Theodore Thomas [see also Thomas Orchestra]
Price: $1 Tickets; $1.50 reserved seats
30 December 2018
“A grand testimonial concert to Mrs. JENNY KEMPTON will be given at Irving Hall on Saturday evening under very flattering auspices. The lady is a most amiable and talented cantatrice. She will, we have no doubt, be handsomely complimented. Mrs. Kempton is to be assisted by Mlle. Ronconi, Signor Ronconi, Mr. G. Simpson, Mr. W. J. Hill, Mr. S. B. Mills, Mr. Harry Sanderson, and a lady amateur. Mr. Theo. Thomas’ orchestra will also take part in the performance.”
“Tonight at Mrs. Jenny Kempton’s ‘testimonial’ concert, Irving Hall, to which I had subscribed. I didn’t clearly see why I subscribed, unless it is because I was asked to do so by the nice, jolly, good looking blonde Mrs. Jenny in person. Concert seemed successful--hope it was. Room fairly filled. Programme mostly trash. Didn’t stay it out.”
“This popular music hall has seldom been so crowded as it was last night, when the above favorite contralto took a benefit. There were a host of artists and pieces in the program, and the concert was a great artistic success. From the program we make a few selections as the most striking. Mrs. Kempton, who has been for a week past confined to her home from a severe attack of illness, sang, of course, under a disadvantage. Yet we never heard her clear, sympathetic contralto voice more satisfactorily than last night in Robandi’s [sic] beautiful romance “La Stella Confidente,” which she sang with violin, cello, piano, and horn obligato. The next best feature in the program was Mills’ superb playing of Charles Mayer’s “Masaniello” fantasia and his own “Fairy Fingers.” Every note came out from the magnificent grand with the distinctness and correctness of mechanism. The grand duo from “Semiramide” was sung by Mrs. Mixsell and Mrs. Kempton in a style which elicited the heartiest and best deserved applause. Mrs. Mixsell’s powers of vocalization are such as are rarely met with on the operatic stage. The tenors, Hill and Simpson, the latter especially, in the “Rigoletto” quartet, distinguished themselves. The concert was marred by the introduction of some concert saloon ditties on the piano, which were really an insult to the intelligent audience present. No artist has a right to intrude such trash on an audience except if he is playing in a Bowery concert saloon, instead of a respectable concert hall.”
“Mrs. JENNY KEMPTON’S testimonial concert took place at this establishment on Saturday evening, and attracted a very large and appreciative audience. The programme consisted of fourteen pieces, of which nine were, more or less, vocal. Mr. THEO. THOMAS’ orchestra was present, and played three orchestral works, and an occasional accompaniment. In every way the members of this fine band did themselves credit. Mrs. JENNY KEMPTON, the fair beneficiary, appeared but three times; once in a solo, and twice in concerted pieces. The romance, “La Stella Confidente,” was beautifully phrased and delivered. The lady was suffering from the effects of a cold, and probably did not do full justice to her vocal strength, but she gave abundant evidence of her artistic attainments. And the highest attainments were necessary under the circumstances. The piece has, in addition to the piano-forte part, an obligato accompaniment for violin, violoncello, and horn. The gentleman at the piano-forte seemed to be unconscious of this fact, and banged away in solitary bliss, the others accommodating themselves as necessity required. All the coloring of the composition was of course destroyed, save that which the supreme human voice gave to it. Mrs. KEMPTON sang also in the well-known duo from Semiramide, and the equally well-known quartet from Rigoletto. In these morceaux she was assisted by Mlle. RONCONI—a young lady who possesses a name, and Mrs. MIXSELL, a lady who possesses a voice. Mr. GEORGE SIMPSON and Mr. W. J. HILL were the tenors, and the incomparable Signor RONCONI was the basso. The instrumentalists were Messrs. S. B. MILLS and HARRY SANDERSON. The first-named gentleman played CHARLES MAYER’S fantasia on “Masaniello”—a work which has purpose in its construction, and is, on the whole, one of the best balanced pieces in the modern repertoire. The melodies are comparatively fresh—for the opera is seldom played—and they are manipulated with singular felicity and effect. Mr. MILLS in this, as in every other piece he undertakes, exhibits the conscientiousness of a true artist. There is no self-assertion in this playing. It is solid and veracious—the largest and most truthful scope and interpretation of the author, and no more. We have rarely heard Mr. MILLS to better advantage. He was encored and played his own pleasant little piece called “Fairy Fingers.” Mr. SANDERSON belongs to a totally different school—a school, we may add, which begins and ends with himself. No one can play octaves in the way that he plays them, and probably no one will ever desire to do so. But the result under Mr. SANDERSON’S fingers is remarkable. He was encored in the “Zampa” piece, and in all appeared four times before the audience.”
