Articles on Mapleson’s Italian opera troupe and other operatic rumors

Event Information


Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau
Max Maretzek
M. B. [manager] Pike
Max Strakosch
James Henry Mapleson

Record Information


Last Updated:
30 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

01 Aug 1868

Performers and/or Works Performed


Article: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 28 January 1868, 8.

On Grau's acquisitions.

Article: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, August 1868, 824.

Mapleson will bring Italian opera to New York for the fall and winter season. His prima donnas are Tietjens and Kellogg; the latter is already on her way here.

Article: New York Post, 06 August 1868, 2.

“Mr. Grau is assiduously engaged in superintending the extensive improvements to the French Theater, whose old patrons will hardly recognise it when it is again opened to the public. The programme for the coming season cannot be definitely announced at present, but the arrangements which have been and are to be made by Mr. Grau give every assurance of success.

There never was a time in the history of our amusements when so many vague and contradictory rumors about theatrical and musical plans and combinations were afloat as at present. One pleasant certainty there is, however, and that is that we are to have Italian opera, under Mr. Mapleson’s direction, and with it our favorite prima donna, Miss Kellogg, who will gladly exchange even the brilliant honors she has extorted from the unimpressible Londoners for the more hearty and affectionate tributes of her own old friends and admirers.

Besides, this, we know that Mr. Grau has his agents abroad with unlimited authority as to terms; that Strakosch is busily engaged in some sort of combination; that Mr. Pike is making efforts to obtain attractions for his great opera house… [concludes with list of drama, minstrel, and comedic activities].”

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 08 August 1868, 8.

Completely illegible and brief article on opera. Maretzek’s name included.

Article: New-York Times, 13 August 1868, 4.

“Mr. Grau expects to open the French theatre [sic], altered, enlarged and improved, on the 22d October. We have already published a list of the artists engaged for his Opera Bouffe. The opening opera will be ‘Geneviève de Brabant.’”

Article: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 16 August 1868, 4.

Brief: the tenor Sontheim, who has enjoyed much success in Vienna, will likely accompany Mapleson’s troupe to America.

Article: New-York Times, 19 August 1868, 4.

“Letters from England announce that Mr. Mapleson refuses to budge an inch without a considerable guarantee. The papers, on the other hand, still declare that he and his company will visit America during the present Fall; but these sentiments, for the most part, are borrowed from Cis-Atlantic sources. That there has been an unsuccessful effort to get up a subscription list is beyond doubt. Our well-informed Paris correspondent gave us some particulars on the subject in his continental summary of a week ago. I [sic] was rather a round-about way of getting news, but every important operatic engagement is known in Paris. Nilsson, Trebelli, Mongini and Saultey have already made their terms with other cities and are out of the market. Tietjens and Kellogg remain, and for either or both we shall be thankful. If Tietjens desires to visit America, now is the time. Her voice still retains much of its magnificence, and so long as this is the case she is safe. Should she pause too long on the strength of her reputation, she will discover, we fear, that what she prizes most is what we regard the least. No sign in music is more healthy than this—that we judge for ourselves, and are chary of fame that has been long sounded.

But who is to be the manager? Mr. Mapleson laughs scornfully at the idea of his taki g [sic] any risk in the matter, (and his mere ability to do so may be questioned.) Mr. Maretzek is out of the field for many reasons. The stockholders do not like him, and he has an invincible repugnance to the stockholders. Moreover, the Napoleon of opera is now forming a German troupe, and intends marauding in he [sic] West. It is even hinted that he contemplates having a band of free Italian lances, with Brignoli as the tenor, and a new prima donna. This must be for offensive purposes only. The old cards are good for nothing, and it is useless shuffling and cutting them for a new deal. Mr. Grau is absorbed in the Theatre Fançaise [sic], and in the necessary preparations for the production of opera bouffe. He has more than sufficient on his hands, and under no circumstances would think of forwarding the interests of a rival establishment. Mr. Max Strakosch is in Europe, where, it is said, he will assume the ‘management’ of Adelina Patti, the estimable Maurice having resigned since the wedding of the diva. Mr. Grover’s purposes are vailed [sic]. We hear of him in almost every operatic way, and in almost every operatic place. He is ready for everything that turns up, but does not exert himself at the lever. It is hardly likely that he will immediately assume the responsibilities of the Metropolitan management. Who then is to manage our unfortunate Academy of Music? Deserted by its best generals, and beleaguered by an insidious French enemy, what is to become of it? Tietjens and Kellogg are good enough, but where is the rest of the company? We do not want a repetition of the old story of Catalini and few puppets, yet it seems likely that that will be the end of all the Mapleson smoke. We regret it exceedingly, for we are persuaded that the day is not far distant when either Mr. Gye or Mr. Mapleson will find it a very decided advantage to inclu[d]e New-York in their annual circuit.

