Maretzek Italian Opera: Rigoletto

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
30 January 2014

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

09 Oct 1863, Evening

Program Details

Barili replaced Bellini.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Piave
Participants:  Henrietta Sulzer (role: Maddalena);  Francesco Mazzoleni (role: Duke );  Ettore Barili (role: Rigoletto);  Clara Louise Kellogg (role: Gilda)


Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 12 October 1862.

" . . . .[Mazzoleni's] return to his usual domain, as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, was yet more brilliant but not more praiseworthy than his creation of the Count of Essex [in Roberto Devereux]. He deployed a fire, a free inspiration, a vocal power that make this rôle one of his best. Friday's performance was a series of well-deserved ovations for him, deserved both as a singer and as an actor. In the last act above all, the famous canzonetta la donna è mobile transported the hall which demanded an encore that was impossible for any other than a tenor with a chest of brass.

     Outside of him, the interpretation of Verdi's opera was strewn with unsteadiness. Ettore Barili, who took on the rôle of Rigoletto in an emergency, speaks and acts as a consummate artist; but all his skill didn't know how to replace the voice that betrayed him. Mlle Sulzer was adequate, as she is too often, and nothing more. As for Miss Kellogg, it's always the same glacial accuracy, the same affected gracefulness, the same elegance to which any glow is formally forbidden. There may be in her the stuff of an excellent singer; but this stuff has neither warmth nor flexibility. A manifestation of great effect, prepared in her honor as the curtain fell by hands too obviously friendly, fell flat in the auditorioum that she hadn't known how to affect. The audience sometimes takes a deep interest in captivating flaws; it remains unmoved in the face of a statue, however pleasant she may be. Miss Kellogg is lacking a Pygmalion. . . . "

Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 01 October 1863.

Advertisement: New York Herald, 02 October 1863.

Announcement: New York Post, 05 October 1863, 2.

Announcement: New York Herald, 06 October 1863, 3.

Announcement: New York Post, 06 October 1863.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 06 October 1863, 7.

Announcement: New York Herald, 07 October 1863, 6.

Announcement: New York Post, 07 October 1863, 2.

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 08 October 1863.

Announcement: New York Herald, 09 October 1863, 3.

Announcement: New-York Times, 09 October 1863.
“Verdi’s finest opera.”
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 09 October 1863.

Bellini will perform, not Biachi, as had been announced.  The “energetic phisonomy” of Bellini is good for the role of Rigoletto.

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 09 October 1863, 8.

“Tonight, Miss Clara Louise Kellog will perform for the first time in this season.  As is generally known, she was hired by the London Majestic Theater last season but never arrived there due to a sudden illness which affected her voice.  A physician attested to the possibility of a full loss of her voice, and, thus, the London contract was cancelled.  Fortunately, she recovered completely and her voice is supposed to be even fresher and more beautiful than before.  Miss Kellogg will perform one of her best parts tonight as the ‘Gilda’ in Verdi’s Rigoletto.”


Review: New York Herald, 10 October 1863, 1.

“A large and most fashionable audience filled the Academy of Music last evening. A favorite artiste was to make her rentree in a favorite opera, and the combined attractions proved irresistible. Before giving an account of the performance we wish to praise the splendid mise en scene and the effectiveness of the chorus and the orchestra. Maretzek is certainly doing all in his power to render the performance truly brilliant.

The display of rich toilets made by the ladies would have proved very effective were it not that our Academy of Music is of so unfortunate a color as to render such a result quite out of the question. The dull appearance of the house, with its pale pink and dirty white background affords no relief, and the gay colors of the beautiful dresses do not stand out as they would were the theatre decorated differently. If it was painted in some deeper color and richly gilt the appearance of the house when, as last night, filled with a most brilliant audience would be much more striking.

Last winter Miss Kellogg appeared at our Academy of Music under adverse circumstances. Insufficiency of rehearsals, mutinied choristers and an unexpected change of artists with whom she was to sing were the drawbacks of her first appearance on that occasion. Last night, however, she had all in her favor. The artists who sang with her are great favorites. The opera had been duly rehearsed, and Miss Kellogg—we take pleasure in announcing the fact—achieved a well merited success. Her reception by the public was a flattering proof of her popularity. Miss Kellogg’s voice has gained in power since last season.

