La Grange-Brignoli Italian Opera: Rigoletto

Event Information

Pike's Opera House

Manager / Director:
Max Strakosch

Giuseppe Nicolao [cond.]

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
29 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

22 Jan 1868, 8:00 PM
24 Jan 1868, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Piave
Participants:  La Grange-Brignoli Italian Opera Company;  Domenico Orlandini (role: Rigoletto);  Anna de La Grange (role: Gilda);  Domenico Coletti (role: Count Monterone);  Bernardo Massimiliani (role: Duke of Mantua);  Adelaide Phillips (role: Maddalena);  Signor A. Sarti [bass] (role: Sparafucile)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 21 January 1868.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 January 1868, 7.
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 21 January 1868, 6.
Review: New York Herald, 23 January 1868, 7.

Pike’s Opera House.—Verdi’s opera of ‘Rigoletto,’ a great favorite among opera goers, was given for the first time last night at this beautiful house to a very large and fashionable audience, and was, from the rattling opening to the end a brilliant success. We were so far satisfied with it that, like the house, we have no complaint to make. If La Grange is great in ‘Traviata’ she was pronounced by general consent last night greater in ‘Rigoletto.’ Massimiliani as the Duke was brilliant; Orlandini as Rigoletto distinguished himself; Sarti as Sparafucile attracted special commendation; Coletti as Monterone had not much to do, but from what he did we are satisfied, with Carlyle, he could do something of a larger caliber and longer range. Miss Phillips, as Maddalena, filled the character admirably to the eye and the ear. The quartet in the fourth act, the most sparkling of the gems of this sparkling production, carried the house by storm. There would have been no objection to its repetition—not once, but half a dozen times—so harmoniously was it executed. The choruses were good; the orchestral branch of the service was tastefully and pleasingly done. It assisted, instead of drowning, the vocal department. It gave way when not wanted and was soft or strong as this or that particular passage particularly required. In a word, ‘Rigoletto’ in every essential was a gratifying success, so far as to call for an early repetition.”

Review: New York Post, 23 January 1868.

“The revival of ‘Rigoletto,’ at Pike’s Opera House last evening, brought out an audience which was not only large in numbers, but also more than usually appreciative. The deficiency of the purely fashionable element was pleasantly made up by the presence of those who do not consider the opera chiefly as a place for display and small talk. The occasion of the production of the opera which Verdi considered his greatest work was one of interest to lovers of music, and was evidently enjoyed by all who attended the performance. The music of ‘Rigoletto’ seems to us far more dramatic than that of any other of the operas of the noisy school to which it belongs. The choruses are vigorous, spirited and characteristic; some of the melodies are really beautiful, and the orchestral accompaniments are original and appropriate. The famous quartet in the last act would alone mark the opera for distinction, as one of the most striking and dramatic of compositions. Moreover, the plot has much more substance and interest than operatic librettos generally have.

The revival of such an opera, with La Grange and Phillips in the cast of characters, is therefore an event of no little importance. The former, in the famous solo in the courtyard scene, even astonished those who have heard her several times recently, by a revelation of vocal powers such as are bestowed on not over two or three singers in a generation. The beauty and continuousness of the melody was not marred by a single defect in the execution of the wonderfully florid and difficult runs, trills and high notes in which it is set, as if to test the utmost resources of vocalization. Not a high note was dropped, faintly given or imperfectly sung, nor was the expression of a single strain sacrificed to the exigencies of execution.

Miss Phillips, as Maddalena, had little to do, but the part was made important by the manner in which it was performed. The introduction of the lively and knowing soubrette in the scene preceding the final tragedy has a fine dramatic effect which was handsomely enhanced by the perfect acting of Miss Phillips. In the quartet, especially, the humor of her performance no less than the purity of her tones contributed finely to the general effect. Orlandini and Massimiliani were both in excellent voice, and the music was well adapted to their styles.

The scenery and costumes deserved especial praise, being new, artistic and appropriate. The orchestra was tolerably well handled by Signor Nicolai, whose impulsive nature, nevertheless, occasionally got the better of him. Altogether the first performance of ‘Rigoletto’ was a success. The opera ought to draw handsomely for several nights more.”

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

Verdi's opera of ‘Rigoletto’ was given here last evening to a good and fashionable audience. It is the best work that ever came from the composer’s pen, and indeed is the only important work that has been added to the Italian repertoire for many years. The performance last evening was good. It depended of course on Mme. La Grange, and Signor Orlandini. The lady was in excellent voice, and sang superbly. The gentleman was not so uniformly good, but gave a powerful rendering to the part of the poor deluded jester. Signor Massimiliani sang with spirit, but not always with true inspiration. In other words, he sang out of tune. Miss Adeladie Phillips was of course very good.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 24 January 1868.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 24 January 1868.
Review: Courrier des √Čtats-Unis, 24 January 1868.

