Maretzek Italian Opera: F. Palmo Benefit

Event Information

Academy of Music

Max Maretzek
Jaime Nuno
Emanuel (Ernst) Grill

Price: $1; $1.50 reserved; .50 family circle; .25 amphitheatre

Event Type:

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
6 November 2017

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

29 Apr 1863, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Maretzek, cond. (Trovatore)
Nuno, cond. (Operatic Concert)
Grill, cond. (Ballet)

Rehearsal at 12:30 pm

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Prophete. Coronation march; Grand processional march; Krönungsmarsch; Crowning march
Composer(s): Meyerbeer
Composer(s): Unidentified
aka ballade
Composer(s): Verdi
Participants:  Francesco Mazzoleni
aka Il Bravo, ossia La veneziana The Bravo, or The Venetian Woman
Composer(s): Mercadante
Participants:  Hannibal Biachi
Composer(s): Unidentified
Participants:  William Castle
Composer(s): Unidentified
Participants:  Francesco Mazzoleni
aka Sleeping scene
Composer(s): Verdi
aka Grand ballet divertissement, unidentified
Conductor: Grill, Ernest DELETE
aka Poptpourri from Il Trovatore
Composer(s): Verdi


Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 30 March 1863.


Announcement: New York Herald, 06 April 1863, 5.

“Palmo, [after] accumulating large wealth in business, devoted it to fostering Italian Opera. He built a theatre on Chambers street, known then as Palmo’s Opera House, which subsequently became Burton’s theatre, and in his efforts to elevate the public taste for the glorious music of the Italian composers, and establish a permanent receptacle of opera, he lost his fortune. He is at this moment in great distress, and we are glad to learn that the artists and lovers of Italian opera contemplate giving him a benefit at the Academy of Music.”

Announcement: Dwight's Journal of Music, 18 April 1863, 15.

 “Old Palmo, the first manager of opera in America, who is now a cook in a Broadway restaurant, is to have a benefit given him by the artists now in the city, as a token of their appreciation of his merits and sympathy for his misfortune. The old man has free entrée at the Academy and his hand is clasped by many who knew him in his happier days.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 19 April 1863, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 24 April 1863, 7.

“The entire opera of IL TROVATORE, with other entertainments, will be given.”

Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 24 April 1863.


Announcement: New York Clipper, 25 April 1863, 11.

 “Palmo, who was about the first to try the Italian opera in this country, is to have a testimonial benefit. . . . Palmo got completely swamped in his efforts to give us a new dish, and has never been able to recover himself. This testimonial is to help to set him up again.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 25 April 1863, 7.

 “Mr. F. Palmo, The Aged Pioneer of Italian Opera in America.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 25 April 1863, 7.


Advertisement: New-York Times, 26 April 1863, 7.


Advertisement: New York Herald, 26 April 1863, 7.


Announcement: New-York Times, 27 April 1863, 4.

“An extra night will be given on Wednesday at the Academy of Music, when all the leading opera people in the City volunteer to perform for the benefit of Mr. Palmo. The name of Palmo is associated with the very earliest efforts made to establish Italian opera in New-York. He it was who first sought to cultivate here a taste for the highest form of musical art, and he lost a fortune in the attempt. His circumstances now are far from flourishing. He wants and deserves the most generous aid which the profession and the public have it in their power to bestow, and it is to be hoped his claims will not be disregarded.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 27 April 1863, 7.

 Time, prices, performers.

Announcement: New York Herald, 27 April 1863, 1.

 “All will endeavor to give the beneficiary substantial proofs that his devotion to music, which cost him his fortune, but paved the way for the most refined of all entertainments, opera, in New York, is duly appreciated.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 27 April 1863, 8.

