Academy of Music
Proprietor / Lessee:
Manager / Director:
16 January 2021
Extensive article on the forthcoming season.
”Mr. Maretzek intimates that the frequent public rumors and assertions that certain London managers were desirous of undertaking the direction of opera in this City, had last season caused him to resolve to retire from active management, after an experience of upward of twenty years, during which period he had succeeded in firmly establishing Italian opera in New-York on a sound basis, as is demonstrated by the fact that, what was formerly an expensive luxury, available only for the few, has now become a recognized popular necessity. Circumstances, however, have intervened to prevent the realization of these London projects, and Mr. Maretzek, at the solicitation of the patrons of the opera and of his personal friends, has been induced to reconsider his resolution, and assume once more the responsibilities of management.” [Includes roster, planned repertory, and series details.]
For Nov. 1; includes season’s roster, new operas, and subscription details.
For Nov. 1; includes season’s roster, new operas, and subscription details.
“New York. Oct. 18—Max Maretzek is really going to try his hand at Italian Opera this winter, although he was supposed to have retired from active service last season. From his prospectus I learn that we are to be blessed with several vocalists of more or less note, among whom will be Miss Kellogg (who made such a fiasco here last year in Rossini’s ‘Messe Solennelle’); Miss Jenny Landsmann (formerly a fearfully crude singer); Sig. Autonucci, Sig. Ronconi, and Sig. Massimilani. We are also promised a hearing of Mlle. Carlotta Patti, who, it would seem, is hardly capable of much acting, owing to her physical misfortune. There are also some new voices to be heard, and time will of course develop their capabilities or incapabilities. The season will commence about Nov. 1 and will continue for twenty nights, with Saturday matinees. The second season (for another is projected) will open on Feb. 1, 1870. Among the new works to be produced here for the first time will be Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet, and a work by Petrella (author of Ione). It is also intended that Mozart’s Magic Flute shall be revived; in the latter event it will be absolutely essential to give to Mlle. Patti the part of the ‘Queen of the Night,’ for I know of no one else in this country who can sing the music as it should be sung.”
“The registry of subscribers for Mr. Maretzek’s forthcoming season of Italian opera commenced last Thursday, and the list of names is already large and substantial.”
Arrival in New York of the manager’s new soprano and tenor; forthcoming arrival of the baritone. Speculation regarding the repertory. Postponement of the opening of the season until 3 Nov.
“The ‘Trovatore’ is always a favorite opera with managers at the commencement of their campaigns. It affords to each principal singer ample opportunity for vocal and histrionic display, while the audience, so familiar with its melodies, can devote their entire attention to the performers, assured that the music will take care of itself.
“At the performance last night the interest centered on the tenor and the soprano. M. Lefranc is a singer of the French school, with a powerful voice, modulated by artistic training and guided by judgment and taste. He is an experienced artist, not in his first years of vocal freshness, but at that maturity of culture when the singer, in his prime, begins to think of possible future decay. M. Lefranc saves himself for his greatest points. In the recitatives he sings in so subdued a manner that it would almost imply indifference. It is a noticeable fact that he takes the music at a slower time than any of his predecessors. This was specially evident in the Deserta sulla terra, the Mal reggendo and the Di quella pira. We are told, however, that M. Lefranc never, before last night, undertook the part of Manrico.
“The few exceptions that can be taken to this artist end here, and there is only left room for praise. His voice is both sweet and robust, as he may prefer to have it. His phrasing is exquisite, and his acting spirited and intelligent. In the Di quella pira he took the audience by surprise by giving the highest chest C. The most enthusiastic applause followed this feat, and after repeated calls before the curtain the singer had to repeat it. It certainly seemed as if a portion of the enthusiasm bestowed on this mere display of vocal strength might have been awarded to the preceding aria Ah! Si ben mio, which Lefranc sang in a faultless style. The audience, however, preferred the one ultra high note to the fifty or a hundred bars of real singing that preceded it.
“The new prima donna Caroline de Briol was also favorably received. She has a powerful voice, at times inclined to sharpness, and a broad, grandiose style of singing and thorough familiarity with stage requirements. She is evidently an artist of experience and ability. Madame Cellini sang the music of Azucena’s part with delicacy and grace, though in her opening scene a greater degree of force would have been acceptable. Signor Reyna as Luna was not up to his predecessors in the part.
“The attendance last night was large and fashionable, opening the season most auspiciously. The first and last acts of the opera were given with the greatest spirit, but the second act passed off tamely.”
