Bateman French Opera: Barbe-bleue

Event Information

Pike's Opera House

Manager / Director:
H. L. [impressario] Bateman

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
25 May 2019

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

16 Nov 1868, 8:00 PM
17 Nov 1868, 8:00 PM
18 Nov 1868, 8:00 PM
19 Nov 1868, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Four more nights (including tonight) for Barbe bleue at Niblo’s. Bateman’s troupe then opens at Pike’s Opera House with La Grande Duchesse.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Blue Beard; Bluebeard
Composer(s): Offenbach
Text Author: Halévy, Meilhac
Participants:  Bateman French Opera Company;  Irma Marié (role: Boulotte);  Mlle. [dancer] De Rosa;  [tenor] Aujac (role: Blue Beard)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 08 November 1868.
Announcement: New York Sun, 09 November 1868, 2.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 10 November 1868, 2.
Announcement: New York Post, 12 November 1868.
Announcement: New York Post, 13 November 1868.
Announcement: New York Sun, 13 November 1868, 2.
Announcement: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 14 November 1868, 233.
Announcement: New York Post, 16 November 1868, [5].
Announcement: New York Sun, 16 November 1868, 2.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 November 1868, 7.
Review: New York Herald, 17 November 1868, 4.

“Bateman’s second campaign with the famous opéra bouffe of buff opera of ‘Barbe Bleue’ (or ‘The Blue Barber’) is a corruption of ‘Blue Beard,’ plot and all—Bateman’s second campaign, we say, of this famour rigmarole was opened last night at Pike’s with all the advantages of a festival assemblage, and an enthusiastic welcome in every way, a spirited execution, and very liberal interlinings of applause, encores, recalls and bouquets. As Tostée is the favorite Grand Duchess, so is Mlle. Irma, by pre-emption right here, and par excellence, Boulotte. Nor is Aujac so much at home in anything else as in ‘Barbe Bleue.’ He is Offenbach’s ‘Blue Beard’ to a hair, and he does it with the vim of an old campaigner, and the spirit, liveliness and fun imparted to the company by the barber and his bride make these ridiculous operatic farces exceedingly amusing. But in the intervals between the several acts there were mysterious murmurings of great expectations in the roars of some huge lions among the audience, and in casting about we discovered that Admiral Farragut and a distinguished party occupied one of the two proscenium boxes next the stage, and that the other, on the other side, was held open for General Grant and his party, momentarily expected to make their grand entrée. At the close of the second act, the house having got to the windward of the gallant old Admiral, he was spoken to and was compelled to show his colors, whereupon he was honored with the enthusiasm of the Union League. General Grant did not make his appearance during the evening; but as, even when turtle soup and stewed oysters are on the bill of fare, we can dispense with one of these dishes if the other is forthcoming, so when two roaring lions are expected we can allow for the absence of one if the other shows his mane and gives us a nod of his lordly head and a twinkle of his kingly eye. But enough. ‘Barbe Bleue’ opens with the promise in every way for a magnificent run at Pike’s for the house last night was all that could be desired in numbers and in enthusiasm, and the performance was a rattling and charming success.”

Review: New York Post, 17 November 1868.

“Tostée, after having enjoyed a successful career of several weeks in the ‘Grand Duchess’ and ‘Belle Helene,’ has given way to Irma, who last night made her first appearance at this establishment as Boulotte, the only character which she has yet taken in this country. She is as much identified with this as Tostée is with the Duchess; and last night she showed all the vivacity and the gaucheries which made the personation such a success at Niblo’s last summer. Aujac was, of course, the Bluebeard of the piece, and seemed in his element again. The other performers were quite satisfactory.

“‘Barbe Bleue’ has been admirably placed on the stage by Bateman. The scenery is new and good, and the costumes brilliant. Irma was most cordially received, and heartily applauded whenever a suitable opportunity offered.”

Review: New-York Times, 17 November 1868, 5.

“The charming IRMA made her re-appearance here last evening in ‘Barbe Bleue,’ and of course drew an enormous audience. We have never heard her sing to such advantage. Traveling evidently agrees with her. M. AUJAC was also in excellent trim. We doubt if the operas has ever been given so perfectly as it is now. Admiral FARRAGUT was among the audience and attracted much attention. He was called out and bowed his respects to the multitude.”

Review: New York Sun, 18 November 1868, 2.