 “Signor Palmo, more than 20 years since, built at a great, and managed at a greater, risk, the opera house in Chambers street, which afterward became Burton’s theater. Of course, he lost heavily by the transaction – it is said everything he had in the world – and now is old and poor, and needs, ought to have the support of the opera-going public on this occasion. . . . [T]he stockholders give gratuitously the house; and the chief singers of M. Maretzek’s company, as well as himself, the chorus, orchestra, and employees, all volunteer their services. . . . [T]here will be . . . a corps de ballet. . . . The case of this vulnerable and unfortunate pioneer in Musical Art appeals cogently to public generosity.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 28 April 1863, 7.

Announces Mlle. Cairoli instead of Guerrabella, who had been listed in all ads before this date.

Announcement: New York Herald, 28 April 1863, 6.

 “[T]he house will, no doubt, be one of the most brilliant of the season.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 28 April 1863, 12.


Announcement: New York Post, 28 April 1863.


Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 28 April 1863, 1-2.




“The Italian company is taking a semi-vacation, until it gives us verdi's Aroldo next week. The doors of the Academy of Music should reopen once this week (Wednesday) nevertheless for an extraordinary performance given for the benefit of M. Palmo.

For many of our readers, certainly, this name doesn't evoke any kind of recollection, no title to public sympathy, and its appearance on the programme is a kind of enigma. However, no man, impresario, or artist has more right to the weak and tardy tribute that has just been solicited for him by the patrons of the opera than Mr. Palmo does. This unknown person is no less than the founder of the Italian opera in New York; he was also, alas! its first victim, for being the precursor of the Ullmanns, the Maretzeks, and the Graus cost him a grand and solid fortune, spent down to the last sou.

The story goes back some twenty years--to an age for this place where every year makes the previous one be forgotten. Palmo was a maker of fashionable ice-cream and had earned, from selling his sorbets to the lovely ladies, a round number in the thousands of dollars. Ambition took hold of him: a very noble ambition after all, which inspired in him the idea to become the patron of his singing fellow-citizens.  He founded a theater on Chambers Street  to which he gave his name, and which became, some years later, Burton's Theater, in order to transform itself several years later into a definitive refuge of justice: the federal court now is held there. The enterprise, as often happens, took Palmo much further than he had wished. It ruined him well and good, without having been able to recover since then. Old age has come to intensify still more this undeserved misfortune. One sees that in the end it's asking very little of the public except to request its attendance for a performance to benefit this veteran director, first to fall into the breach of opera. Without this self-sacrifice, who knows where Italian opera would be in New York today? Theatrical enterprises are only built on ruins; and the man who undertakes a new one performs an act that's more heroic than the pioneer who undertakes to clear a virgin forest. If Palmo hadn't prepared the way,  perhaps the Academy of Music wouldn’t have been built for a long time, or some eminent artists of whom we are proud would not have come from Europe. May each one, then, bring his farthing to the collection on Wednesday; the beneficiary has richly deserved it.”

Advertisement: New York Clipper, 29 April 1863, 7.

 “All the ladies and gentlemen who have kindly volunteered for the above testimonial benefit, will please attend rehearsal THIS DAY at 12 ½ o’clock.”


Advertisement: New York Herald, 29 April 1863, 12.

Two ads. One with time, prices, performers, etc. Second ad with very long list of people who “volunteered their aid.”


Announcement: New York Post, 29 April 1863, 2.

“Mr. Palmo, whose benefit occurs to-night at the Academy of Music, is a man of whose personal history it may be said, with more force than originality, that truth is stranger than fiction. First an idler along the marina of some Mediterranean port; then a cook on board a vessel in the United States service; afterwards a resident of Richmond, Virginia, where he married and opened a restaurant on a small scale. We next hear of him in this city, where he was prospered in his own ways, accumulating a considerable fortune, he at one time kept a celebrated restaurant in Broadway, known as the ‘Café des Milles Colonnes’; he was then on intimate terms with Louis Napoleon, who had many an excellent dinner at his house when in this country. But Palmo embarked in Italian opera, and delighted the dear public: the dear public did not, however, keep him from absolute ruin; ruin of the pocket, that is, for calamity could not touch the courageous heart of Palmo. He resumed his profession, and has quietly cooked his way along pretty well into the vale of years. With a kindness that refreshes all who hear of the deed, the splendid operatic company of Mr. Maretzek have offered their services to the scarred veteran of the lyric stage, and to-night they present a colossal entertainment. The whole of ‘Il Trovatore’ is to be given, followed by an ‘Operatic Concert’ and a ‘Dramatic Episode,’ being the sleeping scene from ‘Macbeth,’ wherein Madame Ponisi will take part. A fine ballet will also form a feature of the programme. The performance will commence at eight o’clock with the grand march from ‘The Prophet.’”

Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 29 April 1863.
“The performance organized for this evening at the Academy of Music to benefit M. Palmo, will be composed of Trovatore, a ballet, a scene from Macbeth by Mme Ponisi, and a concert in which a number of artists will take part. This is what one can call a monster program.

The distribution of parts in Trovatore is completely new; the actors will be Mlle Cairoli, Mme Strakosh, Mazzoleni, Sbriglia, and Bellini.”

Review: New York Herald, 30 April 1863, 4.

“Mr. Palmo’s benefit was well attended last evening. There was a good house, though not the jam we should have wished to see present. Two acts of ‘The Trovatore’ were given, in which Signor Carroti, Mme. Amelia Patti Strakosch, Signors Sbriglia, Bellini and Coletti appeared. The performance passed off agreeably, and at the fall of the curtain the beneficiary, some of the artists and Mr. Maretzek came forward in answer to loud calls from the audience. Mr. Maretzek then presented the proceeds of the evening—over $1,000—to Mr. Palmo, making a little speech to the old gentleman, in which he advised him to keep his money out of operatic speculations, which advice raised a shout of laughter from all who heard it. After this episode Mme. Ortolani Brignoli sang with success a romanza. Signor Mazzoleni then sang the Ballata from ‘Rigoletto,’ which was the great success of the evening. The artist was immensely applauded. Signor Biachi then gave, with great power and execution, the grand aria from ‘Il Bravo.’ Mr. William Castle sang a romanza, and was warmly applauded, and then Mazzoleni once more favored the audience with a grand arietta, written expressly for him. We may here state that this artist received the most unequivocal proofs of the hold he has now upon the New York public. He was applauded with a warmth and heartiness such as are seldom witnessed. After the concert Mme. Ponisi gave the sleeping scene from ‘Macbeth’ with great effect. She was warmly applauded.

The ballet divertissement was successful.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 30 April 1863, 4.

“This entertainment came off last evening, and was a benefit in every sense, all the artists giving their services gratis, and the stockholders presenting the house gracefully to the veteran opera-house projector, builder, manager—and bankrupt.

            The artists engaged in the generous work were—first, in Trovatore—Mlle. Claudina Cairoli, who executed in fascinating style two acts of the Trovatore—along with Madame Strakosch, who is now too seldom heard—Signor Sbriglia, who most generously left a sick chamber to do his best—Signor Bellini, the eminent baritone—Signor Coletti, Signor Rubio, and Mr. Maretzek as conductor.

            Following this was an oratorical episode. The old man, beneficiary Palmo, appeared on the stage to receive the homage of the audience; and thereupon Mr. Maretzek took occasion to present him with the proceeds of the evening with this Demonsthenic address: ‘Accept, Mr. Palmo, the offerings of your grateful and obliged friend: take these banknotes; if you invest them, do so judiciously, but for heaven’s sake don’t risk them in opera business again.’ This model address was received with great applause and laughter.

            Other entertainments—singing by Mlle. Brignoli, Signor Mazzoleni, Signor Biachi, Mr. Castle, Madame Fischer—a recitation by Madame Ponisi, of the sleeping scene in Macbeth—a ballet divertissement by Mlle. Galetti, Mazetti, Papela, &c., followed.—a wonderfully fully and brilliant opera this evening.”

Review: New York Clipper, 09 May 1863, 27.