Grover German Opera: Faust – Opening Night

Event Information

Venue(s):
Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Leonard Grover

Conductor(s):
Carl Anschütz

Price: $1 parquet and dress circle; $1.50 reserved seats; .50 family circle; .25 amphitheatre; $2 secured boxes

Event Type:
Opera

Record Information

Status:
Published

Last Updated:
29 October 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

12 Sep 1864, Evening

Program Details

German version of Gounod’s Faust. Grill, leader of the orchestra; Adolphus Neuendorff, chorus master; Mr. P. F. Stephen, president of Teutonia Society; Edward Weber, conductor of Teutonia Society.

Franz Himmer was originally scheduled to play Faust but was replaced by Guiseppe Tamaro, who sang the role in Italian. Opening night.

Performers and/or Works Performed

1)
Composer(s): Gounod
Text Author: Barbier, Carré
Participants:  Mentz’s Military Band ;  Teutonia Männerchor;  Grover German Opera Company;  Bertha Johannsen (role: Siebel);  Anton Graf (role: Wagner);  Giuseppe Tamaro (role: Faust);  Marie Frederici (role: Marguerite);  Heinrich Steinecke (role: Valentin);  Joseph Hermanns (role: Mephistopheles)

Citations

1)
Announcement: New York Herald, 02 September 1864, 4.
“Leonard Grover . . . now has the management of the German Opera troupe.
The season here will commence . . . on the 12
th, and be continued until the 28th.”
2)
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 02 September 1864.
Opening night, in New York, of a multi-city tour, with one show per day in each town, hiring some local singers whose names have not yet been determined.
3)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 05 September 1864.

4)
Advertisement: New-York Times, 05 September 1864, 7.
“A cast of great strength. . . . It comprises several new and talented artistes . . . from Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg, and Darmstadt. . . . [T]he chorus and orchestra . . . present an array of talent and numbers rarely equaled in the world.  The costumes have been procured in Europe at immense expense.  The operas will be presented with the most superb mise en scene.”
5)
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 05 September 1864, 8.

6)
Announcement: New York Post, 06 September 1864.
“Grover and Anschutz intend this season to give opera in a style which shall appeal to all classes of music-lovers.”
7)
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 06 September 1864.
Faust is the most popular work ever done in New York.
8)
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 07 September 1864.
Anschütz is content being the orchestra leader.  Himmer was born in Darmstadt.
9)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 08 September 1864.
Great resource of names.  Giant ad listing the entire company, including the names of the chorus members and the orchestra.
10)
Announcement: New-York Times, 08 September 1864, 5.
“Mr. Grover’s brief inaugural season of German opera [will commence] on Monday next, with Gounod’s ‘Faust,’ in a complete and unmutilated form. . . . With a man of enterprise and activity (as Mr. Grover has proved himself to be in other matters of amusement) at the business head of affairs, and with Carl Anschutz in charge of the music only, there is a far more flattering prospect for German opera than there has been hitherto—the more so as Mr. Grover has ample means at his disposal, and expresses his determination to leave no means unapplied or expense spared to achieve success.  Mr. Bergfield has been employed by him for some time in Europe in the engagement of new artists. . . . Until the arrival of the fresh singers, the company comprises the majority of last season’s favorites, including Madame Frederici, Messrs. Himmer, Habelmann, Hermanns, &c.—an engagement with Carl Formes, is also contemplated. . . . Grover has signed contracts for the sole right of giving German opera at all the opera houses in the large cities.”
11)
Announcement: New York Herald, 12 September 1864.
“[T]he greater part of the seats were sold last week.  During this season, Gounod’s Mirella, as well as other musical novelties, will be produced.”
12)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 12 September 1864.
Lists 38 members of the chorus. Great resource of names.  “Grand Chorus of One Hundred Selected Voices.  Grand Orchestra of Fifty Instrumentalists, Full Military Band of Eighteen. . . . Especial attention has been given to selecting the Members of the Grand Chorus, for whom so much of the Opera has been written.  Several acknowledged participants will be recognized in this list. . . . THE PAGEANT OF THE SOLDIERS CHORUS will be given by TWO HUNDRED PERSONS.
13)
Announcement: New-York Times, 12 September 1864.
Leonard Grover came from Philadelphia.  “It will be seen that Mr. Grover carefully avoids any reference to the nationality of the company.  The reader pauses in vain to discover if the artist contemplates singing in Italian, French, German or English.  There is a reasonable prospect, to be sure, that the latter tongue will be spared, for the quantity at the command of the director does not appear to be extensive.  But why endeavor to confuse people, and what necessity is there to be ashamed of the title of German opera? . . . Monsieur Frank Himmer, (why not Francois?) means our old friend Herr Himmer, and Mademoiselle Marie Frederici means that tenor’s charming wife.  Those portly Teutons, the Herr Herman and Steinecke are also furnished, with dapper Gallic prefixes to their names. . . .
. . . Grover announces that the costumes are new, and made from ‘models’ imported by Mr. Grau.  The prices of admission are as heretofore.  They were considered high last Fall, and were so in fact, the relative merits of the Italian and German company being considered.  The depreciation that has since taken place in the value of the ‘greenback,’ and the fact that Mr. Maretzek has been compelled to raise the price of admission to our regular operatic performances, justify Mr. Grover in once more trying the old rates with his German artists.