Mr. Bateman, meanwhile, watches the game with the sly enjoyment of an expert. The white elephant amuses him, and he cares not at whose expense it is fed. He is quartered comfortably at Niblo’s, and rejoices in capital houses. ‘Barbe-Bleue’ is in every way a marked success. The music is liked; the spectacle is enjoyed and the leadings singers are already established favorites. Mlle. Irma, in the mischievous part of Boulotte, has won as many admirers as Mlle. Tostee in either of her great rôles. The Duchesse, by the way, is now in the City. There is, however, no occasion to change the bill at Niblo’s, and hence it is Mr. Bateman’s intention to send out an expedition to less favored cities. His company is so extensive that he can very readily part with a por[tion] of it. Mlle. Tostee’s reputation will insure her success wherever she may go, and we are persuaded that her reéntre in New-York will be the making of another season. Mr. Bateman will, in all probability, remain permanently in New-York. We hear rumors of an arrangement which will give him the control of the handsomest place of amusement in America. We may add here that Miss Bateman will visit America during the Winter season, and will play an engagement under her father’s direction.”

Article: New York Herald, 20 August 1868, 4.

Part of page-long article detailing forthcoming performances at various venues throughout the fall and winter seasons.

“The Catacombs, amid all the life and activity that at present prevail in the theatrical and musical circles, remain with closed doors, and look as gloomy and forsaken as a fashionable city church in midsummer. No note of preparation for the coming campaign is heard, nor is aught to be seen save the solitary watchman, who prowls about through the dark and deserted passages of the dismal barn with a reticent air and the most lugubrious of expressions. Mr. Maretzek is said to be out of the metropolitan field, and is at present forming a German opera troupe, with which he intends to travel West. So there is no chance of him favoring New Yorkers with opera this season. Mr. Strakosch is in Europe, where he is likely to remain for a year or two at least, and we therefore can expect nothing from him. Having nobody of our own to whom we can look for grand operas we turn across the broad Atlantic to Mr. Mapleson, who, it is reported, intends to visit us this fall, with Tietjens and Kellogg, and who will take up his abode in the Academy of Music if the directors and stockholders come to terms. If they do not do so, and that without delay, there is every reason to suppose that the doors of the temple will remain closed throughout the entire season.”

Article: New-York Daily Tribune, 22 August 1868, 4.

“Paul Nicholson’s Season has the following:

‘For month’s [sic] past rumor has been busy with Mr. Mapleson’s name in connection with the New York Academy of Music. Mr. Mapleson is the lucky, plucky, and experienced manager of Her Majesty’s Opera, London, an institution that, in spite of a calamitous conflagration, by which her Majesty’s Theater, together with its valuable musical library, rich and extensive wardrobe, and other costly properties, was totally destroyed, has proved a brilliant and powerful competitor of the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, of which Mr. Gye is the director. Up to the present moment these reports have been as vague and contradictory as the stereotyped rumors of a Fenian war in the New Dominion. But at last a luminous ray of cheering fact is permitted to dispel gathering doubts and lift the foggy forebodings that hung over, above, and about the world of fashion. Guided by the light of late and trustworthy intelligence, we are enabled to state that the Academy of Music has been leased for the Fall and Winter season of Italian opera by Mr. Mapleson, who is determined, if possible, to annex New-York to London, musically, and to permanently establish an exchange of art and artists. Usually, Mr. Mapleson has visited the more important cities of Great Britain after the close of the Court season in town, and distributed opera with lavish hand to the lovers of the luxury in Liverpool, Dublin, Birmingham, and other populous cities. But the clear and substantial success attained throughout the entire London season just closed, by Miss Kellogg, whom he introduced abroad, appears to have opened his eyes to the fact that the metropolis which reluctantly permitted her to seek triumphs in a foreign land ought to be brought back into closer artistic communion with London and Paris. Acting upon the reflection, he applied for and obtained the lease of the New-York Opera House, as above stated, and has matured all his plans for transferring Her Majesty’s Opera company to this city by the 15th of October, at which date the Fall season of six or eight weeks will probably open. The company has found abundant favor with the London habitues—the late season having been remarkably prosperous—and the press has constantly recorded the successes of its leading members. The principals are Mlle. Tietjens, Miss Clara Louise Kellogg, Mlle. Sinico, Signor Bulterini, and Mr. Santley, the noblest baritone now on the stage. The band and chorus has won reputation under the inspiring control of the famous Arditi.’”

