Academy of Music
Price: $1.00; $1.00 extra for reserved; $10 box for 4 people
3 July 2021
“The Arion Society are preparing to give the people of New York a rare treat in the course of January next. They propose to bring upon the stage at the Academy of Music the full opera of ‘Der Freischuetz,’ of C. M. von Weber, and, as they promise, in a style of artistic perfection and scenic magnificence not heretofore witness in this country. The principal parts have been awarded as follows:—Agatha, Mme. Frederici; Anna, Miss Canissa; Max, Wm. Candidus; Casper, F. Remmertz; Kilian, G. Ely; Kuno, F. Stauffer; Samiel, P. Kraemer—the gentlemen named being all active members of the society. The chorus will consist of 120 voices and the orchestra of fifty performers, the whole under the direction of Professor Carl Bergmann.”
“Last evening at the Academy of Music the Arion Vocal Society had the last grand rehearsal, with scenery, costumes and full chorus and orchestra, of Weber’s celebrated German opera, ‘Der Freischuetz.’ It was, in fact, a first performance before an audience of invited friends of the society, who quite filled the parquet. It also merited the name of rehearsal, for the musical director of the Arion, Professor Carl Bergmann, exercised his right to have solos, duets and even whole scenas repeated twice and three times, when, in his view, there was something wanting to perfection. There can be no doubt that the ladies and gentlemen of the Sing Academy and the Arion have done their utmost to prepare themselves for the task, and they have succeeded even beyond their own hopes and the expectations of their friends. The rendering of the vocal parts is all that can be desired. Especially, the powerful yet sweet and mellow tenor of Mr. Candidus, as Max, and the full, sonorous, metallic basso of Mr. Remmertz, as Caspar, will be most admired by the public to-night. The romanza of Max and the drinking song of Caspar are very jewels of the first act. So also are the trio of Agathe, Aennchen and Max in the second, and the several duets and solos between Agathe and Aennchen. The scene in the Wolf’s Glen is grand, and here also the actions appear to their best advantage. The scenic effects, with the aid of the latest appliances adopted in the principal theatres in Europe, are truly awe-inspiring, and in full keeping with the most vivid imagination of the fire and brimstone surroundings of his Satanic majesty, the evil spirit of destruction. If nothing untoward happens, and judging from this first performance of last rehearsal yesterday, the Arion’s ‘Freischuetz’ may now be predicted a success. Should more or less nervousness be observed in the actors it would be excusable, for the public should consider all that the representatives of the principal rôles, as well as the chorus, are amateurs and unaccustomed to the stage, except Mrs. Frederici (Agathe) and Mrs. Rotter (Aennchen), and the well earned reputation of both ensures them a favorable reception.”
“No recent musical event has so profoundly stirred the Teutonic mind as the announcement that the Arions were to sing the ‘Der Freischütz.’ This Club is dear to the souls of our German fellow-citizens, so is Der Freischütz—poor, woeful Max, crossed in love, has their utmost pity, while the grim Casper, with his magic bullets and dealings with the evil one, is to them the embodiment of the romantic and the delightfully sensational. What wonder then that Freischütz and the Arions together should create an excitement.
“The matter has been the staple of German town talk for the last two months. The buzz of expectation has been heard in all the lager-beer saloons; the very German barbers, especially those who belong to the Club, talk of it while they shave one, and the honest fraus and frauleins naturally partake of the general enthusiasm. It need therefore scarcely be said that the Academy was full last evening. Max, and Moritz, and Adolph, and Gustav, and Heinrich were there with Aennchen, and Gretchen, and Katrina, and Wilhelmina, and all the rest. The German singing societies, of course, were also there to hear how it would fare with their comrades in song. Men of the Teutonia, and the Germania, the Schillerbund and the Mozartverein, stood about in anxious and critical groups discussing the situation.
“Among them were seen the grim men of the Liederkranz, the great rivals of the Arions, not over-anxious perhaps for the success of the affair.
“It was an audience that felt that the opera was a family matter, in which it was almost as much concerned as those on the stage—a feeling that the chorus partook of, as was illustrated by one fellow who, in marching around in the procession, took off his hat, and made quite a point of bowing to his friends in the audience.
