World Premiere of The Corsican Bride

Event Information

Venue(s):
Winter Garden

Conductor(s):
Edward Mollenhauer [viola-vn]

Event Type:
Band, Choral, Opera, Orchestral

Record Information

Status:
Published

Last Updated:
4 December 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

15 Jun 1863, Evening

Program Details

Mollenhauer cond. of orch & chorus.

World Premiere. A concert of excerpts was given on 01/06/63.

Performers and/or Works Performed

1)
aka Rosa, the Corsican bride
Composer(s): Mollenhauer [viola-vn]
Text Author: De Walden, Koehler
Participants:  Military band, unidentified;  Chorus, unidentified;  Orchestra, unidentified;  Johanna Rotter (role: Rosa);  Ludwig Quint (role: Antonio);  F. C. Urchs (role: Spagazi);  Madame [Grover German Opera] La Roche (role: Marita);  William [baritone, bass] Hartmann (role: De Senville);  Joseph Weinlich (role: Gregorio)

Citations

1)
Advertisement: New-York Times, 10 June 1863, 7.
2)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 10 June 1863, 7.
3)
Announcement: New York Herald, 11 June 1863, 5.
“The well known and most popular violinist, Mr. Edward Mollenhauer, is the composer of the work, which is entitled, ‘The Corsican Bride.’ . . .  Mollenhauer’s incontestable merit as an artist lends additional interest to the production of this novelty.”
4)
Advertisement: New-York Times, 12 June 1863, 7.
Cast, military band.  “Regular Theatre Prices Will Be Retained.”
5)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 12 June 1863, 12.
Cast.  “Regular Theatre Prices Will Be Retained.”
 
6)
Announcement: New York Post, 12 June 1863, 2.
“Mollenhauer’s opera ‘The Corsican Bride’ is looked for with not a little interest.”
7)
Announcement: New York Herald, 13 June 1863, 1.
8)
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 13 June 1863, 2.
“[T]he whole of the opera will be given upon the stage, with scenery, dresses, action, etc.  The orchestra will be led by Mr. Mollenhauer.”
9)
Announcement: New-York Times, 15 June 1863, 4.
“It will be given in German.”
 
10)
Advertisement: New-York Times, 15 June 1863, 7.
11)
Announcement: New York Herald, 15 June 1863, 1.
Synopsis of the plot.  “[A] full chorus and effective orchestra will be provided by the composer, who will himself be the conductor.”
12)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 15 June 1863, 7.
Cast.
 
13)
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 15 June 1863, 2.
Mollenhauer is “the esteemed musical conductor of the Winter Garden.”
14)
Advertisement: New-York Daily Tribune, 15 June 1863.
Cast.
 
15)
Announcement: New York Post, 15 June 1863.

“Mr. Edward Mollenhauer’s opera, ‘The Corsican Bride,’ will be sung for the first time this evening at the Winter Garden. This opera is well called tragic; the story is the same as that dramatized for Miss Bateman and played by her under the name ‘Rosa Gregorio.’ One of those family feuds which seem to be indigenous in Corsica had long continued between the houses of Gregorio and Spagazzi. To heal this breach a betrothal was made between Rosa of the former, and Charles of the latter family—both being children. They then separated for several years; meanwhile Rosa became attached to a French officer and married him secretly. This marriage was well concealed, but the intimacy was suspected, and a stain was cast on the young girl’s character; accordingly her brother seeks out the French officer; forces a duel upon him, supposes he kills him, and then informs Rosa what he has done. She is desperate, and is adjudged guilty in presence of her father, who stabs her with a dagger, and she falls dead. Thereupon the father is shot by the young Spagazzi, who was to marry Rosa; the Spagazzi is shot by Rosa’s brother. The extermination of both families is comfortably proceeding in this way when the French officer, who was not killed, outright comes in, clears his wife’s character, and curses the Corsicans generally, which concludes the opera. The cast is a good one, and the best singers of the German company are engaged.”

16)
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 16 June 1863.

