Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
6 April 2019
La Grange last night at the Academy sang for the first time here the part of Leonora, in Donizetti’s ‘Favorita,’ and in it added another to her long list of lyric triumphs. Her rendering of the final duet was not only a masterpiece of action and singing, but a new reading of an old part. It seemed incredible that so much novelty and originality could be given to so familiar a theme.
“Brignoli was the tenor, and sang in his usual style, receiving the inevitable encore for his aria, Spirito gentil. He finds in ‘Favorita’ one of his most effective parts.”
“There are few operas by Donizetti more interesting in story and song than ‘La Favorita.’ The action is simple and straightforward, and the culmination, without being overwhelming, is appropriate and impressive. The work was written for the French stage, and the score is somewhat more carefully prepared than was apt to be the case with this prolific, rapid and careless composer. The finales to the second and third acts are remarkably well wrought for the school to which they belong. The fourth act is sweet, tender, sad and elegiac in its character, full of somber interest and pathos. ‘La Favorita’ is well known here, and indeed everywhere where Italian opera pure and simple is given. Its revival last night did not, however, stir the pulse of the public. Some people prefer not to wade through the snow, even for Donizetti. The attendance was slim, especially among those whose only carriage was the graceful one bestowed on them by nature. Of that double-fitted kind who possess not only the carriage of nature but something on four wheels beside, there was a goodly sprinkling. The performance, as is usual on such occasions, was particularly good. Mme. La Grange was in voice as Leonora, and sang and acted with animation. Signor Brignoli was also unusually good as the unhappy Fernando. It was in this rôle that he made his first impression on an American audience, and he has had no one since who has surpassed him in it. The delicate shades of the music alternating from tenderness to religious fervor and resignation, are admirably preserved by this artist, whose mezzo-voce is one of the finest on the stage. The duo in the second act was finely rendered by Mme. La Grange and Signor Brignoli, and the finale to the third act, with its defiant repulse of an indignity, was powerfully given by the gentleman. The fourth act, with its duo on the Cross and the charming Spirito Gentil, carried the house by storm. It is a pity that this beautiful morceau comes so late in the opera. Signor Orlandini was suffering from a cold, and did the best that could be expected of him under the circumstances. Signor Antonucci sang bravely—as he always does. A debutante—Miss Fanny Kimball by name—sustained the rôle of Inze [Inez]. The lady has a pretty soprano, not very powerful, but not by any means thin. Stage practice will, no doubt, strengthen her voice. She made a favorable impression. The orchestra and chorus under Torriani were both good.”
“Maretzek works persistently on through good and evil report, through large and little audiences. He has gone round upon the wheel of fortune so often that the revolutions bring him no new sensations, and he contemplates himself slipping down or being lifted up with an equal and philosophic mind. We call it the wheel of fortune, but the public works the crank, a fickle public, that occasionally entirely forgets its duty and runs off to stare at pretty blondes and ballet girls; and then the wheel, so far as Max is concerned, stands absolutely still.
“During the past week Maretzek has been reviving in old opera-goers memories of Benedetti and Truffi, and Salvi and Marini, all of whom were famous in their day in ‘Ernani’ and ‘Favorita,’ and who are absolutely identified with them in the recollections of those who heard them. On Friday evening the latter opera was excellently performed at the Academy. The leading parts were in the hands of those most competent artists, Brignoli, La Grange, and Antonucci, and in the last act they distinguished themselves especially, and roused the house to great enthusiasm.”
“The performance of La Favorita at the Academy of Music, on Friday evening, is distinguished for having been the most pleasing, as well as, in some respects, the best performance of the season thus far. La Grange and Brignoli were the Leonora and Ferrando, respectively; Antonucci Balthazzar, and Orlandini Alfonso. Mme. La Grange entered with her whole soul into the high-wrought passion of her part, and the usually impassible Brignoli generously supplemented her efforts; his voice had regained its old-time sweetness and clearness, and his acting was impassioned and eloquent. Had the house been a fuller one, a furore such as used to be witnessed occasionally over Italian Opera, but which in these degenerate days can be created only by opera bouffe, would surely have resulted. Antonucci was, as usual, superb in voice and gesture, and Orlandini well nigh as faultless as could be wished. Indeed, the whole of the beautiful opera was fittingly rendered.”