Brignoli Italian Opera: Poliuto

Event Information

Academy of Music

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
2 July 2022

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

23 May 1870, Evening

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Donizetti
Text Author: Cammarano
Participants:  Brignoli Italian Opera Company;  Clara Louise Kellogg (role: Pauline);  J. [tenor] Reichardt (role: Felix);  Signor A. Sarti [bass] (role: Callisteno);  [baritone] Petrelli (role: Severo);  Carlo [tenor] Lefranc (role: Poliuto)


Advertisement: New-York Times, 18 May 1870, 7.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 19 May 1870, 9.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 22 May 1870, 8.
Announcement: New York Herald, 23 May 1870, 10.

“The Brignoli Italian Opera Troupe will give one of Donizetti’s most charming operas, ‘Poliuto,’ this evening. We prefer it to any of his other works. The attractions in it are the charming prima donna, Miss Kellogg, and Signor Lefranc.”

Announcement: New York Sun, 23 May 1870, 1.
Review: New York Herald, 24 May 1870, 6.

“Donizetti’s charming opera, in which Miss Clara Louise Kellogg, our representative prima donna, plays the principal rôle, drew, if not a very large, at least a very select and appreciative, audience last night. We consider ‘Poliuto,’ or ‘I Martiri,’ as the chef d’œuvre of the great composer, and it should be the most popular opera on the stage. Like the ‘Trovatore’ of Verdi it has not an uninteresting measure from beginning to end, and its melodies are haunting and its harmonies reach the soul. First comes the overture, which does not properly belong to the opera, as it was not composed at the same time. Then the Christians, that proscribed race that flourished despite the rack and stake of Decius, murmur forth their hymn to the Redeemer, entering to the measures of one of the most beautiful themes, tempo di marcia, that can be found in opera. The tenor sings his belief in the Nazarene faith, and his wife (Pauline) exp[oses?] her soul in a lovely cavatina, a true tone poem, which, in its andante 12-8 measures, is the most perfect delineation of tenderness and love that music is capable of expressing. In this, as in the succeeding allegro, a rattling bolero, Miss Kellogg proved herself the great artist she is known to be. Every note came out with that pearly distinctness, sympathetic tenderness and reliable confidence that one looks for in a great artist. In the next act the entrance of the Proconsul, heralded by a brilliant march, which was splendidly sung by the chorus, produced a marked effect. The aria of the Proconsul (Petrelli) is a severe test for a baritone, but this gentleman’s thorough school more than compensated for the light calibre [sic] of his voice. In the third act the two features are the tenor aria, than which there is nothing superior in any opera, and the highly dramatic sestette [sic] and ensemble towards the finale. Signor Lefranc sang much better than on Friday night last, but still his fine voice was evidently laboring under indisposition. The sestette [sic] was magnificently sung. In the celebrated duet between the soprano and tenor in the last act Miss Kellogg fairly eclipsed herself. There was a breadth of tone and an electric earnestness which surprised even her most sanguine admirers, and an enthusiastic encore was the consequence. Her acting was fully equal to that of her Leonora, and her voice was that of the sure, trained artist. It is a pity that this magnificent opera is so rarely heard on our boards. It has all the elements of popularity, and any pianist can sit down and open the score at any part and become interested in it. It is a flower bed [sic] of melodies, and its dramatic effects are of the most pronounced kind. To Miss Kellogg belongs the entire honor of making the rôle of Pauline one of the brightest and most memorable that any prima donna has created in this city.”

Review: New-York Times, 24 May 1870, 4.

“‘Il Poliuto’ was sung at the Academy of Music last evening by Miss Kellogg and Signori Lefranc, and Petrilli. The performance, though not absolutely even, was satisfying in parts, at least, and as these parts were those which by tunefulness and frequent repetition have become familiar to the popular ear, a very fair success attended their rehearsal. Unhappily for the permanency of the opera in the repertory, they are not numerous. Setting aside the cabaletta following the allegro movement of the tenor’s aria in the second act, and commencing Sfolgoro divino raggio, and the impassioned duet, which, indeed, scarcely pleases the hater of the commonplace, there is little in the work, to our mind, either to retain or to discover. It was the good fortune of ‘Poliuto,’ last night, to have a very fair allowance of success by the interpretation of the two passages in question. The hoarseness which proved so fatal to Signor Lefranc’s personation of Edgardo, in ‘Lucia,’ was not wholly dispelled, as occasional failures in the attainment and sustention of high notes too clearly showed; but in the portions alluded to his voice came forth in its old-time fullness and force. Miss Kellogg had no such foe as Signor Lefranc’s to contend with, and, so far as vocalism was concerned, she carried off the honors. In intensity of acting, of course, Miss Kellogg was now and then deficient, and at no stage of the drama did she withdraw the greater share of her attention from the management of her voice. The lady, however, displayed unusual fervor in the grand duet, and this fervor, and her vigor and purity of execution, with the stout vocal efforts and the positive exaltation of Signor Lefranc, secured for that number not only a repeat, but a stormy demand for a third hearing. Signor Petrilli, like Signor Lefranc, suffered from hoarseness—an attacking power seeming to have selected Irving-place for its latest objective point. The chorus, we need but add, was quite efficient, and the orchestra decidedly bettered, though prone to dynamic extremes and superbly indifferent to the benefits of shading.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 24 May 1870, 4.