The opera to-night will be ‘Faust’—originally produced in America by Mr. Anschutz, during his Philadelphia season. . . . The German version includes a good deal of music that has since been discarded by the composer.  The arrangement of the last two acts is also different.  These circumstances give interest to the German version.”
14)
Advertisement: New-York Times, 12 September 1864, 7.
Cast, with first names included.
15)
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 12 September 1864.

16)
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 12 September 1864.

This evening, great celebration at the Academy of Music for the debut of the German company in Faust. For real music lovers, this event is more important than the Fall of Atlanta or the letter of Gen. McClellan. MM. Lincoln or McClellan will pass away, Atlanta will be retaken or not by Hood, men will slaughter each other more or less forever under the pretext of progress, but the masterpieces of art will not fade, as long as interpreters are found to perform them. Fans owe great recognition to MM. Grover and Anschutz, who will make them spend several evenings where there won't be a question of politics. The latter only lets the worst side of men be seen; art raises them above themselves....

17)
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 12 September 1864.

18)
Review: New York Herald, 13 September 1864, 1.
“Mr. Grover’s season of German Opera was inaugurated last evening in a manner which must have astonished even the most sanguine adherents of Teutonic music.  The house was crowded to suffocation—unpleasantly jammed. . . . We lack space to do more than notice the performance, which passed off very successfully.  The orchestra, under the direction of Carl Anschutz, was very efficient.  The choruses were excellent, the ensemble and power being all that could be desired.  The mise en scene was appropriate.
Owing to the indisposition of M. Franz Himmer, Signor Tamaro undertook the
role of Faust at a moment’s notice, and acquitted himself creditably of the rather arduous task.  Mme. Frederici, as Marguerite, made a favorable impression last year in this role.  She confirmed her former success by her performance last evening.  This lady’s voice is of a very agreeable quality, well-cultivated and powerful.  She was much applauded.
Hermanns as Mephistopheles was very successful.  His performance in this opera was familiar to the public, who seem to approve of it highly, to judge from the vehement applause they ever bestow upon the artist.  He acts the part with unusual intelligence, and makes it up with great skill.

