Maretzek Italian Opera: La traviata

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Max Maretzek

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
29 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

04 Oct 1864, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Fallen Woman
Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Piave
Participants:  Maretzek Italian Opera Company;  Elvira Brambilla (role: American debut);  Elena Zapucci (role: Amina);  Fanny Stockton (role: Flora);  Amati Dubreuil;  Fernando [bass-baritone] Bellini (role: Germont);  Bernardo Massimiliani


Announcement: New York Herald, 28 September 1864.

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 28 September 1864.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 01 October 1864, 7.

Sgra. Elvira Brambilla’s first appearance in America.

COMMENT: According to CEU (see below) Barnetche played the piano during an entr’acte.  No further information available.
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 03 October 1864, 1.

Announcement: New York Herald, 04 October 1864.
Tonight, the other prima donna, Brambilla, will make her appearance in this country in La Traviata, supported by Massimiliani and Bellini.”
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 04 October 1864.

Review: New York Herald, 05 October 1864.

“The Opera. SECOND NIGHT—DEBUT OF BRAMBILLA. The opening night of Mr. Maretzek’s opera season introduced to our public in Carozzi-Zucchi a lyric actress of the very first order of merit. The second night was marked by the first appearance of an artiste who, though different in style and caliber, also possesses unusual ability. Signora Brambilla, who sang last night in Traviata for the first time here has a high soprano voice, light, flexible, carefully trained and noticeably free from the unpleasant tremolo which has marred the performance of so many otherwise excellent vocalists who have recently appeared on our operatic stage. In person Brambilla is tall and graceful, with a highly expressive countenance and an easy, prepossessing manner. She is, too, a careful singer, and acts well, without over acting. Against these advantages can only be arrayed the fact that the lower part of her voice—say from middle G downward—is too weak and thin to be effective in tragic passages; and, in the heaviest concerted pieces cut clearly through the mass of sound produced by the other singers. Brambilla, by the way, dresses with charming taste, and, unlike most of the Violettas who have preceded her, appeared in the second act in a becoming riding dress.

            The lady was naturally timid in the earlier acts and interested the sympathy rather than excited the enthusiasm of the audience. In the last act, however, she sang so well as to leave no cause to regret the absence of any of her predecessors in the part. The air Addio del Passato has never been given with sweeter pathos than it was by Brambilla last night; both in acting and vocalization this scene, as well as others in this act, was perfect.

            The tenor Massimiliani sang much better than on Monday night, and was heartily encored in his romanza, Dei miei bollenti spiriti, to which he added the allegro movement so frequently omitted—always by Brignoli. In the last act, too, he sang with great effect, while his dignified bearing and easy action increased the good opinion already formed of him. In some passages he exhibited a power that was absolutely thrilling, and promises well for his success in such great parts as Raoul and John of Leyden.

            Bellini was the Germont père, and sang the music of the rôle in his best style. A word or two of praise is also due to Miss Stockton and Signora Zapucci on the unobtrusive, yet satisfactory manner in which they filled the little parts of Flora and Annina. During the third act there was a touch of ballet, in which Mademoiselle Ernestine made a brief meteoric appearance. The attendance was large for an off night.”
Review: New York Post, 05 October 1864.

“City Intelligence. Brambilla at the Academy of Music. Last evening Maretzek’s second prima donna, Elvira Brambilla, made her first appearance before an American public, and was received with sufficient applause to claim for herself a successful débût, Her voice is not powerful, but very clear and penetrating, without any tendency to shrillness, and in the upper register is loud enough for the lighter class of lyric dramas. The lady sings very artistically. There is no shrieking, no tremolo, no trickery in her style. Her personal appearance also is strongly in her favor, and her graceful style of acting cannot fail to interest an audience. Probably owing to fright, she did not sing well enough to attract any special remark in the brilliant opening scene of ‘Traviata’ or in the sparkling brindisi; but in the last act she gave great satisfaction. Her idea of Violetta is far different from that of Gazzaniga, which resembles the Camille of Matilda Heron; it is quiet and ladylike, and though less hysterical, quite as pathetic and touching. It may interest some opera-goers who were not at the Academy last night, to be informed that in features Brambilla is the most beautiful woman who has appeared on our operatic stage since Guerrabella.’

            Massimiliani last night fully justified the good judgment of Maretzek in selecting him to be the leading tenor of his company. In power, expression and taste he was quite up to the first-class standard, and some of the cadenzas which he added to his arias were given with most admirable effect. In the duet Parigi O Cara, and in his romanza in the second act, he was heard to excellent advantage.

            Bellini sings every night so well that a criticism of his performance is, after all, but a repetition of words of commendation. His Di Provenza last night was one of the finest specimens of baritone singing that could be desired.
Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 05 October 1864.
Elvira Bambilla’s debut performance was very good.  Her voice has a wide range and a pleasant sound, except in the high notes, where it sounds too sharp, still lacking in skill in the coloraturas.  Massimiliani was the star of the evening.  The little aria at the beginning of the 2nd act was so exceptional that the audience demanded an encore.  Bellini was extraordinary as usual.
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 10 October 1864, 1.
Brambilla’s voice was feeble in acts I, II, and III, but much more satisfying in Act IV.  Until we hear her again, we shall regard her as a light singer, not very apt for showing passion.
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 10 October 1864, 2.
About Barnetche’s playing. “[…] we shall mention a concert in which we applauded Mlle. Barnetche. We had the pleasure to hear this excellent pianist on Tuesday, during an entr’acte of La traviata. Courage, mademoiselle, you belong to the good school, your style is sober and elegant, your performance brilliant, and your reputation will only grow.”