Christine Nilsson Concert: 5th

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Manager / Director:
Max Strakosch

Max Maretzek

Price: $2; reserved, $3 and $4

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
7 January 2023

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

30 Sep 1870, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Introduction
Composer(s): Hérold
Composer(s): Donizetti
Composer(s): Liszt
Participants:  Anna Mehlig
Composer(s): Verdi
Participants:  Christine Nilsson
Composer(s): Vieuxtemps
Participants:  Henri Vieuxtemps
aka Semiramis
Composer(s): Rossini
Participants:  Annie Louise Cary
aka Elly Mavourneen
Composer(s): Crouch [composer-cello]
Participants:  Annie Louise Cary
aka Lucia's mad scene
Composer(s): Donizetti
Participants:  Christine Nilsson
aka Home sweet home
Composer(s): Bishop
Text Author: Payne
Participants:  Christine Nilsson
Composer(s): Verdi
Participants:  N.[baritone] Verger


Review: New York Post, 01 October 1870, 2.

“Despite the heat inside and the rain outside, Steinway Hall was filled last night by a large and delighted audience. Miss Nilsson repeated the leading vocal selections she has given at previous concerts. Miss Mehlig played with her customary brilliancy one of Liszt’s compositions, while Vieuxtemps and the other members of the company aided [sic] greatly to the pleasure of the evening.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 01 October 1870, 12.

“The fifth Nilsson concert last night, despite the terrible weather, showed no diminution in the audience. Every seat was occupied; the lobbies were crowded; and the applause was enthusiastic. Mlle. Nilsson repeated several of the pieces in which she has already been heard, and her listeners relished them apparently as much as if they had all been fresh. Brignoli, Vieuxtemps, and the other members of the company contributed valuable assistance to the entertainment. Miss Mehlig was heard in one of Liszt’s Rhapsodies Hongroises, and Sig. Bosoni was the accompanist. The close of the subscription series next Monday will be followed by two extra concerts, for which good reserved seats can now be had.”

Review: New York Clipper, 08 October 1870, 214.

“The Nilsson concerts are progressing. We attended the fifth of the series at Steinway Hall on Friday, Sept. 30th, and though the equinoctial storm that day, and the night proved exceedingly disagreeable for a visit to a concert hall, nevertheless the attendance on the occasion was large, nearly every seat being occupied. The programme was a choice one, and especially offered free scope for an exhibition of the vocal powers of the principal cantatrice of the evening, including as it did the ‘Ah fors’e lui,’ from ‘Traviata;’ the grand scena from ‘Lucia,’ with flute obligato; and the favorite English ballad ‘Home, Sweet Home.’ There was a variation from the programme of the first concerts in the list of instrumental performers, Miss Anna Mehlig being substituted for Wehli as the solo pianist—and a good change it is, too—for Miss Mehlig is unquestionably one of the most finished solo piano players that has ever visited this country, and, being a German, she will prove far more attractive than Wehli. The programme opened with the overture to ‘Zampa,’ and it was performed wretchedly for an orchestra composed of members of the Philharmonic Society, with Maretzek as maestro. Indeed, the orchestral accompaniments throughout the evening were such as to merit hissing at times. We were glad to see that the overture was received with the silence its performance deserved. Next came the baritone, Signor Verger, and the old opera tenor, Brignoli, who met with a rather cool reception. They sang the duo from ‘Belisario’ finely, however, Signor Verger’s clear, pure voice being heard to advantage. Miss Mehlig then made her appearance, and she was not only greeted with warm applause, but called out after her masterly performance of one of Liszt’s nonsensical and pretentious ‘Rhapsodies,’ as he calls them, the technical difficulties of which Miss Mehlig executed with a grace of manner and style of expression worthy of better music. After the usual delay to give better effect to the first entrée, the singer of the evening made her appearance, and as the fair Swede walked to the front of the stage and made her bow, all eyes were bent upon her, and her every movement was duly criticised. She was of course received with applause, but the hands of the hired claquers could be readily distinguished. She is easy and natural in her movements. Her action throughout is more that of a singer on the stage than on the concert platform; in fact it is plain to perceive that her place is in opera. She is not a concert singer. Knowing her managers, and the clap-trap style in which they place an artist before the public, we were not filled with high expectations; still we have to confess to a disappointment; and instead of being obliged to acknowledge a superiority over all other artists who have previously made their advent in the metropolis, we found ourselves regretting the absence of Parepa, and remembering the pure tones of Jenny Lind with a feeling of satisfaction which Miss Nilsson’s singing failed to make us forget. Her compass of voice is rather limited for a singer of such European fame, and though of very pure quality and considerable power in the middle register, her upper notes when at all forced, are weak, and she reaches them with some difficulty. She sings with a natural expression and much taste, but lacks the finish and execution of a thoroughly accomplished vocalist. In fact, Miss Nilsson, though a first class prima donna and one who no doubt shines in opera far more brilliantly than in the concert hall, is not a second Jenny Lind, nor is she superior to many of the sweet singers who have visited us of late years. She was of course loudly encored, and in response sang one of her Swedish melodies with due effect. After the Italian, German and Swedish artists, came the French violinist, Mons. Vieuxtemps, an artist we had not before listened to for twenty years. He played one of his own compositions, a ‘Fantasie,’ but what with the miserable orchestral accompaniment, and a failure of one of the strings of his instrument to stay in tune, the performance proved to be anything but a success; in fact, he had to change his violin before the conclusion of the piece. We heard the same expressive style of playing, but we missed the remarkable accuracy of his old-time fingering. Following Vieuxtemps, came an artist ‘native and to the manor born,’ in the person of Miss Annie Louise Cary, a contralto with as pure a quality of voice and power of tone as we have heard for years. She has, as yet, to acquire the artistic finish of Adelaide Phillips—who, by the way, was present in one of the lower reserved seats—when there will be few to equal her. She rendered a cavatina from ‘Semiramide,’ with great taste and expression, and on an encore sang ‘Kathleen Mavourneen’ prettily. The grand scena from ‘Lucia’ closed the first part of the concert, and in this Miss Nilsson ‘brought down the house’ in the way of applause, her remarkable execution of the rondo with flute accompaniment being a feature of the concert. In the second part of the concert she sang ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ with pleasing expression, but not better than we have heard Louise Kellogg and others sing it. Mons. Verger was also encored for his fine rendering of Di Provenza, from ‘Traviata,’ in the second part. To conclude we have to inform our friends that in this concert troupe of Strakosch’s they will listen to a company of first class vocalists and instrumentalists, the ladies being the stars in both classes; but in Christine Nilsson they must not expect anything but a charming young Swede, of attractive person, natural in her style, and with a good voice of pure tone and quality and used with skill. But she is not a vocal prodigy or a second Malibran or Jenny Lind, in fact not even a Parepa.”