“If Pike’s Opera didn’t exist, you’d have to not fabricate it, or build it elsewhere. The polar remoteness of this edifice dismays many upright citizens, who prefer the chimney-corner to glazed frost, and upholstered armchair to omnibuses stinking of petrol, and slippers to rubbers. Thanks to this odd situation, Mme de La Grange didn’t succeed as much as she would have wished. The hall is rarely filled, when it ought to be full every evening.

Wednesday, the performance of Rigoletto was quite imperfect. The chorus was frankly bad: it wasn’t because the choruses were beautiful, especially those in the first act. One would say that Verdi was drunk when writing those airs for a barroom brawl. The chorus-members found a way to render them even more disagreeable: they respected neither the pitch, nor the tempo. The orchestra followed the same slope, in spite of the disorganized energy of its director. That one strives hard in vain, he gets hardly any results. That he hits his desk with his bow when the chorus or the trombones miss an entrance, we understand. But when Mme de La Grange sings, it’s useless to beat time in such a noisy fashion; that implacable metronomic noise irritates the ear horribly and spoils the charm of the song considerably.

M. Massimiliani had a cold, as did M. Orlandini. The result was that both of them had to force their voices, scream, and as a consequence sing out-of-tune from time to time. Nevertheless, M. Massimiliani sang the second-act duet with Gilda well, and had his good share of the applause provoked by the famous quartet. M. Orlandini’s voice doesn’t have enough sarcasm for the role of Rigoletto. Mme de La Grange was strongly applauded. The audience, which in New York is without pity and whose admiration has some brutal turns, forced her to repeat her aria in the second act. There again, it was the staccatos that carried away the spectators. The singer put a lot of fire into the final duet in the third act, and couldn’t have appeared more dramatic in the fourth. The public, always pitiless, encored the quartet: one would say that it takes pleasure in enfeebling singers. Mme Phillips is at home in the role of Sparafucile’s agreeable sister. She deserved the bravos that were addressed to her. The gentleman charged with [the role of] Sparafucile stayed above mediocre.

The stage-manager should recommend to the thunder-shakers that they make less of an uproar during the trio in the fourth act. Whether it’s that they do it too vigorously, or that the thunder [apparatus] is of a bad quality, it overwhelms the singers and the orchestra. We love moderation, even in thunderclaps: this evening, since they’re doing Rigoletto again, they’d do well to put a damper on it.”

Review: New York Herald, 25 January 1868, 5.

“Pike’s Opera House.—‘Rigoletto.’—Of all Verdi’s operas the story of the unhappy jester, Rigoletto, is the best and the most characteristic. From beginning to end the music never tires or becomes commonplace. We have in the first act sparkling salon music in the duke’s preface like that which accompanies the first interview of the lovers in ‘Traviata,’ and as the terrible plot becomes gradually developed its vocal expression is charged with passion and intense dramatic fire. With all his faults, Verdi never can be justly charged with losing the interest of a dramatic situation in his music. Witness the ‘Miserere’ of the ‘Trovatore,’ the quintet in ‘Ernani,’ and the celebrated quartet in ‘Rigoletto.’ The last is of more intrinsic value than some of the composer’s entire operas; for he has not always written up to the standard of ‘Ernani,’ ‘Trovatore’ and ‘Traviata.’ The tenor breathes a love song in the passionate tones with which Verdi clothes the language of love; the contralto ridicules his protestations and displays in every note the heartless coquette; the soprano wails forth in accents of despair her wrongs and sorrows, and the basso mutters the vengeance of an outraged father. The dramatic situation, strong as it is, is still more enhanced by the music. The quartet was sung by Madame La Grange, Miss Adelaide Phillips, Massimiliani and Orlandini in such a manner that it alone would have been a sufficient entertainment that it alone would have been a sufficient entertainment for the evening. It received an enthusiastic encore. In the air ‘Caro nome che il mio cor’ Madamde La Grange had an opportunity of proving what a thoroughly accomplished artist she is. Every note of fioriture, trills, &c, was given with the utmost ease and accuracy, and every shade of expression was faithfully rendered. She was obliged to respond to an overwhelming encore in this air. The choruses, especially the ‘Zitti, ziti,’ were all that might be desired, and Mr. Nicolai [sic] kept the orchestra under the most complete control, as one would expect from such a conductor.”