiastic applause. The list of these articles was appropriate, for the programme was one of rare interest and rare excellence. Two acts of the ‘Grande Duchesse’ (some of her acts were very naughty, vide Fritz), the inimitable ‘game of goose,’ with, of course, the ‘Mari sage,’ and the splendid waltz finale of ‘La Belle Hélène’ and the time-honored character drama of the ‘Old Guard’ were given. The beneficiary appeared as the venerable individual whose name graces the last mentioned drama—an English one, by the way—and in response to a thundering recall he made a speech—not as long as that of an impeachment manager, but to the point. He said that he had taken a Broadway theatre for the future home of opera bouffe, and returned thanks in appropriate terms. The drama might as well and as effectively been played in the Coliseum of Rome as in the vast wilderness in Irving place. The ghosts of departed voices and managers did not appear, but were nevertheless present in the many deadly blasts that swept across the stage. Regarding the performance we must say that Mlle. Tostée never appeared to greater advantage, malgre her voice, in the first act of the ‘Duchesse,’ and Longchamps made a feature of Wanda. The benefit was a fitting finale to the unprecedentedly successful season which Mr. Bateman has just brought to a close, and we hope that his new quarters will prove as profitable and successful to him as the beautiful little Théâtre Francais, where he has so long wielded the managerial baton.”

Review: New-York Times, 04 May 1868, 5.

“Mr. BATEMAN’S regular season came to an end on Saturday. The weather was sufficiently bad to bring anything to an end. Nevertheless, the attendance at the matinee was respectable. ‘La Belle Hélène’ was played, with Mlle. FLEURY-LONGCHAMPS as the heroine, surrounded by the usual forces. The performance was a good one, and gave general satisfaction. The lady does not possess the rare comic power of Mlle. TOSTEE, but she is always genteel and pleasing.”

Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 04 May 1868.

“M. Bateman should be satisfied. The performance at his benefit, Saturday evening, surpassed in splendor everything of this genre the Academy of Music has ever seen. The hall wasn’t full, it was overflowing. A thousand spectators were not able to find seats and remained standing. Without even talking about the tribute awarded to M. Bateman, the performance was of a nature to justify this multitude. The first two acts of La Grande-Duchesse were executed with as much inspiration as on the first day. All the entrances were saluted with unanimous and spontaneous applause; our artists could see by that  the point to which they have become popular in New York.

“M. Bateman, in Le Vieux Grognard, was greeted by hurrahs. M. Boucicault’s piece isn’t worth the devil; it has neither head nor tail; it’s juvenile. One could say it’s an old vaudeville from 1820, further destroyed by the adaptation. It’s not the fault of M. Bateman, who displayed outstanding qualities as a comedian: he’s gifted above all with sarcasm and energy. Called back with enthusiasm after the piece, M. Bateman delivered a very well-turned speech. He thanked the audience and recounted how the idea of endowing the United States with Offenbach’s opera-bouffe had come to him. He announced that he had been assured, for the next season, of a theater on Broadway and the cooperation of the principal artists who have contributed to this year’s success. The address concluded amidst thunderous applause.

“The second act of La Belle-Hélène gaily ended the spectacle. Mlle Tostée carried off her usual triumph there. She figures foremost among the artists that M. Bateman has reengaged: the director had to divert the river of gold [la Pactole] for the use of the glorious singer. We’ll also see M. Duchesne next year: he’s been one of the pillars of opera-bouffe, and he’s doubly popular under the guise of Boum and Agamamnon. He keeps the measure in the doggerel-verses and doesn’t abuse the tempo; we’ve never seen him exceed the limit when it’s not forcibly hurried along. We must congratulate M. Bateman on having kept this excellent pensionnaire. This evening, the company plays in Washington. There, it will distract the souls from the lugubrious and above all humorless farce of the impeachment [of Pres. Andrew Johnson].”