Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
16 June 2019
“Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera—an opera which combines some of the excellences of the composer’s two styles, the showy melody of which he lavished a display in Trovatore, and the artistic finish apparent in Rigoletto—was produced last night at the Academy of Music with all the smoothness and excellence of detail which usually characterizes operas performed under the direction of the experienced Maretzek. Whatever fault the fastidious may find with some of his artists individually, we always feel a comfortable confidence that whatever he gives will be given decently; that the chorus will be fair; the orchestra good; the scenery and dresses presentable at the very worst; that the company will be well drilled and firmly held in hand; and the action will go off without hitch or absurdity. The performance last night was not only good as a whole, but was good in nearly all its particular parts. Mrs. States filled the role of Amelia satisfactorily, so far as her singing went, though it is dramatically rather beyond her powers. Orlandini was a good Renato, and madame Cellini a passable Ulrica, while Barili and Dubreul, as the Wickedest Men in Boston, came fully down to the standard of depravity, and inspired all beholders with a sentiment of admiring abomination. Miss McCulloch took the pleasant part of the Page, and except in the finale of the second act, which is a severe strain upon her voice, acquitted herself most agreeably. The chief interest of the evening, however, attached to the debut of the new tenor, Signor Alessandro Boetti, a young but experienced artist, who has just come here from Mexico. The public is rather exacting in the matter of tenors, but Signor Boetti was highly successful, and will prove a welcome addition to our small stock of singers, and a valuable member of any company to which he may be attached. The quality of his voice is excellent; it is a kind that is capable of expressing tenderness and he uses it with considerable feeling. It is most effective in the upper register, and this chief fault is an inordinate fondness for the tours de force with which inferior singers try to compensate for the lack of genuine culture. His lower notes are rather weak, and in lively arias, like the barcarolle, he is apt to fail. He sang the La rivedra, however, very sweetly. We may add that he is a perfect master of stage business and a spirited actor.”
“At the Academy of Music, on Wednesday night, Mr. Maretzek presented to the New York opera-goers a new tenor, from Mexico, Signor Boetti by name. In his performance of the leading part in Verdi’s ‘Ballo in Maschera’ this new candidate for public favor at once secured it. Before the first act was over he had made a deserved success. He has a good robust voice, which he well knows how to use. The man is not only vocally gifted and familiar with the stage, but he has a soul. He can and does sing as if he felt the music and the dramatic situation. His romance in the first act was charmingly phrased. His entire performance in the third act was admirable, and his death scene far more effective than is usually the case with operatic tenors. Altogether, Boetti is a prize for any operatic manager, and should not be allowed to escape again to his Mexican wilds.”
“ . . . . The Ballo in Maschera belongs to Verdi’s third style. Perchance it follows in the style of Rigoletto, his best work. Written for Naples’s San Carlo theater, prohibited by the censors, it was produced for the first time in Rome, at the Apollo theater. The success it received has never been refuted.
“One finds an abundance of remarkable songs in this opera, from the somber and sonorous phrases that are reproduced at each appearance of the confederates to the page’s charming ballads. The finale of the second scene with its soaring syncopated melody is quite a beautiful ensemble; the prase sung in unison by Riccardo and Oscar, the prince and the pate, flows like a capricious arabesque that unrolls on a majestic pediment. The third act includes, as main pieces, first the sublime duet between Riccardo and Amalia, then the finale which I don’t hesitate to proclaim the best page in the score. This finale, orchestrated in a marvelous fashion, shines due to one of those contrasts that Verdi knows so well how to bring out in relief: joy and tears.
“The debutant [tenor Boetti] gave pleasure: he has a voice that’s well-enough toned but it appears that it must get tired quickly. He was applauded strongly in the first act and in the dreadful barcarolle of the second. In the third act, he appeared to us to get a bit weak in the great duet, the weight of which Mme States bore almost alone, but he recovered in the trio and in the last act. As a comedian, M. Boetti is an Italian . . . of the Italian school. Orlandini was perfect, above all in his cavatina in the fourth act. Mme States sand the whole role of Amalia with her great voice and her dramatic energy; she sustained Boetti in the duet and can attribute a big part of that evening’s success, which was the best of the season, to herself, without conceit. Mlle McCulloch has a very lovely voice, crystalline and pure, but her acting doesn’t have the unruliness that rendered poor Hinckley so adorable in that role.The two conspirators, for whom the contrabass is the eternal accessory, were represented by M. Dubreuil, one of the creators [of the role], and M. Barili who sang the role a little more like a teacher perchance than like an artist, but, in short, like the good teacher that he is.”