Academy of Music
Price: $1.00; $1.00 extra for reserved; $10 box for 4 people
19 September 2021
“Of all the performances of Weber’s great work given by the Arions this season, that of last night was unquestionably the best. The presence of two such distinguished artists as Madame Parepa-Rosa and Mlle. Pauline Canissa, who, on this occasion, filled the rôles of Agatha and Aennchen as they have probably never been before in this city, stimulated both the members of the society, who supplied the rest of the cast, the chorus and orchestra to surpass their former exertions in this opera. Mr. William Candidus (Max) was unfortunately suffering from a severe hoarseness, which marred the effect of some of the best music in the opera, especially in one of the duets in which his voice failed him in some of the sustained notes of Agatha. His voice is light, flexible and sweet naturally, and susceptible of being brought to a high state of cultivation. It is also invariably correct in the pitch, a remarkable and happy quality for an amateur in music, which, if not so declamatory and dramatic as the chef d’oeuvre of the Italian school, is still glowing with harmonic life and constant modulations. The baritone, Remmertz (Caspar), is a thorough artist in both voice and action, and left nothing to be desired in his difficult rôle. Zamiel found a fitting representative in the colossal form of Apfelbaum, and the chorus was something that we would look for in vain in this city in Italian opera. Every chorus was given with an ensemble, expression and spirit that brought out its beauties in the strongest light. It was beyond doubt the best chorus we have heard since we sat in Covent Garden or Her Majesty’s, where this important feature of opera receives all the attention it merits.
“As for the two artists we have nothing to say about them but praise. The glorious voice of Parepa, despite her manifest nervousness (she having arrived from Baltimore a couple of hours before the performance and not being able of course to have a rehearsal), was clear, sympathetic and true as ever, and we remarked a decided improvement in her acting. The beautiful prayer and the succeeding allegro was a gem. Mlle. Canissa has a cultivated, tractable and ringing voice, which came out with effect in the coquettish rôle of Aennchen, and in her action it would seem as if the part were written for her. In the aria in which she describes her dream there was a mixture of mystery and humor happily blended which is seldom found in the prime donne of the present day. Now for faults, which we suppose will happen in the best regulated families and opera troupes. We would recommend the prompter to moderate his zeal a little, so that his voice will not be heard all over the house, and in the Wolf’s Glen the fumes of red fire and other combustibles were very disagreeable. The house was crowded from parquet to dome, as might be expected, and the enthusiasm was of that kind that only Germans can furnish in musical triumphs of this kind.”
“The Arion Society gave the third performance of the opera of ‘Der Frieschutz’ [sic] in the Academy of Music last evening. At least four thousand people were present. It was impossible to find standing room. Madame Parepa-Rosa came expressly from Baltimore to take the role of Agathe. It was her first appearance in German opera in this country. She was in magnificent voice, and filled every nook of the Academy with the sweetest and clearest melody. The audience was roused to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, and testified their approval of her singing in rounds of the wildest applause. During the evening the handsome Joseph Neustadter, the President of the Society, presented Madame Rosa with a costly basket of flowers. M’lle. Pauline Canissa appeared as Aennchen. Mr. Candidus was suffering from hoarseness. In point of acting he has wonderfully improved, though his movements are still inert and lack vigor. Mr. Apfelbaum improved upon his original representation of Zamiel by wearing glasses. The appearance of the devil in the Wolf’s Glen, with a pair of spectacles upon his nose, was absolutely startling. The chorus singing surpassed even that of the former representations. Mr. Remmertz did himself unusual credit in the part of Caspar.”
