Academy of Music
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Price: $1.50 reserved seats; $8, $10, and $20 boxes
9 January 2019
“The return of Miss Kellogg is the marked event of the week in our musical world. She comes back laden with laurels won bravely and fairly in a difficult field, having extorted from the keenest as well as the most prejudiced of critics a succession of verdicts ranging all the way from approval to unqualified admiration. With her London reputation, based as it was on her success in a great variety of the most trying characters, she might easily have chosen whatever new fields of conquest on the Continent seemed most attractive, but has chosen, rather, to return among her old friends, who have watched her career from the beginning with an interest almost affectionate and with a pardonable national pride.”
“The approaching appearance of Miss Kellogg at the Academy of Music, in what are termed, ‘operatic concerts,’ is likely to be the prelude to a series of spasmodic seasons of Italian opera. Each season, it appears, is to be limited to one night, but as there may be three seasons every week, that makes no difference. In plain English, if matters go well, we shall probably hear our favorite New-York prima donna at least in certain light operas, such as ‘The Barber,’ ‘Don Pasquale,’ etc., or perhaps in separate acts of ‘Faust,’ and other grander works, combinced with miscellaneous concert selections. So be it. All this might very well be done. But pray let us have no more ‘grand’ opera with a puny cast. Do whatever you can do well, Mr. Strakosch, and there stop.”
“Max Strakosch’s concerts at the Academy will be got up on a grand scale. Of course, Miss Kellogg ill be the great attraction, but the other artists will also be of a first class order.”
The sale of seats will take place on Thursday, 15 October, at 9 a.m. at the box office of the Academy of Music. All business communications may be addressed to Max Strakosch, Everett House, NY.
“Miss Clara Louisa Kellogg is now on a visit to Connecticut. Under Mr. Max Strakosch’s direction she will commence an important season of concerts on Monday week [sic], Oct. 19, assisted by good artists. The New-York concerts will take place at the Academy of Music.”
“The first of Mr. Max Strakosch’s series of three grand concerts will take place at the Academy of Music on Monday next. The principal artiste of the occasion is, of course, Miss Kellogg, who will sing not only in the miscellaneous part of the entertainment, but also in the third act of ‘Faust,’ which will be given for the express purpose of restoring to New-York our first and best Marguerita. The idea is a good one, and will be appreciated by the many friends and admirers of the lady. A full orchestra has been engaged for the occasion, which will be under the direction of Mr. Carl Bergmann. The artists engaged to assist Miss Kellogg are Mme. de Gabele, Signor Lotti, Signor Petrelli, Signor Susini, Mons. Alard, (violoncellist,) and Miss Alide Topp, the celebrated pianist.”
“Miss Clara Louise Kellogg, the bright rising star of the American lyric stage, appears in concert before the New York public this evening, at the Academy of Music, for the first time since her return from Europe. The house will doubtless be filled to its utmost capacity with the many friends and admirers of the favorite prima donna, and as a good programme is offered it is but reasonable to suppose that the entertainment will prove highly acceptable and at the same time satisfactory to the music loving portion of our citizens. Miss Kellogg will be assisted upon this occasion by such well known artists as Lotti, Petrelli, Susini, Cæsar Alard and Miss Alida Topp, all of whom are too well known to the public to need any special mention here. After the concert the entire third act of Gounod’s ‘Faust’ will be performed, with Miss Kellogg sustaining the rôle of Marguerite, which is the same in which she recently created such a furor in Europe. During her sojourn abroad Miss Kellogg subjected herself to hard study, and now returns to her native land wonderfully improved in voice and action. But three grand Kellogg concerts will be given during the week and a matinée on Saturday, the whole under the direction of Mr. Max Strakosch.”
“The reception given to Miss Kellogg at the Academy last evening was one of the most genuine and hearty ovations ever awarded to an artist in this city. The concert—even Miss Kellogg’s share in it—was of secondary consequence. Susini’s hoarseness, Lotti’s inadequacy and Petrelli’s lack of vocal power and animation, were good-naturedly put up with and almost lost sight of. The main desire of the immense and superb audience which crowded every part of the Academy seemed to be to give to our favorite prima donna a welcome worthy of her genius and achievements. And it must be admitted that this generous desire was most handsomely fulfilled. Showers of bouquets, which evidently were not prepared and paid for by the management, covered the stage at every appearance of Miss Kellogg. The applause which followed each one of her performances was prolonged and tumultuous.
