Anschütz German Opera: Faust

Event Information

Venue(s):
Academy of Music

Event Type:
Opera

Record Information

Status:
Published

Last Updated:
1 August 2014

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

18 Dec 1863, 7:45 PM

Program Details

“[F]or the first time in this country, the whole of the orchestral music will be given.”

Performers and/or Works Performed

1)
Composer(s): Gounod
Text Author: Barbier, Carré
Participants:  Arion Männergesangverein;  Military band, unidentified;  Franz Himmer (role: Faust);  Joseph Weinlich (role: Mephistopholes);  Bertha Johannsen (role: Siebel);  Marie Frederici (role: Margares)

Citations

1)
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 15 December 1863, 8.

2)
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 16 December 1863.

“Faust will be given for the first time in this city by the German company on Friday.

    The orchestra of Mr. Anschütz should alone command attendance, not counting the attractions in the vocal department.”

3)
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 16 December 1863.

4)
Announcement: New York Herald, 17 December 1863.
 “There will doubtless be a good house on this occasion.”
5)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 17 December 1863.

6)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 18 December 1863.

7)
Announcement: New York Post, 18 December 1863, 2.
“Among the numerous attractions of the programme it is announced that, for the first time in this country, the whole of the orchestral music will be given, while the efficient and admirably drilled chorus will be reinforced by the Arion Society, whose performance at the first production of ‘Fidelio’ was so enthusiastically applauded.”
8)
Announcement: New-York Times, 18 December 1863, 4.
German Opera.--The desire to attend the funeral of this enterprise has been so great, that it must be rather embarrassing to the principal newspaper mourner to hear that it is not yet dead. On the contrary, it is probable that it will enter upon a new and healthy career to-night, when Gounod’s opera of ‘Faust’ will be produced for the first time in German. The worst has been said of Mr. Anschutz’s artists, but not the best of his orchestra and chorus. This will be reserved for to-night, when the delicate orchestral tracery of Mr. Gounod, and his fine broad choral effects, will be interpreted with the skill, precision and force that seem to reside only in Mr. Anschutz’s baton. It may be added, too, as a matter of interest, that the whole of the music will be given. The Italian version is defective, and some cuts were even made in that by Mr. Maretzek.
 
The distribution is excellent, and will insure a fine performance. [Lists cast.] Mr. Anschutz’s superb chorus will be reinforced by the members of the Arion Society, who, it will be remembered, sang the ‘Soldiers’ Chorus’ at their last concert with immense precision and effect. In the act where this morceau occurs there is an opportunity for a military band, which Mr. Anschutz introduces upon the stage. The ensembles will, we are sure, be very remarkable. Let us hope that the public will not overlook the occasion. The production of this opera is the crisis of the enterprise.”
 
9)
Announcement: New-York Times, 18 December 1863, 4.

10)
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 18 December 1863.
This performance will give “the dilettanti a chance to discuss the two translations of the work by the French composer.”
11)
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 18 December 1863, 8.

“Mr. Max Maratzek telegraphed us, that before he takes his company to Boston, he will give a few performances here. The first will take place next Wednesday, the 23rd of this month. And that concludes the fate of the German Opera of Mr. Anschütz, which was not able to last in New York. This enterprise has failed in part because of the indifference of the New York audience. However, Mr. Anschütz himself is also to blame for the failure of the German Opera. His management lacked the skill necessary to make the German Opera more popular and more worthy of support. If the newly staged version of Faust at the Academy of Music fails tonight, the German opera will be another thing of the past for New York.”

12)
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 18 December 1863, 8.

“Tonight, Mr. Anschütz plays his best card, and may it lead him to win the game. The German Opera Company will namely present Gounod’s ‘Faust’ in its entirety (including the Blocksberg scene, which was left out by the Italians). The principal roles lie in the hands of the best cast members. In place of Mr. Graff, who played ‘Mephistopheles’ in Philadelphia, Mr. Weinlich will step in: he is better suited for the part anyway. ‘Arion’ will participate in the chorus. The opera has been outfitted with new and beautiful costumes, sets, decorations, etc. Our readers will find more details regarding the cast in the opera announcement.”

13)
Review: New York Post, 19 December 1863, 2.
Very brief mention.  “[T]he German company performed most acceptably Gounod’s ‘Faust,’ to the largest audience of the season.”

14)
Review: New-York Times, 19 December 1863, 6.

“The production of ‘Faust’ last evening, by Mr. Anschutz’s company, was, in every way, a success.  All the principal pieces of the opera were rendered with intelligence and good effect, many of the choruses being given with very remarkable ensemble and force.  This was especially the case in the second act, (the Kerinesse,) [sic] and in the fourth, where, with the aid of the Arion Society, the soldiers’ chorus brought down the house.  The principal soloists were in excellent voice, Mme. Frederice [sic] distinguishing herself, and, in the third act, meriting all the applause that could be bestowed upon her.  The fresh and charming voice of this lady needs but the ripening which singing will bring to it, because not only enjoyable in the highest degree [sic], but in some respects remarkable.  The music of Margaret lays easily within its compass, and was delivered with great good [sic] taste and skill.  Herr Himmer sang the Cavatina with clearness, and was generally painstaking and acceptable as Faust.  Indeed, the performance, in all leading respects, was so good that we cannot help expressing the regret that the opera was not produced at an earlier period of the season.  The house was magnificent—probably the largest that has ever assembled in the Academy.  A few such would have insured the success of Mr. Anschutz’s season.”
 

