Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
12 February 2019
“The return of Miss Kellogg to the operatic stage is a most welcome occasion. It has languished for her presence. She came to us again last evening in her best voice, and in her finest part, and was fittingly greeted by an audience noble in numbers, and in quality of the very best that the city could furnish. This result Miss Kellogg alone was sufficient to insure, but the reproduction of so grand a work as ‘Faust’ made it doubly certain. For this, indeed, is the finest serious opera ever written by a Frenchman, and follows in point of merit close upon the heels of the great masterpieces of Rossini and Meyerbeer. It is ten years now since it was first produced, and in that decade nothing has been written for the operatic stage to rival it in popular favor, much less to eclipse it in beauty. It received last evening a fine interpretation. The cast was a strong one. Antonucci was in admirable voice, and sang the weird, unhallowed, and mocking music of Mephistopheles with proper demoniac gusto. Orlandi was, as usual, weak and unsteady, and made but little of the noble baritone music allotted to Valentina.
The German tenor Habelman was the Faust. He gave his part for the first time in Italian, and both sang and acted with breath and true German fervor. He is a most valuable artist, and an acquisition to the Italian stage. His method is not so perfect as that of some of the Italians; but he is a man, and does everything in a manly way, and never with that sentimentality into which Italian suavity is apt to run.
The audience is kept waiting in this opera for the prima donna till the third act, when she commences the sad episode from her life which the opera relates with that lovely but mournful and prophetic ballad or folks-song, ‘There was a King in Thule.’ This with its succeeding cabaletta she sang with the faultless method, intonation, and grace that are associated with whatever she does.
We have said, or suggested, rather that the audience was a fashionable one. This is nearly always to equivalent to saying that it is a close one; for it may safely be stated, as a rule, that genuine applause comes from kidless hands. But for this apathy there may have been another reason as well. It is a fact that Miss Kellogg appeals strictly to the cultivated taste. There are no declamatory bursts for the mere sake of winning applause—no vocal arts indulged in, to [?] sacrifice of the text. Indeed, in ‘Faust’ her singing almost throughout is mezza voce. Her voice is so pure, the quality and her method of delivering it so perfect, that, as the singers say, it carries far and almost without an effort and without calling on her reserved strength she is able to fill even so large a house as the Academy. This capacity for easy singing is the perfection of art, and, though it may not win as much applause as a louder style, is infinitely, to be preferred.”
“Miss Kellogg made her rentrée here last evening, and was the recipient of a hearty and sincere welcome from the largest audience of the season. The opera was ‘Faust,’ a work in which the lady is widely known. Her conception of the character of Marguerite is poetic, passionate and picturesque—picturesque even to small particulars. No one has determined precisely what Marguerite should be, but we are persuaded that few would object to the Marguerite so delightfully limned by Miss Kellogg. The rôle has always been one of her best. It gave her character, individuality and position at once in Europe, and amid the many Marguerites will find a lasting place in musical history. We have spoken so frequently of Miss Kellogg in this part, that it is only necessary now, to say that she was in excellent voice, and never sang or appeared to greater advantage.
The general distribution of the opera was fair. Herr Habelmann sang in Italian. A facetious notice to that effect was inserted in the programme as though it were an unusual thing in Italian opera to hear the Italian language. He sang well and was warmly applauded. Signor Antonucci was the Mephistopheles. The free, beautiful, clear and sympathetic voice of this artist has never been sufficiently recognized in this part. He does not possess dramatic power, but every vocal qualification he has to perfection. In the dearth of bassos we are not likely to find his better.
The smaller parts were well rendered and the orchestra and chorus were quite grand. The opera will be repeated on Wednesday.”
“The reappearance of Miss Kellogg last night at the Academy of Music was, as we predicted it would be, the musical event of the year. Not only was every seat in the opera house occupied, but every foot of standing room was crowded, and already, they tell us, a very large proportion of the seats have been sold for the rest of the season. Our young New York prima donna has received a welcome of which she must undoubtedly be proud. She did wisely, to choose for her first opera one in which she is so pleasantly remembered as ‘Faust.’ No Margharita has ever seemed to us so charming as hers; and never, we may add, has she filled the role more charmingly than she did last night. The defects which we perceived in her style and manner when she first returned from Europe were little if at all apparent. The acting was natural, the vocalism was unaffected and simple. Perhaps this was because Miss Kellogg was no longer, as she was before, immeasurably above her surroundings. During that memorable brief season of skeleton opera which followed her return, she must have felt like a thoroughbred racer among a herd of pack-horses. She was condemned to sing with a rabble of people who were not fit to sing with her, and some of whom were not fit to sing at all. Perhaps it is no wonder that under such circumstances she disappointed us. Last night, however, matters were very different. The cast was strong; the appointments were careful; the orchestra was well handled by Mr. Maretzek in person; and the chorus, if not very good, was at least respectable. Miss Kellogg, under those conditions, was what she used to be of old, and achieved not only a fashionable, but (what she ought to value far higher) an artistic success.