“The production of ‘Il Poliuto’ last night was not as well as attended as we expected it to be. Miss Kellogg was highly successful in this opera last season, and Le Franc made it one of his principal sensations. Both artists last night renewed their former laurels. Miss Kellogg sang with her usual taste and sweetness, and with all her newly developed earnestness, and Le Franc had so far recovered from last week’s hoarseness that he was found equal to all his famous effects, and roused [illeg.] the house to unmistakable enthusiasm. The performance, aside from Miss Kellogg and the tenor, was mediocre.”

Review: New York Post, 24 May 1870, 2.

“The Academy last evening was not so well filled as might have been expected from the announcement of Poliuto with Miss Clara Louise Kellogg and Le Franc. That charming opera was most effectively rendered in all its more important passages, but it is not too much to say that its decided success was due solely to the spirit which Miss Kellogg threw into the part of Pauline. The chorus was bad, the appointments, were tawdry, and the scenic effects did not escape exciting the sense of the ridiculous. When the eight Roman soldiers, and the six Amazons, and the two seedy [illeg.] marched in with the standards bearing the imperial S. P. Q. R., their appearance certainly did not warrant the rendering of these initials as ‘Salaries Paid Quite Regularly.’ Le Franc was in better voice than last week, and sang the opening aria of the second act with an expression that called forth the heartiest applause. Miss Kellogg was quite perfect throughout. Admirable in costume, graceful in every movement, equally happy in interpreting the tenderest and the most tragic situations of the drama, she sang from the beginning to the end with a sweetness, a sensibility and a fire that moved, subdued and arouse the whole audience. The grand duet in the last act was the climacteric of her triumph, and was recognised [sic] as such by the stormiest demonstrations of delight. Miss Kellogg, perhaps, never sustained herself more entirely to the satisfaction of her friends than before the comparatively thin house of last evening.”

Review: New York Clipper, 04 June 1870, 70.

At the Academy of Music on Monday, May 23d, a good, although not crowded audience, of the music loving public, gathered to listen to the enchanting strains of melody which Donizetti’s master-piece of opera ‘Il Poliuto’ (the Martyrs) contains. The opera, from its commencement, appeals to the deepest sensibilities of our nature, and is filled with tone paintings and musical poems of the finest and most pathetic character, portraying, as it does, the devotion of the proscribed Christians to their creed in the midst of fierce persecution, and the love of a pure woman for her husband under the most trying circumstances. Miss Clara Louise Kellogg, who sang in the role of Pauline, was fully equal to the task of interpreting the music, and in this effort she was ably supported by Sig. Le Franc as Poliuto, Sig. Petrilli as Severo, Sig. Sarti as Callisteno, and Sig. Reichardt as Felix. The choruses were also rendered in a manner worthy of commendation. Miss Kellogg’s singing was superb throughout, from the first act in which she sings the sympathetic cavatina, so full of tenderness and affection, until the last act, where, in the celebrated duet, she seemed to be so possessed by artistic enthusiasm as to outdo her best efforts. Her voice, clear and comprehensive as it is, was under the most perfect control, exhibiting artistic ability of no mean order, and we have certainly just reason to feel proud of our representative prima donna. Sig. Le Franc, although laboring under some difficulty, which made his voice uncertain, did better than when we heard him before, his singing being in keeping with the character of the opera and proving him to be an artist of ability. His rendition of D’un almo troppo fervida was fine, and all through, with the exception of a break in the last scene in which he appeared, of the first act, his ability was apparent, and in the duet in the last act the same ‘living coal’ seemed to have touched his lips as Kellogg’s, for he sang with spirit and power. Sig. Petrilli as the proconsul did well and he sang the difficult aria in the second act with a care that fully compensated for his lack of power. [Reviews other performances.] …In fact, both ‘Il Poliuto’ and ‘Il Trovatore’ were rendered in a style unsurpassed, if equalled [sic], this season, and it would not be very dangerous to assert, several seasons.”