Academy of Music
Proprietor / Lessee:
Manager / Director:
Charles van [conductor] Ghel
Price: $1; $.50 family circle; $.50 extra reserved; $8 private boxes
5 September 2020
Extensive card listing the conductors, singers, and all of the repertoire for the season (without dates or roles).
“The season of grand French opera, concerning which there has been of late so much gossip and mystery, will be inaugurated at the Academy of Music on Monday evening next, under the management of M. Dryane. This gentleman has had considerable operatic experience in catering for the public in Brussels and other European cities, and it is understood to be his intention during his stay at the Academy to make our citizens acquainted with a higher and better class of French opera than those to which they have hitherto been accustomed. The company is said to be exceedingly strong, the leading members of which hail from the principal opera houses in Europe. The operas are to be mounted superbly and will each have the advantage of an efficient and indispensable ballet. A good repertoire of the works of the most popular composers is announced, and it is thought that the season will prove a success. ‘La Femme et les Mousquetaires,’ or ‘La Juive,’ will be the opening sensation.”
“The French Opera Company, of which we spoke yesterday, will open at the Academy on the 20th with Halévy’s ‘La Juive,’ which affords opportunity for the combination of lyrical and spectacular effects, and is therefore well suited for the introduction of a company promising, like this one, the most dazzling splendors of costume, ballet, lime-light, and paint, as well as the charge of fresh voices and superior culture. If the principal singers are unknown to use by reputation, we shall nevertheless judge them with every disposition to be pleased, and what their merit may be we shall soon have an opportunity of deciding for ourselves.”
“The French opera company announced for the Academy of Music has arrived in this city. The list of orchestral engagements was made some weeks ago, and in a few days, we presume, the full particulars of the proposed season will be made public. Rose Bell has been added to the troupe for the lighter class of operas.” [It does not seem that Rose Bell ever performed with this troupe.]
“The season of grand French opera, which commences at the Academy of Music on next Monday evening, is to continue for about six weeks, after which the troupe will meander through the provinces. ‘La Juive’ will be the inaugural sensation, and will be followed by ‘La Femme et les Mousquetaires.’ The company is said to be exceedingly strong, and the operas, we believe, are each to be produced in a superb manner.”
“A grand ballet in first and third acts by Mesdemoiselles Billon and Wesmael, with ten premiere danseuses. Monsieur Van Hamme, and fifty dames du corps de ballet.”
“Fifty ladies for the corps de ballet are wanted at the Academy of Music, for the French opera.”
Brief. “The sale of seats for the Grand French opera season at the Academy of Music commences to-day.”
“The season of grand French opera, which will be inaugurated at the Academy of music to-morrow evening under the management of M. Deuyane [sic], is to continue for about six weeks, after which the troupe will meander through the provinces. The company is said to be exceedingly strong, the leading members of which hail from the principal opera houses in Europe. The operas are to be mounted superbly and will each have the advantage of an efficient and indispensable ballet. A good repertoire of the works of the most popular composers is announced, and it is thought that the season will prove a success. ‘La Juive’ will be the opening sensation, and will be followed by ‘La Femme et les Mousquetaires [sic].’”
“On Wednesday evening next the season of grand French opera, concerning which there has been so much gossip and speculation, will be inaugurated at the Academy of Music, under the direction of M. Dryane, a gentleman who has had considerable operatic experience in the continental cities of Europe. The opening splurge will be Halevy’s ‘La Juive,’ which is promised with a strong cast and appropriate scenery. This season of grand French opera is to continue for six weeks, during which time we are to be treated to a good repertoire of works by the most popular composers.”
Simply a notice of where to purchase tickets and a reiteration of the week’s programmed operas.
“Although the new French opera company has made but the most modest of preliminary notices, the public interest in the coming performances is by no means inconsiderable. The announcement of ‘La Juive’ is still kept up for Wednesday night. This evening, by the way, the same opera will be played in German at the Stadt Theatre.”
