26 April 2020
“It is erroneously announced in one of the morning papers that ‘Favorita’ will be repeated at Niblo’s on Saturday evening. That evening is reserved for the début of Mlle. Castri, when ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ will be produced. The enterprise of Mr. Grau is worthy of a liberal support, hazardous as it is for him to undertake competition with a company so excellent as that of Maretzek.”
Cast list included. “Card. Mr. Grau regrets to be compelled to announce that, notwithstanding the unqualified success which has attended the introductory débuts of his new company of artists, the performance of Saturday evening will be positively the last in New-York for the present, as he is unable to retain possession of Niblo’s Garden, and cannot obtain another theatre suitable to operatic purposes.”
“On Saturday evening Mr. Grau presented to a New York audience another of his artists—Mlle. Castri—in the ‘Lucia.’ As this young lady is evidently quite a novice, and was suffering from stage fright, it is scarcely fair to criticize her performance. She has a voice of but little power, and is as yet unaccustomed to acting. Signors Stefani and Morelli were both in fine voice, and were very successful, meeting with constant applause.”
“[A] good and fashionable audience. . . . Mlle. Castri made her début as the heroine, supported by Signors Stefani and Morelli, both of whom were excellent. The lady is very young. Her voice is pleasant and plentiful. It is of a good and tractable quality. Her use of it at present, however, is not always agreeable. On Saturday it seemed as if her physical powers were overtaxed; but this effect may have been a result of the obvious trepidation under which she labored. If Mlle. Castri is not entirely new to the stage, she is certainly very timid and inexperienced on it. The most that can be said of her impersonation is, that it improved as it progressed. Mme. Vera-Lorini improved the impression created on Wednesday last. She is a most agreeable artist.”
Long review that says little about the actual performance. “We cannot find in Mlle. Castri the claims of a prima donna. Perhaps it was fright before a new audience in a strange land, with a strange unsympathizing language. So we will wait until we hear more for there is no use analyzing shortcomings.
Signor Morelli appeared to us a little hoarse, but he is always the artist and pleases his hearers.
Signor Stefani made a positive sensation as Edgardo. He was not up to the mark in the malediction scene, but in the woe-begone accentuations of the last act made his audience so artistically and sympathetically wretched that they called him three times before the curtain—an honor rarely accorded to an artist.”
On Saturday Mr. Grau introduced his second Prima donna, Mlle. Castri, as “Lucia di Lammermoor.” Mlle. Castri has a high and warm soprano voice, yet is obviously still a beginner in her skills. Her voice is rather small and quite weak. However, she was warmly received by the audience and was applauded—even during the performance—more than she deserved.
“Mr. J. Grau’s company gave two performances, prior to their departure for the provinces. Most of the members of this troupe are favorably known to our public, especially Signor Morelli, who is still the best baritone in the country. Signor Steffani, although universally straining his voice too much, is also a very acceptable tenor. . . . [Castri] was evidently very much frightened, owing to the circumstance that the stage business is entirely new to her. Her acting was more painful than pleasant to behold, and her singing was very little better. It would be well if European vocal aspirants to fame and pecuniary gain in this country, would remember that, unless gifted with a first-rate voice and execution accordingly, they will be hardly able to compete with most of our amateur singers. Chorus and orchestra, on both occasions, were wretched, and, consequently, Signor Muzio was led with less ease over certain difficulties, than on other occasions.”