Miss Kellogg first sang the graceful waltz in ‘Romeo and Juliet;’ and showed those of her auditors who heard that opera last season, what beauty and expression can be given to this exquisite number. Of course she was encored again and again, until she sang ‘Sweet Home’ with a purity and pathos which must have touched all who heard it—giving to its hackneyed words a new depth of meaning and an affectionate expressiveness which they seldom receive. In her duet with Signor Petrelli she labored under the disadvantage of singing music entirely unfamiliar here, a selection from Ambroise Thomas’s ‘Hamlet,’ and of having to sustain the interest of that duet alone. The selection was a good one, as far as regards its fitness to exhibit the artist’s mastery of some of the most trying feats of vocal execution, which, as usual with Miss Kellogg, were met bravely, honestly and triumphantly.
The third part of the programme gave us Miss Kellogg in the third act of ‘Faust.’ Her Margaret, which is undoubtedly the best ever seen on our stage, and which won the almost unqualified praise of the best London critics, was the same Margaret which we have so often enjoyed; or, if there was any difference, it was in the way of improvement, for Miss Kellogg never allows herself to rest on her laurels, and is constantly adding new touches to her personations. She was well supported by Lotti and Madame De Gebele, while Susini was unfortunate enough to be too hoarse to sing at all.
M. Cesar Alard played the violoncello with much taste and delicacy of execution. Miss Alida Topp, the pianist of the evening, was fairly entitled to the encores she received. While she is somewhat deficient in strength, her touch is [?], and her execution even and sometimes brilliant. There are few pianists who play with more sentiment or with a nicer appreciation.”
“Miss Kellogg appeared last evening at the Academy of Music for the first time since her return from her European triumphs.
A finer audience than was gathered on the occasion we have rarely seen, a worse concert than was given we have rarely heard. It was so bad that it is easier at once to point out what was good in it than what was bad. Miss Kellogg was good; everything else was poor, and unworthy of herself and her audience.
In the first place, the programme was miserablely made up. The orchestra played two overtures, Messrs. Lotti, Susini, and Petrolli sang, and a Mr. Alard played the violoncello. Now the orchestra was a poor, thin, weakly, picked up affair, and played detestably. Its accompaniments were as bad as its overtures, which is saying a great deal. Miss Topp, the pianist, of course played well—she is an artist, and always does—but the Academy of Music is no place for a piano; it is too large, the resonance of the insturmnets is lost and dissipated, and the tone destroyed in the immense space to be filled. The piano is a parlor instrument, at most an instrument for a concert hall, not an instrument certainly for an opera hosue; and it is no wonder that the audience yawned through the long pieces by Liszt, and were decidedly bored and glad when it was over. Mr. Steinway might have spared his men the trouble of rushing forward (after the instrument was rolled into place for the performer); with an immense signboard with ‘Steinway’ upon it to be hung out for the benefit of the audience and his own glorification, for the insturmnet gains no reputation when heard in that house. This piano business being over, we had a solo on the violoncello. This is quite as foolish an idea as the piano solo, and proved even more trying to the patience of the audience. Who wants to hear any one saw out melodies on a violoncello at the Academy of Music? No one does, not even when the instrument is in the hands of a master, much less when it is in those of a quite commonplace musician. The piece fell flat, and deservedly so, upon the audience and hardly a hand was raised in applause. Mr. Lotti also sang a solo. His voice is always sweet and pleasant in quality—a feeble, insuffient voice, uncertain in its middle register, apt to give out suddenly in soft passages where you expect it to be strong; peculiarly strong in taking the high notes with vigor, when you expect it to be weakest. In fact, Lotti depends on redeeming a very madequately sung aria by coming out strong on the last note. It’s an old trick, and has been played by many singers, and such easy tempered things are audiences that it seldom fails to succeed. It is no satisfaction to hear Lotti feebly warble his little solos. He is very excellent at ‘supporting