The other artists were all very acceptable in the several
roles.  The whole of the performance being satisfactory, the great ‘Soldier’s Chorus’ was admirably sung, and, as usual, called forth a tremendous demand for an encore.
19)
Review: New York Post, 13 September 1864.
“[A] fine performance of ‘Faust.’  The house was crowded to excess, Tamaro taking the character of Faust, in place of Himmer.  No cause was assigned for this substitution.  Tamaro performed his part very well, and the audience seemed contented with the change. . . . Johannsen made a very creditable Siebel.
20)
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 13 September 1864, 3.
“The house was full excepting some empty boxes in the stockholders and the second tier, and some places at the side of the ‘horse-shoe’ in the gallery, unfit for gods or men. . . . Mephistopheles was wonderfully ‘made up’ and largely declaimed by Herman [sic].  Miss Federici was an interesting looking Margaret.  The others did acceptably. . . . [T]here seems to be no doubt that the opera will be most prosperous, notwithstanding the state of affairs here which we read of in the Richmond journals.”
21)
Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 13 September 1864.
The performance was of decent quality.  Mrs. Frederici’s performance was excellent.  Guiseppe Tamaro, replacing Himmer, was convincing beyond expectations.  The Teutonia Männerchor also performed well.
22)
Review: New-York Times, 14 September 1864, 5.
Generous attendance.  Tamaro was an excellent substitute for Himmer.  “It was, perhaps, a drawback that the gentleman had to sing his part in Italian, but the solo opportunities were not affected by this cause, and they were seized with great spirit.  Signor Tamaro’s voice is obedient, but not powerful; nor does it range to the altitudes of Signor Mazzoleni’s well-managed organ.  In the beautiful apostrophe to the dwelling of Marguerite, he was compelled to resort to the falsetto.  Herr Himmer does the same, but the coincidence does not reconcile us to the unpleasantness of the effort.  With this exception, Tamaro’s rendering of the rôle was thoroughly musician-like and excellent.  Herr Herman’s Mephistopheles was good. . . . Herman’s dramatic conception of the part is scholarly and leaves nothing to be desired.  It is by far the best we have had upon the lyric stage.  Mme. Frederici impressed every one last season with the fullness and quality of her voice.  The fullness still remains, but the quality is no longer there.  We were surprised by the constant effort and frequent harshness that attended the production of almost every note.  Perhaps this was occasioned by an over-anxiety to ‘fill’ the house, or by nervousness; but the effect was unpleasant.  In the window scene of the third act it became more than this. . . . [Kellogg was] the best Marguerite we have yet had.
Among the small parts, Mme. Johanssen [
sic] may be mentioned as doing all that her rôle required, and doing it in the best manner.  Her flower song was encored.  A better Marthe is required.  The quartette was spoiled by the present incumbent.  The chorus was by no means good, nor did the orchestra exhibit any particular excellence.  The mise-en-scene was far inferior to that of the Italians, but the dresses were incomparably better.”
23)
Announcement: New York Clipper, 17 September 1864, 182.
“An immense force of people has been engaged for the chorus and orchestra, and those young ladies who have been practicing the ‘Faust March’ on their pianos, may now have an opportunity to hear that great chorus in all its grandeur, and profit themselves thereby. . . . Those are rates [Grover’s prices] to suit all classes, and at which no one can grumble.”
24)
Review: New York Clipper, 24 September 1864, 190.
“Manager Grover inaugurated a season of German Opera at the Academy of Music on the 12th inst., under the conductorship of Carl Anschutz. Gounod’s ‘Faust’ was the initial performance. The attendance was very large, every part of the house being uncomfortably filled. Gounod has been unusually [felicitous?] in his distribution of the vocal parts. The various characters are so musically individualized, and so [peculiarly?] accompanied by the orchestra that the voice of the singer becomes as easily recognizable by the motivi, as he does by his costume. To secure this is the highest achievement of the dramatic composer. Another difficulty has been surmounted by Gounod—a difficulty the conquering of which has been the study of all German writers, and which, with the exception of Gluck, they have failed to surmount—we mean the natural and unforced moving of the chorus. In the drama, a line is sufficient for the removal of a host of attendants, a word may command their presence—a nod affect their exit. In lyrical works their presence and their voices are as vitally important as those of their Greek precursors. Their responses and their action are the keystone of the composer’s design. Great pains were taken in putting the opera on the stage in a particular manner. The costumes were new, and looked very well. The chorus was a complete one, and about the best heard in the Academy in some time. In the fourth act, the grand fanfare militaire was given in splendid style by the chorus and orchestra, assisted by the members of the Teutonia Society and Mentz’s Military Band. The ‘Soldier’s Chorus’ was received with thunders of applause, and received an encore. The role of Faust, owing to the absence of Mr. Himmer had to be undertaken by Sig. Tamaro, who sang in Italian, and acquitted himself remarkably well.  He looked well, acted with spirit and energy, and sang admirably from the beginning; his tones acquired depth and fullness, and his singing a passionate earnestness and expression. M. Joseph Herrman, who appeared as Mephistopheles, was decidedly the favorite of the evening. His make-up was capital; his exquisite taste in music, and admirable execution, must delight every true dilettante, while his grace and dignity of action, and impassioned energy, combine to produce the highest dramatic effects. Many circumstances may arise on the first night of a performance to produce false impressions and to render criticisms doubtful and dangerous. We can only therefore, with [?], give a record of our impressions. M’lle Marie Frederici both played and sang the role of Marguerite with natural and educated grace, and was frequently applauded. The opera was placed upon the stage in every way worthy the reputation of Manager Grover. The dresses and general appointments were all that could be desired, and the Manager evidently made every effort to secure, in a material point of view, the success of the new opera.”
25)
Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 01 October 1864, 319-20.
“Mr. Grover, manager of the German Opera, opened the musical season with Gounod’s ‘Faust.’  The great interest, and overflowing attendance, with which the public in general has received the performances of the German opera troupe, is justified by the improved management displayed.  Mr. Anschutz, though completely at home at the conductor’s desk . . . is not suited to the position of manager.  The costumes and decorations are much superior to the former mise en scene of the company; chorus and orchestra strong in proportion, and very effective under Anschutz’s baton.  But to ensure the future of the German Opera, all flavor of dilettantism about it must be done away with, and some of the voices replaced by better and fresher ones; for singers of good will and little voices are not sufficient. If Mr. Grover succeeds in this, his will be the merit of having grounded a lasting existence for German opera in this country, and that in spite of clique and cabal and plot and counterplot;  nor will he find his reward in pecuniary success alone, but also in the thanks and recognition of those to whom the welfare of art, in all its varied phases is dear.
The troupe consists of the following artists: Mme. Frederici, who possesses a fresh, powerful, sympathetic, and sufficiently extensive soprano voice. . . .  As Margarethe in ‘Faust,’ we consider her superior to all who have appeared in that character here, and when her acting has gained a little more finish—if it may, without  losing its charming naturalness, and without falling into conventionality—she is sure of success everywhere in this part.

Mme. Johannsen is a pains-taking artist; but she pleases us more in serious than in comic parts; in the latter her voice and acting display somewhat of triviality. . . .

Herr Hermanns is in stage appearance, acting, and voice so excellent a representative of Mephisto, that it would be difficult to imagine a more complete embodiment of the hero of the cloven foot. . . .

Herr Steinecke is a useful member of the company; although possessing little voice; but his intelligent acting partly atones for that deficiency, in characters of secondary importance.

As we have already said, the chorus and orchestra are excellent; indeed the chorus singers merit especial praise for their lively, careful, natural singing and—acting!

. . . ‘Faust’ is still the public favorite, and the commonplace soldiers’ chorus is still encored, to the horror of musical ears.  In consequence of Himmer’s illness, an Italian tenor, Tamaro, undertook the part of Faust with success.”