Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
16 November 2011
“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.”
" . . . . 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."
"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."