distance,’ as a help to the prima donna, to carry the tenor part in a quartet, or even in a duet, but as for a solo—spare us! And now we come to the worst of all—Signor Susini. He did more than any one else to spoil the evening. He had a cold so bad that he could hardly articulate, and sang not a note in tune from the beginning to the end. Such noises as he made we never, in a long experience of public singers, remember to have heard. There is no comparison that would do it justice; the hoarse bellow of a sickly bull would have been melody compared to it. We cannot imagine what induced Mr. Susini, an excellent artist and a man of sense, to come on the stage in such voice. It may have been his good nature and a desire not to disappoint, but it seemed to us without excuse, and an insult to the audience for which Mr. Strakosch should be held answerable. In fact, if this concert is Mr. Strakosch’s idea of what a concert should be, it is high time that he found out his mistake. Let him consult some person who knows what the public require. Mr. Thomas or any competent musician could tell him better what to do. Miss Kellogg did what she could to redeem the eveing, but even her ability, great as it is, was not sufficient to carry the dead weight of the rest. She tried to vitalize the third act of ‘Faust,’ which was given to close the concert, but Susini spoilt all her efforts, covered her with evident confusion, and produced a laugh from the audience by his uncouth sounds at the very crisis of the act. The only really charming things of the evening were Miss Kellogg’s impassioned, tender singing of ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ and of the quaint old romance of the ‘King of Thule,’ from ‘Faust.’ She was overwhelmed with flowers, of course. A white dove also fluttered among the bouquets. She deserved all the floral tributes she received, and all the applauding welcomes, though we wish she could have appeared under better management and to better advantage than with her sourroundings of last evening. The concerts are to be continued. Whether, for the sake of Miss Kellogg, the public will stand the rest of the entertainment, is very questionable.”
This review was reprinted in Dwight's Journal of Music on 10/24/68, page 3.
“The Academy of Music looked grimly pleasant last evening. It was filled with a brilliant and enthusiastic audience. Filled, so far as salable seats were concerned. There were, however, many vacant stockholders’ seats, and almost an entire proscenium flank of stockholders’ boxes empty. It must have been a mere coincidence; striking in its way, but not significant. The Academy is so seldom open that certainly the stockholders would be present when Miss Kellogg was to sing. Undoubtedly. Nevertheless, it was this which made it look grim.
Apart from the unpleasant people called stockholders, it may be said that there was too much concert and too little Kellogg. The programme was divided into three mortal parts; and in two of these Miss Kellogg sang but twice, and the second time diluted with another voice. The third part consisted wholly of the third act of Faust. Of this last it is unnecessary to speak. Every one remembers how charming Miss Kellogg was in the opera. She has lost none of her old control over the sympathies of her audience. She acts the part with simplicity and grace, and sings the music with thorough delicacy and understanding. To say that Miss Kellogg was supported by the artists who assisted her would be going too far. Signor Susini was in a lamentable, most pitiable state of hoarseness. Nothing but the most benevolent of motives and kindness of intentions could have convinced him to sing under such obvious disadvantages. Signor Lotti sang the romanza (‘Salvi Dimora’) in the opening scene very prettily, but its vague unrhythmetic character is a little beyond his powers. Of the others there is nothing to say.
In the first part of the concert, Miss Kellogg sang the valse from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Gounod. It was, of course, easily rendered by the artiste, but the conductor (not Mr. Bergmann) took the time so slow that it became tame and wearisome. The piece, nevertheless, brought an encore, and Miss Kellogg sang ‘Home, Sweet Home’ in a way to melt all hearts. In the second part she sang in a duet from ‘Hamlet,’ by Ambrose Thomas, a beautifully wrought piece, but spoilt in the end by a terrible taint of Verdi. Signor Petrelli, who sang with Miss Kellogg, is a lugubrious baritone, without any vocal acquirement that can be perceived as a reasonable distance.
