Maretzek Italian Opera: Pipele

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
9 May 2020

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

10 Dec 1869, Evening

Program Details

American premiere of Pipele. Includes an “incidental ballet.”

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Pipele
Composer(s): De Ferrari
Text Author: Berninzone
Participants:  Maretzek Italian Opera Company;  Bernardo Massimiliani (role: Carlo Duresnel);  J. [tenor] Reichardt (role: An Usher);  Giorgio Ronconi (role: Pipele);  Marie [dancer] Sand;  Louis Carl [dancer] Marvig;  Giovanni [baritone] Reyna (role: Chabrion);  Catarina [soprano] Lami (role: Maddalena));  Mlle. [dancer] Vestri;  Ettore Barili (role: Jacquez Ferrand);  Clara Louise Kellogg (role: Rigoletta)


Advertisement: New-York Daily Tribune, 03 December 1869, 3.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 06 December 1869, 12.

First citation with cast and roles.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 08 December 1869, 7.

Cast list.

Announcement: New York Post, 09 December 1869, 2.

“At the Academy of Music to-morrow evening there will be a decided novelty in the new comic opera of ‘Pipelé,’ by the composer Ferrari. This work, which for the past ten years has enjoyed great success in Italy, is founded on a comic incident in Eugene Sue’s ‘Mysteries of Paris.’ The cast here will included Misses Kellogg and Lami, and Signors Ronconi, Reyna, Barilli [sic] and Massimiliani.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 09 December 1869, 4.

Difficult to read in places. “Ferrari’s comic opera of ‘Pipele,’ which is to be produced on Friday night for the first time in the Untied States, is the next sensation promised at the Academy of Music. Whatever the merits of the [illeg]sition may be, the attractions of the cast are [illeg…] enough to secure at least a good [illeg.]. Miss Kellogg has the leading role, and we understand that Ronconi is to frolic in a character which throws Crispino [illeg…] quite into the shade. With these two artists the opera cannot fail to go off well.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 10 December 1869, 5.

“To-night Mr. Maretzek’s promise to bring out new works is to be in part fulfilled by the production of Ferrari’s comic opera of ‘Pipelè.’ The merits of this work are warmly spoken of by those who know them, and, as the principal characters are in the hands of Signor Ronconi and Miss Kellogg, we have reason to expect that ‘Pipelè’ will receive full justice.”

Announcement: New York Post, 10 December 1869, 2.

Brief. “…It is quite safe to predict for this sparkling and melodious work a decided success here; and any way, the announcement of a new opera is quite sure to crowd the house.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 10 December 1869, 4.

“Ferrari’s comic opera of ‘Pipele,’ which is to be produced to-night, is founded upon a story in Eugene’s Sue’s ‘Mysteries of Paris.’ Some of our readers may be misled by the advertisement of the cast into supposing that Ronconi in the title role appears as an old woman, Pipele being therein characterized as ‘a housekeeper.’ He is in fact a house porter, or doorkeeper, a sort of uncouth and farcical Figaro, who in the opening scene in being tormented half out of his wits by a party of mad wags led by Cabrion, a young painter (Signor Reyna)…” Continues with plot summary, noting the singers for each role throughout.

Review: New-York Times, 11 December 1869, 4.

“Ferrari’s comic opera of ‘Pipelè’ was produced for the first time in America at the Academy last night. The work has been comparatively little heard of here, and some suspicion that it was of a slight and flimsy character may have possessed the public mind and led to a paucity of interest, which for a new opera in a successful season is somewhat unusual. This did not, however, prevent the assemblage last evening of a numerous audience, who showed every disposition to be pleased, and seconded the strenuous efforts of the performers to assure a decided success. Such a result was, on the whole, attained. The music of ‘Pipelè’ is gay and volatile, generously sprinkled with pretty melodies and rounded off with carefully adjusted instrumentation. Some of the concerted pieces, especially the septette with chorus near the end of the first act, perhaps the finale of the second, and certainly several bits of the third act, are cleverly conceived, and, with some of the airs, will become popular. Miss Kellogg had an opportunity, in the heroine, to appear in another original character, and acquitted herself with her customary spirit and conscientiousness. The tasteful airs intrusted [sic] to her in the first act, embellished as they are with ample opportunities for florid vocalization, were charmingly sung, and, indeed, Miss Kellogg’s whole impersonation was exceedingly naïve and sprightly, vocally sweet and telling and dramatically consistent. Signor Ronconi’s part, that of Pipelè, affords plenty of room for those displays of eccentric humor for which he is celebrated, and if it be rather meagre and commonplace in conception, this unrivalled buffo filled up its outlines in that racy manner peculiar to himself, which never fails to please. Signor Massimiliani was happy and impressive in the lover, and sang throughout with unusual purity and elegance; and Mlle. Lami and Signori Reyna and Barili were careful and acceptable. The orchestra and chorus were, as a rule, uncommonly good for a first representation, and deserved, and in some instances received a fair share of the applause.

