Academy of Music
16 June 2019
“The part of Zerlina in Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ is one greatly affected by debutantes. Its melodies are easy and pleasing, and the character is one that immediately enlists the kindly sympathies of an audience.
“Miss Louise Durant, an American lady, and a pupil of Errani, chose this part for her first appearance before a New York audience last night at the Academy of Music. She is attractive in appearance, and seems tolerably familiar with the stage. Her voice is a light soprano, and its present cultivation shows that while Miss Durant is as yet only at the beginning of her career, she is capable of taking in time a desirable position among our native prima donnas. She sang the Batti batti and the Verdrai Carino quite effectually. And the liberal applause of the audience plainly told her that her debut was a success.
“La Grange gave a superb rendering of the ‘Letter Aria,’ and was otherwise satisfactory in the lugubrious part of Donna Anna. Rotter as Elvira, gave proofs of such gratifying improvement that she has only to appear oftener before the public to become a decided favorite. Brignoli finds in Ottavio a part that suits him exactly. No action is required. The character has nought [sic] to do but to dawdle helplessly around the stage in the wake of the agitated Donna Anna, and to sing the lovely air Il mio Tesoro. All this Brignoli did last night, and his voice in his aria, and in the trio of maskers was perfectly exquisite.
“As Don Giovanni and Leporello, Orlandini and Ronconi were both excellent.
“It will thus be seen that the performance was altogether very satisfactory. The house was not, however, as full as might have been expected.”
“‘Don Giovanni,’ which usually is one of the most attractive of operas, failed last evening to draw the attendance which should have been present at a representation so excellent in every respect. The house was well filled, but it should have been crowded. Not only was the opera given with unusual strength of cast, but Mlle. DURAND made her début as Zerlina. The part is a difficult one, and so far Mlle. DURAND has not conquered it. The isolated pieces were given with intelligence and charming grace, and with a nicety of voice which assures us that Mlle. DURAND has a career before her. But it is evident that she has much to learn, and particularly the practice of the stage and the stage presence. Her voice is agreeable and pure. In such an opera it has but a poor chance of being displayed, but we have no doubt it will be found good, and will last good.
"The general representation was excellent in every particular, and was in every way worthy of a better attendance.”
“The second week of the Italian Opera season opened last night with a capital performance of ‘Don Giovanni,’ played and sung with unusual spirit to one of the most curious houses we have seen at the Academy for a long while. The boxes and balcony were full and brilliant; the parquet was half empty--the moral of all which is that there is neither reason nor consistency to opera audiences; the really musical people don’t come to hear the best music and society doesn’t come to hear the most fashionable compositions. The cast last night was strong. In the part of Donna Anna, La Grange has an admirable opportunity for the display of her highest powers in their utmost intensity, and we have rarely known her to produce a more profound impression than she did on this occasion, or display more genuine dramatic inspiration; and all this notwithstanding that the music is a severe trial to a threadbare voice, and embraces few of those salient melodies in which it is so easy to conceal the ravages of time. Madame Rotter, a trusty artist, with a good mellow voice, who has gained much lately in public favor, was a most satisfactory Donna Elvira, and the winsome part of Zerlina was intrusted [sic] to a young debutante, Miss Louise Durand, of whom good reports had reached us from the West. Miss Durand is a New-York lady, we believe, and a pupil of Signor Errani. She has a most attractive appearance, and a sweet, true, genuine soprano voice, with an indescribably clear and grateful ring; not very strong, not thoroughly cultivated, but well trained as far as the training goes. There is evidently the making of a fine singer in her. She was excessively nervous and probably did herself scant justice, but she made a hit, and the applause, polite at first, became really enthusiastic before the curtain fell after the first act. Her La ci darem and Batti, batti were both encored. Brignoli, as Don Otavio, sang, we thought, with more of his well-remembered delicacy and sweetness than he has before shown this season, and acted with more animation and care than usual. The Don Giovanni was Signor Orlandini, a cultivated artist who does nothing ill; and the Leporello was the inimitable Ronconi, upon whose performance comment is altogether unnecessary.”
“ . . . The execution of [which] left little to be desired. Ronconi, the matchless buffoon, did Leporello. Mme de Lagrange, Brignoli and Orlandini gave everything you could have expected of them and the applause for them wasn’t lacking. The attraction of the evening was the debut of Mlle Louise Durand. Recklessness sits well with youth; Mlle Durand didn’t fear to accost the role of Zerlina head-on and her boldness brought her good fortune. A fresh voice that can still acquire some development with respect to timbre and volume, excellent technique, accuracy and scenic qualities that you don’t always encounter in lyric artists, those are the assets of the young debutante. Mlle Louise Durand is one of our compatriots who personal and altogether honorable circumstances have decided to take on a career in the theater; likewise, we’re doubly happy to see the audience make her truly welcome. She had to repeat the reprise of La ci darem la mano, voluptuousness made into music, with Orlandini; they applauded her and encored her again after Batti! Batti!; finally, some bouquets thrown appropriately provoked new salvos [of applause] and she was called back. The trio of masks sung by Brignoli, Mmes LaGrange and Rotter also received the honors of an encore. Brignoli sang his romance Il lmio Tesoro delightfully; an energetic call-back proved to him that the audience can tell good money from bad. I am so much the less suspect of partiality in favor of Brignoli, as I’ve often had, to my great regret, occasion to judge him a bit severely, [so] I can therefore declare in all security of conscience that I’ve never heard any tenor, except perhaps Mario, sing better than he: Il mio tesoro, Spirito gentile from La Favorite and the serenade from Don Pasquale.”