There were two solo players, Signor Alard (violoncello) and Miss Alida Topp. The gentleman’s playing is uncertain and amateurish, and not at all fit to be heard outside of an orchestra. Miss Topp played with more than her usual defiant carelessness. She commenced the ‘Rigoletto Fantasie’ with a wrong note, and bagged quite a number of additional false notes before she got to the end. In certain passages she was brilliant and effective; and in certain others tame and slovenly. We have heard her play the piece to much greater advantage. Miss Topp secured an encore, and played a trivial piece (by Lefebre Wely, we believe) utterly beneath her powers. In the second part Miss Topp played two of Liszt’s Hungarian rhapsodies. In this wild, tumultuous, uninhabitable kind of music she is, we think, heard to the best advantage.”
“Miss Kellogg had a genuine ovation last night; not one of those sham affairs which managers sometime manufacture, with the aid of clappers, free tickets, and liberal orders for bouquets, to be paid for at the box office; but a real welcome from the fashionable society of New-York, which crowded the Academy of Music to its utmost capacity, and showered baskets and nosegays and live doves and similar compliments upon the stage in such profusion that one might easily have imagined one’s self at a horticultural fair or a poultry show. The moral of all which is that we are afraid to approve anything in the way of art very heartily until it has received European [endorsement?]. Miss Kellogg has long been a favoriate among us, but hitherto we have liked her in a patronizing fashion, and have been not too ready to buy tickets for her performances. As soon as London applauded her we found out that she was a beautiful singer. When she went away, we patted her on the back; when she [comes?] back we throw ourselves at her feet. Yet to speak plainly, she is no better now than she was when she left us. She has lost some of that simplicity which was the crowning grace of her style. She has picked up some little affectations of manner and method, which are slight of yet, but if not checked will grow into serious defects. With these little short-comings, however, which in any but a superior artist would not be noticed at all, we have in Miss Kellogg an exquisite singer of whom we have abundant reason to be fond and proud. She presented herself last night in the character which is associated with her most memorable triumphs both at home and abroad. Her concept of Gounod’s Margaret is highly poetical and on the whole the most satisfactory that has ever been presented in this city, and she [executes?] the music with sweetness and delicacy. Only the third act was given last night, but that embraces most of the gems of the opera, and among them two in which Miss Kellogg is especially excellent, namely, the song, ‘The King of Thule’ and the Notte d’amor duet. The other roles in this operatic fragment were taken by Lotti, who was very good indeed; Mme. Freda de Gebele rendered the Flower Song admirably; and Susini, who had literally no voice whatever, and was the occasion of much ill-mannered and unfeeling laughter on the part of the audience. An old favorite deserved kinder treatment.
The operatic performance was preceded by a miscellaneous concert, in which Miss Kellogg sang the waltz from Gounod’s ‘Romeo e Giulietta,’ and on being recalled after it produced a striking effect with two stanzas of “Home, Sweet Home.” She also took part with Petrelli in a duet from Ambroise Thomas’ ‘Hamlet,’ a laborious composition, the first part of which narrowly misses being beautiful, while the last just falls short of an impressive climax. Sig. Petrelli, the new baritone, was also heard in the well-known romanza from ‘Un Ballo in Maschera.’ He has a pleasant, sympathateic voice, a little deficient both in strength and culture, but sings with a good deal of expression. Miss Topp played Liszt’s Rhapsodie Hongroise (No. 1) as she only can play it, and Liszt’s fantasie on ‘Rigoletto’—a terrible piece of pyrotechnics, but splendidly performed. Mr. Alard gave a solo on the violoncello, Lotti was heard to advantage in an aria from ‘Don Sebastian,’ and the orchestra under Mr. Bergmann gave two overtures.”