“The season of grand French opera, concerning which there has been so much gossip, will be inaugurated this evening at the Academy of Music, under the management of Mr. Dryane. ‘La Juive’ is the opera selected for the opening, and it is promised on a grand scale.”
“The promised season of Grand Opera begins to-night at the Academy with ‘La Juive.’ We again express the hope that the new company, who are all strangers among us, may have a hearty reception and gain a decided success. Grand Opera has too long been unknown in New-York, a City wherein it should be an established institution, but which requires liberal and steadfast patronage to enable it to live a wholesome and thriving life. Lovers of opera should make a strenuous effort to give the French artists who open to-night support fully adequate to their deserts. It is, as yet, rather early in the season, a consideration which makes such an effort highly important. Reports have reached us to the effect that this company, who have been announced with rather exceptional modesty, includes sterling artists, and that the operas will be placed upon the stage with care and fidelity. Let the public now do their part and render honor where honor is due.”
“This evening will be one of much interest in musical circles. It is the occasion of the first appearance of a bran-new [sic] company, French opera we have had much of; but French grand opera is something that only the oldest inhabitants remember.
“Curiosity is more than ordinarily excited in regard to the new-comers, since we are all equally in the dark in regard to their capabilities and merits.
“Rumor is not much to be depended on in such matters, though such flying reports as there are seem all to be to the advantage of these artists.”
“Academy of Music.—French Opera.—Last evening Halevy’s superb opera ‘La Juive,’ was produced at the Academy of Music by Messieurs Dryane & Cie.’s ‘historical and romantic’ French Opera Troupe. Notwithstanding the exceedingly disagreeable state of the weather the house was crowded to its utmost capacity by as fashionable and critical an audience as has been gathered within the walls of the Academy for many seasons past, thus, at the very start, putting the croakers who had prophesied a ‘beggarly account of empty benches,’ even on the opening night, rather out of joint. During the first act there were indications of that nervousness peculiar to artists who appear for the first time before a strange house, but this gradually wore off during the other acts, as they became more acquainted, as it were, with the audience. The tenor, M. Tabardi, as Eleazer, was excellent. He is a good actor, and has a sympathetic, clear voice, which he seems to have complete control over, although in the upper registers it several times gave evidence of being overstrained. Still it is of good power, and has a certain sweet melody about it that cannot fail to please. The basso, M. Tasson, who appeared as the Cardinal, has also a good, full, resounding voice. The leading soprano, Mme. Faye Fauschetti, who was very warmly received, has a remarkably sweet voice, but of not very great power. The air in the first act, where the Cardinal prays God to forgive Eleazer and Rachel, which commences ‘Si [illeg.] rigueur et la vengeance,’ was exceedingly well delivered by M. Tabardi and Mme. Fauschetti. The duet, ‘Oh! Ma fille Cherie,’ and ‘C’est en vain que j’espere,’ which occurs just as the procession appears in the streets, was also one of the best rendered parts of the play. In the anathema scene, in the third act, M. Tabardi was particularly good, and M. Tasson, in the great malediction scene in the same act, surpassed himself. M. Girrebeuck as Leopold and Mme. G. Devillers as Eudoxie did as well as could be expected of them. Although the artists are not by any means what can be called extraordinary, they are not ordinary. It may be their misfortune that they were altogether too much heralded before their arrival here as singers, the like of which had not been seen for many a day, so they are not to blame if they did not come fully up to general expectation. The troupe were very enthusiastically received, and were bid a warm welcome from the first to the last act, which should be sufficient to prove that they are not without plenty of friends who wish them well. Those who predicted that the historical French opera would prove a dead failure may find out that they have been rather premature in their judgment.”