Article: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 23 August 1868, 4.
Article: New-York Times, 24 August 1868, 4.

“The week has produced its usual number of rumors anent the Mapleson-Academy incursion. It is again affirmed that the second operatic manager of England will be here in October, and that the lease of the Academy of Music has been ‘secured’—whatever that may mean—for the Fall and Winter season. In the course of a fortnight these rumors will be reproduced in the London papers, and a little later they will be copied and quoted again in American journals. So far we have seen no statement of Mr. Mapelson that be [sic] intended bringing his company to this country. Every suggestion of the sort has proceeded from a cis-Atlantic source. The wish, we fear, has been father to the thought. Still there is some foundation for a reasonable excitement. Tietjens & Kellogg, both members of Mr. Mapleson’s troupe will undoubtedly be here, and every lover of music will heartily give them welcome. The company who are to support these artists is formed of material also ‘secured’ from Her Majesty’s Opera, but it is such as Mr. Mapleson would scarcely venture to send to Manchester, Liverpool or Dublin. The tenors for instance are said to be Ferensi and Bulterini, both of whom were dead failures at Drury Lane; the first as Raoul in the ‘Hugenots,’ and the second as the Duke in ‘Rigoletto.’ Very different these to Mongini or Fraschini, the two greatest tenors now alive. Mlle. Sinico is but a poor substitute for Mlle. Trebelli, and so on with the rest. An exception must be made in favor of Mr. Santley, who, if he comes, will undoubtedly add to the renown of the troupe. He is an admirable baritone—full-voiced as a vocalist, and intelligent as an actor. But after all, can such a company fulfill the expectations that are formed of it? We think not; especially when it is remembered that the orchestra and chorus will have to be ‘picked up’ on this side.

Mr. Maretzek has accepted the situation with great complacency. He is willing that Mr. Mapleson or any one else should try their luck at the Academy of Music. In the interval he has determined to try the capacity of the West, and in a way that has not been before attempted. He has already in marching order two companies: one of Italian artists for the fashionables; the other of German artists for the faithful. He can thus satisfy the two publics which are found in every American city, and without exhausting either. Three perforamnces a week of Italian opera, and four of German, will be the modest limit of his performances… [Goes to list performers with the troupe and operas they are likely to perform.]

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 25 August 1868, 4.

Minnie Hauck has signed a contract for four years with Maurice Strakosch and will soon appear in opera in Europe.

Article: New-York Daily Tribune, 25 August 1868, 4.

“Mr. Maretzek has organized two companies for a tour of the Provinces…He begins at Chiacgo on the 28th of September, and in the course of the Winter may possibly give a series of performances in New-York. We are assured that his chorus and orchestra will be unusually strong and well selected; but we hope he has left material enough behind him for the use of Mr. Mapleson at the Academy of Music.

—Of this Mapleson venture details more or less explicit are occasionally given us; and it is now announced that the company will include Tietjens, Mlle. Kellogg, Mlle. Sinico, the tenors Ferani and Lutterino, and possibly the baritone Santley. This is not a brilliant combination, its whole strength lying in the soprano and the possible baritone. We believe that there is yet some uncertainty about the enterprise, and the stockholders will shortly be invited to subscribe a guanrantee fund.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 28 August 1868, 8.

“We learn that Mr. Grau has secured for his new company at the French Theatre Mlle. Mable Desclosas, who is described as a beautiful and fascinating creature, with a superb voice, who played Cendrillon for 300 consecutive nights in Paris, and the heroine in ‘Le Diable Boiteux’ for 200; and M. Gabel, who is reported to have made a great lot as the comical gend’arme, Pilou, in ‘Genevieve de Brabant.’” 

