Bel demonio

Event Information

Niblo's Garden

Proprietor / Lessee:
William Wheatley

Manager / Director:
William Wheatley
L. J. [Niblo's Garden] Vincent

Harvey Bradley Dodworth

Event Type:
Play With Music

Record Information


Last Updated:
27 July 2011

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

16 May 1864, 7:45 PM
17 May 1864, 7:45 PM
18 May 1864, 7:45 PM
19 May 1864, 7:45 PM
20 May 1864, 7:45 PM
21 May 1864, 7:45 PM

Program Details

L.I. Vincent (director) was also the stage manager and producer. Messrs. Hilliard and Maeder, scenery; Mons. Phillipe, costumes; Messrs. Runyon and Burnett, mechanical effects; S. Wallis, furniture and appointments. Grand Ballet of Sixteen Selected Choryphers.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Text Author: Brougham
Participants:  Niblo's Garden, corps de ballet;  Mr. [actor] Murray (role: Marti);  Mr. [actor] Styles (role: Captain of the Guard);  Mlle. [dancer] Kruger;  Rose Eytinge (role: Lena);  Mary Wells (role: Countess Campireali);  Mrs. [actor] Moore (role: Margarita);  James W. Collier (role: Fabio Campireali, his son);  Mary [actress] Everett (role: Sister Agatha);  James F. Hagan (role: Cardinal Montalto);  Rosina Vokes;  Felicita Vestvali (role: Angelo);  James G. Burnett (role: Ranncolo);  Mlle. Katrina;  Mr. [actor] Haupt (role: Martes);  Emma Skerrett (role: Abbess of De Castro);  Mr. [actor] Welsh (role: Bruno);  J. W. Blaisdell (role: Tomaso);  E. B. [actor] Holmes (role: Giotto);  Mlle. [dancer] Ella;  E. Berry [actor] Rendle (role: Luigi);  John J. Nunan (role: Count Campireali)
Text Author: Fiske
Participants:  Felicita Vestvali


Advertisement: New-York Times, 02 May 1864, 7.
“Will be speedily produced, John Brougham’s grand romantic spectacular drama, (the present theatrical sensation of London), entitled BEL DEMONIO, which, after many months preparation, will be presented with an excellent cast, beautiful new scenery, splendid appointments, new and costly costumes, original music, premier danseuses and grand ballet.”
Announcement: New York Clipper, 07 May 1864, 30.

“It is thought this spectacular drama will take the town by storm.”

Announcement: New York Post, 09 May 1864.

“The production of ‘Bel Demonio’ has been postponed yet another week.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 May 1864, 7.

“This famous Drama, after many months’ preparation, will be presented with an excellent cast, beautiful new scenery, splendid appointments, new and costly costumes, original music, premier danseuses, and grand ballet.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 14 May 1864, 38.
“John Brougham’s drama of ‘Bel Demonio’ will not be produced at Niblo’s Until May 16th.  Mr. and Mrs. Barney Williams continuing their engagement in the meantime.”
Advertisement: New York Herald, 16 May 1864.
Full cast list.
Announcement: New-York Times, 16 May 1864, 5.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 May 1864, 7.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 16 May 1864.

“‘Bel Demonio’ which has long been in course of preparation at Niblo’s Garden will this evening be produced, with all the scenic splendor for which Mr. Wheatley has made his theatre chiefly famous.  Mlle. Vestvali will sustain the character of the young lover—that which in London has in turn been personated by Messrs. Fechter and George Jordan.  The entire cast promises to be an effective one.  Marvelous ballet, and other agreeable things are also be expected.”

Announcement: New York Post, 18 May 1864, 2.

