Grau Italian Opera: Poliuto - Opening Night, Second Season

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau

Emanuele Muzio

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
16 June 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

05 Jan 1863, Evening

Program Details

Brignoli ill and replaced by Maccaferri.

AD: NYT 01/05/63, p.7 – “Miss Kellogg will sing during the first act the brilliant cabaletta composed by Sig. Muzio for Mme. Cortesi.”

Muzio, cond. & musical dir.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Conductor: Muzio, Emanuele
Composer(s): Donizetti
Text Author: Cammarano
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Signor Ximenes [tenor] (role: Nearco);  [tenor] Locatelli (role: Felice);  Federico Amodio (role: Severo);  Alessandro Maccaferri (role: Poliuto);  Clara Louise Kellogg (role: Paolina);  ? Perni (role: Cleo);  Nicolo Barili (role: Callistene)
Composer(s): Muzio
Participants:  Clara Louise Kellogg


Announcement: New-York Times, 15 December 1862.
“Kellogg will make her rentrée.”
Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 December 1862, 7.
Announcement: Dwight's Journal of Music, 20 December 1862, 302.
Announcement: New York Herald, 29 December 1862.

“Kellogg is decidedly engaged to appear next season at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London. Grau has secured this favorite artist for ten farewell performances before her departure. This engagement lends additional force to the already most complete troupe engaged by the enterprising manager. We are to have ‘The Vespera’ . . . ‘Marta’ . . . [and] ‘Belissario,’ an opera which has not been sung in this city for fourteen years. The great event of the season will be the production of Verdi’s ‘Giovanna d’Arco.’”

Announcement: New-York Times, 29 December 1862, 5.
“Grau will commence operations with the charming American prima donna, Miss Kellogg, in the opera of ‘Il Poliuto.’”
Advertisement: New York Herald, 30 December 1862, 7.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 30 December 1862.
M. Grau has the honor to announce that he will begin the second season of promise Italian Opera, Monday 5 January.
Announcement: New-York Times, 31 December 1862, 4.

“The season promises to be an unusually interesting one, both as regards artists and operas. . . . [Kellogg’s] rentrée will be in Donizetti’s ‘Poluito’ – a work which has not yet been rendered common by excessive repetition.” Lists the operas to be produced.

Announcement: New York Post, 02 January 1863, 2.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 03 January 1863, 7.
Cast (but with Brignoli). List of operas for the season: Martha, Vespres sicilien, Belisario, Roberto il diavolo, Dinorah, Trovatore, Traviata, Sonnambula, Ballo in maschera and Giovanna D’Arco. “First Farewell Appearance of Miss Clara Louise Kellogg before her departure for London.”
Announcement: New York Post, 04 January 1863, 2.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 04 January 1863, 7.

Advertisement: New York Herald, 05 January 1863, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 05 January 1863, 7.

"Stockholders will please enter on 14th-st. . . . Miss Kellogg will sing during the first act the brilliant cabaletta composed by Sig. Muzio for Mme. Cortesi."

Announcement: New-York Times, 05 January 1863.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 05 January 1863.

"The Academy of Music will reopen to-night under the judicious and enterprising direction of Mr. Grau."

Announcement: New York Post, 05 January 1863, 2.
Review: New York Herald, 06 January 1863, 4.

          “A large audience assembled last night at the Academy to grace the opening of Manager Grau's grand season. The principal attraction was the first appearance this year of still another American prima donna–-Miss Kellogg. The opera 'Poliuto' has been given here before and our readers are so familiar with it that it is not necessary we should enter into any detailed account of the work. The sudden indisposition of Signor Brignoli prevented his singing the role of Poliuto–-one of the very best in his repertoire–-and as Manager Grau was unwilling to disappoint the public on this, the first night of the season, Signor Maccaferri undertook the part. As this artist was called upon at a moment’s notice to sing, and as he had but one rehearsal, we must say he acquitted himself of his arduous task most commendably. The audience testified to a due appreciation of his efforts by occasional applause. Miss Kellogg, of course, appeared to less advantage than she would have done with Brignoli as Poliuto, she having rehearsed with him. Called upon suddenly to sing with another, there was at times a lack of ensemble which marred the effect of her role.  She has a voice of a pleasing timbre–-not very powerful, but well cultivated. She is dramatic, and at times drew from the audience great applause. The duet in the last act between Paulina (Miss Kellogg) and Poliuto (Maccaferri) was very well sung, and was encored amid loud applause.

