Bateman French Opera: Barbe-bleue

Event Information

Niblo's Garden

Proprietor / Lessee:
William Wheatley

Manager / Director:
William Wheatley

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
15 January 2019

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

03 Aug 1868, 8:00 PM
04 Aug 1868, 8:00 PM
05 Aug 1868, 8:00 PM
06 Aug 1868, 8:00 PM
07 Aug 1868, 8:00 PM
08 Aug 1868, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Blue Beard; Bluebeard
Composer(s): Offenbach
Text Author: Halévy, Meilhac
Participants:  Jarrett and Palmer Ballet Troupe;  Bateman French Opera Company;  Monsieur [baritone] Duchesne (role: Popolani);  Monsieur [tenor] Lagriffoul (role: Count Oscar);  Aline [soprano] Lambelle (role: Princess Hermia (Fleurette));  [tenor] Aujac (role: Barbe Bleu);  [tenor] Dardignac (role: Prince Saphir);  J. M. [tenor] Francis (role: King Bobèche);  [tenor] Guidon;  Monsieur [tenor] Edgard (role: Alvarez);  Mme. [soprano] Duclos (role: Queen Clementine);  Irma Marié (role: Boulette)


Review: New York Clipper, 01 August 1868, 142.

Bateman's Buffoon Opera continues at Niblo’s Garden, but business is not good despite the appearance of the house, and the pere of his daughter has been compelled to have a number of ‘admit one’ printed in order to present a respectable looking audience. These dead head tickets are printed in different colors each day, and are quite plentiful. The warm weather may have had a tendency to keep some persons from attending the performances of ‘Barbe Bleue,’ but the indelicate actions of the prima donna have no doubt helped to keep many ladies away. Mlle Irma is a talented little actress, but she should not prostitute those talents in the manner she has [d]one of late. As she becomes more acquainted with her audiences she takes liberties with them, and such actions as climbing upon the back of a person, throwing her legs around his body in a straddling posture, as well as other questionable displays, may seem funny to her and cause a lot of striplings who part their hair in the middle to applaud; but they are condemned by the respectable portion of the audience. Displays of the sort may be tolerated in Paris, but they are too strong for modern notions of refinement and delicacy in this city. No gentleman who has any respect for a lady would take her to witness the representation of ‘Barbe Bleue,’ knowing all things. The language of the opera savors of the licentious. Such adjuncts are not necessities in operatic representation. It is a bad excrescence allowed by cupidity to swell the profits of managers, some of whom too often permit a performer to pander to the taste of the depraved by allowing unseemly exhibitions on the stage. Terpsichore, herself—the poetry of motion—can delight the rude and the refined alike, without sinking her aerial grace resistless fascination in Oriental or Romantic wantonness. Comedy and farce can depict manners and attract smiles, force laughter without any resort to double entendre, or indecent jokes. With such exhibitions as are nightly to be witnessed at the adopted home of Opera Bouffe, is it any wonder that the educated and virtuous do not visit that establishmebnt as they once did? Public sentiment is the corrective of public exhibitions, and should tolerate nothing which shocks its moral sense, or that is not in accordance with the prevailing notions of common decency. Several of our contemporaries have already mentioned the coarseness of the performance at this house, but have done so in rather a mild way. If the ‘talented’ singer had appeared before a Parisian audience as he did one evening last week at Niblo’s, he would, in all probability, have been hissed from the stage, and verdegris would not have saved him, for although a Paris audience is fond of those little double entendres characteristic of Opera Bouffe, it will not countenance an artist wanting in sobriety.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 03 August 1868, 7.
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 05 August 1868, 5.

“Mr. Bateman’s new company have been giving Offenbach’s opera bouffe Barbe Bleue or ‘Bluebeard’ at Niblo’s Garden for over a fortnight to good houses considering the season and the heat, and in the popular sense to appreciative audiences. Nearly if not altogether as agreeable as La Grand Duchesse it may keep the stage for as long a period as that sprightly Princess reigned last season, but whether Boulotte and the new Princess can rule us as imperiously as we were ruled by the old time must show. The airs in this opera may not attain to the same popularity as that obtained by some in those already familiar to the New York audiences, but one or two will doubtless become general favorites. It is to be observed that those that were most popular were not the most refined, but there are touches in all of Offenbach’s woks which must yield pleasure to every one, notwithstanding the occasional blemished which yield pain. The reminiscences of other productions which consistently show themselves in Barbe Bleue as in his earlier operas, although it may detract from Offenbach’s merit as a composer, produce an agreeable effect upon the admirers of his music. One is occasionally pleased in reading Thackeray to find a familiar idea cropping out in the most unexpected places, or meeting his old characters in new scenes, but having them as abruptly as an old friend from a distant city is greeted and forgotten on Broadway. Offenbach’s habit of working over and over again an old idea is almost as pleasant [as Thackeray], though the two artists are not to be compared in their different fields of art. While it is imperative in some things to disapprove, it is also a pleasure to speak words of praise where they can be fitly spoken. From those who form the strength of the present company, especially Irma, Lambole, and M. Aujac, they need not be withheld.”

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 07 August 1868, 6.
Review: New York Herald, 10 August 1868, 8.

“To-night Offenbach’s delightful opera enters upon the fourth week of its successful career. Indeed the furore this piece has created among the patrons of opera bouffe in this city is quite marked, and the enthusiasm which greeted its production on the first night as yet shows no signs of diminution. The liberality which the management bestowed on its introduction has been well rewarded by overflowing houses of well pleased auditors. Few who have witnessed the spirited acting of Mlle. Irma in the dashing rôle of Boulotte but have expressed themselves highly delighted. She has made the part, and the laurels she nightly wins are fairly won. True, it may not be the Boulotte which the authors conceived, but it is an original conception, pleases the people and wins that applause gratifying alike to manager and artist.”

Review: New-York Times, 10 August 1868, 4.

“The public has thronged this favorite establishment during the past week, and, indeed, for a month, because the musical ear of the community is beginning to be familiar with the strains in ‘Barbe Bleu,’ and because it is now perfectly well understood that Mr. Bateman, to whom the foster-fathership of Offenbach in this country belongs, has not abated a single jot of his usual care and liberality in placing the work before the public in the most admirable manner in regard to artists, musicians, scenery and costumes. The opera has proved a success, and now that ‘cooler nights precede the Summer dawn,’ the interest and curiosity of the public sharpen, Mlle. Irma, having become a positive as well as a peculiar star, and M. Aujac an irresistible tenor, while the other artists of various degrees of merit, the excellent chorus and well-schooled orchestra, making everything complete enough to defy rivalry. Mr. Bateman's success has been well earned, and he merits, as the season advances, to reap a rich harvest for originating a style of musical entertainment that, being neither severe nor positively trivial, is entitled to the encouragement of the public. However, with the taste and energy of the management to back opera bouffe as it would be sustained in this country, there can be no question about the patronage of the public.”