[Recounts plot of the opera.]

“This ingenious and impressive fable is made the vehicle, as we have said, for much pretty music, and as given at the Academy, of not a little capital acting. ‘Pipelè’ is anything but a wonderful opera, but it is a decidedly pleasing one, and will take rank with several of those established favorites which to many are more agreeable than the ponderous works which establish a composer’s highest fame. The opera will doubtless hear frequent repetition.”

Review: New York Post, 11 December 1869, 4.

“A charming specimen of Italian comic opera, almost trenching on the domains of opera bouffe, was produced last night at the Academy of Music. The work has enjoyed a popularity of about a dozen years in Italy, but has never before been heard in America. The plot, taken from an episode in Eugene Sue’s ‘Mysteries of Paris,’ introduces the seamstress Rigolette, the old porter Pipelé and several other characters; and the fun of the piece consists of the troubles and perplexities into which the kind-hearted old Pipelé falls in his well-meaning endeavors to help others. One Raffaello Berningnone wrote the libretto, and one Robert Pratt provides the translation, which is enlivened by such peculiarly local and modern phrases as ‘Shoo fly, don’t bodder me,’ and the like.

“The music which Ferrari has set to this opera is bright and sparkling throughout. It does not have the irresistible dash of the French opera bouffe, but is superior to it in instrumentation. It is melody throughout. There is scarcely any recitative, and when the principals or chorus are not engaged in singing a define tune, the orchestra is playing one. All these melodies are taking and agreeable, and will speedily be adapted to the ball-room and to theatrical orchestras.

“Glancing hastily at the score, we notice, following the brief opening chorus, an agreeable and jocular song by Cabrion [sic] (Signor Reyna), with tambourine accompaniment; D[illeg.] e salu a pretty little rythmical [sic] movement sung behind the scenes by Rigolette (Miss Kellogg), followed by a bright allegro, O giorno avventuro; an amusing buffo scene for Pipelé (Ronconi), and a quite elaborate concerted piece closing the first act. This last was encored amid hearty applause.

“In the second act is an exceedingly amusing burlesque oath scene in which Pipelé and Cabrion swear eternal friendship, and give an amusing caricature of the affected sentimentality of the heroes of the stage. The tenor has in this act a really graceful and beautiful aria—Belle e Souri imagine, sung by Massimeliani [sic]. Two choruses of prisoners, who seem to enjoy incarceration heartily, and to have free course of a spacious dungeon, wherein they carouse to their heart’s content, are noticeable for the ear-haunting, swinging melodies.

“The third act consists chiefly of a masked ball scene, in which the prima donna has a very attractive solo, and air for Maddalena (Mlle. Lami), and a very indifferent trio for basses, are other features of this act. Miss Kellogg, we may add further, enlivens the opera by the introduction of a waltz by Pinsuti. Her singing and acting throughout are alike charming, and though she has never seen the opera performed, she takes the part of Rigolette in an entirely satisfactory style. Ronconi is most admirable as Pipelé, and in a drunken scene his can-can elicited an instant encore. In the repetition he varied all the gestures, and showing that his stage fun is by no means stereotyped; while we may add, that it is entirely free from vulgarity.”

Article: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 December 1869, 7.

