Bateman French Opera: La Périchole

Event Information

Pike's Opera House

Proprietor / Lessee:
H. L. [impressario] Bateman

Manager / Director:
H. L. [impressario] Bateman

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
3 April 2021

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

04 Jan 1869, 8:00 PM
05 Jan 1869, 8:00 PM
06 Jan 1869, 8:00 PM
07 Jan 1869, 8:00 PM
08 Jan 1869, 8:00 PM
09 Jan 1869, 2:00 PM
09 Jan 1869, 8:00 PM

Program Details

U.S. premiere

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Perichole
Composer(s): Offenbach
Text Author: Halévy, Meilhac
Participants:  Bateman French Opera Company;  [tenor] Aujac (role: Piquillo);  J. M. [tenor] Francis (role: Marquis of Tarapote);  [tenor] Guidon (role: Second Notary);  Marie [soprano] Tholer (role: Berginella);  Monsieur [tenor] Edgard (role: Don Pedro);  Irma Marié (role: la Périchole);  Monsieur [tenor] Lagriffoul (role: Panatellas);  Monsieur [tenor] Leduc (role: Don Andrés);  Monsieur [tenor] Hamilton (role: First Notary);  Mlle. [dancer] De Rosa (role: dancer in an Indian Ballet)


Announcement: New-York Times, 28 December 1868, 4.

“Mr. BATEMAN announces that there will be a change of bill after the present week. . . . On Monday next Mr. BATEMAN proposes to bring out La Perichole—the latest of OFFENBACH’S successes, and a work which still prospers in Paris.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 04 January 1869, 7.

Includes cast list.

Article: New York Herald, 04 January 1869, 5.

Includes plot summary.

Announcement: New York Sun, 04 January 1869.
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 04 January 1869.

“This evening, at Pike Opéra [sic], first performance of La Périchole, with Irma Marié and Aujac in the principal roles. They count on a success.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 04 January 1869, 4.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 04 January 1869, 7.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 04 January 1869, 5.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 04 January 1869.
Review: New York Herald, 05 January 1869, 3.

“Moral—A woman can’t love when she is hungry.  Last evening Pike’s Opera House, despite the bad weather, was crowded to its utmost capacity to see ‘La Périchole’ brought out for the first time in the United States. To say that the select audience were delighted with the opera scarcely expresses it. The scene, laid in Peru in the time of the vice-regal period, was suggestive of the dissolute life led by those parasites of the Spanish court who followed upon the heels of the conquistadores in the New World. The street singers, La Périchole and Piquillo, wanting for bread, are driven to desperation. [plot summary] . . . The acting throughout was loudly applauded. Mlle. Irma, as La Périchole, was inimitable. It may be said that she Irma-ized the opera, while Mr. Aujac, as Piquillio, lent his talent to its more perfect harmony. The favorite Leduc as the Viceroy looked and acted like a most thoroughly ‘played out’ old Spanish courtier, who, reduced in everything except pride, had been shipped off to Spanish America to mend his health and fortunes. ‘La Jeune Indienne’ appears to be the gem of the opera, although the bewitching charm thrown into ‘O mon cher amour je te jure!’ and ‘Le bean fririage,’ by Miss Irma leave but little choice. Chorus and couplet are blended in profusion and the opera of ‘La Périchole’ must for very many nights add to the pleasures of those in New York who possess elegant and refined tastes.”

Review: New York Post, 05 January 1869.

“Among the many attractions of last evening’s entertainment that at Pike’s deserve pre-eminent notice.  It consisted of Offenbach’s new opera,’La Perichole,’ a work which is another proof of the unusual melodic resources of this facile composer. In its general representation the opera was somewhat toned down from the Parisian style. For instance, in the original there is a drunken scene for the prima donna, in which Mlle. Schneider is accustomed to give all the repulsive details of inebriety; but in the hands of Irma last night intoxication was only hinted at by a dreamy languor. This and other modifications are due to the suggestions of Mr. Bateman himself, who is properly anxious that the opera bouffe in his hands should be free from every taint of indelicacy. [Description of the plot.]

“The music of ‘La Perichole’ is by Offenbach—which is to say that it is light, sparkling and melodious, with touches of the grotesque. The pretty air for soprano and chorus in the first act, ‘Il grandirs,’ at once took the ear of the large audience, and was heartily encored. The air ‘Mon cher amant,’ also had to be repeated. ‘La jeune Indienne’ is another melody that was warmly received.