“The disposition of the public to sustain Grand Opera was last night clearly shown by the fact that in spite of the excessively unpleasant weather, an audience more than respectable, both in numbers and character, assembled at the Academy of Music to witness the first representation of the new French company in ‘La Juive.’ A first night for such an opera, with new artists in a strange land, is a very trying thing; so trying that it behooves those who are called upon to express critical opinions of the result, to make liberal allowance for possible embarrassments, and to give ungrudged praise for that which is unmistakably deserving. In such a spirit we would fain say all of encouragement that in fairness and candor may be said without imparting false impressions that might do injustice alike to the artists and to the public. And first let us say that the performance of ‘La Juive’ last night was a thoroughly honest and conscientious one. Everybody concerned, principals, chorus, orchestra, ballet, even supernumeraries seemed to strive to do their best, and the general effect in this regard was harmonious and satisfactory. The orchestra and chorus were efficient and numerous; the stage management was worthy of all praise, and there were surprisingly few mishaps to mar the even tenor of an opera, which is perhaps one of the three most difficult to render on the lyric stage. Of the acting and singing of the principals we are constrained to speak with some qualification. They are all well-schooled and painstaking artists, and we doubt not they will make their way with the public to positions of enviable esteem. Their artistic worthiness should be conceded with little reserve. We speak, of course, more especially of the four leading singers of the occasion, no lack of exertion on whose part prevented enthusiasm last night from rising to furor. It is undeniable, however, that the first general effect in each case was one of disappointment. While it was clear that the artists thoroughly knew their business, and were anxious to reach their highest point of interpretation there was yet felt by the audience a sense of deficiency at times, even when they were most anxious to be pleased. The reason is tolerably plain. The artist come from a good school, but hardly from the very best school. Their voices are slightly worn, or seemed so, and they were undertaking very ambitious work in a strange theatre, and in the presence of a strange audience. As they proceeded and warmed to their tasks, however, we are bound to say that these drawbacks disappeared. The first decidedly favorable effect was produced by M. Tasson’s air in the first act, and the beautiful concerted piece with chorus that ends that act was received with hearty applause. In the second act the famous trio, sung by Mme. Fauschetti and MM. Tabardi and Mestre, was also warmly received, and thereafter the singers seemed to get on better terms with their public, and to please them throughout. All the scenes were excellently set, the dressing and equipping of the opera everything that could be desired, and the accord between chorus and orchestra showed commendably careful rehearsals. The ballet was scarcely as rich in female loveliness as New-York has lately been accustomed to expect; but this was really about the only shortcoming toward the perfection of the mise en scène. There can be no doubt of this, that, in spite of errors of omission or commission, a large number of the audience left the Academy last night highly delighted with the entertainment; and that they were no more delighted than we shall be if able hereafter to speak of the efforts of this deserving company in terms of more decided commendation than a first hearing has enabled us to do. ‘Les Mousquetaires de la Reine’ is to be given by them on Friday night, and this will perhaps afford us the desired opportunity. There is good reason to hope no less. For a performance is not often seen that, beginning rather ominously, and pleasing more and more until the audience are fairly satisfied, concludes by getting them quite enthusiastic at the end, and this was just the case with ‘La Juive’ last evening. Under such circumstances, much good may be expected from the future, for a continuance in such progression can end in nothing short of unqualified success.”
“The New French Opera Company. The French residents of New York turned out last night in numbers large enough to fill to excess the accessible seats of the Academy of Music. The stockholders’ boxes were but scantily occupied; but the body of the house contained a large and critical audience, most of whom did not know the new singers even by name, and were by no means prejudiced in their favor. There were also on hand a great many attachés of previous opera companies—French, German and Italian—none of whom were specially predisposed in behalf of the new comers.
“The orchestra, compsed of experienced New York musicians, led by Mr. Van Gheel [sic], gave the delicate prelude to ‘La Juive’ with but indifferent effect; and the curtain rising, disclosed a large chorus, which included some of those familiar faces which seem to ride on the storm of every operatic enterprise, preserving, like certain historical diplomatists, their self-possession and supremacy under any and every change of dynasty. Those experienced choristers were reinforced by a number of strangers, among whom were some admirable tenor voices, which were heard to good effect in the drinking chorus. The leading singers, at their appearance on the stage, were feebly welcomed, and they seemed so nervous and frightened, that at the end of the first act a feeling of chill disappointment pervaded the house.