“Signor De Ferrari is little known outside of Italy, though his opera of ‘Pipele,’ which was last night produced at the Academy of Music for the first time in America, has held the stage for some ten years. We are surprised that it has not reached us sooner, for it possesses many of the elements of popularity as well as much technical excellence, though it exhibits no particular elevation of style, or thoroughness of scholarship, or wealth of invention. These are merits, however, which the public is often willing to dispense with, especially in comic opera, and ‘Pipele’ certainly has points of attraction which will dispose us to forgive its deficiencies in the higher [illeg.] of art. The music throughout is lively and interesting. From first to last not a scene flags [?]; every number is pretty and melodious; one or two of the arias are very beautiful; and in the first act especially there is some admirable concerted music, including a septette which was last night encored, and a spirited finale. Rigoletta (Miss Kellogg) has several charming pieces, all characterize by gracefulness of movement and delicate treatment. Carlo, the tenor, is favored with a part which would show much musical inspiration if it were only a little more original; and for the chorus there is a great deal which will probably at once become popular. The opening scene, for the chorus and baritone, is especially lively. To set off the agreeable music there is a plot which affords Ronconi unlimited opportunities for absurdity, and he unquestionably makes the most of them. From the opening scene, in which he is roused from his bed by a band of street revelers [?], through all his comical and doleful experiences, b[illeg.] by a waggish [?] painter, locked up in jail by mistake, masquerading at a ball, and going home drunk to his wife, he is wonderfully funny. Such acting would have saved an indifferent opera, and ought to make a brilliant success for a pretty one like ‘Pipele.’ Of the other characters we need say but little. Miss Kellogg has a part for which she is perfectly adapted. The music of course she sings with ease. She sings it also with taste, and she looks and acts the character of the young [illeg.]tress admirably. Carlo is not very well handled by Signor Massimiliani, nor is Barili particularly good in Don Jaccapo [?], but the burden of the performance rests on Rigoletta and Pipele, and the shortcomings of the others are not important. Signor Reyna acts the part of Cabrion very well, and sings it indifferently[.] Mlle. Lami as Maddalena, the wife of Pipele, delivers the little music set down for her to the entire satisfaction of the audience, and develops powers of [illeg.] acting which are far from contemptable. We have no doubt the new opera will be a favorite, and prove a formidable rival to ‘Crispino’ and similar works. It is to be repeated on Monday.”

Review: New York Sun, 11 December 1869, 2.

“A new comic opera by a composer unknown to our stage—Signor Ferrari—was brought out last night at the Academy. The libretto is founded on Eugene Sue’s vivid and highly seasoned novel, Les Mystères de Paris, but it has none of the gloomy horror that besets that book. It is a little episode from the gay and festive portion of the novel. Like Rossini’s ‘Barber,’ it is the story of an old dotard in love with a young girl who prefers naturally a young man. The two juveniles prove more than a match for the old schemer, and are finally happily united. The young woman, whom all the fuss is about, is of course Miss Kellogg, otherwise Rigoletta, a pretty seamstress; the young man who loves her, Signor Massimiliani, otherwise Charles; the old man, who is the general disturber of the peace and evil genius of the lovers, Barili, otherwise Jacopo, a notary.

“Signor Ronconi, who fills the title röle [sic] of Pipele, is a good natured porter, who gets mixed up in the matter much to his own discomfort, and that of his wife. The libretto is lively and full of humorous situations, and the opera will prove itself the rival of the sparkling ‘Crispino.’

"In the texture of the music it is not unlike that bright and pleasant work. The situations are almost as grotesque and well conceived. The composer bandies his orchestra and chorus with great freedom and ability. The melodies are light, but they have a well marked character of their own, and are not imitations of the work of other composers. Ronconi has a part that gives the broadest possible field to his great comic powers, and Miss Kellogg one that she fills admirably, though it is hardly good enough for her.

“We do not see how the opera can fail of being a success. There is not a bit of dullness about it. On the contrary, it is a thoroughly enjoyable, unpretentious work. The plot is vivacious without being vulgar, and the music brilliant without being frivolous. The opera is repeated on Monday.”

Review: New-York Times, 12 December 1869, 5.

“‘William Tell’ showed unabated attraction on Monday at the Academy, and was repeated yesterday to a fine house at the matinée. On Wednesday ‘Il Trovatore’ was repeated, when Signor Lefranc was in splendid voice, and so excited popular enthusiasm by his generally capital singing, as well as by his ut de poitrine, as to be called seven times before the curtain. On Friday ‘Pipelè,’ a comic opera by De Ferrari was brought out for the first time in this country. It is a work of no great calibre [sic] but will, perhaps, take rank with the Ricci’s ‘Crispino e la Comare.’ Miss Kellogg appeared in it to great advantage, and Signor Ronconi reveled in a drunken scene to the infinite relish of the audience. The New-York public has a youthful fondness for opportunities to indulge in broad hilarity, and this fact will perhaps endow ‘Pipelè’ with more vitality here than it has enjoyed elsewhere. It is to be repeated on Monday.”