“As the public grew impatient to see their old favorite Mlle Irma again, Mr. Bateman withdrew the ‘Belle Hélène,’ and we had on Monday evening a revivial of ‘Barbe-Bleue.’ The pretty Boulotte was never prettier, more capricious, more wayward, or more fascinating than on this occasion. She has the faculty of being thoroughly mischievous without coarseness. The opera itself it the most presentable of all Offenbach’s works, so far given, and the least objectionable. In pretty and taking music it is not behind the others, and the plot is a great deal more intelligible, if not droller, than that of ‘Genevieve de Brabant.’ Indeed, there are some people who can’t see any fun whatever in the latter work, which we incline rather to lay to the account of a defect in their sense of humor than to the absence of it in the piece itself. However that may be, everybody seems to find ‘Barbe-Bleue’ pleasant, and there is nothing in it that the fastidious need feel uneasy about, except perhaps its length; and as to that point, it was written for Frenchmen, and Frenchmen have a capacity for sitting hours on a stretch and being amused that simply astounds the rest of the world. They will dawdle all day long about the gardens of the Tuileries of the Champs Elysées, doing nothing; will sit for hours sipping eau sucrée (a drink quite as weak and insipid as their occupation), and looking at marionettes and puppets, and then will go to the theatre and listen to the most frivolous nonsense from 8 o’clock till midnight, not a man or woman thinking of stirring till the last word of the last act, and then hardly satisfied that there was not more. Offenbach wrote for these insatiable pleasure-seekers. The American mind lacks the ability to stand quite so much of this sort of thing, and it would certainly be for the interest of all concerned—manager, artists, and public—if the opera bouffe could contain itself within the limits of two hours and half, and if the acts were three in number, instead of four. The house was very well filled, and both Mr. Anjac and Mlle. Irma were greeted warmly by the public.”

Announcement: New York Herald, 20 November 1868, 10.

Pike’s is now called the Grand Opera House.

Announcement: New York Post, 20 November 1868, [2].

“The burlesque operas at Pike’s and the French Theatre continue every night to attract large and delighted audiences. Amateurs are divided in their preference of the music of ‘Barbe Bleue’ and ‘Genevieve,’ which have cast the ‘Grand Duchess’ and the ‘Belle Helene’ into the shade.”

Announcement: New York Post, 20 November 1868, [2].
Article: New York Clipper, 21 November 1868, 262, 3d col., middle.

James Fiske, who is also interested in the French Theatre, has purchased the opera house for $800,000; Bateman will continue as lessee.

Announcement: Dwight's Journal of Music, 21 November 1868, 352.
Announcement: New-York Times, 21 November 1868, 5.
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 23 November 1868.

“The revival of Barbe-Bleue is a success. Aujac and Irma Marié are applauded like [they were] on the first day.

“Perhaps I’m going to displease these two excellent artist and nevertheless, on my honor, it’s a compliment that I have the intention of addressing to them. They are both full of verve and gaiety, but they’re not the least bit comic, and I would say even more, they can’t be. Of all the pieces by Offenbach’s collaborators, Barbe-Bleue has succeeded the least well. It’s not amusing. The authors, in wishing to rush full speed into the pursuit of fantasy, have lost track of wit and gaiety. They’d have to follow Perrault’s tale to the letter in its naiveté, and they could have obtained the comic effects. The incident of the key which is a justification, at least obvious, for Barbe-Bleue’s anger, the terrible scene where the poor creature struggles against death, and the tower, and the good sister Anne’ without counting the sun that turns to dust and the ground that  becomes green, all of that resembles something, an action logical in its primitivity; but that court of King Bobêche, that boorishly bigamous husband who wants to kill his wife just fot the pleasure of it, all of that shocks the most common of common sense. At the very least, when you kill people you can tell them why!

“There’s what makes the piece not amusing; the comedy comes neither from the characters nor from the plot. Barbe-Bleue and Boulotte haven’t the slightest charming side; Popolani, Count Oscar and the mirroring lovers are null or stupid. The two truly comic roles are those, scarcely sketched by the authors, of Francis and Edgard.

“As for Aujac and Irma Marié, I repeat, I see in them delightful artists of comic opera [opera-comique]; but they exert themselves in vain to [try to] interpret the stunts of operetta; they use intelligence, you’ll laugh at their confidence, but they’ll never be bouffe-comics.”

Review: New York Musical Gazette, December 1868, 13.

Brief: “The popular enjoyment of Opera Bouffe shows no signs of diminution. The two rival establishments are in full career, each holding forth nightly to crowded houses. The sale of Pike’s Opera House will not interfere with Mr. Bateman’s plans, for the present. The managers of the Erie Railway have bought that elegant building, and are to fill it with business offices. It seems a pity to lose so fine a concert room, but as it was a losing investment for Mr. Pike, it is not strange that he should make the best of a bad bargain.”