Richings English Opera: The Enchantress

Event Information

Niblo's Garden

Proprietor / Lessee:
William Wheatley

Manager / Director:
William Wheatley

Harvey Bradley Dodworth

Event Type:
Choral, Opera, Orchestral

Record Information


Last Updated:
25 September 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

16 Mar 1863, 7:45 PM
17 Mar 1863, 7:45 PM
18 Mar 1863, 7:45 PM
19 Mar 1863, 7:45 PM
20 Mar 1863, 7:45 PM
21 Mar 1863, 7:45 PM

Program Details

Richings English Opera
Mr. J.H. Selwyn (scenery); Mr. Philippe (costumes); Runyon & Demilt (stage machinery); Mr. S. Wallis (sets)

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Balfe, Cunnington
Text Author: Bunn
Participants:  Chorus, unidentified;  Orchestra, unidentified;  Richings English Opera Corps de Ballet;  Annetta Galletti (role: dancer, Spirit of Good);  Mathilde Marzetti (role: dancer);  Caroline Richings (role: Stella; the Enchantress);  Mr. Ronzani (role: dancer, Spirit of Evil);  Peter Richings (role: Ramir the Pirate);  Mlle. Katrine (role: dancer);  Livingstone Robert Shewell (role: Don Sylvio);  Edward (E.) Lamb (role: Dr. Mathanasius);  J. W. Blaisdell (role: Busiris);  C. W. [Richings' English Opera] Wilson (role: Numba Jumba);  George H. Andrews (role: Pambo Poncho);  Mr. Mordaunt (role: Duke d'Aquila);  Walter Lennox (role: Mushroom)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 09 March 1863, 7.
Announcement: New York Herald, 09 March 1863, 8.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 March 1863, 7.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 15 March 1863, 7.
Announcement: New York Herald, 16 March 1863, 5.

“’The Enchantress’ will be revived at Niblo’s Garden this evening, with its fine music, magnificent scenery, excellent ballet and unequalled circus troupe.  Miss Caroline Richings will sing the operatic portion of the entertainment.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 March 1863, 7.
Cast (sans W. Lennox), time. “The distinguished American Prima Donna, Miss Caroline Richings… Beautiful music by Balfe and Dr. Cunnington, Rendered by an increased Orchestra and full Chorus, under the direction of Mr. Harvey B. Dodworth.”
Announcement: New York Post, 16 March 1863, 2.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 17 March 1863, 7.
“Rendered by an Increased Orchestra and Full Chorus, under the direction of Mr. Harvey B. Dodworth.”
Advertisement: New-York Times, 17 March 1863, 7.
Cast w/ Lennox. “Commodore Don JOSE PALO DE BERNABE and the officers of the Spanish steam frigate Carmon will visit the theatre, by invitation, this evening… The Magnificent Operatic Spectacle of the ENCHANTRESS.”
Review: New York Post, 17 March 1863, 2.
“[A] brilliant revival last night of the ‘Enchantress,’ Miss Richings singing the music of ‘Stella’ with her usual skill and taste.”
Review: New-York Times, 18 March 1863, 5.

Niblo’s Garden.—Although pirates and their ships are not so popular now as they were last yaer, Miss Caroline Richings succeeded yesterday evening in winning a new success for the ‘Enchantress’—a work in which she is melodically memorable as ‘the pride of the pirate’s heart.’ The lady is a pleasing actress, grave but also graceful, and sings with effect. As Stella, in the work now revived, she has hardly so good an opportunity as in ‘Satanella,’ where all the best tunes of the opera flow from her lips; but the ‘Enchantress’ is a more homogeneous production, and affords a wider scope for scenic display, and hence is in better favor with the public. Moreover, there is a well-known chorus sung by a band of ruddy rovers—Greeks with a strong flavor of the brogue—that never fails to bring down the house, and from its frequent recurrence helps to bind the work together. It should be added here that the chorus at Niblo’s is nicely balanced and sufficiently powerful. If Balfe’s opera, instead of Dr. Cunnington’s, were given, it need hardly be better. In this and all other respects there is a frank liberality in Mr. Wheatley’s management that is entitled to the highest praise.

            It would puzzle poor Polonius himself to classify the entertainment to which pieces like the ‘Enchantress’ and ‘Satanella’ belong. In certain features of simple idiotcy [sic] they are not unlike English opera—but then there is very little music and only one singer. It is apparent, moreover, from the earnestness with which every one perplexes every one else, that there is somewhere a plot, and that this involves a deep and settled dramatic purpose not wholly unconnected with a Christmas pantomime, or utterly foreign to a ballet, but completely beyond the ken of the uninitiated. In the ‘Enchantress,’ the throne of the Sicilies appears to be the point at issue, and at one period of the evening a couple of boys bring in the regalia of the islands, and serve them like refreshments to a lady and gentleman seated in a damp spot. But the mind is not permitted to retain this circumstance for any length of time, and, indeed, cheerfully surrenders it on the first opportunity. Perhaps it is the best recommendation of the piece that it cannot be classified and that its plot is inscrutable. Neither fact interferes in the slightest degree with the enjoyment of a very rich, peculiar and miscelanious [sic] feast. The truth remains that Mr. Wheatley can boast of the only novel speices of amusement on Braodway, and it need surprise no one that it attracts so much attention.