In the first act the duo between the Duke (Mazzoleni) and Gilda (Miss Kellogg) was encored amid great applause. The aria sung by Gilda was rendered with great delicacy and execution, and was much applauded. Signor Etore [sic] Barili, who replaced Bellini, was a satisfactory Rigoletto. He acted the role to perfection.

In the second act Mazzoleni introduced the aria from ‘Lombardi,’ which he sang successfully. The third act was marked by the admirable rendering of the duo between Rigoletto and Gilda, which is one of the gems of the opera. In the fourth act Mazzoleni sang with great effect the ‘Brindisi,’ and the celebrated quartette—one of the best concerted pieces of music ever written by Verdi—was sung most effectively by Miss Kellogg, Sulzer, Mazzoleni and Barili. The interest of the opera lags after this magnificent effort.

On the whole, the opera was a very great success, and will bear repetition.”

Review: New York Post, 10 October 1863, 4.

“If the crowded and brilliant assemblage which, at the opera last evening, greeted Miss Kellogg’s return, may be regarded as drawn thither by an appreciative estimate of her numerous attractions, it must be conceded that she has lost none of her old and well-earned popularity. Certainly, from whatever motives the audience came, they went away gratified with the entertainment. For rarely have we heard an opera more satisfactorily performed. Miss Kellogg, who on many accounts claims a prominent place of honor, enacted her arduous rôle with her usual delicacy, sustained intensity of feeling and exquisite taste in execution.

Her voice has gained in power since we last heard her, while it has lost none of that charming richness and sympathetic depth which are its most impressive characteristics. The American quality of tone has its own specific peculiarities, which are as marked as are those of the German or the Italian schools, and are probably destined, at no very distant day, to attain as high a development and culture. For it has been chimed that at the present time the American sopranos of promise and celebrity, engaged in the performance of Italian opera, are more numerous than are those of any other nation except the Italians themselves. Germany, indeed, may excel the United States in this point of view, but France, Spain and the other countries of continental Europe are confessedly inferior.

The powers we have ascribed to Miss Kellogg had full scope in an opera so replete with lyric beauty and tragic passion as ‘Rigoletto,’ and we need not say that she was frequently and loudly applauded.

Mazzoleni was in fine voice and sang deliciously, the hackneyed airs being delivered with a freshness and fire that almost made them novelties to us. The air so familiarly known as ‘Over the Summer Sea’ was, with several similar morceaux, encored. His double swells were remarkable.

Barili as Rigoletto was chiefly noteworthy for the superiority of his histrionic powers. His interpretation of the part differs from and is perhaps superior to the usual one. He makes the personage a joster [illeg.] buffoon, while the other artists, with Signor Ferri last winter, give to Rigoletto more gravity. The short notice at which he replaced Bellini accounts in part for the fact that the musical rendering of the rôle was scarcely equal to that of Ferri, and in elegance of costume there was some inferiority. If this opera is repeated we advise our opera-loving readers not to omit hearing it.”

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

“The rentrée of Miss Kellogg on Friday night in Verdi’s charming Opera of ‘Rigoletto,’ was certainly the leading event of Mr. Maretzek’s opening week at the Academy of Music. . . . [The weak performances on Monday and Wednesday nights] were eclipsed on Friday, when Miss Kellogg returned to our stage, and achieved, what she is always entitled to, a genuine artistic success.  Her performance of the difficult rôle of the heroine was characterized by the most graceful perception of its dramatic opportunities, and by a complete and thorough interpretation of the music.  We were glad to remark that the lady’s voice was stronger and more manageable than we ever remember to have heard it.  The protracted bronchial trouble which prevented her singing last season has happily terminated without ill consequences, and the long rest which it has necessitated seems indeed to have been of positive benefit to her.  The opera was excellently rendered by the company.  Signor Mazzoleni sang superbly, and brought down a torrent of applause in an introduced romanza from ‘I Lomdardi,’ (La mia Letizia.)  Signor Barili sustained the part of the Jester with a great deal of dramatic ability, and Mlle. Sulzer, although her voice lacks color, sang the contralto part very well.  The orchestra and chorus were thoroughly good; indeed the performance was all that could be desired or expected of the forces now at the Academy, and will, we hope, be repeated.”