Maretzek German Opera: Fidelio

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Max Maretzek

Price: $1 General admission; .50 and $1 extra for reserved seats; $6 to $10 for private boxes, depending on location; .50 family circle

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
1 June 2019

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

17 Nov 1868, 8:00 PM

Program Details

For six nights only and one matinee.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Leonore, oder Der Triumph der ehelichen Liebe; Leonore, or The Triumph of Married Love; Fidelio, oder Die eheliche Liebe;
Composer(s): Beethoven
Text Author: Sonnleithner
Participants:  Maretzek German Opera Company;  Johanna Rotter (role: Marzelline);  Theodore Habelmann (role: Florestan);  Joseph Hermanns (role: Rocco);  J. [tenor] Reichardt (role: Jaquino);  Wilhelm Formes (role: Pizarro);  Rosa [contralto] Cellini (role: Fidelio)


Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 12 October 1868, 8.
Announcement: New York Post, 11 November 1868, [2].
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 November 1868, 2.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 12 November 1868.
Announcement: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 14 November 1868, 232.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 November 1868, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 17 November 1868, 5.

“[W]e hear that Gen. Grant will be present.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 17 November 1868, 8.
Review: New York Post, 18 November 1868.

“A creditable performance in German of Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio,’ was attended at the Academy of Music last night by a goodly audience of our German citizens. The beautiful quartette in the first act was well sung by Cellini, Rotter, Richart and Hermanns, and was encored.

“To the lover of Italian music, however, ‘Fidelio’ is, after all, uninteresting. The great name of Beethoven has made people accept and think they like it; but they don’t. Last night, while many persons present were in an evident state of rapture, quite a number of the more general audience had actually fallen asleep.

“Not even the most enthusiastic devotee of Beethoven as an opera composer, will insist that he exhibits in ‘Fidelio’ any marked vein of melody. In orchestration and harmonic combinations lie the real effects of the work’ and the opera must therefore be well done to be done at all effective. It was only respectably done last night.”

Review: New-York Times, 18 November 1868, 4.

“Beethoven’s great work, Fidelio, was revived by Mr. MAX MARETZEK last evening, and had the usual effect of drawing a good and intelligent audience, not so numerous as it might have been, but still good for the night and the occasion. The cast was not essentially different from what we have had before. Madame ROTTER, who is a quick and lively actress and a daring singer, was the Marcellina, and rendered full justice to the jaunty airs of the rôle. Herr HERMANNS was the Rocco, as of old, and his ponderous voice rang out efficiently in the first act. The part of Fidelio was sustained by Madame CELLINI, a lady who has a fine voice, but who is deficient in cultivation. Mr. HABELMAN’S [sic] Florestan was an effective performance, and merited the round of applause it obtained. The Pizarro of Herr WILHELM FORMES, and the Jaqunio of Herr REICHARDT were also meritorious efforts.  Mr. MARETZEK presided in the orchestra, and, as a matter of course, with the ability and precision which marks his direction. The chorus was somewhat weak for a work of this character, although as a chorus it was good and prompt. So much depends on the prisoners’ chorus that the aid of private societies is always needed to render it with full effect.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 18 November 1868, 5.

“A really good performance of “Fidelio” is a rare phenomenon in the United States. The opera needs at least three first-class voices, and, generally speaking, it cannot get them, for it is not every artist who will undertake the burden of a trying part in a composition which only one person in a hundred is able to appreciate, which many a good musician cannot learn to like, and in which there are few opportunities for those popular hits, recalls, and floral ovations that to some singers are the very breath of their artistic life. Moreover, ‘Fidelio’ needs a remarkably good orchestra, and in the hurried ‘seasons’ which we here devote to opera it is hardly possible to give the players the requisite drilling, nor are they familiar enough with the music to safely dispense with very careful rehearsing. We can honestly say, however, that the performance last night was creditable, and much superior to many presentations of the same opera to which it has been our misfortune to listen. Mr. Habelmann, who took the part of Florestan, deserves hearty commendation for his sympathetic but forcible interpretation of the music, and his really admirable acting. The other leading roles, filed by Madame Cellini (Leonora), Madame Rotter (Marcellina), Joseph Hermanns (Rocco), and Formes (Pizarro), call for no special remark. The ensemble was very good, and several of the trios and other concerted pieces were given with fine effect; the superb canon in the first act, Mir is so wunderbar, richly merited the emphatic encore that was accorded it, and one or two other numbers deserved the same compliment, though they did not get it; but individually none of the artists except Mr. Habelmann can be very warmly praised, and none certainly can be very cordially blamed. Madame Cellini was uneven—excellent in one or two things, indifferent good in many, downright bad in at least one. Madame Rotter was sprightly and agreeable in everything; Mr. Hermanns displayed his accustomed profundity; and Mr. Formes acted and sang with animation. To us ‘Fidelio’ would have been enjoyable with a far worse cast than this, and to a good many others in the house we judge that it was a real musical feast; but to the bulk of the audience it was probably a mental exercise which they applauded from a sense of duty and made believe they liked because artistic propriety so required. We confess that, considering the severe intellectuality of the music and the abominable condition of the weather, the excellence of the house surprised us. The Academy was almost full, and it was evident that Mr. Maretzek’s little venture will bring him in a respectable profit.” 

Announcement: New York Sun, 21 November 1868, 1.

“Maretzek, the inscrutable, the indefatigable, the impecunious, has reappeared. No one knew what had become of the veteran Max. It was thought that he had fled before the advancing French hosts and feared to meet the all-conquering Offenbach. But he mustered his Italian band and reinforced it by a German company, and entrenched himself in the Academy of Music, and flaunts defiance at Napolean Grau and Field-Marshal Bateman, and all their French legions. Whether this Franco-Italian war is to be a long or a short one depends upon the favor Maretzek meets from the public, and that favor does not seem to be very liberally extended as yet. German and Italian opera are played on alternate nights. ‘Fidelio’ and ‘Freischutz’ have been given in the former language this week, and ‘Trovatore’ and the ‘Sicilian Vespers’ in the latter."