Maretzek Italian Opera: Un ballo en maschera – Opening Night of the Preliminary Season

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Jaime Nuno

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
29 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

23 Dec 1863, Evening

Program Details

Opening Night of the Preliminary Season.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka A Masked ball; Masked ball
Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Somma
Participants:  Maretzek Italian Opera Company;  Fernando [bass-baritone] Bellini (role: Reinhart);  Giuseppina Medori (role: Amelia);  Henrietta Sulzer (role: Ulrica);  Francesco Mazzoleni (role: Richard);  Signor Massia (role: Sylvan);  Wilhelm [baritone] Müller (role: Tom, enemy of Richard);  J. [tenor] Reichardt (role: A Judge);  Domenico Coletti (role: Samuel, enemy of Richard );  Antonietta Brignoli-Ortolani (role: Oscar)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 19 December 1863.

Announcement: New York Post, 19 December 1863, 2.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 19 December 1863, 9.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 December 1863, 7.

Announcement: New-York Times, 21 December 1863, 4.
Ballo will be “played for the only time.”

Announcement: New York Post, 22 December 1863, 2.

Announcement: New-York Times, 22 December 1863, 4.
AN: NYT 12/22/63 p. 4 – “Italian Opera—The king is dead!  Long live the king!  A sigh for Anschutz; a shout for Maretzek.  Let the dead past bury its kids; and the living present rush to Stewart’s for new ones.  For on Wednesday next the Italian opera commence again, and the Academy of Music will be radiant with women’s smiles, and robust with men’s applause.  The ticket-office—dreary fact of the past, bright promise of the future—opens to-day.  Yea, at 8 o’clock in the morning is it open; even unto 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Maretzek himself—redoutable chief, invincible General—is here, and his artists, languid with the leisure of three whole days, are eager for the fray.  We shall have ‘Un Ballo in Maschera,’ my masters—latest and greenest of the Verdian group; have it with a superb cast, with good costumes, good scenery, good orchestra, good chorus, good everything.  A handful of tickets for your friends.  What could be more acceptable at this festive season?  Go at 8 or before 4, or you are lost.”
Advertisement: New-York Times, 22 December 1863, 7.

Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 22 December 1863.

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 22 December 1863, 8.

“Mr. Maretzek’s company begins tomorrow with Verdi’s ‘Un ballo in maschera,’ with an outstanding cast.  Although this season of Italian opera will be short, it promises to be brilliant.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 23 December 1863.

Announcement: New York Post, 23 December 1863, 2.
“[O]ffering the most perfect ensemble since the days of Bosio and Badiali.”
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 23 December 1863.
 “A better title for this reentrée could not have been chosen. . . . [T]he cast is the best we could have for an opera by Verdi.”
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 23 December 1863.

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 23 December 1863, 8.

“The first of four [sic] opera performances which Mr. Maretzek’s company plans to give here will take place tonight at the Academy of Music. Verdi’s ‘Un ballo in maschera,’ which has not been given here in almost a year, will be performed only this once this season. The principal singers are Mmes. Medori, Ortolani-Brignoli and Sulzer, with Messrs. Mazzoleni, Bellini and Colletti [sic].” 

Review: New York Post, 24 December 1863, 2.

“The opening night of the Maretzek preliminary season was a fair success, both aristically and pecuniarily. The house was well filled, and presented a brilliant appearance, while the opera—Verdi’s ‘Ballo in Maschera’—was given with the usual [illeg.] by Maretzek’s excellent troupe, Mazzoleni, taking all the honors of the evening in the barcarole of the first act. The masquerade scene was, however, put on the stage ina  rather mediocre manner, and went off tamely.”

Review: New-York Times, 24 December 1863, 4.

Academy of Music.--The superior brightness, vivacity and charm of Italian opera attracted an appropriately brilliant gathering last evening, and inaugurated Mr. Maretzek’s interlineary season with great éclat. Verdi’s ‘Ballo in Maschera’ was played with rare spirit. We have rarely heard it given to greater advantage. Signor Mazzoleni was in fine voice, and sung with that judicious balance of power and intelligent moderation which characterizes this fine artist’s best efforts. The applause after the barcarolle in the second act rendered it absolutely necessary to repeat the piece. Mme. Medori was in admirable voice. The dramatic opportunities of the role were seized, we need scarcely add, with the best of effect. Signor Bellini, who sometimes disappoints his best admirers, satisfied every one on this occasion. Briefly, the performance was a great success. The singers, without an exception, were in first-rate trim. Signor Nuno presided in the orchestra with marked ability.”

Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 24 December 1863, 8.
“As in a lawful kingdom, the rule holds true for the stage: ‘The king is dead; long live the king!’  No one is indispensable and no matter how many followers one might have had, there are always some remaining for the successor.  The German opera had hardly left the scene with cheering and applause -- if also after a failed season, except for its spectacular end – when the Italian opera begins its short run of performances, received with the same applause and enthusiastic cheering.  And for Mr. Maretzek’s company, just returning from a successful foray in Philadelphia, last night’s reception was a lovely greeting -- of applause, curtain calls and bouquets.  Despite its many flaws, Verdi’s ‘Un ballo in maschera’ has many fans here.  In spite of a lot of pleasant melodies, the logical succession of individual numbers in the composition -- the intrinsic connection in a dramatic opera -- is lacking.  Verdi claimed this title as his child – which throughout are required.  In the same way the plot moves forward, the music’s progression must also be audible.  If that isn’t the case, the value of the entire work is only second-rate.
The opera was well performed.  Mme. Medori and Mr. Mazzoleni harvested the lion’s share of applause.  They sang the grand duet in the third act, the main piece in the entire opera, very sensitively and tastefully.  Signor Bellini sang and acted very well.  The same can be said for Mme Sulzer and Mme. Ortolani-Brignoli, who performed the page’s song quite poignantly.  The choruses satisfied, despite their subordinate role in this opera.  The scenery of the ball scene was splendid.”
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 25 December 1863.

Very brief review.  Ballo was performed in a superior manner.

Announcement: New York Clipper, 26 December 1863.
“Maretzek puts in a week at the Academy, with his refractory opera troupe; he relieves Anschutz, who raised a signal of distress.  Max may do better than the German, because we all understand Italian, which we don’t Dutch.”

Announcement: Dwight's Journal of Music, 26 December 1863, 158.

Marked December 22.

“As Anschutz setps out, Maretzek pops in and our Holiday week will be doubly gay and brilliant, from the presence of the Maretzek troupe at the Academy. Medori, Kellog [sic], Mazzoleni, Bellini and Biachi, will very happily replace Johannsen, Frederici, Himmer, Habelmann, Steinecke, Graff and Weinlich.

The dress circle and boxes, so cold, somber and dreary the last month or more, will now shine out resplendent with diamonds and beauty, and (vide Herald) Shoddy; Maretzek, Joell and Gosche will be happy as mortals can be, and the short holiday season of four nights will put money into the poeket [sic] of the management, and charity into the hearts of the patrons. New York, with all its sins of extravagance and excess, never was more liberal than at the present time in its contributions to objects of mercy and charity. The Academy on the occasion of a patriotic entertainment for the benefit of the Solider’s Home, on Tuesday evening last, was crowded to excess at an admittance fee of one dollar, and an innumerable number of similar entertainments have received the same generous patronage of the public. So we herald the advent of Italian opera in Christmas week with joy, for many hearts will be gladdened, many trials softened. Maretzek opens to-morrow evening with Verdi’s ‘Un Ballo in Maschera.’ with [sic] Medori, Brignoli, Sulzer, Mazzoleni, Bellini and Colletti. ‘Ione,’ ‘Norma,’ and ‘Faust’ will be given on the successive opera nights, and ‘Don Giovanni’ at a matinée, and then you will be afforded an opportunity of listening to them yourself, nearer home. In February they will return to us for a long and, I trust, successful season.”

Review: New York Clipper, 02 January 1864, 302.
“The Germans having given up the Academy of Music, Max Maretzek and his forces re-appeared there on the 23d, and a larger or more flashy audience could not have been gathered had a prize fight been announced.  Mazzoleni was in excellent fettle, and if he had only responded to our request to sing ‘Who Will Care for Heenan Now?’ he would have made a decided hit; but he didn’t.  We presume he is not acquainted with our language.”