Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
29 August 2018
Part of review of multiple Maretzek performances. “Bellini’s charming and most popular opera, La Sonnambula, was given last evening at the Academy. A most fashionable and appreciative audience filled the house, spite of the bad weather. Signor Brignoli, who made his second appearance for the season, was unfortunately indisposed, and, although he sang most pleasingly during the second act, especially in the grand finale, was replaced in the third act by Signor Lotti, who was quite successful, meeting with great applause. He sang the aria very sweetly. Miss Kellogg, was, as usual, most pleasing in the role of Amina, as was Bellini in that of the Count.”
“At the Academy of Music last evening the variability of artistic temperament, often so irreverent to musical composers, made itself notably felt. The house was crowded and full of expectation, owing to the popularity both of the opera and the vocalists. When Brignoli appeared, it was evident that he would not act or sing the Elvino of Bellini. He, however, went through two acts and then subsided, so that a substitute became necessary. Lotti took his place and was enthusiastically received—apparently as a lesson to Brignoli, no one supposing, we take it, that the substitute was fully equal to the part he so generously undertook. The continuity of melody in ‘Sonnambula’ was thus seriously married and the hopes of the audience disappointed. Miss Kellogg, if judged by the efforts she made could not be overpraised, but it cannot be said that she gives a complete and fully satisfactory representations [sic] of the Sicilian composer’s erotic and musical creation of ‘Amina.’ The baritone Bellini, so admirable in other operas, was not quite mellow and sympathetic enough for the Rudolfo of the opera of his namesake; and, if in the fault-finding mood, it may too be added that the orchestra was not toned down enough to meet the musical characteristics of one of the most melodious of all operas. Both orchestra and vocalists may sometimes be so long accustomed to one class of composers as not to be able, without preparatory drilling, to do justice to another and a different style.”
“Academy of Music.—The popular manager was favored with a good house last evening, notwithstanding the stormy threatening of the weather. The old but ever acceptable opera of ‘Somnambula’ afforded the opportunity for the second appearance of Signor Brignoli. He appeared, in the first and second acts, to have recovered a good share of the confidence which failed him, for a time, on Monday night. He was finely supported by Miss Kellogg, who appears to peculiar advantage in this opera. The second act went off with decided éclat, and Brignoli and Kellogg were called before the curtain. But, to the disappointment of the audience, Brignoli somehow found himself unequal or unwilling to go on with the third act, and that most disagreeable of all opera incidents, an apology ‘from indisposition,’ was the consequence. Signor Lotti, on the shortest notice, assumed the unfinished story of Elvino, and went through the music most respectably.”
In Signor Brignoli’s time off from stage he has neither gained or lost in his skill. We still enjoy his gentle and pleasant voice and at the same time still criticize his acting abilities which have not improved in years. His performance is influenced by extreme nervousness and stage fright, which was apparent again in last night’s performance. Moreover, he upset us with his inappropriately flamboyant presentation of some of Bellini’s sweet and beautiful melodies, so that we were rejoicing when it was announced that Mr. Lotti would be finishing the last act in his place. We don’t know if the reason was a sudden hoarseness or simply a mood swing of Signor Brignoli. Miss Kellogg’s performance as ‘Armina’ was excellent in singing and acting. Mr. Bellini as ‘Rudolfo’ was satisfactory.
“The indisposition that had delayed Brignoli’s return and paralyzed his voice the first evening persisted again Thursday. Yet the artist succeeded in singing the second act of Sonnambula in a remarkable fashion. But after obtaining the honor of an encore, he didn’t feel in a state fit to finish the performance, and M. Lotti had to take his place. A bit of rest will make the last traces of this troublesome illness.”
The tenor Brignoli, who possesses no talent in acting and also lacks strength and expression in his singing, is only favored by the ladies for the sweetness of his voice. Maretzek obviously hired him this season only to please his audience—he himself has never spoken highly of Signor Brignoli’s skills, which have not only not improved, but have even become worse lately. The audience must have noticed that fact and its taste must have evolved as well, because Brignoli was not received as warmly as he once was. In one case he had the audacity to discontinue performing during a show and Mr. Lotti, who is developing into a fine singer, had to take over Brignoli’s part.
“Brignoli, revised, corrected, and otherwise renovated and improved, and supposed to be able to show in his proper form, appeared at the Academy, on Monday evening, Feb 22d . . . and he got through with qualified success. On the 25th however, the immaculate tenor appeared in his ‘indisposed’ form, in the opera of ‘Somnambula,’ [sic] and it was noticed in the earlier portion of the opera that he was laboring, or, to use a pugilistic term, ‘roaring;’ and in Signor Lotti, who fortunately, was at hand, and who willingly consented to take Brignoli’s place. Wonder what’s the matter with the ladies’ delight? Surely he is not going to give it up at this early day……Mazzolini, [sic] the other tenor, seems to improve; his appearances and singing last week, when it was thought he would silt, in comparison with Brignoli, received such marks of approbation and favor that he must have experienced the ‘happiest moment of his life.’ It don’t take a great deal to make a many happy, does it?”