Manager / Director:
H. L. [impressario] Bateman
29 August 2018
“Notwithstanding the damning effect of the faint praise bestowed by too exacting critics, the ‘Barbe Bleue’ is gradually growing into popular favor. The performance of last night was witnessed by a large, brilliant and discriminating audience, and, judging by the liberal applause awarded, the piece gave entire satisfaction. Mlle. Irma, who acts much in the style of little Lotta, was in excellent voice, and M. Aujac, who is quite an original in his way, added considerably to the number of his admirers. Mlle. Lambele was charming, and the minor parts were well sustained. Mr. Bateman deserves great praise for the artistic manner in which the ‘Barbe Bleue’ is put upon the stage, and it is to be hoped he will be rewarded accordingly.”
“The second week of ‘Barbe Bleue’ has so far been very successful. Those who have heard the opera once want to hear it again, and become more enthusiastic as they are made more familiar with the gay music of the opera. Mlle. Irma, who was naturally somewhat embarrassed at first, now sings more easily and naturally, and has accustomed her voice to the spacious auditorium of Niblo’s. Mr. Aujac, who became a favorite from the start, carries his audiences with him by his spirited and effective style of singing and acting, and Mlles. Lambele and Duclos have more than confirmed the excellent impression they first made.
Of course, the orchestral and choral performances are improved, and now excel anything of the kind we have before heard here in opera bouffe. ‘Barbe Bleue’ can undoubtedly be run for at least the rest of the summer season, and probably for a longer time.”
“‘Barbe Bleue’ has steadily improved since it was first brought out. Its music, which from the first won favor, grows on the public. More elaborate and symmetrical in its construction that either the ‘Grand Duchess’ or ‘La Belle Helene,’ its representation has been made more thorough in every respect. Irma does not allow us to regret the absence of Tostee, while Aujac is far superior, both as singer and actor, to Guffroy. Mr. Birgfeld manages the orchestra handsomely, and the chorus has had no precedent in the history of French opera in this country. As to the ballet, it is the best we have had, excellent in quality, not too large, and most tastefully dressed.
It is not strange, then, that Niblo’s Garden should have been crowded night after night, even during this sweltering weather, nor will it be strange if the popularity of ‘Barbe Blue’ should carry it along until the returning tide of summer pleasure-seekers shall compel a continuance of the opera still longer. Against many adverse predictions and in the face of many serious risks, Mr. Bateman has clutched a management victory as brilliant as it has been deserved by his boldness, energy, enterprise and tact.”
“Bateman treated his entire company of Bouffe artistes to an excursion to Long Branch last Sunday. He chartered a steamboat. They started after the performance on Saturday night, and returned Monday morning, after an elevated enjoyment.
The father of Mlle. Irma, Bateman’s prima donna, is said to be named De l’Isle, and the World suggests as a reason why she does not wear that cognomen is because being dissatisfied with the name of ’Erpa, she took the name of Ir ma [sic]!”
[Synopsis of review/gossip column:] Last Thursday evening M. Aujac fell ill during the third act of Barbe-Bleue; symptoms included chattering teeth, spasms of the hands and legs, and a cold sweat. Many rumors circulated through the audience; after 3/4 of an hour, M. Bateman announced cancans in place of Aujac’s number in Act IV. More rumors arose: Aujac and Mlle Irma had a quarrel, she gave Aujac absinthe mixed with copper oxide—he was poisoned. Others said he was poisoned, but not by Irma—he dyed his beard with the copper oxide and swallowed some—if he really was poisoned at all. Nothing was proved—too bad, it could have been quite a drama.
“It is generally conceded that we have seldom had in this city a musical season commencing so late as the present one. But for Theodore Thomas’ admirable concerts, and Bateman’s Barbe Bleue,’ New York would be almost a musical desert. It may be said that a desert is the most suitable of places for Blue Beard, and certainly the old gentleman seems to be thriving very much as if he had found his native element. The run has already continued more than two months, with no signs of abatement.”