Maretzek Italian Opera: Ernani

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Jaime Nuno

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
29 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

11 Mar 1863, Evening

Program Details

Nuño, cond. (US debut). Hannibal Biachi (Don Sylva – US Debut).

3rd Night.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Piave
Participants:  Maretzek Italian Opera Company;  Wilhelm [baritone] Müller (role: Jago);  Fernando [bass-baritone] Bellini (role: Don Carlo);  Giuseppina Medori (role: Elvira);  Francesco Mazzoleni (role: Ernani);  Hannibal Biachi (role: Don Ruy Gomez de Silva);  T. [tenor] Rubio (role: Don Riccardo);  Johanna Ficher (role: Giovanna)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 10 March 1863, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 10 March 1863, 5.
“Biachi, the basso, will make his debut.”
Advertisement: New York Post, 10 March 1863, 4.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 10 March 1863.
Announcement: New York Herald, 11 March 1863, 5.

“We are assured that Signor Bellini will sing, as he is now recovered from his hoarseness. Signor Biachi, the basso profundo, will make his first appearance this evening.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 11 March 1863, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 11 March 1863, 7.

Cast. “The debut of the truly eminent basso, Signor BIACHI, and the first appearance as conductor of Signor J. NUNO, the celebrated chef d’orchestre . . . Biachi (His first appearance in America) . . . J. Nuno (His first appearance in America).”

Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 11 March 1863.
“Today, Ernani, with the debuts of bass M. Biachi and the reappearance of baritone M. Bellini. The principal role promises to M. Mazzoleni a similar triumph to the one on Monday.”
Review: New York Herald, 12 March 1863, 5.

“The opera of ‘Ernani’ is most popular. It is filled with melody, while it affords unusual scope for dramatic effect. The Maretzek troupe have already established their fame in New York as artists possessing not only magnificent voices, but also as paying unusual attention to the acting of the roles they sing so delightfully; hence an immense audience filled the Academy last evening to hear Verdi’s ‘Ernani.’ The music of this great maestro surely finds most able executants in the artists composing the Maretzek troupe. There is always in Verdi a passionate warmth, a dramatic force, which, when not fully entered into, causes the ensemble of his works to suffer. Melodious in the extreme, his operas are also extremely dramatic. Medori, Mazzoleni, Bellini and Biachi are artists who fully appreciate this. They infuse in their roles all the energy and fire needed, while their execution of the music is, as we said above, masterly.

            The mise en scene of the opera was all that could be desired; the chorus was certainly very efficient, while the orchestra, under the able direction of Signor Nuno, played with a power and ensemble we have been unaccustomed to. Before entering into any details as regards the performance we will state that the opera was a great success, the applause bestowed upon the artist being more enthusiastic than we have ever witnessed in the Academy.

            The first act of ‘Ernani’ is peculiarly melodious. The cavatina sung by Elvira (Medori), ‘Ernani involami,’ was warmly applauded. It was most admirably executed. The prima donna threw an impassioned earnestness and feeling into the song which touched the audience. Signor Mazzoleni (Ernani) sang the ‘Come Rugiada al Cerpide’ with great purity and power. His fresh, pleasing voice rang throughout the immense house, calling down upon the artist, already a favorite, continued plaudits. The duo between Ernani (Mazzoleni) and Carlo Quinto (Signor Bellini), ‘Da quel di,’ was splendidly rendered. He powerful voices blended most harmoniously. An enthusiastic encore was called for. Signor Bellini has a fine voice, a baritone, most admirably cultivated. He is also a finished actor, a qualification so rare in an opera singer. Though not yet in full use of his voice, Bellini proved last night how great are his musical powers. He was very successful in obtaining unequivocal proofs of the appreciation by the public of his efforts. At the close of this act the artists were called before the curtain.

            Signor Biachi, who made his debut in New York last evening as Don Sylva, has a fine stage appearance and possesses a very effective and powerful voice. He rendered the cavatina ‘Infelice’ magnificently. This artist is destined to become a great favorite.

            The second act was marked by Signor Bellini’s fine rendition of the aria ‘Viene meco sol di rose.’ The trio in this act was sung with so much spirit and ensemble as to call forth an encore, which was insisted upon until obtained.

            The third act was brilliantly executed throughout, the grand finale arousing the audience to enthusiastic applause, which was kept up after the fall of the curtain.

            The fourth act was, like the preceding, most successful. Mme. Medori certainly achieved last night a great triumph. She sang admirably, and was most forcible and dramatic in her acting. She was greatly applauded. Her voice seems to gain in force and purity as the inevitable effects of change from the warm climate of Cuba to this uncertain temperature wear off. In fact this is noticeable in all the artists. We congratulate Manager Maretzek upon last night’s triumph, and have now no doubt that he will meet with such patronage as will enable him to give us a long and most prosperous operatic season.”

Review: New-York Times, 12 March 1863, 4.

