Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
1 March 2019
Brilliance promised by Maretzek’s approaching opera season.
Ad for the season; three regular opera nights and a matinee weekly.
Description of the coming season; comments on the mismanagement of Kellogg’s career, the cast, and the fear of polyglot performances.
Remarks on the planned season. “Maretzek is its recognized exponent in this country. To him we owe the best opera and the best singers heard in America, and he re-enters the field this season with a large and efficient company, and with a programme that must command attention.”
“The first night of Maretzek’s new series of Italian opera attracted to the Academy of Music last night a large audience, though not a crowded one. Verdi’s ‘Sicilian Vespers’ was on the bills. It has been done here before with the same cast, and the performance does not call for special comment. Miss States as Elena sang with all the power of her fresh telling voice, and was encored in her bolero in the last act. Brignoli was the Arrigo and sang so well that there was really no excuse for the omission of the very pleasing air Scendono i Zefretti. Antonucci finds in John of Procida a part well suited to his dignified style of voice and action, and Orlandini was satisfactory as Guido. The opera altogether served very well as an introduction to the more elaborate ones that are to follow. It was pleasant last night, besides listening to the half-forgotten Italian music, to see the Academy filled once more with a fashionable, attentive and well-dressed audience—to feel that the delightful exotic of Italian opera was again blooming among us.”
“Mr. Maretzek’s short season of twenty performances commenced last evening with the usual result. The man was at the wheel, but those who said he should not be there were absent. In other words the performance was good, and the attendance wretched. The opera was the ‘Sicilian Vespers,’ a work that is familiar but which possesses many dramatic opportunities for new artists. Mme. Agatha States was admirable as the Duchess Elena. Her large, grand voice was heard to advantage—a voice, we take occasion to say, which is not excelled on any stage. If the lady had not the misfortune to be an American she would probably be considered the most amply gifted artiste that has ever touched these shores; but she is American and must linger. Signor Brignoli was the Arrigo and sang charmingly. He is still the best soft tenor of the stage. Signor Orlandini was simply bad. Signor Antonucci, with his large, true voice, once more maintained the position of an artist. He sang well, and took some interest in the performance, which is more than can be said of any one except Mme. States. The whole performance is not worth referring to except in a brief and uncritical way. It is now sadly but distinctly apparent that opera can be given anywhere—except at the Academy of Music.”
“It was pleasant to hear the Academy last night resound once more with the grateful strains of Italian melody, and it was pleasant also to observe that a gay and fashionable audience, filling the boxes with a flutter of feathers and ribbons, and making the parquet to glitter like a flower-garden, celebrated becomingly the opening of Mr. Maretzek’s new season. We have been so long without Italian opera that it would have been strange, indeed, if this occasion had not called forth a large representation of the patrons of what is most refined and elegant in lyric art. Mr. Maretzek seemed to have done his share to make the opening auspicious. ‘The Siclian Vespers’ is one of the least worn of the really popular operas of Verdi, and it is one in which most of the artists who were cast for the leading characters shine to particular advantage. The rich voice and broad style of Mrs. States are well suited to such roles as that of Elena, and she won last night a great deal of cordial applause, especially in her duet with Brignoli, in the third act. The popular tenor was in splendid voice, and displayed more than his usual animation. The most interesting part in the opera, however, is given to the bass, and we all know that Antonucci in this is irreproachable, his Giovanni di Procida being admirably conceived and acted with dignity and spirit, while he delivers the music with rare artistic finish. He met with a hearty welcome when he came upon the stage, and was liberally applauded throughout. Orlandini was a good Guido de Montfort. The minor parts were acceptably filled; the chorus and supernumeraries were many, and well dressed, and well drilled; the mounting as a whole was careful, and the orchestra, under the direction of Signor Torriani, was all that it should have been.”
“Yesterday the opening of the short season of Italian opera took place at the Academy of Music under the direction of M. Maretzek. The Vêpres Siciliennes bore the expense of the first evening.”
“Another spasm of Italian Opera was inaugurated at the Academy of Music on Thursday evening, Feb. 11th. The ‘Sicilian Vespers’ was the opera chosen for the initial performance, with Mad. Agatha States and Sig. Brignoli in the principal roles. The entertainment did not meet with success, either pecuniarily or otherwise, and Max’s boldness in starting at the opening of Lent is not likely to meet with public approval. Mad. States, we see, wishes to secede from the United States, as she has commenced a suit for divorce from her husband.”