Anschütz German Opera: Fidelio – Bertha Johannsen Benefit

Event Information

Academy of Music

Carl Bergmann

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

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
10 November 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

11 Jan 1864, Evening

Program Details

Hermanns’ debut in New York.

All three overtures performed; see NYH review.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Leonore overture, no. 2
Composer(s): Beethoven
aka Leonore overture, no. 3; Leonora overture, no. 3
Composer(s): Beethoven
aka Leonore overture, no. 4; Fidelio overture; Fidelio overture, no. 4; Fidelio overture, E major
Composer(s): Beethoven
aka Leonore, oder Der Triumph der ehelichen Liebe; Leonore, or The Triumph of Married Love; Fidelio, oder Die eheliche Liebe;
Composer(s): Beethoven
Text Author: Sonnleithner
Participants:  Anschütz German Opera Company;  Arion Männergesangverein;  Theodore Habelmann (role: Inquine);  Pauline Canissa (role: Marceline);  Franz Himmer (role: Florestan);  Herr [dir. Steubenhaus] Hermann (role: Debut / Rocco);  Bertha Johannsen (role: Fidelio);  Anton Graf;  Heinrich Steinecke


Advertisement: New-York Times, 07 January 1864, 7.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 07 January 1864.

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 08 January 1864, 6.

“Notice. In response to general requests to put on Beethoven’s masterpiece, Fidelio, once more, it will be performed positively only this time. In order to present Rocco effectively, Mr. Hermanns, the primo basso from Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, is performing his debut.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 09 January 1864.
“Herr Hermanns, the celebrated primo basso, from Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, will make his first appearance.”
Announcement: New-York Times, 09 January 1864.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 January 1864, 7.
“Fidelio, the masterwork of Beethoven [will] be positively given only once.”
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 10 January 1864.

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 10 January 1864, 4.

“The German Opera is currently experiencing a crisis over the serious illness of Mr. Anschütz. Mr. Bergmann is filling in as conductor; the opera society has taken over the economic matters of the house. There have also been changes in the ensemble, due to the exit of Mr. Weinlich. He is being replaced by Mr. Hermanns, the bassist who just arrived from the Royal Theatre in London, where such well-known singers as Giuglini and Gassier performed. According to the London Times and other large English newspapers, he possesses a strong voice with a wide range, similar to Karl Formes’ voice in his best years. From various reviews in English papers, we learn that he is not only gifted natively, but  also quite an educated singer. He will debut tomorrow as Rocco in ‘Fidelio,’ which will have the benefit of the almost unsurpassable Mrs. Johannsen in the starring role.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 11 January 1864.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 11 January 1864, 7.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 January 1864.
Herr Hermanns “will appear for the first time.”
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 11 January 1864.

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 11 January 1864.

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 11 January 1864, 8.

“Today’s Academy of Music presentation by the German Opera Company promises to be a most interesting one. By popular request, Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’ will be given, to benefit Mrs. Johannsen, with the latter in the title role. In this role, she is unequalled in this country. Mr. Hermans [sic], whose very good reputation in England and Germany precedes him, will debut as ‘Rocco,’ since Mr. Weinlich, who had previously sung the role, has been acquired by Maretzek’s company and now departs for Boston. As a favor to Mrs. Johannsen, and out of love for the art, ‘Arion’ will participate in the large chorus. Mr. Bergmann will conduct.”

Review: New York Herald, 12 January 1864.

“There was a good house last evening at the Academy of Music, on the occasion of Mme Johannson’s benefit. Fidelio was satisfactorily sung.  The new basso, Herr Hermanns, made a very successful debut.  This artist’s voice is of a pleasing quality—is full and powerful and well cultivated. We were prepared to hear an artist of merit, judging from his European reputation, and were not disappointed. Herr Hermanns is a very great acquisition to the German Opera troupe, which so much needed a basso.

