Maretzek Italian Opera: Robert le diable

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)

18 Nov 1868, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Robert the devil; Robert der Teufel
Composer(s): Meyerbeer
Text Author: Scribe, Delavigne
Participants:  Maretzek Italian Opera Company;  Pasquale Brignoli (role: Robert);  Theodore Habelmann (role: Raimbaut);  Joseph Hermanns (role: Bertram);  Isabella McCulloch (role: Isabella);  Anna de La Grange (role: Alice);  Mlle. [dancer] Wesmael (role: Helene)


Announcement: New York Post, 11 November 1868, [2].
Advertisement: New-York Times, 11 November 1868, 7.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 November 1868, 8.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 12 November 1868.
Announcement: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 14 November 1868, 232.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 17 November 1868, 8.
Announcement: New York Post, 18 November 1868.
Announcement: New-York Times, 18 November 1868, 4.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 18 November 1868, 5.
Review: New York Post, 19 November 1868.

“Although we give above the most familiar name of Meyerbeer’s celebrated opera, it claims here, at least, a polyglot reputation. Last night it was announced on the Academy of Music bills under its French title, and was sung in two other languages, La Grange, McCulloch and Brignoli singing their parts in Italian and Habelmann and Hermanns theirs in German. Yet with all this, the music was so satisfactorily given that the Babel of tongues created hardly any annoyance.

“La Grange gave a graceful and effective delineation of Alice, a lack of power in her upper notes only telling of the years that have passed since she first sang the part here. Careful and conscientious in her acting, and a perfect model of artistic vocalization, La Grange is a most worthy exemplar for the school of younger vocalists now beginning to try their powers on the lyric stage. Miss McCulloch, for instance who made a pleasing Isabella last night, and gave the ‘Robert toi que J’aime,’ with charming taste, may well look to La Grange as a lady and a vocalist who affords in every way a noble precedent. The musical amateurs of this city owe to this accomplished prima donna some of the rarest operatic treats they have ever enjoyed; and she is emphatically among friends whenever she sings in New York.

"Brignoli last night was the same ‘light of other days’—the voice as soft, lovely and enchanting as ever, the action as careless and imperially indifferent. Favorites do not often boast of protracted sway; but this popular tenor became a favorite here on the night of his first appearance at the old Academy in 1855, and has been a favorite ever since.

“Hermanns was in glorious voice last night, and gave one of his finest representations of the diabolical Bertram. From these disconnected notes it will be correctly inferred that the performance of Robert by Maretzek’s present troupe is more than creditable, despite indifferent scenery and a strange confusion of tongues.”

Review: New-York Times, 19 November 1868, 4.

“MEYERBEER’S opera of Robert le Diable was played here last evening, and attracted, we are glad to say, an extremely good audience—the best, we think, of the season. The cast was in many ways excellent. Mme. DE LA GRANGE has long been famous as the best Alice we have had in this country. Her great artistic merits leave nothing whatever to be desired in the part, and it was therefore well chosen for a rentrée which was certain to give satisfaction to an entire community. Mme. DE LA GRANGE was, as she always is, in good voice. It is the privileged peculiarity of this artist that she has no temporary weaknesses. For many years she has been the most reliable of singers, and nothing seems to interfere with her reliability or her success. Miss MCCULLOCH, as the Princess, displayed again the freshness and clearness of her voice. The Robert of Signor BRIGNOLI is well known. It has improved in no important respect, nor has it deteriorated. Herr HABELMANN and Herr HERMANNS were both good, but it is a pity that these gentlemen, (and Mme. DE LA GRANGE, too) sing in German. The words may not be of much consequence, but it is well to get them as close together and coherent as possible.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 19 November 1868, 5.

“The Maretzek season of Grand Opera is progressing finely at the Academy. ‘Robert le Diable’ was presented last night, the cast being identical with its presentation last season, including Madame La Grange, who made her reappearance as Alice. She was received with the cordiality she is always accorded, and sang and acted with her accustomed spirit and truth. Of Brignoli, as Robert, it is unnecessary to speak, the singer and the part being too familiar to require comment. Mr. Hermans took the part of Bertram, and Miss McCulloch of Isabella, the part of Raimbaldo being filled by Mr. Habelmann, whose acting and singing showed much subdued earnestness and vigor. The lovers of the spectacular drama enjoyed in Mlle. Hesmael [sic] a slight reminiscence of the departed glories of the ballet, which for a six month [sic] have been shut out from the gaze of a population prone to delight in these. On the whole ‘Roberto’ was acceptably presented last night to an audience large in spite of the continued bad weather.”

Review: Courrier des √Čtats-Unis, 23 November 1868.

“ . . .  [The production] of Robert le Diable should be passed over in silence. That M. Maretzeck [sic] presents two troupes to the public, at the same time, one German and the other Italian, is his right, but that he produces them together, in the same piece, is a harlequinade with a wretched result. That passes the limits of permitted tolerance.

“And then, why produce Robert le Diable, one of the most difficult works to mount in every respect, when you’re compelled to mutilate it in such an insane way? What! It’s not enough to have a German Bertram with an Italian Robert, a half-German, half Italian Alice, a Chinese chorus, a nonexistent ballet, a meager production, on top of that they’ve just cut out a big part of the score! You might as well have cut out Robert while you were at it!

“Mme Lagrange [sic] has talent, certainly; a great and magical talent; a grand style, admirable technique in her facial expression and all the qualities that you can dream of in an artist of her situation, but the voice has lost its power and its freshness. One could address the same remarks to Brignoli; it’s impossible, in hearing him, not to recognize that he’s pushed the art of singing to its highest point; he gets through the most arduous vocal obstacles with infinite mastery, but we look forward to a better and stronger tenor. He excels in semi-shaded passages; overdoes them even, and this too-frequent return to the same procedure destroys the effect. That said, I should say in all justice that never, even in his best days, has he deployed so much energy and fire in the interpretation of his roles; it’s as though you couldn’t recognize him . . .”