Article: New York Herald, 29 August 1868, 4.

“Mr. Mapleson has leased the Academy of Music, and we are to see the great experiment of Italian opera tried once more. Some names have been given, by authority, perhaps, as indicating the character of the company. It sometimes happens that the mere mention of the names of the artists assures the success of a proposed season; but the names we hear in connection with Mr. Mapleson’s adventure are not the ones from which we expect that miracle. Tietjens, for instance, is an artist well past her prime, and she takes an important place in the list. Opera, to succeed here, must stand on its merits—not on the fashionable fact that it is opera, nor yet on the tradition of names. We have very little of the society that will go to the opera simply because every one else goes. Our people go for the music and will go constantly if the voices are of the first class; but if these are indifferent they will stay away very handsomely after one or two nights.

With voices of indifferent quality Mr. Mapleson cannot surmount the difficulties he will find in his way. The first and greatest of his difficulties will be the same old trouble with the stockholders that has proved so ruinous to many former attempts to make opera pay in the Academy. By the system of securing to themselves all the best places in the house the stockholders from the first step put the manager and the company in a false position before the public; for they seem through this arrangement to deprecate the very presence of the people by putting them in out of the way corners and never giving them a chance for a front seat on any terms. This system originated in the vanity and folly of people who wanted to make themselves exclusive centres of fashionable society. People who want to be supreme in the pitiful rivalries of fashionable life are very apt to fancy there can be no better way of proving superiority than by looking down on their neighbors from the best places at the theatre. It was to secure this triumph, so inexpensive of brains and so cheap even in a money point of view, that there was set up an aristocracy of the front seats. In London the opera is the scene of aristocratic display, so it is in Paris, so it is in St. Petersburg; therefore, says your fumbler of shoddy, if we are always seen in the best seats at the opera we shall be the best people. The very attempt in this direciion [sic] has been an incubus on the Academy from the commencement. It is the mass that pays. Managers must count upon the people in a country where aristocratic distinctions are simply laughable nonsense.

Mr. Mapleson might get some hints on this subject from an unfortunate manager who labored strenuously in the Academy, but is now, thanks to the stockholders, endeavoring to establish Black Hawk opera somewhere out West—in Omaha, perhaps. Maretzek was the best manager they ever had in the Academy. He understood the people here reasonably well—certainly better than Mapleson can; but the stockholders brought him to prairie opera and other horrors that we scarcely dare dwell upon, the least of which may be a Sioux prima donna. He will be equal to such facts as a Sioux prima donna and a tenor of the Cheyennes, but he was not equal to the glorious company of the stockholders, every one holding up the tickets for his little list of front seats. We only hit that this former manager may tell Mapleson how real and great is this first difficulty.

Another important point in the case is the lively opposition of other entertainments. Mapleson will have to take the field against great odds in managers experienced in the ways and whims of the metropolitan public. Grau is the greatest of these, and Bateman is scarcely less active and sagacious. Pike looms behind all, a man of indomitable energy, but as yet without a history indicating other qualities. It is not to be supposed that these managers, having the field and understanding it, will leave many lapses for Mapleson. They will keep the public eye filled and the public fancy busy. Men who gave us last year such attractive entertainments as the Ristori series and the opéra bouffe have other pleasures in store, and Mapleson will be a wonder indeed if he can revivify Italian opera in the city.”

Article: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 30 August 1868, 4.

On Mapleson and Grau.

Article: New-York Times, 07 September 1868, 4.

“For a wonder, there has been nothing new on the subject of Mapleson this week. A faint little paragraph from the provincial columns of the London Orchestra states that the impresario intends to give a few performances at the Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool, before his departure for America. It gives the names of the artists, some of whom will not come here. Anything, you see, will do for New-York, where Kellogg and Tietjens are sure to captivate the masses, but something different is required for an intelligent British audience. We were wrong, by the way, in saying that Mr. Mapleson would not bring a chorus with him. He has engaged five singers, who will serve as the nucleus of a “grand chorus from Her Majesty’s Theatre.” What on earth the fifth one is expected to do, we cannot imagine. The whole affair looks like a cheap bungle. The only redeeming points about it are that it restores to us Miss Kellogg, and introduces us to Mme. Titiens [sic] and Mr. Santley [sic]. Otherwise it is clearly a speculation, with gain as the definite object and end.”