Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
24 March 2019
“Mr. Maretzek’s activity and enterprise are equal, fortunately, to the dull inertness of the Academy of Music management. To produce Meyerbeer’s opera of ‘L’Africaine’ with the crude elements that prevail in Fourteenth-street was, at all events, an achievement, and this was attained last night. This work, it may be remembered, depends in some way upon a certain ship scene. Meyerbeer aggravated himself on the subject, and all the journals of France dwelt with rapture on the mechanical result that came from his aggravation. The ship swerved round to the fell words of a conspirator, and when the savages boarded it there was a denouement that was brilliant. The scene at the ‘leading musical establishment of America’ looks like a huge and stupidly-constructed bedstead. This ideal was disturbed, however, by the fact that several members of the company pleased themselves and encouraged the illusion of the audience by wading through the pasteboard water and marching, without obstruction, into the side of the ship!
“The cast of the opera was good. Mme. La Grange is, of course, admirable as Selika. The part is embarrassing and lengthy, but it is studded with gems, and sustains itself to the end. Mme. La Grange gave the various morceaux with brilliant effect, but lacked the element that produces applause. Miss McCulloch again surprised her friends by the progress which in a few months she has made in the most difficult of all professions. Her voice is in admirable condition, and she uses it with skill. The Nelusko of last night should have been sustained by Signor Orlandini; but the gentleman was sick, and Signor Marra took his place. Signor Marra’s voice is not very large, but like Mercutio’s wound, it is enough. Signor Boetti, the new tenor, improves rapidly on acquaintance. He has a good voice, and a delivery which exhibits training. He has also the advantages of youth and presence. Signor Antonnucci was, of course, admirable, and the same may be said of the orchestra and chorus. Mr. Maretzek presided, and this is always a guarantee of completeness.”
“Meyerbeer’s grand opera ‘L’Africaine’ is one of those fine things which the people seem to think too good for every day wear, for it rarely enjoys the honors of a run, though its periodical revivals usually draw forth large and fashionable audiences. There was one of these revivals last night, and the Academy of Music accordingly displayed the welcome but long unaccustomed aspect of rows of full and gorgeous boxes, and ranks upon ranks of pretty faces and gay costumes. It is beautiful music—rich, and varied, and full of superb effects. The cast last night was generally tolerable, and in some particulars excellent. La Grange, for instance is an impassioned and highly effective Selika, and awakened considerable enthusiasm. Antonucci as Don Pedro is thoroughly irreproachable. Miss McCulloch is a pleasing Inez, appearing to especial advantage in the finale of the second act; and the new tenor, Signor Boetti, though not so good in the part of Vasco, as in some of the other roles which he has filled, gave general satisfaction, and confirmed the reputation which he has already established as a pleasing and trustworthy tenor. Signor Orlandini, who was cast for Nelusko, is disabled by a sore throat, and his part was taken at short notice by Signor Marra, whose performance was much better than we had reason to expect under the circumstances. The representation went off with smoothness, and the audience seemed well satisfied. Mr. Maretzek’s prospects grow brighter and brighter as his season goes on.”