Richings English Opera: Maritana

Event Information

French Theatre

Manager / Director:
Caroline Richings

S. Behrens

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
23 October 2017

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

12 May 1868, Evening

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Wallace
Text Author: Fitzball
Participants:  Richings English Opera Company;  William Castle (role: Don Caesar de Bazan);  Sherwood C. Campbell (role: Don José);  Caroline Richings (role: Maritana);  Zelda Harrison (role: Lazarillo);  Jasper G. Peakes [brother of Henry C.] (role: King Charles II)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 08 May 1868.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 11 May 1868, 7.
Announcement: New York Herald, 12 May 1868, 8.
Announcement: New York Post, 12 May 1868.
Announcement: New-York Times, 12 May 1868, 4.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 12 May 1868, 8.
Review: New York Herald, 13 May 1868, 7.

“‘Maritana’ was given last night before a large and decidedly fashionable audience.  We cannot add anything new to what we have repeatedly written about this opera.  Although lacking in orchestration in some of the best scenes, yet its delightful melodies are ever grateful and popular. The ‘Harp in the Air,’ which was splendidly sung by Miss Richings, is one of the best airs that we have ever heard in opera.  Mrs. Seguin née Miss Zelda Harrison, made the most decided success in the character of Lazarillo. Her exquisite contralto voice, one of the most grateful and sympathetic that America has yet produced, rendered the charming air in the beginning of the second act with rare effect. Such an accomplished artist is a valuable acquisition to any troupe.  Castle, Campbell and Peakes, in the rôles of Don Caesar de Bazon, Don José and King Charles II, acquitted themselves creditably and won numerous encores. Mr. Behrens must exercise more control over the orchestra to satisfy his hearers.”

Review: New York Post, 13 May 1868.

“The second performance of English opera at the French Theatre was attended last night by a large, fashionable and appreciative audience, whose almost continuous marks of approval testified to the fact that the Richings company have obtained a strong hold on the favor of our musical public.  The opera performed was ‘Maritana,’ in which Miss Richings, Mrs. Seguin, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Castle and Mr. H. C. Peakes assumed the leading characters, and sustained them with spirit and effect.

“The only drawback to the enjoyment of the performance was the unqualified badness of the orchestra. If it had been less loud and prominent it might have been tolerated, but, as it was, the patience of the audience was sorely tested.”

Review: New-York Times, 13 May 1868, 4.

“The second performance of Miss RICHINGS’ opera troupe attracted, last evening, another full and fashionable audience. The effort of the lady is evidently timely, and will therefore meet with success. It deserves it on other grounds. The company, to be sure, is the same as last season, but with constant practice, and the warmth of other and kindlier audiences it has ripened, and perhaps is now in the best state. At all events, it is better than any other company we have had of late, and this improvement was particularly noticeable in WALLACE’S opera of ‘Maritana’—a work written for artists of a like caliber. It neither exceeds their capacity nor overtaxes their strength. Better than this, perhaps, is the fact that every one has a chance of doing or saying something to please. All the characters are interesting, and the plot of the piece is calculated to absorb the attention of the audience. We have not of late years had a better play than ‘Don Caesar de Bazan’ and ‘Maritana,’ as our readers are aware, is based on it. The distribution last evening was the same as heretofore. Miss RICHINGS was the Maritana, and sang the music with ease and effect; acting the part too with gracefulness throughout. Mrs. SEGUIN was the Lasarillo, and her charming voice gave pleasure to every one. It seems to us, however, that the lady is destroying the bloom of a naturally beautiful organ in order to produce common effects with its lower tones. The result is already apparent in the upper register, and there it will be the more noticeable as the excess continues. Apart from this consideration, Mrs. SEGUIN sang well and received a merited encore in the pretty ballad ‘Alas! Those chimes so softly stealing.’ Indeed it was a night of encores; the trio ‘Turn on Old Time, the ballad in ‘Happy Moments,’ and others were encored. The good condition of the artists led to this result. Both Mr. CASTLE and Mr. CAMPBELL were in excellent voice, and, as we had occasion to say yesterday, they both show marked improvement. The chorus and orchestra, somewhat under restraints were prompt and good.  Indeed the performance was sufficient to revive the hopes of the public in a permanent English opera, especially, as it is apparent that the public takes an interest in it.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 14 May 1868, 2.

“Wallace’s well-established opera, ‘Maritana,’ proved a winning card, as played by the Richings English troupe on Tuesday evening at the French Theatre. Although the gems of this bright score are everywhere ‘familiar as household word,’ the work itself is far from being a hackneyed attraction in this country. It contains some of the best examples of pure melody to be found in modern opera. Witness the beautiful romanza for soprano in the first act:

‘I bear it again—

‘Tis the harp in the air’

The tender contralto aria, second act, ‘Alas! Those chimes, so sweetly pealing;’ the plaintive baritone ballad, ‘In happy moments, day by day;’ the fine trio, ‘Turn on, old time, thine hour-glass;’ and the captivating arts of the last act attuned to the words of Alfred Bunn:

‘Scenes that are brightest

May charm awhile.’

In all these specimen selections Wallace displayed the purity and poetic quality of his fancy. They are such songs as go direct to the heart and awaken a responsive chord. They possess an irresistible charm, appealing with equal force to the tutored and untutored ear. It is worthy of passing observation that Wallace improved upon the slim allowance of sentiment comprised in the story of that gay young sport of the olden Spanish times, Don Caesar de Bazan, whose dramatic history is the foundation of the opera libretto. With the success of Offenbach before his eyes, a composer of to-day would hardly fail, when using such a subject, to amplify its extravagances and push passion to the wall in favor of burlesque. Wallace was happily spared the temptation, and the result is a lyric romance daintily constructed and worthy to live in popularity beside the favorite works of Flotow, Auber, and kindred fluent composers.

“Of Tuesday night’s performance but little need be said, since that little may with justice consist of strong praise. With the artistic merits of the principals in Miss Riching’s company our readers are familiar. The cast of ‘Maritana’ introduced Miss Richings (Maritana), Mrs. Seguin (Lazarillo), and Messrs. Castle, Campbell, H. C. Peakes, J. G. Peakes, and Miss Jennie Brink. With the exception of Mr. Castle, all the singers were in good voice, and consequently unusual enjoyment resulted from the representation, which dragged at times only in the action. There were many deserved encores. The orchestra, however, though numerous, lacked steadiness, and at times appeared to be playing from an incomplete score.”