Pike's Opera House
Manager / Director:
Giuseppe Nicolao [cond.]
Price: $2 reserved; $1.50; $.75 family circle
29 August 2018
“Pike’s Opera House.—There was a good house and a fine display last night of the winter fashions of New York at this establishment, and it is remarkable how pretty faces and rich costumes and a beautiful new bird cage, all brilliantly lighted, set off each other. The opera was that always acceptable popular favorite, ‘La Traviata,’ with La Grange in her great rôle of Violetta. If it were not trespassing upon forbidden ground, ‘when there is a lady in the cage,’ we should say that there is something remarkable as well as gratifying in the excellent preservation of this delightful singer, because she seems younger, fresher and more buoyant and elastic in her voice and movements, now, in the year of our Lord 1868, than she was we don’t know, or won’t say, how many years ago. Violetta, though a consumptive invalid, calls for that flexible, tender, powerful and capacious range of voice which only a prima donna here and there can supply, and very conspicuous among these chosen few stood Madame La Grange last night. The spirit with which she entered into the severe requirements of this rôle seemed to infuse new life into Massimiliani as Alfredo. Always a careful and reliable artiste, he seemed last night to excel himself, while Signor Orlandini’s Germont was very neatly done. The choruses were well delivered and the orchestra, under Signor Nicolao, is skillfully adapted to the effective development of the salient points, vocal and instrumental, of the score.
That baton of Nicolao is one of the wonders of the world. Let it catch the eye of an appreciative spectator, and in watching its wonderful gyrations the beauty of the house, and the beauties in the house, and the lights on the stage, are all eclipsed. Such consequence in the motions of a stick was never seen before. It is the poetry of motion. It whispers, it speaks softly, and louder, it shouts, it warns, it implores. It floats, it soars, it flatters and creeps, it flies. It springs, it is in short, in pantomime, the fiddle of Ole Bull. It is to the eye what Ole’s catgut is to the ear. La Grange captivated the house, but this critic was captivated by Nicolao’s baton. All the opera, in all its modifications, was given in the motions of that little stick. Never saw anything to touch it before this advent of Nicolao, and never want to see anything in that line so enthusiastically demonstrative again. The conductor’s heart is in his work, which is an excellent thing; but he ought to give the singers a chance to be seen as well as heard. No matter. The opera in its new and beautiful house opens promisingly, and so charmingly provided for, as at last it is, it surely ought to succeed. Pike is a public benefactor. He has given one of the finest ornaments of the metropolis, and for the honor of the metropolis it must be sustained.”
“‘Traviata’ is not the best even of Verdi’s works, but it has its pleasant features, and is well worth hearing at least once a year. The fact that it has not been much heard here of late years, and that La Grange was to sing the music of Violetta, however, sufficed to draw a good attendance last evening at Pike’s Opera House, where the opera was performed in a satisfactory manner. La Grange, in the part of Violetta, sustained triumphantly another test of her powers, quite different from that imposed on her in ‘Trovatore’ or ‘Norma.’ Always thoroughly artistic in her method, her rendering of the music assigned her last night was notably fresh and spirited, qualities of her performance which were less observable than they should have been in the singing of Massimiliani as Alfredo.
Orlandini made an acceptable Germon, but his acting was awkward. The orchestral work under the direction of Mr. Nicolai [sic], was extremely well done.”