15)
Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 20 December 1863, 4.

“It is deplorable that the performance of Faust at the Academy of Music two nights ago was not given earlier in the season. If that had happened it would have benefitted and prolonged the season of the German Opera. At this point, however, Faust can only be an effective and strong ending of a weak season. It was a well attended and well received performance by an audience that was capable of understanding and appreciating the beauty of the composition. The performance of the principal singers, with the lone exception of Mrs. Friderici, even exceeded in quality that of the Italians. The choruses in the second act were clearer and much easier to understand than in the performance by the Italian opera company; also, the soldier’s chorus in the fourth act was a lot more magnificent and effective. In the Maretzek production, Valentin’s death comes after the church scene, whereas Anschütz stayed strictly with the original script. Even though this renders the close of this act a little bit weaker, it was still a good decision, because without her dying brother’s curse, Marguerite’s despair at the church would have only half its motivation. However, the repeat of the Blocksberg scene is unsupported by the plot, and drags out an already long opera. Most of the audience would probably have easily forfeited it, in order to be able to enjoy the magnificent ending with fresh senses.”

16)
Review: New-York Times, 21 December 1863, 4.

Part of announcement for final performance of the season. “The performance on Friday was so great a success that there is a universal feeling of regret that the work was not produced earlier in the season.  It might have changed the result of Mr. Anschutz’s experiment.”

17)
Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 21 December 1863, 8.
“Since the press of our city is almost completely unanimous in its high praise of Friday’s performance of this opera, we have nothing else to point out: it was an outstanding performance, as was its magnificent scenery.”
 
18)
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 23 December 1863.

Extremely long review that details the plot as well as every vocal number. There isn’t much on the actual performance until the last paragraph.

“We have treated only incidentally of the orchestration in the above analysis. We may say generally that of this M. Gounod is a master. He understands the technical proprieties of individual or solo painting in the orchestra; the traditional and suggestive uses to which such and such instruments are best adapted; and is economical, and wisely so in the use of his means. In short, he displays the knowledge scientific and artistic, which may be gained by a man of high talent, with devout study, bringing all the rays of his mind to a special focus. It is difficult to judge of the splendor of instrumentation or the setting of musical jewels when there are so few to set. Time the great arbiter will decide M. Gounod’s place in the ranks of dramatic composers. So far as we can judge of his work by reading and hearing, we should say that it lacks the indispensable vitality of divine melody—and adventitious aids before its appearance, may confer on it a temporary renown—but that will not endure it with immortality.

The audience on Friday night was very large, crowds beset the standing pieces.  The dress boxes boasted their ladies. Of course all this was vastly in favor of an electrical performance. The first act passed off without emphasis. The second had the jolly scolding chorus which was encored. The satanic solo of Herr Weinlich was not a success, and was not applauded. The waltz and chorus passed off well. In the love scene Faust (Herr Himmer) and Margaret (Mad. Frederici) received the best applause. This lady especially would be more and more a favorite as she is frequently heard. The honors of the evening were given however to the Soldiers’ Chorus, where the choral force of the Arion Society was thrown in the scale, and a military band assistance [sic]. The vast circle of the Academy was filled with sound, and an encore demanded. With more melodious music the actors would have received more applause, but as it was there was some vehemently expressed; and the opera passed off well. Herr Anschutz led splendidly, and gave religiously every note of the work.

—We beg to reply to a correspondent whose temper, however, puts him out of the circle of notice, that we cannot discuss a second time self-evident artistic truths we may express, and which ought to be clear to every one who is classically or university-bred, who knows the history of art, the relations between language and music, and the Italian language and Italian music. As Mozart used Italian words, his music was necessarily Italian in its melodic phrasing. His science is about the equal of great Italian cotemporaries [sic], though his genius was greater. We did not say he was born in Italy, nor even in New-York on the site of the Hall bearing his name.”

19)
Review: Musical Review and World, 02 January 1864, 7.

“After having given two performances of ‘Faust,’ the Germans have for the present retired from the field. The house, on the two last nights, was crowded, yet the receipts were but $2,200 for both performances. The subscribers, thinking the end had come, had crowded the house. Although the soloists, with exception of Mad. Friderici [sic] (Margaretha), and Mr. Himmer (Faust), were inferior, yet the impression of the whole was favorable, owing to the excellent manner in which chorus and orchestra acquitted themselves of their arduous tasks. In this respect, the German performance was by far more complete and better than the Italian. It is now said that the season will be resumed early in January, with ‘Tannhauser,’ ‘Jessonda,’ and ‘Euryanthe.’ The first opera is now in active rehearsal. We hope, this will turn out to be correct, for even if the details of the performances leave much room for improvement, the fact of the public at large having an opportunity to become acquainted with these operas, will make up for all the deficiencies in the rendering.”

20)
Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 17 January 1864, 4.
The performance of Faust, which in some parts exceeded the Italian version, was a turning point in the season, and from then on the evenings became increasingly successful.