“The Corsican Vendetta is a term understood by gentle and simple alike, as indicative of a ‘peculiar institution’ which existed until a late period in the island which favored the world with a certain gentleman quite as bloodthirsty as the custom. The Vendetta was dramatized some time ago in France; and, finally, it has now been operatized by Mr. E. Mollenhauer, director of the music of the Winter Garden. Last night was devoted to the production of this work at that establishment. An orchestra of over some thirty was led by the composer. A chorus of some twenty-five aided the principals, Madame Rotter, Messrs. Weinlich, Quint, etc., in the vocal business. The plot is the same as the drama, except that at the end there are not a few persons killed: the father, the daughter, and some of their side and of the opposing party.

            The main characteristic of the music is a measured dramatic recitation to chords and musical figures in the orchestra: this, in contradistinction to the cantabile style and square-cut melodies. When, however, there was a distinct melody, as in the case of the chorus in act first, the audience were not slow to recognise [sic] it, and gave it a hearty encore. We shall not, after a single hearing, of music entirely new to us, attempt anything like an analysis, such as would be possible after a deliberate reading of the full score. M. Mollenhauer however, has lived in an orchestra all his life, and of course must be well saturated with instrumentation and come therefore skilled to the encounter he has chosen. He has selected, we must say, a most inauspicious time of year for the production of his work. The Academy of Music, with a capital company, closed last month, the musical season being over. Mlle. Vestvali next tried opera in the English language at the Winter Garden; and an opera—only a century old—new to this latitude having some of Mozart in it and some of Gluck, as Gluck flourished before him—and that failed—the lovely Orpheus being left to weep alone. Now there is a second extra—[illeg.] attempt—a Teutonic-American opera—whose origin has a duplicate recommendation—warm-hearted artistic Germany being popular here, and its American-citizenship commending it especially to brotherly sympathies.

           The burden of the opera fell on Madame Rotter, who exhibited her customary enthusiasm in her delineation of the loving and unfortunate Rosa. Mr. Weinlich had ample opportunity to display his deep voice. The parts of the others were quite subordinate in comparison with these two. The composer was called before the curtain; and bouquets were thrown to the cantatrice. The house was only moderately attended.”

17)
Review: New York Post, 16 June 1863.

“Mr. Mollenhauer’s opera ‘The Corsican Bride’ was performed last evening at the Winter Garden for the first time. It had the advantage of an excellent orchestra, under the efficient direction of the composer himself, and of two superior singers—Madame Rotter and Mr. Weinlich. The work is to be commended for its richness of instrumentation, rather than for the originality of the voice parts; the orchestra rises far above the position of a mere band of musicians accompanying sundry songs and choruses; this merit, however, does not tend to make the opera attractive to the masses and it will hardly become what is called ‘popular.’ A fine chorus in the first act favorably struck the audience and induced them to demand an encore; the duet between Madame Rotter and Mr. Quint was well received, though the latter was not in the best vocal condition; the second act abounds in dramatic situations, and a trio sung by Madame Rotter and Messrs. Weinlich and Quint deserves special mention. It is impossible, on a single hearing, to present anything like a full and intelligible analysis of a work like this. It may safely, however, be spoken of as having gained a genuine success, though the drawbacks of time and place will, we fear, prevent the experiment from being pecunarily remunerative [illeg].”

18)
Review: New-York Times, 18 June 1863, 4.

