Maretzek Italian Opera: Poliuto

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Max Maretzek

Price: 16/21

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
16 November 2011

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

28 Oct 1864, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Fifteenth subscription night.

Performers and/or Works Performed


Advertisement: New York Herald, 27 October 1864.

Announcement: New-York Times, 28 October 1864, 4.
“Donizetti’s ‘Il Poiluto,’ the greatest success of the season, will be produced for the last time.”
Advertisement: New-York Times, 28 October 1864, 7.
A “Card” from Maretzek to the public about the end of the current season and attractions of the upcoming season.  “The Academy of Music will remain closed during election week, after which the regular winter season of Opera will be commenced.”
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 28 October 1864.
Carozzi is as good a tragic actress as Grisi and Ristori, if not better.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 28 October 1864, 255.

Review: New York Herald, 29 October 1864.

          “The unpleasant weather of last evening reached culmination just at the moment when music lovers were about to start to the opera, and thus enough were deterred from braving the wind and rain to leave an unusual number of vacant seats in the house.

          This however, did not interfere with the brilliancy of the audience. The class of opera goers who dress with the most care are seldom prevented from attending by inclemency of the weather, and the Academy last night presented as handsome a display of toilets as on any previous occasion this season. Several ladies, indulging in the new style of powdered hair attracted much attention.

          The opera was Poliuto, given for the fourth time by the cast which has suddenly brought this hitherto unappreciated work of Donizetti’s into such prominent favor. Fine as were the previous representations, that of last night surpassed them all. The finale to the second act again exhibited to a remarkable extent the vocal power and histrionic intensity of the leading characters, who were all called before the curtain while, in the last act, Zucchi and Massimiliani eclipsed all their previous efforts. The tenor, in the magnificent conversion scene, introduced the prolonged high note which called forth most spontaneous and hearty applause, while the prima donna, always good, manifested a fervor and brilliancy which even she has rarely, if ever, equaled. Apart from her noble singing and acting in this opera, there is no character in which, personally, the lady has appeared to such advantage. Her costume, singularly becoming, permits the full and unencumbered use of a pair of arms and hands which might serve as models for a sculptor and which, in the exquisite gesticulation of Zucchi, are used with a grace and effect that excites exquisite admiration and delight. The costumes of Leonora and Lucrezia, in which Zucchi has hitherto appeared, have deprived our public of music of that personal grace which only the more flowing costume of classic times enables the beholder to appreciate. The management should introduce the new prima donna in Ione and Norma, for the same reasons that, and to render Paolina so triumphant a success, apply to those characters.”


Review: New-York Times, 29 October 1864, 5.
Brief mention.  “’Il Poliuto’ was repeated here last evening with the same success as heretofore. It has taken its place in the programme as one of the most popular operas in the repertoire.”
: Courrier des États-Unis, 31 October 1864.

     " . . . . The success of M. Massimiliani and of Mme Carozzi-Zucchi has grown still more. Although we have been understood to express the contrary opinion, we prefer M. Massimiliani to his predecessors. This tenor is very remarkable in Poliuto, and he supports Mme Zucchi handsomely. As for her, we can only repeat what we've been saying for a week, and to apply to her talent the comments that Voltaire wished to put at the bottom of all of Racine's pages: Beautiful, Wonderful, Wonderful, Beautiful. Without tracing it back to Grisi, we can say that we heard Mme Penco, who passes for the best tragedienne of Europe in the Italian theater, in Poliuto. Well, Mme Penco is also a great artist, but Mme Zucchi doesn't yield her anything in the splendid role of Pauline. If we were to express a preference, it would be for the singer we have among us. She well deserved the crown that decorated her on Friday."

Review: Musical Review and World, 05 November 1864, 357.
ITALIAN OPERA. Donizetti’s opera ’Il Poliuto’ was performed three times with marked success.  Especially it was Madame Carozzi-Zucchi who showed herself the true artist in the delineation of the role of ‘Pauline.’  We say so chiefly on account of her avoiding that ranting and screaming, which is almost demanded by the text as well as the music of this opera.  She gave with taste and a perfect control over her somewhat limited means all the points of that struggle between faith, love and duty that is said to be described in this beautiful specimen of dramatic music. Really, the unlimited applause she received was for once a well deserved one. Signor Massimiliani too did better than before, he sang with more ease and abandon, and seemed to know, what he was about, something which we could seldom discover in his rendering of former roles.  The others, Signor Bellini, Herr Weinlich, Chorus and Orchestra—all attributed to the success of this opera, one of the trashiest in existence. The text is a picture of the struggle between Christianity and Paganism. On one hand we have the endurance and enthusiasm of the Christians, on the other—the same of the Pagans. We suppose, this is the reason why Donizetti’s music to this opera is called ‘sacred.’ It is difficult to meet with more vulgarity in one work, than the Italian maestro offers us in this. The melodies are either borrowed from his other operas or utterly uninteresting. The conception is that of the man who wants to ‘do Paris’ in eight hours. A constant hop-hop, a constant rush; no time for inquiring into details, enough that the thing is touched, and on it goes to the next—shortly the opera is one long continuous gallop. If we remember well, there is such a thing as a Whirlwind-Gallop, published somewhere. This ‘sacred’ opera reminded us of it, it is a whirlwind illustration of the sufferings of our early Christians and our own.”
Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 12 November 1864, 344.
“The most effective [performance] was probably that of the weakest opera in the list, ‘Poliuto’—the weakest, if we take into consideration what might have been done with the subject, and how little Donizetti and his librettist have done; still there remain many dramatic moments, which can be brought out strongly into relief, when a highly dramatic artist, such as is Mme. CAROZZI-ZUCCHI, undertakes the character of Paolina. Beautiful, a careful actress, often carried by enthusiasm to a height of dramatic power that her good taste always prevents her from overstepping, possessing a powerful and pleasing voice of tolerable execution, and less touched in its freshness and steadiness than might be expected in an exponent of passionate music, no longer in the prime of youth, Madame Zucchi is undoubtedly the most satisfactory prima donna who has appeared on the Italian operatic stage here for some years.”
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 21 November 1864, 2.

     "M. Maretzek couldn't have inaugurated the winter [opera] season better than by bringing back Poliuto; and he did it well. It's in this opera that Mme Carozzi-Zucchi has perfected herself, and where she has definitively accomplished the conquest of the public. The great artist didn't belie herself last Monday, and she had magnificent flights that moved the coldest and made the most rebellious ears understand the music. We comprehend without any trouble why Milan and Naples have wrangled over Mme Zucchi with New York: La Scala and San Carlo surely haven't replaced her, for singers who unite the art of singing with that of tragedy to such an eminent degree are rare. We really worry that eventually a great European capital will take Mme Zucchi away from us, but we will at least have possessed the fullness of her artistry and her abilities.

     It should be said that M. Massimiliani worthily seconded Mme Zucchi in Poliuto. Formerly, our tenor distrusted himself and the public; they didn't abandon him. Today, he feels himself master of his voice and of the listeners, and was warmly applauded by the side of Mme Zucchi; that's the greatest praise we can give him. M. Massimiliani sings the prayer of the first act and the second-act duet perfectly; he isn't less outstanding in the sextet. He isn't as perfect in the opening air of the second act, whether because he's saving his talents or because that number isn't written well for his voice; he found himself in a passage that appeared to confound him every time, and where he abruptly cut off the sound, in a less than agreeable manner."