Review: New-York Times, 19 May 1864, 5.
Good history of the play.  “NIBLO’S GARDEN.—The new sensation drama of ‘Bel Demonio’ was produced at this house on Monday evening.  Mr. John Brougham is accredited with the authorship, but ‘Bel Demonio’ can be traced back to an earlier French origin. Thirteen years ago, Mr. Dion Boucicalut had discovered the original.  With remarkable skill he converted it into a drama called ‘Sixtus the Fifth,’ being assisted in his labors by Mr. John V. Bridgeman.  This piece was played at the Olympic Theatre, London, in 1851.  Subsequently, Mr. Boucicault remodeled and abbreviated the work, changing its name to the ‘Pope of Rome,’ under which title it was played at Niblo’s Garden in October, 1858.  The only important difference between the ‘Pope of Rome’ and ‘Bel Demonio,’ is that the first-named piece is well-written, while the other is commonplace in language, and slovenly in characterization.  The situations are, of course, the same in both plays, with the exception of a preposterous leap in Mr. Brougham’s version, which brings down the house, and serves no other purpose.  In all essential respects Mr. Boucicault’s play is so much superior to Mr. Brougham’s that we cannot help expressing our amazement at Mr. Wheatley’s preference for the latter.  It may be added, however, that in any form the situations make it an effective and interesting drama.”
Announcement: New York Clipper, 21 May 1864, 46.

Full cast listing included. “The New Theatrical Sensation is ‘Bel Demonio’ to be produced for the first time in America, this evening, the 16th inst., at Niblo’s Garden. No expense has been spared by Manager Wheatley to present the play before an American audience in proper form: new scenery, new and appropriate costumes, mechanical effects, etc., have been in course of preparation for several weeks, while rehearsals have been going on for some time in order that nothing might be left undone to ensure success from the beginning.  ‘Sixteen selected coryphees’ are in the ballet, led by Mlle. Katarina, Ella Kruga, and Rosina, all under the direction of Signor Ronzani. There will be between two and three hundred persons engaged in the new piece. John Brougham is the author of the new play, which has met with extraordinary success in London. Vestvali has been engaged for the leading part of Angelo, and the rest of the cast is as follows:-- [cast list]. 

‘Bel Demonio’ will draw immense houses, and will inaugurate the summer season with in a very brilliant manner.”
Advertisement: New York Clipper, 21 May 1864, 47.

“This being the commencement of the Summer season, the ILLUMINATED GARDENS WILL BE OPENED AS USUAL.”

Review: New York Clipper, 28 May 1864, 54.

Long review, with history of the play and a very detailed description of the plot.  “Bel Demonio”, the latest London sensation, was produced at Niblo’s on the 16th inst., the performance being attended by one of the most crowded houses of the season, every seat being occupied, and when the curtain rose even standing room was like almost everything else now-a-days, at a premium. . . . Mr. Wheatley, in announcing the play, promised new scenery, new costumes, new appointments and novel mechanical efforts, besides and excellent corps de ballet, and a liberal force of auxiliary aid; and in every respect did he keep his word. The cast presented was in some respects good, while the errors consequent upon a first performance, such as a forgetfulness of the text and mismanagement of the scenic effects, were unusually few, the principal drawback being the great delay between the sets, one that each successive performance will no doubt lessen. The music was not on a ‘par,’ we thought, with the excellence of the other features of the presentation, though it was nevertheless good. . . . The third scene of the [first] act represents the grand hall of the palace. . . . When the council is dissolved, the hall vacated, and night ensues, Lena enters and prepares for a clandestine interview with Angelo, who visits her through the window and sings that charming air ‘You are the Star.’ . . . The 2nd act opens with a scene representing the exterior of an Italian Inn, the occasion of a crowd of peasants that are assembled being the celebration of the festival of the Patriots, during which the efficient corps de ballet go through with the beautiful Tarantella dance. . . . Vestvali, who was engaged to appear as Angelo, looked and dressed the part exceedingly well, but it was a very difficult thing to understand one-third of what she was talking about.  Her broken English was almost too much for us on this occasion.”

Review: New York Clipper, 28 May 1864, 54.

“Manager Wheatley opened the festive ball on Broadway with a new sensation called ‘Bel Demonio,’ and all New York flocked to see it.”