“In the next act the tenor Tabardi sung [sic] the music of the table scene well; and the prima donna seemed encouraged to better efforts. Matters improved as the opera proceeded, until the scanty applause gradually became general, and after the great tenor scene in the fourth act was quite enthusiastic. The basso, M. Tasson, was probably the most pronounced success of the evening, his dignified action and artistic singing meeting with recognition at once.
“In previous performances of this elaborate opera, we have been accustomed to the sumptuous and powerful voices of such singers as Fabbri, Stigelli and Formes, and in comparison with these, the French artists of Mr. Delane’s [sic] troupe seem insufficient in vocal power. They sing artistically and carefully, but their voices do not thoroughly fill the vast spaces of the Academy. Whether this defect will disappear when they become more accustomed to the building, a few more performances will tell. It is certain that, though they appeared to but poor advantage in the earlier parts of last night’s opera, they brought the work to a triumphant close, and the curtain fell amid warm and genuine applause.”
“Scarcely any composition could have been selected for a first appearance that would furnish a more trying test to the capacities of a company than ‘La Juive.’ The chorus writing is of the first difficulty—no unison singing, like so many of Verdi’s efforts in that direction, or simple harmonies, like so much that Bellini and Donizetti have written, but choruses worked out by a great theorist, and after the most elaborate models. It takes a remarkably well-trained body to sing them. So also with the solo parts. The tenor rôle of Eleazer is one that makes greater and more exhausting requisition on the vocal and dramatic capabilities of the singer than almost any other in the whole range of opera.
“In view of all these difficulties, and of the manner in which they were met by the new company, and of the allowance that is to be made for the nervousness of artists entirely strange to their audience, and not supported by the sight of any friendly or accustomed faces, we must accord to them a great success.
“They are not novices who are experimenting on a new stage, but well-trained and accomplished singers, and the public may expect much excellent work at their hands, and much pleasure therefrom.
“The first act of ‘La Juive,’ on Wednesday night, went unsteadily. Mr. Tasson, the basso, was nervous, and sang flat, and the chorus swayed about in the most unsteady fashion, and at one time quite lost themselves; but everything mended after that act, and the remainer [sic] of the evening was a crescendo of success, culminating in the last act.
“The honors of the evening belonged to the tenor, Mr. Tabardi, who sang his most exacting rôle with very great effect, and has a voice of pure and resonant and pleasant quality.
“The opera brought forward also Mr. Girrebeuck, another excellent tenor; Madame Fauschetti, a soprano of much cultivation; and several other artists of most satisfactory capacity.
“It is a good guarantee of the strength of the company that other members of equal, if not greater gifts, are yet to be heard. Some of them are to appear this evening in ‘Les Mousquetaires de la Reine,’ a comic opera, by Halévy.
“The requirements of ‘La Juive,’ merely as a spectacle, are very great, and it is due to the management to say that they mounted the piece in the most liberal and effective way. Indeed, from this initial performance we may safely conclude that we are to have a season of French opera quite as satisfactory as any Italian company that could be secured would be likely to give us, and perhaps all the more enjoyable on account of the freshness and novelty of the works to be produced.”
“French Opera.—This company has not succeeded as well as it has deserved. It is well for us all to remember that the opportunities to hear the great and noble works of the French stage performed in the language for which they were written, and which is best fitted to give them expression, occurs but rarely. The intervals are long enough already, but if the proper support is not accorded they will be longer still. ‘La Juive’ contains some of the best music ever written for the lyric stage, and we speak within bounds when we say that this company renders it worthily and well. It is an old opera, but it is fresh to our audiences. For unless our recollection is at fault, it has not been performed here since the old Academy burned. It was the last opera given there, and the flames had possession of the building within an hour after the curtain had fallen on the final act. The management, it seems to us, have encumbered themselves with an unnecessary expense in an indifferent ballet. The fact is that the New York audiences never cared much for ballet in connection with the opera, and if the wishes of the house could be taken, we doubt not that nine out of every ten would be glad to have it dispensed with. It interrupts the progress of the opera to no prupose and unless it is more than ordinarily well done is best left alone.”