Parepa-Rosa English Opera: The Bohemian Girl

Event Information

French Theatre

Proprietor / Lessee:
Carl Rosa
Clarence D. Hess

Manager / Director:
Carl Rosa
Clarence D. Hess

Anthony, Jr. Reiff

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
16 August 2020

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

17 Sep 1869, Evening

Program Details

American operatic debut of Mr. Nordblom. Pagani and Costa performed a pas de deux in the course of the opera.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Zegeunerin; Zigeunerin
Composer(s): Balfe
Text Author: Bunn


Announcement: New-York Times, 15 September 1869, 4.

Brief. Part of announcement of multiple performances by this company.

Announcement: New York Herald, 16 September 1869, 7.

“The ‘Bohemian Girl’ will be produced at the Théâtre Français to-morrow night. Upon this occasion Mr. Nardblom [sic], the Swedish tenor, and Miss Rose Hersee, the new prima donna, will make their first appearance.” [Rose Hersee did not make her debut at this performance.]

Advertisement: New York Herald, 16 September 1869, 9.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 September 1869, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 17 September 1869, 4.

“Interesting announcements are made by several local places of amusement. At the French Theatre, where the season of English Opera is progressing prosperously, ‘The Bohemian Girl’ will be substituted for ‘The Puritan’s Daughter’ this evening. Mme. Parepa-Rosa singing Arline, and Mr. Nordblum, a new tenor, effecting his début in the latter work.”

Announcement: New York Post, 17 September 1869, 2.

Brief listing of cast.

Announcement: New York Sun, 17 September 1869, 2.

“English Opera.—To-night Balfe’s opera, ‘The Puritan’s Daughter,’ gives place to another and more popular work by the same composer, the well-worn but pretty ‘Bohemian Girl.’ This work illustrates perhaps better than any other whatever excellencies Balfe possesses. It will also serve to introduce the new tenor, Mr. Nordblom, who certainly has a voice of great purity and sweetness. Parepa, Miss Stockton, S. C. Campbell, Seguin, and others, are to sing.”

Review: New York Herald, 18 September 1869, 3.

“English Opera at the French Theatre.—The Parepa-Rosa company produced the second opera of their repertoire last evening—Balfe’s charming work, ‘The Bohemian Girl.’ Introduced, as it was, with but little preparation, and literally no rehearsal, the opera was most effectively given. Parepa’s glorious voice was never, perhaps, heard to more advantage. The new tenor, Mr. Nordblum, made a most respectable debut. He is quite young, is gifted with a good voice, and manifested in the two last acts considerable artistic excellence. Campbell was apparently suffering from a cold and did not sing with his usual vim. The part allotted to Fanny Stockton, as everybody knows, is not much of a role; but such as it is it was very fairly done. Seguin’s acting in Devilshoof was characteristic, which means that it was good, but his voice lacks power for the demands of the composer. The chorus was in a good state of discipline, and the orchestra far above the average of English opera. Many of the concerted pieces were given admirably. If we would select it would be the quartette ‘From the Valleys and Hill,’ and the duet, ‘The Secret of Her Birth,’ both of which were delightfully rendered.”

Review: New-York Times, 18 September 1869, 4.

“The performance of ‘The Bohemian Girl’ at the French Theatre, last evening, was witnessed by an audience that filled the house in every part. Though it bore few evidences of elaborate preparation, it was a most agreeable representation, and did such justice to the familiar but still enjoyable music as made the melodies seem doubly delightful after the fresher, but dull and ponderous score of ‘The Puritan’s Daughter.’ In the rendering of the opera, of course, Balfe was a good deal better cared for than the authors of the libretto, whose language, however—if that spoken yesterday was really theirs—hardly entitled their intentions as to acting to kinder consideration. Mme. Parepa-Rosa was Arline, and while giving due effect to every note of the part, sang ‘I dreamed that I dwelt,’ with such a final display of vocal power as to elicit a most enthusiastic encore. Mr. Nordblum, a Swedish tenor, who was listened to in the concert-room some months ago, represented Thaddeus, the rôle being the first essayed by him before the footlights. Though nervousness, and seemingly a slight hoarseness, prevented a full display of his qualities, his performance, which improved steadily as the evening advanced, until his rendering of ‘When other lips’ won for him a summons for a repeat, showed him to be possessed of a voice of a very sympathetic quality, and particularly good in the middle register. Mr. Campbell, as Count Arnheim, had the amplest opportunities for securing applause and profited by them. Mr. Seguin embodied Devilshoof, and did the acting for the whole troupe, whose weakness in this respect is still very apparent. But in English opera good voices and histrionic talent seem to be incompatible, and there is no need, at this late day, of mourning over the subject. That which we can less readily excuse, after crediting the management, with the introduction of a pas de deux gracefully danced by Mlle. Pagani, a very practiced artiste, and M. Costa, is slight the attention paid to the stage dress of the piece. So slight was it last evening, that it permitted a French grocery store, with a French sign, to do duty for a corner house in (we believe) a Polish square, and the exhibition of a score of trade societys’ [sic] banners, dragged from the property-room, whence the pie, used in ‘Genevieve de Brabant,’ might have been brought for inspection with equal propriety. These inaccuracies of detail, happily, only heightened the cheerfulness of the audience, and the success of the opera last night was so real, that it will warrant its repetition at an early day.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 18 September 1869, 5.