“A large and demonstratively appreciative audience filled Irving Hall on Saturday evening, on the occasion of Mrs. Jenny Kempton’s testimonial concert. The opening overture was Flotow’s ‘Stradella,’ which was interpreted by a portion of Theodore Thomas’s grand orchestra, under the leadership of this gentleman. Mr. W. J. Hill then sang a ballad, but was not in as good voice as usual. Indistinct enunciation rendered his words all but intelligible [sic]. The fair beneficiary, who was loudly welcomed, sang with much taste and expression Robandi’s [sic] romance ‘La Stella Confidente,’ with piano, violin, violoncello and horn obligato, and for the encore a pretty ballad to orchestral accompaniment.
“Mr. S. B. Mills rendered magnificently Charles Mayer’s ‘Masaniello’ fantasia, and being recalled, played his own ‘Fairy Fingers.’ Mlle. Ronconi sang a Cavatina by Petrella with good taste, and was followed by Geo. Simpson, who gave prettily the ballad ‘No, I Never was in Love,’ and for the inevitable encore, ‘Sally in our Alley.’ A duet from ‘Semiramide’ for Mrs. Mixsell—a debutante—and Mrs. Kempton, to which these ladies did good justice, was next on the programme. Mrs, Mixsell has a pure soprano voice of extensive compass, her notes being even and quite powerful all through the register. The rich low notes of the alto were most enjoyable in this duet, and the able orchestration aided not a little in bringing out the best points in both ladies’ vocalization. Schumann’s sweet ‘Traumerei,’ well known to all frequenters of the ‘Garden concerts,’ was charmingly played. Mrs. Mixsell delighted the audience with a cavatina by Meyerbeer, the numerous cadenzas being very cleanly executed. Signor Ronconi sang from ‘Don Giovanni,’ Leporello’s air descriptive of the Don’s numerous conquests, and on the recall repeated the same in his inimitable manner.
“A grand fantasia on airs from Zampa was well played by Harry Sanderson. A peremptory encore was answered with a dashing gallop, and this again being applauded to the echo, ‘Captain, Jinks’ followed, but the extreme bad taste of some friends of the performer manifested itself by their still continuing to applaud, and Mr. Sanderson was scarcely able to cloy their appetite by even administering such musical doses as ‘Captain Jinks’ and ‘Dearie [?]’. Hill, the tenor, sang ‘Loving,’ ‘I think of thee,’ and the usual encore following, he substituted ‘Molly Bawn.’
“The exquisite Rigoletto quartet, ‘Bella Figlia,’ which was delightfully given, and Offenbach’s Orpheus overture brought to a close a concert which would have been a most enjoyable one, save for the bad taste in the matter of encores.”
“On Saturday evening Mrs. Kempton had a ‘Testimonial Concert’ in Irving Hall: she was assisted by an attractive array of artists together with Theo. Thomas’ orchestra. These were the orchestral selections [see above]. The audience was a very large one, and there were several very beautiful floral testimonials presented (by entertainment was given, and also to Mrs. Mixsell and Mlle. Ronconi. Would it not be better for the anxious donors to send their offerings to the residence of the recipients, rather than to parade them before a not particularly interested audience? Also, would it not be decorous for people to be tolerably quiet where such a piece as the Träumerei is being performed? Portions of it were entirely inaudible, owing to the confusion of tongues everywhere prevailing; I know of no reason why ordinary good breeding should be ignored in a concert room.”