Bateman French Opera: La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein

Event Information

French Theatre

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

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

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
21 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

20 Jan 1868, Evening
21 Jan 1868, Evening
22 Jan 1868, Evening
23 Jan 1868, Evening
24 Jan 1868, Evening
25 Jan 1868, Evening
25 Jan 1868, 12:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed


Advertisement: New York Herald, 14 January 1868.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 14 January 1868.
Announcement: New York Herald, 16 January 1868, 8.

The Grand Duchess.—Her ladyship will make her appearance again in the goodly city of Gotham at the French theatre [sic] on Monday next, on which occasion Bateman will celebrate the hundredth night of the performance of Offenbach’s charming opera by a change of costume and many attractive additions.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 20 January 1868, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 20 January 1868, 5.

“The French Theatre wept on Saturday over the sorrows of an unfortunate Queen; it will laugh tonight at the follies of an eccentric Duchess. Marie Antoinette has retired to Brooklyn, and Mlle. Tostee has returned to Fourteenth-street. In short, Mr. Bateman, with a touching affection for New-York, has brought his Boston career to a close, in order that he may give us the hundredth performance of the ‘Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.’ The season in Boston was successful, and seems to have extoled the ire of Dwight’s Journal of Music, which ‘breathes full East’ upon Offenbach and denounces him for not being Mozart, or Handel, or Haydn, or Beethoven; or, let us say, Dwight. With proper advantages he might have written something else, and the editor—‘that proud preëminence of man’—could perhaps have praised it. What would have been the beneficent result to the world! These periodical fulminations are very curious. Imagine a philosopher apostrophizing a butterfly and saying ‘Sir, you are nothing but a miserable insect. Don’t tell me about your love for flowers. I have seen you alright in foul places. It was your duty to have been a Megatherium. Then I could have tahen [sic] you to my bosom. You are not a Megatherium; you are a butterfly. Hence I despise you. Those who think you are necessary to the present state of things are fools and idiots. It is I that make the present state of things. I will crush you.’ Long ere the clumsy band had reached its quarry the insect had flown into other regions where this bungling and brawling scribbler follows in vain. A page of such arrogant noodleism has never before appeared even in that paradise of noodles—the Journal. The truth about the ‘Grand Duchess’ can be very simply stated. It is a work of real lightness—a ‘form of luscious nonsense,’ as Ruskin says. It makes no pretence whatever, but, with a laugh, a giggle or a gesture, accomplishes its ends. It pleases many people, and we suspect that it will continue to do so; for these forms of titillation, although unbecoming a dreamy god like the editor in question, are quite familiar among mortals. We are certain of one thing. No benefit can accrue to good music by making wry faces over trifles, and we urge the editor to keep closely to extracts and translations, in which he excels. His own opinions about anything more recent than the Deluge are apt to excite something worse than discussion. To return to the French Theatre. There will be five performances there this week, the first taking place to-night.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 20 January 1868, 8.

“The 100th performance of ‘The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein’ will be given by Mr. Bateman’s troupe, this evening, at the French Theater. Boston seems to have taken very kindly to the Duchess. One paper cries out, in a great rush of enthusiasm, that ‘there never was anything so perfect and charming.’ Of Mlle. Tostee we read the usual announcement—that she will positively sing, having ‘entirely receovered from the recent cold.’”

Review: New York Herald, 21 January 1868, 5.

“French Theatre.—Last night the ‘Grand Duchess’ was performed here for the hundredth time by the Bateman company, and was to all appearances as fresh and attractive as ever. The occasion was doubly interesting as the hundredth performance and as the first appearance of the company here since its recent visit to the fog and east wind of Boston. Some of the members return with their throats a little roughened, but all full of spirit and disposed to wear away any small obstacles. Tostée was in perfect voice and sang and acted with all the peculiar charm and piquancy that has made her so deservedly a first class popular favorite. The pieces had a new brilliancy last night from some fresh mountings, and a large and fashionable audience gave its judgment to the effect that the attraction of this exquisite little play is not by any means exhausted yet.”

Review: New York Post, 21 January 1868.