          We shall be better able to judge of Miss Kellogg's progress since last season when she appeared in some other opera. 'Il Poliuto,' though like all of Donizetti's works, melodious--at times strikingly so--is not a favorite with us. Amodio as Severo was, as he always is, most efficient.

          The opera is well put upon the stage, although occasionally there was a lack of ensemble in the choruses. We would advise lady choristers to dispense with their crinolines, as we are not inclined to believe that that at present fashionable article of female apparel flourished ‘three centuries ago.’”

Review: New-York Times, 06 January 1863, 8.

              "Academy of Music.—If Mr. Grau were not proverbially fortunate, we might feel disposed to sympathize with him on the inauspicious opening of his season last night. Not that the weather was boisterous, or the attendance indifferent. Both were thoroughly satisfactory, but—and here is the cause of his discomfiture—Signor Brignoli was sick. When we add to this calamity the fact that Signor Maccaferri was, at the last moment, thrust into the favorite tenor’s rôle, it will be seen that the disasters of the evening were of no ordinary kind. In ‘Il Trovatore’ and ‘Un Ballo in Maschera,’ Signor Maccaferri was fortunate enough last season to make a marked success. At a critical moment he was found to be ready in both operas, and the surprise of the public was only equaled by its satisfaction. Donizetti’s ‘Poliuto’ is a work not so well remembered, even by experienced artists, and hence, Signor Maccaferri was not so well prepared for the responsibilities that were so unexpectedly put upon him. Beyond saying this as a matter of fact, we have no desire to say more. Kindliness is well bestowed upon an artist who at the last moment volunteers to save the public from absolute disappointment.

          The immediate results of Signor Brignoli's indisposition were a very indifferent performance of the opera generally, and a most embarrassing rentrée for Miss Kellogg, who appeared as Paulina. The lady has, we think, gained in strength of voice, and seemed to be capable of making a success in the part, if there had been only a respectable entourage. As it was, she took off all the honors of the evening, and in the isolated morceaux gave abundant satisfaction to her friends. The next performance of the opera will, we are sure, give us a more favorable opportunity of speaking of this acquisition to Miss Kellogg's repertoire; but, before that event takes place, we hope some little regard will be paid to the advantages of rehearsal. Everything has to be excused on the ground of Signor Brignoli's indisposition and the confusion it occasioned; but had he been well we should, we fear, still have had occasion to complain of the orchestra and the chorus.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 06 January 1863, 8.

“There was a fine attendance last night.  Miss Kellogg sustained herself as favorably as usual in her original character in The Martyers. Signor Brignoli did not appear--owing to indisposition. Signor Macaferri [sic] took his place, and, less a tendency to err on the right side–-of energy–-did well.”

Review: New York Post, 06 January 1863, 2.

PEOPLE NOTE: Amodio’s brother also sang this opera. 

          “’Poliuto’ has been so much better given at our opera home than it was last night, that the opening performance of the season could not be called a very brilliant success.  Brignoli was sick, and Maccaferri sang his music but indifferently.  Amodio recalled memories of his brother, who was so good in the part of the Roman general.  Miss Kellogg sustained the weight of the opera and succeeded very well.  After her first air she introduced a very long and elaborate cadenza, in phrases alternating with the clarionet [sic]; a difficult and showy ornamentation, well executed, but out of place after the slow movement of the melody itself.  The santa melodia was splendidly sung and heartily encored, and throughout the opera Miss Kellogg showed great vocal skill and dramatic ability.

          Of the choruses not a word of praise can be said, for they were all poorly sung. This opera is one abounding in marked contrasts, and when well mounted, with a hand on the stage for the procession scene, and a well drilled chorus for the religious music, is sure to be effective; but these accessories were wanting last night.”

Review: New York Herald, 12 January 1863, 3.

"The first week of Manager’s Grau's second seasons has been shorn of its promised splendor by the illness of two favorite artists--Brignoli and Mme. Lorini. Through their indisposition it was impossible to give the operas 'I Vepri Siciliani' and the 'Trovatore,' with Lorini for the first time as Leonora, the music of which role she sings most delightfully. It may not be amiss here to state that both the artists in question were really ill, and not prevented from appearing by any caprice or misunderstanding. We positively know that they were so ill their appearance was impossible. The public, ever ready to grumble at the caprices of operatic performers--and with good reason, they are generally a spoiled lot-will understand that artists-paid each representation and not by the week or month are not likely to sulk when it will cost them a handful of ‘greenbacks,’ and hence it will readily understood that in the instances we have reference to the individuals were incapapacitated by severe illness.  Artists who have signed engagements for long seasons are those who coquette with the public, not our artists, who have such short and uncertain seasons with them--'le jeu veut pas la chandelle--which, freely translated, means 'It don't pay.'