The Arion Society, who sang the ‘Prisoner’s chorus,’ gave this lugubrious chant in their usual effective manner, and would have been much applauded had not the rather saddening effect of the music chilled the audience. The three overtures were all well played by the orchestra, under the able direction of Mr. Bergmann.  The artists were more or less successful in their efforts.  Mlle. Canissa spoiled much of the concerted music—which was a great deal for one artist to accomplish.  Mme. Johannsen, who is ever a most conscientious performer, was very satisfactory as Fidelio. Herr Habelmann, as Inquine, sang and acted well.

On Friday evening, the positively last performance of Faust will take place on the occasion of the benefit of Mme. Federici and Herr Himmer. The Arion Society will sing in the choruses.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 12 January 1864.
“The benefit of Mad. Johannsen did not draw so good a house as the merits of the lady would infer.  The opera passed off as usual, the only point calling for special note was the appearance of a new bass singer, Herr Hermans [sic].  This gentleman has an outstanding presence, and a good round, bass voice, not gifted in the lower regions however, but telling well in the medium and upper range. He is an addition to the company. In a character demanding more continuo breadth and grace of statement that of the bourgeois jailor, he may shine. He received an encore in his couplet.”
Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 12 January 1864.

“For the benefit of Madame Johannsen, the German Opera gave Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’ once again. The performance was well attended; no seat was left empty. The performance was all the more interesting because Mr. Hermanns, of Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, was debuting as ‘Rocco.’ We usually refrain from critiquing an artist’s performance after one demonstration; however, we will do it, because ‘Rocco’ gives a bass singer the opportunity to show the full range of his skill. Although Mr. Hermanns possesses a strong, well-schooled and pleasant voice, as well as good acting skills, he unnecessarily added additions and ornaments  that were rather inappropriate for the part. The Arion Choir performed the prisoners’ chorus with precision and artistic expression.” 

Announcement: New York Clipper, 16 January 1864, 315.
“Mad. Johannsen has a benefit . . . and Herr Hermanns makes a first appearance for her.”
Review: Musical Review and World, 16 January 1864, 22.

For the benefit of that thorough and reliable artiste, Mad. Johannsen, ‘Fidelio’ was giveu [sic] last Monday before a tolerably good house. The occasion had the additional interest, attached to the introduction of a new basso, Mr. Hermans [sic], ‘from Her Majesty’s Theater,’ as the bills had it. The part of ‘Rocco,’ although excellent and giving many opportunities to the performer of showing his artistic powers, is yet not one for great vocal display. With the exception of one air, or rather song, his share in the vocal rendering is restricted to the ensemble pieces. It is perhaps for this very reason that even moderately good singers can make some impression with this part, as we have often experienced. To judge therefore, from this one role, of the resources of a new singer, would possibly lead to great mistakes. We consequently prefer to wait, till Mr. Hermanns has sung another role, before giving our final opinion about his abilities as a singer. That he was anxious to show some of them by an attempt at improving upon Beethoven’s text in the song praising the importance of gold, does not speak much for his taste, but with this one exception, we must say, he did exceedingly well. His voice, although by no means fresh and full, and wanting in depth, is still powerful enough for all purposes, and he handled it on this one occasion with skill and good judgment. A little more feeling and abandon would have, of course, improved the impression; but we suppose, in other roles he will not be wanting in these qualities.

Mad. Johannsen was not in good voice and moreover lacking in that inspiration, without which the role of ‘Fidelio’ can not be effectively given.

Excellent was Herr Himmer as Florestan, especially in his first aria. He brought all the points out in a fine artistic manner, and had full command over the very many difficulties, the music of this part offers. Of course, in the duet, which illustrates unbounded joy in a manner as has never been done in dramatic music, his voice as that of every tenor singer, we ever heard in this part, failed to give the full weight of the music.

Miss Canissa was quite acceptable as ‘Marceline.’ Herr Habelmann less so as ‘Jacquino,’ the part does not suit his voice. ‘Pizarro’ was wretchedly performed, we wonder, whether it shall ever be our fortune, to hear all the music of this role in a correct and perfect manner. There are very few singers, whose voices are not drowned by the instrumentation, used by Beethoven in the principal air of this part. Mr. Carl Bergmann conducted.”