Grand Combination Italian and English Opera: Lurline

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Price: $1.50 parquet and balcony reserved; $1; $.50 family circle; $8 private loges

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
27 September 2019

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

26 May 1869, Evening

Program Details

Beginning with the opera’s American premiere on 05/13/69, to be sung in Italian and English on alternate nights. This performance in Italian.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Lorelei
Composer(s): Wallace
Text Author: Fitzball
Participants:  Grand Combination Italian and English Opera Company;  Domenico Lorini;  Domenico Orlandini (role: Rhineberg);  Isabella McCulloch (role: Lurline);  Annie Kemp (role: Ghiva);  Arthur Matthison;  Gustavus S. Hall (role: The Gnome);  Brookhouse Bowler (role: Count Rudolph)


Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 25 May 1869.

Cast, price.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 26 May 1869, 7.


Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 26 May 1869, 5.

“The last performance of ‘Lurline’ will take place this evening, and we are very sorry for it. It is a beautiful opera, it has been excellently placed upon the stage, and the general effect of the representation is good, although the solo singers are not all artists of the first rank.”

Review: New York Post, 27 May 1869.

“The love-lorn nymph of the Rhine has warbled her farewell song for the last time, and will no longer glide forth under calcium light or sink beneath crystal waves of dark blue canvas. ‘Lurline’ last night closed her career at the Academy of Music. Under the mortal guise of Mrs. Agatha States she sang with all the vigor becoming to a healthy and well-to-do resident of coral caves. Her lover, who in a moral point of view is a character not wholly to be commended, sang his farewells calmly and indifferently in a sweet mosaic of German and Italian; and the motley crew of gnomes and naiads expressed divers farewell emotions in parti-colored English

The production of Wallace’s ‘Lurline,’ though in most respects worthy of high commendation, has not resulted in a pecuniary success; and the liberality of Fisk and Maretzek finds its reward only in the approving consciences of those enterprising individuals. This may perhaps be satisfactory to them, but the insatiate public should remember that it is not calculated to encourage other managers to expend time and money on operatic productions. ‘Lurline,’ as played at the Academy of Music, was a very enjoyable entertainment. The scenery and spectacular display were excellent; the ballet graceful and elegant; the music both fascinating and easy to comprehend at a single hearing. Musicians might justly take exception to certain points, such as the too quick tempo of the Ave Maria and the omission of some of the duets and other portions of the opera. It is true, also, that neither Patti nor Nillson [Christina Nilsson] nor Mario were included in the cast, and when the management again gives dollar opera, it will, of course, engage them all. Yet even with all these omissions, there was so much that was attractive and delightful in the work that this indifference of the public can only be accounted for by the theory that public feeling has changed, and will only be satisfied, with model artist exhibitions, or bullfights, or something equally refining. During the season just closed, we would add in conclusion, English opera has stood well the test with Italian, and Miss McCulloch and Mr. Bowler need fear no comparison with Mrs. States of Mr. Habelmann. Signor Orlandini, too, has shown his rich voice to noble advantage in the singing of Wallace’s ballads, though we doubt whether the composer would ever have recognized his own recitatives, altered as they were to suit this admirable baritone.

The opera company is now, we believe, to be disbanded. There are rumors of French, Italian and English opera, and latest of all, of a forthcoming American opera; yet, despite of all these vague reports, it is pretty safe to predict that for some time to come opera lovers will have so subsist only on sweet memories of the lost ‘Lurline.’”

Announcement: New-York Times, 27 May 1869, 4.

“Lasting prosperity shines upon no public entertainment with which the name of Mr. J. Fisk, Jr., is associated. Even ‘Lurline,’ a most agreeable opera and an entire novelty, produced with an unusual profusion of scenic splendors and with considerable attention to artistic detail, has failed to realize the expectations of the management, and has been withdrawn before its character and value were fairly understood by one-half of the musical community. We can only hope for its revival at some more propitious season, and under more favorable auspices.”

Review: New York Musical Gazette, June 1869, 59.

“The second great work, for the first time heard in America, is the opera of ‘Lurline’ by William Vincent Wallace. It was first given to the world in London several years since, and such was its great popularity that it was immediately repeated more than a hundred times. It is eminently a common sense opera. Its music presents nothing unnatural or impossible, but abounds in most beautiful melodies, and its choruses are rich and ennobling. Our admiration for this splendid work would carry us through pages of description, but this is the more unnecessary as our daily journals and reviews are telling the public of its merits and success. The performances have been alternately in English and Italian, and have drawn large houses, but, like most things in this poor world, it is too good to last, and for some inscrutable reason its manager has ‘shut down’ upon it.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 05 June 1869, 70.

“After an unfruitful season of two weeks at the Academy of Music, the opera of ‘Lurline’ collapsed somewhat suddenly and confusedly on the 25th [sic] of May, much to the regret of those interested who had been led to believe that the season would have lasted longer. Although given on alternate nights in English and Italian, there appeared to be a rivalry between native and foreign patrons of the opera as to which party could present the smallest audience, so between the two, ‘Lurline’ came to the ground.”