“The first of the Kellogg concerts at the Academy of Music demonstrated the thorough appreciation of the gifts and accomplishments of Miss Kellogg by the American public in advance of her recent transatlantic triumphs. Her return to New York has been heartily welcomed. In the account which we published yesterday of the ovation received by her on Monday evening—an ovation to which the favorite American prima donna was richly entitled—her own share in the performance was chiefly dwelt upon. The purity and the rare dramatic quality of her even and well trained soprano voice were deservedly extolled. The applause was duly noted which was bestowed upon her first song, the ‘Waltz,’ from ‘Romeo and Juliet;’ upon the pathetic manner in which she sang ‘Home, Sweet Home;’ upon the picture, worthy of the pencil of Ary Scheffer, which she offered as she sang in costume at the spinning wheel that simple and touching song, ‘There was a King of Thule;’ upon the brilliancy and power which she imparted to ‘The Jewel Song,’ and upon her effective acting throughout the famous garden scene in the third act of Gounod’s ‘Faust.’ The eulogies of London critics upon her unrivalled impersonation of Marguerite were fully endorsed, and the superb costume in which she appeared in the concert part of the exhibition—the same costume which she wore at her first concert in Buckingham Palace in June last, was minutely described. The splendid floral tributes which were showered upon her were also mentioned. So far as Miss Kellogg herself was concerned the first of her concerts was justly chronicled as an immense success.
But it only enhances the merit of Miss Kellogg to add that perhaps no one else could so well have borne the drawbacks unluckily affixed to her first concert. It might be unnecessarily cruel to particularize the defects of certain artists who assisted at this concert, or rather, who almost fatally obstructed its success. Signor Susini has been an admirable singer. He is still an excellent actor. But he has become, as the Southern negroes say, ‘mighty uncertain.’ On this occasion, as he well knows, his unlucky hoarseness, which prevented him from giving a single note correctly, would have subjected him in Europe to hisses which would have driven him from the state. The good nature which prompted him to appear, notwithstanding his utter disqualification for the task, would not have been accepted as an excuse. It is probable, however, that the management is mainly responsible for Susini’s appearance under such peculiarly unfortunate circumstances. The management must likewise be held responsible for engaging certain other artists whose names it is hardly worth while to record, but whose incompetency was painfully manifest, and who should be satisfactorily replaced if Mr. Max Strakosch is properly solicitous of maintaining the prestige of his name. We have all heard of a Strakosch, whose world-wide reknown as a manager has been crowned by the unprecedented success of Mlle. Adelina Patti, the Marchioness de Caux. But a lucky name alone cannot secure the winning card. We hope that Mr. Max Strakosch will not so far rely upon it or upon the celebrity of Miss Kellogg as to neglect to reorganize completely his present company. He ought not to strengthen the suspicion that judicial madness almost always overtakes the presumptuous individuals who undertake to act as managers at the ill-fated Academy of Music. It is due both to Miss Kellogg and to the public that she should be properly supported by the very best musical talent that can be secured in New York. There is, we firmly believe, no lack of such talent here, and we specially rejoice in the triumphs of our favorite American prima donna, because they are an earnest of triumphs even more signal which her successors may aspire to win.
One little detail we may be justified in alluding to in connection with these concerts, inasmuch as it obtrudes itself upon the notice of the public at almost every concert. We refer to the conspicuous exhibition upon the piano on which Miss Alida Topp played so skillfully last Monday evening of the name of its manufacturer. Can our Steinways and Chickerings and Webers and the rest think of no other less offensive and more efficient mode of advertising their wares?”
“Yesterday the first of several evening concerts Miss Kellogg had promised to her New York fans took place.
The charming singer was celebrated like the prodical child on her return. You could say that she was literally buried in flowers. The flowers flew from the loges onto the stage by dozens at a time, without counting the wreaths, the bskets of Homeric proportions, the live doves . . . it even seemed that we were seeing tiered cakes—not of sweetmeats and macarons, but of green leaves and exotic flowers.
The queen of the party didn’t seem disposed to utter the word[s] of Calchas: Too many flowers! too many flowers! but she seemed quite moved by such a reception and very tired by having to transport so many armfuls of bouquets into the wings, helped however much by the obliging M. Lotti, who wasn’t afraid to compromise his dignity as premier tenor in making so many trips.
It’s to be regretted that M. Strakosch couldn’t reunite a troupe to support Miss Kellogg. The slightest opera is preferable to the most brilliant concert. That’s everyone’s opinion. Why is it like that? That would be easy enough, but too long, to talk about here.