“‘La Perichole’ is not an extravagant burlesque like Offenbach’s other operas, ‘The Grand Duchess’ and the ‘Belle Hélène.’ It is rather a graceful comedy with some humorous positions. Its success is owing to the pleasing music, and particularly to the admirable manner in which it is sung by Irma and Aujac. The chorus last night was also good; and the whole work, as performed at Pike’s evinced such finished rehearsals that the usual excuse for a ‘first night’ is quite unnecessary.”

Review: New York Sun, 05 January 1869, 2.

“Whatever complaints Mr. Offenbach may have to make of life in general, he certainly never can complain that he is not heartily appreciated in this country. Indeed, if like Franz Abt, he should ever conclude to come this way in search of a permanent residence, it is more than probable that he would be driven to leave the city to get rid of himself. Whether in doors or out of doors, he would be afflicted with his own productions, which, not only are played in every concert room and parlor, but every miserable Italian grinder carries them about with him in his square torture box. Just now every one is whistling the song of the ‘Gens d’Armes;’ in a few weeks it will be the duo in the first act of ‘La Perichole.’ ‘Il grandira, car il est Espagnol.’ [plot summary] . . .

“The performance of the piece last evening was all that could be desired in the way of singing, acting, and scenery. Mlle. Irma was in excellent voice, and looked most bewitching as usual. In the song, ‘Mon cher amant je te jure,’ as well as in ‘Il grandira,’ she was rapturously encored, and throughout her animated by-play kept the audience in a twitter of delight. Aujac sang splendidly and made one anxious to hear him in a part more worthy of his genuine artistic ability. Leduc, Lagriffoul, and Edgard likewise deserve commendation for their excellent make-up and conscientious acting.”

Review: New-York Times, 05 January 1869, 4.

“An amusing opera-bouffe, La Perichole, by the inevitable OFFENBACH, was produced here last evening, with great success. We shall refer to it hereafter, and may now only mention that the parts are perfectly fitted to the company which Mr. BATEMAN possesses. The scenery and dresses are perfect. The leading numbers were received with enthusiasm last evening, and the work will undoubtedly be a favorite with the public.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 05 January 1869, 5.

“Unfortunately for Mr. Bateman’s treasury, there is no possible objection to the new opera bouffe on the score of morality. It bears favorable comparison in this regard even with the modern school of English drama, fastidious as that school is in all matters of dpropriety. Compared with the popular comedies of an older day, as now tolerated upon our stages, ‘La Périchole’ is a matter of delicacy. Compare it with its companions in Opera Bouffe and it is absolutely prudish. There are two or three passages in the libretto which may be called ‘insinuatious,’ but even these are delicately worded and a maiden principal of a young ladies’ boarding school would hardly call them ‘objectionable.’ No fashionable young gentlemen will go into raptures over ‘La Perichole,’ because their rapture shocks their young lady friends so charmingly. No school girls will be dying to see ‘La Perichole’ because their elder brothers had assured them them that the performance is not fit for a modest lady’s presence. La Perichole’ is too free from wickedness to excite curiosity, and going into ecstacies over it cannot be regarded as evidence of that fascinating tendency to vice which our fashionable young men are generally anxious to exhibit. If the libretto is almost free from the usual Gallic impurities, the action, costumes and situations are entirely so.

[detailed plot summary] 

“The plot is filled in, of course, in true opera bouffe style. There are choruses of peasants, and choruses of court ladies, and choruses of court gentlemen. There are comic insidents and comic costumes. There is a burlesque royal dinner. There is a ballet. But with all the evident effort on the part of both the libbrettist and Offenbach, there is nothing throughout the piece that is heartily and irresistibly comical. The subject lacks the first necessity of a burlesque. The audience has no preexisting reverence for the personages involved, which shocks them into laughter by the impudent familiarity of burlesque. When Agamemnon and Ajax and Menelaus and the Priest of Jupiter come upon the stage in a state of hilarious jollity fresh from classical revel, we laugh in spite of ourselves. It needs no wit on the part of the writer to convulse an audience with merriment. The cool impudence which outrages all the unities and brings the great Charlemagne and the modern locomotive together compels us to laugh. The story of Blue Beard, too, makes a very comical farce, because it is popularly known as a tragedy. But ‘La Perichole’ has no advantages of this kind. No one has any respect for an old Viceroy of Peru, and no one is humorously shocked when he is brought intio ridicule. His Court is not familiar to us, and the contortions of courtiers are the mere antics of so many clowns. The librettist was obliged to stage trick to create a laugh now and then, and the intention is constantly apparent.