            The work is admirably placed on the stage; the scenery is all that could be desired, and the dresses are generally good. Mr. Shewell plays the principal speaking part with effect, and a comic gentleman tries to make the lieges laugh—sometimes successfully. Mr. Peter Richings is heard and seen to great advantage as Ramir the pirate. To say nothing of two or three sinister fragments of song which he imparts mysteriously, murderously and in the strictest confidence to the first row of the parquetted, he is for the nonce a pantomimist of the good old melodramatic school, gyrating to music and emotionally palpitating to the action of his feet and hands. In the prologue he is, perhaps, seen to the greatest profit, and attains the nicest balance of insidious vocalism and demonstrative pantomime. It is here that he produces a dagger of rare and curious design; an instrument possessing the dreadful faculty of springing open in the bosom of its victim and becoming at once an awe-inspiring and complicated species of pitchfork. It is here that Ramir, during a brief period of pardonable excitement, stabs the atmosphere at the end of every four bars, and ruthlessly rends the firmament with his diabolical weapon. He has, moreover, to clink it against other daggers—immensely to the disadvantage of the latter, they being for the most part of wood—and finally to swear a solemn swear, with dagger uplifted and one knee on the ground. These offices were performed by Mr. Richings with immense relish, and were delightful from their serious absurdity. Sharing the pantomimic honors with Mr. Richings, and rather oustamping that gentleman, are two highly dangerous persons with guns, whose mission in life is to shoot the Enchantress. The task is attended with more than ordinary difficulty, from the fact that when the lady leaves the stage by the right, they invariably leave it by the left, so that as rational beings they can hardly indulge the hope of encountering her until they have completely circumnavigated the globe. Nevertheless they make the most of their opportunities and do not spare the managerial gunpowder, blazing away with utter disregard to consequences. In addition to these attractions, there is a good ballet with Mlle. Galetti and Mme. Marzetti at its head; so that all things considered, the entertainment is singularly varied and amusing.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 18 March 1863, 2.

“A facile dramatist of two centuries ago expressed himself of the conviction that it is good to laugh at any rate; and that if a straw can tickle a man, it is an instrument of happiness to him. Mr. Wheatley sways the theatrical straws. His ‘Satanella’ and ‘Enchantress’ tickle the immense public in a variety of ways, and that is about the best that can be said of any of them in general terms. As straws, however, they certainly show which way the wind of popular favor blows; and, though they may not be of the kind which a man submerged in theatrical surfeit would clutch at, they do afford a considerable hold for interest and entertainment in comparison with other attractions bobbing around. Mr. Wheatley’s audiences have discovered that some positive merits may always be reckoned upon as certain at his theater. The acting is invariably clever of its kind, whatever the kind may be. The scenery is the finest in New-York. Good taste is never affronted, either by the character of his plays, or the manner of representing them. Without implying that Mr. Wheatley is in any sense a man of straw, we insist that he is in his way an instrument of happiness—or, rather, that he is one of the most free and easy manipulators of instruments of happiness that the amusement-seeking community has yet encountered. For further pursuit of the metaphor, see Dryden.

            ‘The Enchantress’ was produced last Monday evening for the first time this season, and at great length. There were periods when a general apprehension prevailed that the performance might not conclude in time for a repetition on Tuesday evening. The four acts are laden with varieties of music, magic, dancing and desultory conversation. The original piece is well known. The story is stupendous and the dialogue is wrapped around it with something of the rank and luxuriant effect of a creeping vine around an antique pile. It is as powerfully fragrant as dramatic rhetoric well can be. At times it is natural, but not too often interfere with the general design [sic]. From the mouths of Mr. Shewell, Mr. Richings, Mr. Lamb and others, it nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto the pleasant senses of the auditors. For the music we are bound to say that Mr. Balfe is not immoderately responsible. The greater and the inferior part of it is supplied by another hand. Miss Richings sings with her usual skill, and received her customary tributes. The chorus is quite good. The ballet is full and is frequently employed. Miss Galetti displayed her usual dexterity, and Mrs. Marzetti her invariable grace and elegance. Of the scenery we can speak in unqualified praise. Mr. Selwyn is assuredly a master of large pictorial effects, whether of landscape or of architecture. However tried, he is never found wanting.

            ‘The Enchantress’ will be represented every evening until further notice.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 21 March 1863, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 March 1863, 7.
Review: New York Herald, 23 March 1863, 5.
“Mr. Wheatley has put the piece upon the stage with his usual splendor, and the acting and dancing are equally enjoyable. Miss Richings sings as charmingly as ever.”
Review: New York Clipper, 28 March 1863, 395.
“’The Enchantress’ renewed its last season’s success at Niblo’s during the past week, the houses having been quite large, and certainly very enthusiastic over the brilliant vocalization of Miss Caroline Richings, who has established herself as a great favorite in New York.”