Mr. Habelmann was the Faust of the evening, and for the first time he sang in Italian. We never heard him sing better. In the third act, especially, he was admirable. His salve dimora was rendered with fine taste and expression. Antonucci was the Mephistopheles, and it is hardly necessary to say that his performance was almost faultless. His noble and well-trained voice is an unfailing spring of pleasure. Madame Cellini took the part of Siebel, and Orlandini that of Valentin. The demand for seats to hear ‘Faust’ has been so great that it will be given again to-morrow instead of the ‘Barber of Seville,’ previously announced.”
“Miss Kellogg repeated last evening, before a large and appreciative audience her artistic and effective impersonation of Marguerite, in Gounod’s ‘Faust.’ The plaudits which the London press unanimously accorded to this favorite American prima donna upon her first appearance at Her Majesty’s theatre, in London in a character well described as unquestionably one of the most engaging in the entire repertory of the modern lyric drama, have now been fully endorsed in New York. Miss Kellogg triumphantly sustained abroad the trying ordeal of comparison between herself as the American original, Mlle. Titiens as the Italian original, Mme. Miolaw Carvalho as the French original, and Mlle. Lucca as the German original of the profoundly interesting character, as well as Mlle. Adelina Patti and Mlle. Christine [Nilsson]. The most fastidious London critics agreed in the opinion that the distinctions between the several impersonations of all these eminent artists were neither broad enough in outline nor subtle enough in detail to be particularly dwelt upon, and they awarded special praise to Miss Kellogg’s consistent presentation of the ‘sentimental’ view of Marguerite. It may be asserted, without the slightest exaggeration, that her acting last night was faultless and superb. In delicacy and finish it was truly a work of art, and her American admirers, who are aware how largely the accomplishments of Miss Kellogg as an actress have been the growth of a few years of earnest and laborious study, bestow all the more credit upon her. In her reply to Faust in the scene of the Kermesse, throughout the garden scene, at the spinning wheel, in the cathedral, and in the prison, the highest dramatic excellence was displayed.
The voice of Miss Kellogg is flexible, resonant and pure in quality, rather than powerful. The foreign criticism that it fails somewhat in the middle and lower registers, and that therefore some parts of the music of ‘Marguerite’ are hardly within her range is not incorrect. But to most of the music her real soprano voice, with its penetrating force is admirably adapted and evinces the fruit of the thorough vocal training to which it has been subjected according to the best methods. In the plaintive romance at the spinning wheel, in the difficult passages of the jewel song and the beautiful duet between Marguerite and Faust, the gems of the opera, Miss Kellogg sang most admirably. The best tribute which she received abroad was the expression by Rossini himself of his gratification that she was to sing in his grand Posthumous Mass, which has been purchased by Mr. Maurice Strakosch and is soon to be produced in this city; and the latest proof that as a singer she is not without honor in her own country is the offer, which was yesterday received and accepted, of the unprecedented sum of $1,500 for a single evening at the opera house in Elmira in this State.”
“Miss Kellogg’s success this season has been without parallel in even her successful career. Every time that she has appeared of late the house has been crowded, and ‘Faust’ seems to have received all the vigor of its youth. At the matinée on Saturday it was performed again to an audience which more than filled every seat in the building—including the theatre’s vast [sic] of the extreme upper tier—and overflowed into the lobbies and on the staircases. Miss Kellogg sang with her usual delicacy and taste, and was well supported by Habelmann, Antonucci and Cellini. During the afternoon the prima donna received from some anonymous source a floral tribute worthy of special mention. It was in the shape of a huge cornucopia, and the flowers on the outside were so disposed as to form the recipent’s name and the allusion to her success in the part of Marguerita. The whole structure—for it is far too elaborate to be called simply a bouquet—is a pleasant innovation on the customary style of similar tributes.”