“The music of ‘La Perichole’ is, in its choruses, as strongly Offenbachic as all its companions. So strongly, indeed, are the composer’s peculiarities marked in nearly all his operas that a charge of sameness has become very common. It would puzzle us to distinguishbetween the choruses in this piece and several others we have heard. There are several very beautiful airs, curiously enough, of a sad rather than a lively tendency. The refrain beginning with ‘Le Conquéror dit a lajeune Indienne’ recurs in each act at intervals, and is always pleasing. Sweetest of all, perhaps, is a melancholy air of La [illeg.] in the first act—‘O mon cher amant. On the whole, Offenbach seems to have labored under the depressing influence of a tame subject, which prevents the burlesque from being amusing. He has contributed fewer musical ideas to this than to any of his other works.

“Mr. Bateman deserves all credit for the brilliant mounting he has given this opera. The part of La Perichole in the hands of Mlle. Irma challenges comparison in vivacity and interest with any other of Offenbach’s leading rôles. She makes it very charming and very delicate in action and has opportunities to show both serious and comic power. Her clear, sweet, trustworthy voice has always been charming to us. Aujac was hearty in action and strong in voice as ever. Every duet and every solo of the leading actors was encored last evening.  Leduc does the best he can with the stupid old Viceroy. Even his exquisite sense of the ludicrous fails to make it comical. We laughed at M. Lagriffoul, because his face always reminds us of his High Priestof Jupiter.  Messrs. Edgard and Francis made as much as they could of their small parts by ‘make-up’ and action.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 09 January 1869, 318, 2d col., middle.
Review: New York Herald, 09 January 1869, 6.

“At Pike’s Opera House ‘La Périchole’ is in the full tide of success. Mlle. Irma and M. Aujac divide the principal honors of this most popular opera by Offenbach next to ‘La Grand Duchesse.’ Mlle. De Rosa never has appeared to better advantage than in the picturesque Indian ballet which enlivens the third act of ‘La Périchole.’”

Review: New-York Times, 11 January 1869, 5.

“We doubt if there has been a more agreeable performance of Opera Bouffe than that given by Mr. BATEMAN at Pike’s Opera House, on Monday last. ‘La Perichole’ has neither the dramatic nor musical interest of ‘La Grande Duchesse,’ but it is a singularly picturesque and inspiring production. The story is simple enough to be readily understood, the situations are mirthful and the action rapid. What can seldom be added to these remarks is the fact that none of the decencies or proprieties of life are shocked by word or thought. There is, to be sure, a tipsy scene, but Mlle. IRMA exhibits no form of intoxication that might not be acquired by partaking inordinately of the perfume of a flower.  It is one of the strong points of the opera that it furnishes the charming artiste with a series of morceaux which exhibits her great excellence as an artist. The Moresque romanza of ‘La Jeune Indienne’ has character and popularity in its every bar. It was exquisitely sung, and is now constantly redemanded—as indeed are many other numbers to which we lack space to refer. M. AUJAC’S part is almost as good as the one he sustained in ‘Barbe-Bleue,’ while the melodies are more copious and fluent. Even the small parts in this work are captivating.  Mr. BATEMAN has fulfilled his share of the OFFENBACH contract to perfection.  The scenery and costumes are absolutely superb. We are persuaded that a chorus has never been so well dressed on the American stage. The interest in Opera Bouffe is waning, but bright and beautiful productions like ‘La Perichole’ will always give it standing and favor.”

Review: New York Clipper, 16 January 1869, 326, 3d col., top.

“It is a light Vaudeville, with plenty of legs, instead of an Opera Bouffe, and taken on the whole is one of the tamest affairs yet presented by this troupe of opera buffoons. Irma failed to create as lively a sensation in her drunken scene as did Schneider in Paris.”