“It was also a musical audience, and knew what was what; smiling, patronizing, and friendly approval when a thing was particularly well done, and growling and shrugging its shoulders at false notes. It was an exclamatory audience, and during the pauses in the music expressed its opinions with much freedom. ‘Ach Himmel!’ ‘Das ist goetdich!’ ‘Er hat das ausgezeignet gesungen!’ and similar expressions resounded on every side. It was quite like the veritable ‘faderland.’ The center of interest was of course the chorus, and that seemed to excite the enthusiasm of all and to satisfy every expectation. The audience vented its delight in the deepest octo-syllabic gutturals. ‘Himmilsch’ and ‘Unuebertrefflich,’ were the mildest forms of expressions that were used. At the close of the choruses there was always a double round of applause. Next in interest to the chorus singing was doubtless the tenor, Mr. Candidus, a man to whom the society has long looked up with pride as a first tenor the like of whom is not to be found in the ranks of any other of the German singing societies. This gentleman is an amateur, and for an amateur to attempt so important a rôle as that of Max, is an undertaking of no slight magnitude. The result certainly has shown that he possesses no special fitness for it. As a singer his deficiencies are many and great. Of the art of phrasing, without which no man can hope ever to be a successful vocalist, he evidently has no conception whatever. The mere quality of his voice is good, but incapable of any dramatic power or of the expression of any emotion. He sings in a lifeless way, almost always mezzo-forte. He seems also to lack the power of enlarging his tone, and is as innocent of a crescendo as an octave flute. Nor does he make up for the lack of animation in his voice by putting it into his action, for in this direction he is feebler even than Brignoli. That gentleman, wooden as he was, had spasms of activity, but Mr. Candidus is as tame as a lay figure.
“Much was promised and looked for in the way of scenic effect in the wolf glen scene, but the same old Roman candle and owl story was rehearsed again, with the effect of making the audience laugh only. There was an abundance of flowers passed upon the stage, but most bunglingly, and always at the wrong moment. In fact, the management of the affair seems to have been simply conducted in very many respects. There was a lack of ushers, and persons had difficulty in finding their seats.
“The opera in several respects was well cast. Mme. Frederici sang very well for those who are not particular as to a semi-tone or so in the matter of pitch. Mr. Applebaum, a tall gentleman in red who represented the evil one, evidently had a very poor idea of the devil, for he stalked about the stage like a demented flamingo, making the part simply grotesque, instead of satanic. In fact there was an air of amateurishness about the whole opera that was very perceptible and not altogether artistic.”
“One of the most highly admired amateur musical societies of this city succeeded last night in attracting to the Academy of Music the largest audience yet assembled within the walls of the building. Not only was every seat, from the front row of the parquette to the last of the amphitheatre, occupied, but there were several hundreds of persons standing wherever a glimpse of the stage could be obtained.
It was the Arion Society that brought together this immense concourse, for ‘Der Freischütz’ itself is not a special attraction even to our German citizens, and the prima donnas Frederici and Rotter are by no means novelties in their respective parts of Agathe and Aennchen. But the tenor of the evening, Mr. Candidus, the basso, Mr. Remmertz, and the splendid chorus of the Arion Society were all new to the operatic stage.
The overture, superbly rendered by a full orchestra of between fifty and sixty performers, under the bâton of Mr. Carl Bergmann, was a fitting prelude to an unusually complete rendering of the opera. Of the two leading lady singers it is only necessary to say that they both sustained their enviable reputations as trustworthy lyric artists—Mme. Frederici singing in the most finished manner, though the bright, sparkling music of Mme. Rotter’s part procured for that vivacious little lady the largest share of the applause.
Mr. Candidus is well known in musical circles as the leading tenor of the Arion. Last night he sang delightfully, his clear, high voice telling out with one effect. He only in his action betrayed the amateur, while his personal appearance answered well to the romantic style of the character he assumed. Mr. Remmertz, the basso, was as good a Caspar as we have had. His rich, full voice sounded to better advantage amid the surroundings of the stage than in the concert-room. Every note and tone told out fully and grandly. Other gentlemen of the Arion Society—among them Messrs. Dehnhoff, Harder and Schwickardy—took the minor parts in a creditable manner.
The chorus showed to special advantage in the hunting song of the last act, when they were accompanied only by a few horn-players among their ranks on the stage. The familiar chorus was given with a decided [illegible], and, at the proper points, with a happy contrast of delicacy; the tenors, for instance, emitting the rapid high notes with smoothness, and not in that percussive style by which regular opera chorus singers often mar this passage. Besides singing well, the Arion vocalists appeared to rare advantage in their new suits of green faced with silver. The hunting chorus was re-demanded amid wild applause.
At the close of the opera the demonstrations of approval were so hearty that the curtain was raised, displaying the principals and chorus on the stage; and after they were duly recognized by the audience, loud cries went up for Bergmann. The popular conductor was at first not forthcoming, and sopranos and tenors dispersed on every side to hunt him up. Finally, captured by a prima donna, he was brought on the stage and received with hearty cheers.”