“The promised season of Italian opera commenced last evening at the Academy. The opening was a very brilliant one. The house was full, and there was that fringe of men about the outskirts of the dress circle that indicates prosperity. Mr. Maretzek has gathered together a really fine company. In Mr. Lefranc, the new tenor, we have such a singer as New York has not heard for years. In many respects, he will more than replace Brignoli; for, to all the sweetness and well-taught method of that artist, he adds a fullness of tone and vigor to which Brignoli was a stranger. Mr. Lefranc woke up his audience to great enthusiasm. He was repeatedly recalled, and a repetition was required of the aria at the close of the third act, in which he sang, with a clear, splendid chest tone, the note C. This is a tour de force, of which few singers are the masters. The artist who has it in his power to sing it well has a hold upon his hearers that is sure to win him their applause, and redeem many a failing. Madame de Briol, the soprano, if not of equal merit with the tenor, is nevertheless a very admirable artist and actress. Her voice is large, noble, and sympathetic. Her faults are those of method and not of nature. The performance of ‘Trovatore’ was on the whole so excellent as to make it certain that Mr. Maretzek will give his patrons a very interesting season. He has a company, not that can be barely tolerated as so many of its predecessors have been, but that can be heartily enjoyed, and he probably has it in his power to produce opera quite as effectively as it can be done at most of the famous Continental opera houses.”
“Mr. MARETZEK’S season began at the Academy of Music last night when ‘Il Trovatore’ was sung to a fine house and amid tumultuous discretion and tremendous emphasis. We do not remember to have heard the more salient passages of this uproarious work given with greater force and determination. In general such a rendering is accurately supposed to be incompatible with the finer qualities, the delicacies of light and shade which are. However, essential to the highest artistic effect. There is, notwithstanding, no rule without exceptions, and it is but fair to strive to trace out and give credit for these wherever they exist. The principal interest last evening naturally clustered around the chief artists who on this occasion made their first appearance in this country. Mme. CAROLINA BRIOL, the Leonora, is evidently a singer of great experience. Her voice has remarkable power, and she employs this valuable element with signal effect. It apparently lacks flexibility, and certainly in the low notes; but it should be borne in mind that these are qualities which amid the nervousness incident to a first appearance before a foreign audience may most readily be misinterpreted, and in which the artist may most easily do herself injustice. Mme. BRIOL is a dramatic singer in the full sense of the term; an artist who spares herself in no trying situation, and who consequently enlists the sympathies of her audience by falling short of no reasonable expectation. As she becomes accustomed to the theatre and public she will no doubt strengthen the favorable impression of her début. We cannot pretend to augur from a single and critical occasion the exact measure of Mme. BRIOL’S future position here; yet it is but fair and courteous to say that a good foundation has been worthily laid by her for a popular and profitable career.
“Signor C. LEFRANC, the Manrico of the evening, who also appeared for the first time in America, is a tenore robusto who possesses some rare qualities. The most effective of these is of course his chest C, the famous note which made TAMBERLIK famous, and which MUSIANI introduced some time ago in the same opera and aria to the amazement and delight of the Academy audience. Signor LEFRANC at this point produced a real furor, and was recalled by enthusiastic cheers, in aid of which the acclamations of a claque would have been quite superfluous. His voice was slightly vailed [sic] at times, as if from cold—and this is true more or less of all the principal singers—but Signor LEFRANC acquitted himself with much taste and feeling, exhibiting that light and shade, before mentioned, and refinement of treatment, which regulate in so great a degree the artist’s legitimate professional rank. His style strikes us as a mixture of the Italian and French, rather than of the pure school of either; but, however this may be, he must be set down as by long odds, the best tenor we have had here since BRIGNOLI, and an infinitely better actor than that sweet-voiced but apathetic performer. Signor G. REYNA—still another first appearance—made vigorous efforts to give the requisite ponderousness of voice and picturesqueness of effect to that melodramatic character. This baritone has a sonorous and telling organ, but cold or other indisposition seemed last night seriously to impair its quality. We hope to hear him under more favorable circumstances hereafter. He has no lack of spirit, is a painstaking actor, and in the concerted pieces gave efficient assistance. He, however, sang false so repeatedly as to mar his best effects, and seemed to be quite conscious of the fact. Mme. R. CELLINI took elaborate pains with Azucena, and, laboring as she did under the disadvantage of assuming a part with which the public have identified a brilliant predecessor, Miss ADELAIDE PHILLIPS, deserves much credit for producing so satisfactory an impression. The chorus was scarcely as good as it might be, and Mr. MARETZEK, who was enthusiastically received on making his appearance in the orchestra, had some difficulty at times in keeping singers and band in accord. Taken altogether, the opera was a satisfactory success, and occasionally rose distinctly above that level. The company includes excellent material, and no one better knows than Mr. MARETZEK—when his hand is once in—how to work up that material to the best advantage.”
“MAX MARETZEK commenced his season of Italian Opera, on the 3d inst., at the Academy of Music, when ‘Il Trovatore’ was given for the first time to the American public, Mme. Briol as Leonora, and Sig. Lefranc as Manrico. The lady is of pleasing face and a good voice, but was entirely lost sight of by the enthusiasm bestowed upon the tenor, Lefranc, who possesses a voice very pleasing at times, but it is not one of those voices you can depend upon, for it was frequently quite husky. He reached the high C chest note with apparent ease, and the enthusiasm with which it was received equals anything of the kind we have ever heard bestowed upon any tenor.”