Maretzek Italian Opera: I Vespri siciliani

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
1 June 2019

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

20 Nov 1868, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Vepres; I Vespri siciliani; Sicilian vespers, The
Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Scribe, Duveyrier
Participants:  Maretzek Italian Opera Company;  Giuseppe B. [basso] Antonucci (role: John of Procida);  Domenico Orlandini (role: Guido de Montfort);  Agatha [soprano] States (role: Duchesse Elena);  Mlle. [dancer] Wesmael;  Amati Dubreuil (role: Bethune);  Pasquale Brignoli (role: Arrigo);  Ettore Barili (role: De Vandermont)
Composer(s): Unidentified
Participants:  Mlle. [dancer] Wesmael


Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 November 1868, 7.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 18 November 1868.
Announcement: New York Post, 18 November 1868.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 18 November 1868, 5.
Announcement: New York Post, 19 November 1868.
Announcement: New York Post, 20 November 1868, [2].
Announcement: New-York Times, 20 November 1868, 5.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 20 November 1868, 5.

“The success which has thus far attended Mr. Maretzek’s season in New-York is a gratifying evidence that the taste for music here is not hopelessly degraded, and that Opera is not dead.”

Review: New York Post, 21 November 1868.

“In this opera, revived at the Academy of Music last night after a long repose, Verdi has given more than his usual care to the harmony of the music and to the development of the dramatic situations. At time he approaches the methods of treatment adopted by the German masters, though through the entire work the rich vein of Italian melody never deserts him. Some of the airs in the ‘Sicilian Vespers’ are absolutely entrancing, and they are fairly distributed among the different characters.

“Miss States, as Elena, sang last night with her usual vigor, displaying the compass of her rich, powerful voice; but her delineation, on the whole, was without individuality. Elena with her was simply a lay figure, as far as the action and sentiment of the drama were concerned. In the bolero of the last act she received the usual encore.

"Brignoli sang with his customary ease. Orlandini was satisfactory as Guido, and Antonucci more than satisfactory as John of Procida. The chorus was probably as good as the limited scope of Maretzek’s present season will permit.”

Review: New-York Times, 21 November 1868, 5.

“VERDI’S popular, but not entirely satisfactory, opera of the Sicilian Vespers was given here last evening to a good and fashionable audience. The cast was in every way excellent. Mme. AGATHA STATES was the Elena, and her magnificent voice rang through the house with electrical effect. In the well-known bolero of the last act, where lightness more than weight is required, she won a deserved encore by the skill with which she rendered that difficult piece. Sig. ANTONUCCI was superb as Procida. His grand voice has rarely been heard to such positive advantage. Sig. BRIGNOLI as Arrigo was also capital. The performance, indeed, gave complete satisfaction, and will, we think, justify a repetition—if such things be possible in these times.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 21 November 1868, 4.

“The production of a spectacular opera like ‘The Sicilian Vespers’ was a bold enterprise for a traveling manager, and honoring courage we are glad to say that it met last night with substantial reward.The stage appointments were generally good, and in one or two scenes quite as brilliant as anything the Academy of Music has ever been accustomed to witness; and the chorus singers and miscellaneous people who come on as monks, fishermen, members of the aristocracy, mobs, and honest citizens at large, approached as near to being handsomely dressed and looking respectable as it seems possible for this department of an Italian opera troupe ever to be brought. Mrs. States was the Elena. The part is well suited to her voice and style, and she won a great deal of favor, especially in the duet with Brignoli, in the third act, and the famous aria at the beginning of the fourth, both which pieces were encored. Mrs. States has improved a great deal since we first heard her at Pike’s Opera House last season; and though she has still many faults to correct, the richness of her natural gifts will make her a popular favorite. Brignoli took the character of Arrigo with the curious alternations of spasmodic energy and philosophic calmness in which he is without a peer; and though we have heard him sing better than he did last night, we have seldom been more deeply interested in observing the cenobitical coldness of his love, and the sublime patience with which he bears the complicated misfortunes to which lyric tenors are proverbially liable. A good man rising superior to the ills of human life is a noble and improving spectacle. Signor Antonucci, the Giovanni di Procida of the evening, was warmly welcomed back to a stage of which he has been one of the best ornaments. So delightful a voice as his, so richly cultivated, and combined with such an imposing presence, we are not often fortunate enough to encounter. His famous aria, O tu Palermo, was as beautiful a bit of vocalism as we have heard from any bass singer for years, its charm being perfect simplicity and smoothness, with very sweet expression. He was the backbone of the concerted pieces, all of which were excellently performed; and the well-known septet and chorus, which had to be repeated, owed most of its effect to his sure and sonorous voice. Orlandini made a very good Guido; his Mentre contemplo in particular was sung in excellent taste.

“The audience was large, and very fashionable, and the success of the week has been amply sufficient to warrant Mr. Maretzek in going on a week longer.”