“In spite of the extremely disagreeable weather and of the slippery state of the sidewalks, the French Theatre was last night crowded to its utmost with an audience finely representing the youth, gaiety and fashion of the city. One who had been in the habit of attending the representations of ‘The Grand Duchess’ need not to have been told that the excessive good humor of the throngs in the lobbies was due to the return of the most enjoyed of operas. If the audience was in unusual spirits, the singers caught a new inspiration from an audience so genial and so often enthusiastic. Giuffroy was less sleepy than usual, and Leduc, Lagriffoul and Duchesne—the immortal and irresistibly funny trio—excelled themselves. Not only the principals but all the subordinates seemed to be in extraordinarily good humor, and gave the merriest of operas, with a zest rarely enjoyed.

Last night was the one hundredth representation of the ‘Grand Duchess’ by Mr. Bateman’s company, but judging by the manner in which it was received, it has taken a new lease of life, and may, apparently, be continued as long as it is thought desirable. It is pretty nearly certain, however, that the opera will only run this week. Mr. Bateman has engagements out of the city to fulfil after this week, and on his return will bring out another of Offenbach’s operas—‘La Belle Helene.’”

Review: New-York Times, 21 January 1868, 4.

“The ‘Grand Duchess’ with her retinue—which includes not only Fritz, but the entire population of New-York—returned to us last night. She had necessarily a vast reception. The house was crowded to its greatest capacity. Beyond this part it is hardly necessary to record anything else. Mlle. Tostee was in admirable voice, and by her delicate tact in acting and perfect knowledge of the music, revived the sensation which she created here when she first assumed the part of the lady of Gerolstein.” 

Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 22 January 1868.

“One of the secrets of Offenbach’s success is that he doesn’t torture the voice. He doesn’t force any of his interpreters to push out inhuman cries, and, through the tempos of so-called symphonists who run up and down, that’s an inappropriate attainment. The popularity of La Grande Duchesse is due in great part to him. That piece, although centenarian [it had just reached its 100th performance], was acclaimed more than ever the night before last in New York. Mlle Tostée, at her entrance, was greeted by a quintuple salvo of applause: she had never been in such good voice; she sang and acted with sparkling liveliness. All the other artists surpassed themselves as well. The maids of honor, whose costumes had been entirely renovated, had their share in the success.

La Grande Duchesse will have a full house every evening this week. Then it will emigrate to Washington, where it will cheer up the sad members of Congress. The President has already got his box. General Grant, who has cried more than once, ‘The enemy! Where’s the enemy?’ will be able to recognize himself in Boum, minus the mutism. M. Stanton, who hangs onto power with all the delicacy of a harpy, has more than one similarity to Puck. He only has a blacker soul. The radicals will learn in the second act how one conspires with wit, and you have to hope that they will take from Offenbach’s work the ingenuity that they lack so completely.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 23 January 1868, 4.

“The house was crowded last night to hear ‘La Grande Duchesse.’ Let us remind our readers that during the present week they have their only remaining chances of witnessing this amusing operetta.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 23 January 1868, 4.

“At the French Theater, last night, the Grand Duchess was given with the liveliest spirit on the part of all the artists, and the enthusiasm of thse present was very demonstrative. To-night will be the last evening representation but one, the Matinée closing the brief season on Saturday. The opera is to be given in Washington on Monday next.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 24 January 1868.

“To-night will be the last evening performance of the Duchess at the French Theater for some time to come. The company is going to Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, sure to win the same laurels they deservedly earned in this city and in Boston. There is no mistake, that Mr. Bateman has had the genuine success of the season, in spite of the enormous difficulties against which he had to contend. The receipts this week at the French Theater were exceedingly good, just a tribute to the accomplished artists as well as to the tact and and [sic] skill of the manager.”

Review: New York Clipper, 01 February 1868, 342.

Reviews performance of 01/25/68.

“During the performance . . . smoke was discovered insuing from above the stage. In an instant the cry of fire was heard, and as the house was densely crowded the consternation that ensued can better be imagined than explained. Tony Pastor and T. G. Riggs, who happened to be seated near the stage, jumped upon it, Tony just in time to save a young lady, who threw herself from the upper private box. Mr. Riggs, learning that the cause of the smoke was the lighting of a fire in a room over the stage, announced that fact to the audience, and order was soon restored. On retiring from the theatre, Mr. Riggs was informed by the doorkeeper that there was a check at the box office for him. Mr. Riggs is deserving of all praise for the coolness manifested on this occasion . . .”