Winter Garden.—Mr. Edward Mollenhauer’s tragic opera, called the ‘Corsican Bride,’ was produced here Monday evening. The libretto is derived from a sanguinary piece called ‘Rosa Gregoria,’ and has been twisted into a lyric shape by Dr. A. Koehler, who is said to have a great deal to answer for. It will be remembered that some weeks since Mr. Mollenhauer gave a concert performance of some of the music at Irving Hall. The composer is a well-known orchestral conductor, and in this work proves that he possesses a vein of dramatic talent which, properly explored, might lead to valuable results. The opportunities for operatic composers in this country are few and far between. To get a single work produced requires the effort of a lifetime. The changes of improvement and increased facility, which much writing offer to really inventive minds, are consequently denied to Americans. This is the more to be lamented inasmuch as the earlier works in literature and in art, even of the most gifted men, bear distinct traces of the particular line of reading and fancy that has most pleased them. The labor of constant production can alone place a writer on the basis of his own ability, and enable him to be thoroughly original. Mr. Mollenhauer’s opera is the work of a young man whose memory is keener than his invention. The reminiscences which are noticeable in every act are the fruits of a well-cultivated mind, and prove that the composer has not forgotten his studies or the lighter impressions received in the opera house. We do not for a moment imagine that Mr. Mollenhauer would wittingly use a plagiarism, but he has undoubtedly repeated many ideas that have been used before. In other respects the music is fluent and graceful. We look in vain for those strong contrasts and overwhelming bursts of effect which are essential to the writer of serious opera. The combinations are quite ordinary, and the tempi and movements are singularly steady. It seems to us that Mr. Mollenhauer will find his talent best adapted to the treatment of lighter themes. We would at all events urge him to select a better libretto for his next work. No skill is displayed in the construction of the ‘Corsican Bride,’ and some of the situations are positively ludicrous. The last tableau, in which everybody seems to be anxious to kill everybody, could be transferred bodily to a burlesque or a pantomime.

            Mr. Mollenhauer is clearly unfortunate in the season, and Tuesday evening was exceptionably so in the weather, which was sultry to the last degree. These adverse circumstances had their effect on the attendance, but there was, nevertheless, a good audience, and one thoroughly capable of judging the merits of the new production. It is something, therefore, to record that they received it with favor, applauding the best morceaux with energy, and showing their partiality for the various artists as each of the favored few made his or her appearance. The several rôles were intrusted to Mme. Rotter, Mr. Quint, Mr. Hartman, Mr. Urch and Mme. La Roche—the orchestra and chorus being under the direction of Mr. Mollenhauer.”

19)
Announcement: New York Clipper, 20 June 1863, 75.
“We are glad to find that somebody is to profit by the late operatic failure of Vestvali, at the Winter Garden.  The lady squelched her speculation by doubling the prices.  Mr. Mollenhauer, who has the house for this week, to bring out his opera of ‘The Corsican Bride,’ very properly gives notice that ‘the regular theatre prices will be retained.’  This is as it should be. . . . Give the ‘Bride’ a fair show and encourage popular prices.”
20)
Announcement: New York Clipper, 20 June 1863, 75.
“Vestvali’s Anglo-Italian opera season having proved a disastrous failure, Mr. Ed. Mollehauer intends to see what he can do in the operatic line, at the same house, and announces the first representation of his tragic opera of ‘The Corsican Bride,’ for Monday, June 15, with the usual ‘complete cast and full chorus and orchestra.’  We don’t know about it, though; the Winter Garden isn’t a very popular place for anything, much less for opera; but give Ed. a chance, with the rest of the experimentalists, and we shall see what we shall see.”  
21)
Review: New York Clipper, 27 June 1863, 83.
“There was another trial of opera, at the Winter Garden, last week; but, like its unfortunate predecessor, it met with a very summary conviction.  The opera was called the ‘Corsican Bride,’ by Ed. Mollenhauer, under whose direction it was first produced on 15th inst., before what might be called a critical but not very numerous audience.  What there is in it to applaud was applauded; but the music is not likely to become at all popular.  To suit the taste of the people, requires more melody, and less ornamental music; which latter, few understand.  Composers seem to ignore the fact that the people have any taste in musical matters, and therefore fill up their operas with a lot of complicated stuff, which they call scientific music, but which falls upon the ear like the discordant notes of a whole tribe of angry Dutchmen.  The simple ballad, or some plaintive melody, [illeg.] concerted music for two, three of four voices, is what tells in opera.  Ornamental music is tiresome, in most cases; ballads or duets, pure and simple, revivify, and please, and lend an interest to an opera which it would not otherwise possess.  The ‘Corsican Bride’ was repeated during the weak, but ‘no cards,’ rather but few tickets being sold, the thing did not pay.”

COMMENT: New York Clipper on what an opera should be like.