          We have said but little as regards the shortcomings of our operatic manager in the matter of choral assistants, but as he now has a week before him ere he commences again his second grand season, we must impress upon Mr. Grau that his force in the choral department in inefficient, that the choruses are badly sung, not sufficiently rehearsed, and that the want of ensemble destroys the effect of the best operas. This may be remedied, and, in fact, must be attended to if Manager Grau expects to produce the coming novelties in a satisfactory manner. We are pleased to hear that during this week the promised operas will be well rehearsed. Unless this is done the public will not duly appreciate the grand works announced which require careful and repeated rehearsals. It is not sufficient that the prominent roles should be well sung. The whole opera must be well rendered in order that a proper appreciation and enjoyment of the performance may be assured. We are aware that Manager Grau finds it a hard matter to procure chorus singers, but due diligence will succeed we do not doubt, if a liberal compensation is offered.

          Miss Kellogg, whose first appearance for the season was made last week in the opera of ‘Il Poliuto’ was most successful here and in Brooklyn. In the latter place she was especially so, as was testified by the continued applause of the audience. We have already noticed the performance at such length that it is not necessary we should here enter into further details. We will merely add that the public will undoubtedly be pleased to hear the young artist in some other role

          We wish to commend heartily the performances of Signor Maccaferri during the past week.  He came to the rescue as a forlorn hope, appeared in operas without rehearsals–-in fact, sang at a moment’s notice, and sang well, but we deem this artist in a fair way to lose his voice if he keeps on straining after effect by such tremendous display of vocal power.  He will break his voice in some of those loud attempts, which are less pleasing than his lower notes, if only from the effort which is so visible.

          Signor Amodio deserves praise as a painstaking artist who sings and acts his roles with an evident desire to make the most of them.  He has a fine voice, of sufficient power, and must see to it that he does not injure its efficiency by too great a strain upon it.  He neither can nor should sing every night.  He has won a sure hold upon the public.”

Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 12 January 1863.

        “The protecting star that had guided M. Grau on the road of success until now is momentarily eclipsed. Illness has arrived to throw his repertory into disarray, in removing from the scene first Brignoli, then Mme Lorini. The result of this is that the new season of opera, opened under the happiest auspices, has to be suspended until the new order. It’s a resolution for which we have to congratulate M. Grau, while regretting the necessity that imposes it, for nothing is as discouraging for the public as entering the theater with the faith that the poster is correct, and finding disappointment there.

          What one experienced Monday, at the performance of Poliuto, is one of the most disagreeable [things] that it would be possible to suffer. M. Maccaferri, substituted at the last moment for Brignoli in the principal role, was having one of those terrible days where his nervous system didn’t know any limits to the eccentricities of [his] singing and acting. In grappling with Donizetti’s music, which is itself an almost perpetual misconception from a dramatic point of view, he did something indescribable that at moments touched on opera bouffe. At the side of this wild and uncontrollable partner, miss [sic] Kellogg made her reappearance in a role more suited to cast into relief the rather cold and dry side of her talent than to make her good points come out. The mistakes [deviations] of the orchestra and the insubordination of the chorus stitched it all together to make a veritable martyrdom, as much for the audience as for the young prima-donna herself. The subject of the piece had passed from fiction to reality.”

Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 17 January 1863, 333.

          “Brignoli was not there, and in his place came a certificate from Dr. Carnochan, and as a substitute in the emergency, Signor Maccaferri, an artist of very fair voice and unusually obliging and energetic disposition. . . . The opera is almost too long and difficult for a voice of the nature of Miss Kellogg’s; but she did the music and herself great justice, and with the able support of Brignoli would have been entirely successful.  As it was, Signor Maccaferri deserves great credit for his undertaking.  Signor Amodio rendered the part of Severus with great care and success.  The opera was a fair performance.  The house was brilliant and, for a wonder, quite demonstrative, although its applause was often ill-timed.”