“At the French Theater, last evening, ‘The Bohemian Girl’ was substituted for ‘The Puritan’s Daughter,’ and hastily substituted, we should judge, from the numerous imperfections in the general performance. The choruses were totally ineffective in action, and nearly so in singing; the orchestra was too often at fault, and even the principal artists appeared at times incapable of the unity and promptness of movement which are peculiarly essential in an opera of this description. All this, as we have said, is probably owing to the necessity for a hurried production of some work to take the place of ‘The Puritan’s Daughter,’ which has not altogether pleased the public. The advantage, of the change, in a commercial sense, was obvious last evening. The house was completely filled with an unusually brilliant audience, and in spite of all deficiencies the opera was listened to with attention throughout and with frequent manifestations of applause.

“A special point of interest in last night’s performance was the appearance of Mr. Nordblum, the Swedish tenor, who, in the character of Thaddeus, presented an excellent appearance and acted with unexpected ease for a novice. Of his qualities as an operatic singer we should prefer to speak after hearing him once again. Last evening he was afflicted with hoarseness, and a tenor with a cold has every right to ask that full judgment be deferred. Nevertheless we take pleasure in saying that he was cordially received by the audience, and that his principal air, ‘Then You’ll Remember Me,’ was encored, as it deserved to be. His hoarseness apparently compelled him to use his voise [sic] much more cautiously than he would otherwise have done, but at the same time he succeeded in exhibiting a great deal of taste, earnestness, and expression. We must take the liberty of dimissing the other artists with very few words. Performances which do not terminate until close upon midnight, cannot receive particularly close attention the next morning. Madame Parepa Rosa, as Arline, displayed her fine voice and good artistic culture, and her complete dramatic incompetency in much the same manner as usual. It is [illeg…] her admirable qualities in one direction more than atoned for her defects in the other. Miss Stockton was unequal to the part of Queen of the Gypsies. Mr. Campbell appeared to less advantage than was expected as Arnheim, but, we imagine, for this night only. The accident of singing sharp throughout his most important air, ‘The Heart Bowed Down,’ is not likely to recur. Devilshoof was capitally represented by Mr. Seguin, who appears to be, so far as we have yet seen, the only real actor in the company.”

Review: New York Post, 18 September 1869, 2.

“English Opera. The first act of Balfe’s ‘Bohemian Girl’ is an act without a prima donna, and therefore drags rather heavily, notwithstanding the popular gypsy’s chorus, and the prayer, in which the baritone leads off an unaccompanied finale. Last night, then, the opera passed off tamely, till Parepa appeared on the scene, and in the delightful and familiar ballad that tells about the ambitious dreams of a gypsy girl, awakened at once the warmest enthusiasm of the large and fashionable audience. Of course a repetition was demanded, owing, to some extent, to the exquisitely prolonged altissimo note introduced in the closing phrase. It was owing to Parepa’s finished vocalization that the unaccompanied quartet in the second act was also encored. Indeed, throughout the entire opera Parepa sang with magnificent effect. One may too frequently hear incompetent singers struggling with music far beyond their capabilities; but in this case we have a consummate artistic condescending to music pretty in itself, but far below her real standard of ability.

“Mr. Campbell added very largely to the pleasure of the evening by singing in his best style the airs of his part of Arnheim; and like the orchestral performer who played the introduction to ‘The heart bowed down,’ was obliged to repeat that melody. Mr. Nordblom, the young tenor, was hoarse and frightened, and his experimental essay in opera was only redeemed by more graceful singing in ‘You’ll remember me.’ The young man has a sweet, pleasant voice, a winning face and a promising future; but as yet he is a novice. Mr. Seguin was entertaining beyond the custom of most representations of Devilshoof, and Miss Stockton was as successful in the Gipsy Queen as that ungrateful part would permit. The opera was altogether a marked success, and an early repetition is inevitable. To-night ‘Somnambula’ [sic] will be given for the debut of Miss Rose Hersee.

“The present English opera season besides commanding [?] the popularity of Madame Parepa-Rosa as a vocalist, has brought her husband forward in a new capacity, for Carl Rosa is proving that he knows how to wield the conductor’s baton as well as the violinist’s bow. In the ‘Puritan’s Daughter’ he filled the conductor’s chair with the ease and skill of a veteran. Mr. Rieff, a musician of long experience, conducted at last night’s performance. Indeed, in all its appointments the present English Opera company is a double one, and could be cut in two and yet thrive as readily as the snake which, when severed in the middle, only made two healthy and vigorous serpents instead of one.”