And yet never was there a concert better put together. The audience abundantly applauded M. Alard, who executed a military rondo by Servais on the cello, in which the difficulties seem to be heaped up gratuitiously. M. Alard is a virtuoso classified today among the masters, he has accuracy, sonority, expression, agile fingers and clean and sure bow-strokes.
Miss Alida Topp was also strongly acclaimed. This young artist has merit; nevertheless, her playing sparkles more from energy than from feeling. How are such small fingers so vigorous?
But all the flowers, all the hurrahs and the snapping of gloves were reserved for Miss Kellogg. The prophet says, however, that nobody is a prophet in his own land. It’s probable that this unlucky phraseology only applies to the sex of which the illustrious Marton takes an integral part and that the interdiction doesn’t apply to prophetesses.
We’ll return, in a forthcoming report, to these concert-performances which, if you have to judge them by Monday evening’s concert, promise to bring a crowd back to the hall at Irving Place. Let’s talk offhand about what Miss Kellogg seems to us to have acquired during her stay in Europe. The vocalises are always brilliant and delicate, and the high notes, which you could have [in the past] rebuked sometimes for a little sourish vibration, are now of a crystalline purity; let’s add to this that the technique is irreproachable and that it’s impossible to better join science to art and the qualities gained in study to the natural gifts.
After the waltz from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, the public heatedly demanded an encore. Mlle Kellogg then sang Home Sweet Home and all seems to suggest that this adroit compliment provoked foot-stamping enthusiasm. The duet from Hamlet, the last great success of Ambroise Thomas and Nilsson’s triumph, didn’t produce the whole result that you could have expected. It’s true that M. Petrilli isn’t Faure and that it’s difficult to sing a duet alone. Nor yet a quartet for two, and that’s what happened a bit later.
The real attraction of the evening was the third act of Gounod’s Faust, that masterpiece within a masterpiece. Miss Kellogg proved herself to be splendid in it. You couldn’t sing the ballad of the King of Thule with more naiveté, the jewel song with more coquetry, the duet with more soul.
We should say in passing that M. Lotti, who had already been applauded in the romance from Ballo in Maschera, sang the whole role of Faust very well, and above all his part in the magnificent duet that terminates the act. The love in all his passion, the shame he battles against, the dream of ideal happiness, the ecstasy of celestial joys, all is conveyed in this great and beautiful person that one never allows oneself to hear interpreted like this.
With all these elements, the success was on the point of being compromised by Mephistopheles-Susini, whose terrible cold paralyzed his abilities. We don’t understand how M. Susini, who is a thoughtful artist, could have agreed to appear before the public under such conditions. It had to be that the spectators were animated by a forbearance of which I’ve only encountered rare examples so that they didn’t protest energetically.
I distinctly heard one of my neighbors say, at Mestopheles’s second entrance, ‘Look here! I’m going to take advantage of the occasion to see if I’ve forgotten my passport!’
The passport was found, but he stayed mute. One owes this act of deference to the lovely diva whose triumph you wouldn’t want to alter, whether by the flod of a rose or the hiss of an asp.
Review occupies end of a much longer article on Kellogg’s return and reception. See event entry of 10/31/68: Article on the return and reception of Clara Louise Kellogg.
“That her success so far since her return has been personal and social rather than artistic, is evident from the heartiness with which she has nightly been applauded in her singing of ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ and the sublime patience with which her ‘supporting’ performers have been tolerated. The song expressed the sentiment which animated the assemblage; we were heartily glad to have our young prima donna at home again, and it was delightful to hear that she was glad to be with us; but the song was not well sung, because it was not sung simply. And the the rest of the troupe! There were short spasms of excellence to be sure from one or two of them; Lotti, for instance, the first night, played Faust well, and Petrelli was almost pretty good in the concert the same evening; but if Miss Kellogg had sung with such a company a year ago she would have sung to an empty house. As it it, nobody seems to care whether these people are good or bad. They are like the musicians at a ball, only accompaniments for the entertainment of the evening.”