“A performance of ‘Der Freyschutz,’ admirable for its heartiness and most satisfactory in respect of fidelity of execution, was given at the Academy of Music last evening, by the members of the Arion Society, with the assistance of Mme. Parepa-Rosa and Mlle. Canissa. Mr. William Candidus represented Max, Mr. F. Remmertz Caspar, Mr. George Ely Killian, and Messrs. Herder, Denhoff and Apfelbaum the remaining male characters, the associates of these gentlemen constituting the larger portion of the chorus. Mr. Candidus, whose voice is a light tenor of sympathetic quality, sang with good taste, and made no very earnest endeavor to act. Mr. Remmertz added to a thorough command of his vocal resources a fair acquaintance with the business of the stage. The success of the night, however, was for Mme. Parepa-Rosa, who, coming from Baltimore, reached this City late in the afternoon, and, without a preliminary rehearsal, sang Agathe in German with unswerving accuracy as to notes, and absolute fluency and faultlessness of pronunciation as to words. Aennchen was interpreted with piquancy by Mlle. Canissa. The choruses were of course given with great effect, and the hunters’ ensemble in the last act was honored by a commanded repeat. The orchestra was under the bâton of Mr. Carl Bergmann. The house was crowded.”
“The Arion Society is entitled to the warmest praise for its enterprise and its good sense in producing Weber’s beautiful opera with such good care as was evidently bestowed upon the performance of last night. It is grateful to see a chorus of respective size and decent appearance; it is encouraging to witness a careful attention to such details of stage business as the festival in the first act, where peasants and hunters, instead of straggling upon the scene by twos and threes, troop forward by the score, with their own private and particular band behind them playing real music upon real fiddles, and wind up the festive exhibition with a vigorous dance in which there is every indication of real enjoyment. It rests the eyes, weary with the dismal glories of the Academy wardrobe, to look upon a hundred fresh green tunics, glittering with the sheen of untarnished velvet and bordered with lace of brand new gold; and if the faces of the choristers are not perceptibly more aesthetic than those of the old, old set, there is pleasure anyway in a change even though a little awkwardness is the inevitable result. As for scenery, it is useless to hope for any improvement there while the Academy is governed on the present system; and as for the one stage effect of ‘Der Freischütz’—the supernatural foolery in the Wolf’s Glen—that is always absurd (though it might be otherwise), and we look for nothing but the regulation skeletons and fiery pigs, and the fizz of the familiar fireworks. If we say that last night it was not worse than usual, we have said as much as we can. In a word, all that could be done for the mounting of the opera was done. The Arion Society seem to have accepted this as a test of their intelligence and liberality, and we can honestly say that the result, considering the opera as a spectacle, was much to their credit.
“How far the musical result justified their venture is of course another question, and it is one not easy to decide. It would be unfair to judge the performance by comparison with professional standards, and yet the Arion Society seem to disclaim the privilege of amateurs. They took the bold step of inviting the grandest professional singer in America to be their Agatha, and amateurs who sing ‘Der Freischütz’ with Madame Parepa Rosa must have no slight confidence in their own powers. We expressed our opinion of the principal gentlemen in the cast when they sang the opera with an inferior prima donna last month, and we have no change to make in the judgement we then gave. Mr. Candidus, the tenor, who played Max, has an admirable voice, clear, true, and resonant, though somewhat hard, and his musical culture is undoubtedly good; but he has no more sentiment than a broomstick, and from the overture to the finale he never rose out of the depths of an awful dejection. Mr. Remmertz, the Caspar of the evening, is on the contrary a very fair actor, and a noble singer also. We seldom hear a better baritone now-a-days, and if bankruptcy or some other misfortune should drive him to seek his living on the stage, it would be a sweet boon to the public. The other male characters (including a fine old Hermit, with russet boots on his feet and gold rings on his fingers) were all filled by members of the Society, and all performed respectably. The Aencchen was Miss Pauline Canissa, of whom it is enough to say that she sang all the notes correctly, wore pretty blue gaiters, and got a plenty of bouquets. The cast of solo parts was therefore inferior as a whole to many that we have lately seen. The one point of positive excellence is Madame Rosa’s Agatha. She had sung the night before in Baltimore; traveled nearly all day to get here; went almost from the cars to the theater; but her voice showed no fatigue, and she alternately enchanted the audience with the most delicate vocalization, and electrified them with clarion tones. She looked uncommonly handsome, and acted with spirit and intelligence. Of the choruses we can speak with general praise. The ladies of the New-York Sing Academie contributed their aid; and though the singing was by no means faultless, the effect upon the whole was good. The Hunter’s Chorus was encored. Mr. Bergmann directed the orchestra, and it seemed as if half the German population in New-York had crowded into the house.”