Academy of Music.—The performance of ‘Ernani.’ last [sic] night was so thoroughly excellent that a paragraph recording its success is almost all that need be said, without repeating general expressions of praise concerning each member of the company. It is seldom that such an admirable representation is enjoyed in New-York; and, to our recollection, the finale to the first act has never been so forcibly and dramatically rendered here.  An ensemble involving such a grand combination of power and precision is not often heard in the grand opera houses of London and Paris, and certainly was worthy of the best establishment in any other city. Mme. Medori, as Elvira, gave a fine dramatic reading to the part, and her large voice, except in certain forced passages, where it scarcely reached the limits of just intonation—was heard to immense advantage. Signor Mazzolini sang as heretofore, with ease, finish, and great power. Signor Bellini, the baritone, made his rentrée as Carl, and though barely recovered from the indisposition that veiled his voice on the opening night, sang with spirit, and demonstrated amply that he has a voice of the first class, and is an artist who understands thoroughly the dramatic scope of his rôle. This latter characteristic, we may mention, is the peculiar feature of Mr. Maretzek’s company—all the singers seem to be actors, and enter thoroughly into the spirit of the scene. Signor Biachi, a new basso profondo [sic], made his début as Silva, and by the combined powers of a good voice and a most excellent method, succeeded at once in winning the favor of the house.

With four such voices—all of the best kind and quality—the performance of an opera depending so much on a powerful quartette, could hardly fail to be a success.  It was more, for the chorus and orchestra were alike admirable. The finale to the first act barely escaped an encore, the finale to the third act was not so fortunate, and had to be repeated. The applause throughout was of the warmest and most spontaneous kind, and the success of the opera was thorough and complete. Signor Nuno presided in the orchestra with great ability.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 12 March 1863, 8.

“Another overflowing audience, last evening, was present at the Academy of Music. The cast was as follows: Elvira, Madame Medori; Ernani, Signor Mazzoleni; Carlo Quinto, Signor Bellini; Don Sylva, Signor Biachi; Giovana, Madame Fischer; Ricardo, Signor Rubio; Iago, Signor Muller.

            —The singers were in better voice than formerly; each evening showing the good effects of acclimation [sic], from Havana heat to New-York cold. The opera of Ernani is the first of Signor Verdi’s works, and he has composed no opera which the public more affects. There is a robust heartiness—strain, often it may be, in the writing, which takes well with the audience, given merely the power of strong declamation. The first act went off, last night, with vast éclat—the singers were called before the curtain—amid tumultuous applause. The barytone, Signor Bellini, was vastly improved over his first effort; and we are informed that the best of him yet is to be heard as he recovers more tone, lost through indisposition.

            The bass Signor Biachi, who made a first appearance, we learn, is not at his best role in Don Sylva. A thorough artist, it is said, he can execute the hyper-difficulties of the basso-cantate part in Semiramide—which nothing but the most laborious training of the classic scholar—such, for example, as Signor Badiali exhibited—enables a vocalist to execute properly.

            The audience, last night, encored the first trio in the second—quite out of place—as dramatic action cannot be repeated logically—and that trio is all action.

            The morceau d’ensemble of the third act received a prolonged salvo; and indeed favor attended all the salient points of the opera.”

Review: New York Post, 12 March 1863, 3.

“We never know all the beauties of an opera until it has had the highest vocal and orchestral expression of which it is susceptible.  It is through this embodiment of a composer’s ideas that we can take in all their scope and æsthetical import, and give them their proper place in the wide range of art.

The truth of this was strikingly exemplified in the splendid performance of ‘Ernani’ at the Academy last evening. The pure grain of the composer was separated from the chaff, and the whole opera, by the great merits of the artists, drawn out into musical enchantment. Every note of Verdi, as it came through their highly cultivated and wonderfully endowed vocal organs, assumed a degree of exhilarating vigor and soothing refinement altogether foreign to the efforts of inferior artists. The whole opera, though nineteen years old, seemed to have had a new birth—recast, as it were, in the new world—and to have disclosed fresher and more elevated charms.

The attendance was in accordance with this brilliant performance. Fashion itself kept holiday in the dresses of the ladies, and musical sympathy ensured the warmest expressions of approbation from the delighted audience.” 

Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 13 March 1863, 2.

     “The performance of Ernani was no less brilliant than the one of Ballo in Maschera. Mme Medori displayed a dramatic force that we have rarely seen equaled. Mazzoleni and Bellini were also very remarkable. The bass, M. Biachi, made a victorious debut. The ensemble was admirable as to acting and only missed a little of the critics' prize as to the production of the singing. Accordingly, the audience was literally electrified.

      The success of the new company relates to the attendance it gains; the hall was full, Wednesday, and glittered with the brightness of the freshest attire. This fashion can't help growing, for it's a long time since the public has had an equivalent musical festival and has left as satisfied with five productions.”

Announcement: Dwight's Journal of Music, 14 March 1863, 393.
Announcement: Dwight's Journal of Music, 14 March 1863, 394.

 “[T]he debut of Biachi, the new basso. The present prospects are very good. A fine company under an able manager and possess [sic] the good-will of the public—such is the phase now and such it bids fair to remain.”

Review: Musical Review and World, 14 March 1863, 63.

“Signora Medori made a very favorable impression [in Ballo on Monday night], which however was considerably increased in her very effective rendering of the role of Elvira in ‘Ernani.’  The baritone, Signor Bellini, seemed not to have quite recovered from the effects of his cold. His delivery was not always artistic, and his acting a little too fussy. The basso, Signor Biachi, has a tolerably good voice, and is altogether acceptable. No mistake, Mr. Maretzek has now the means, to give us a season of good Italian opera.”