Maretzek Italian Opera: Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal – Opening Night of Season

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Carl Bergmann

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
25 February 2019

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

02 Feb 1865, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Don Sebastian (opera) includes an unidentified ballet.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Dom Sebastian, King of Portugal; Dom Sebastien; Don Sebastian
Composer(s): Donizetti
Text Author: Scribe
Participants:  Maretzek Italian Opera Company;  Bernardo Massimiliani (role: Sebastian);  Mlle. Ernestine;  Mlle. [dancer] Auriol;  Augustino Susini (role: Giovanni);  Domenico Lorini (role: Abaialdo);  Fernando [bass-baritone] Bellini (role: Camoens);  Carlotta Carozzi-Zucchi (role: Zaida)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 16 January 1865.

Advertisement: New York Herald, 24 January 1865.
Advertising the season and sale of subscriptions.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 24 January 1865.
Advertising the season and sale of subscriptions.
Announcement: New-York Times, 25 January 1865, 4.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 28 January 1865.
Announcement: New York Herald, 29 January 1865, 5.

Announcement: New-York Times, 30 January 1865, 4.
“[D]emand for boxes has been unusually large.”
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 30 January 1865.

Announcement: New-York Times, 01 February 1865, 4.
Brief preview of Maretzek’s opera season.  “[A] large number of the best boxes and seats have been disposed of for the series of twenty-four performances, and for the opening night, on Thursday next, there is already a rush. . . . It is curious to observe how completely—for the time being, at least—‘Don Sebastian’ has killed Gounod’s famous work” in Boston.”
Announcement: New York Herald, 02 February 1865, 1.

Review: New York Herald, 03 February 1865, 4.
“A very large, fashionable and really brilliant audience attended the reopening of the Academy last night, thereby testifying to the eagerness with which the lovers of Italian opera welcome that favorite and now indispensable luxury… The house was filled in every part; beauty of face and form and elegance of costume were conspicuous to an extent perhaps even greater than usual. A considerable intermingling of military and naval uniforms, with the more sober dress of the civilian, imparted a peculiar and most agreeable variety to the ensemble of the house. Among them were observable the handsome uniforms of several officers of the French navy. We have rarely seen the Academy present so elegant a picture as it did last night.  Don Sebastian was given with all its original attractions. The artists were in good voice, and were very enthusiastically received. Massimiliani never sang the part of the King so well. Zucchi was, as heretofore, exceedingly fine as Zaida, improving, if possible, on her previous rendition of that part. The encores of all the leading points of the opera were frequent, and the artists repeatedly received the compliment of a call before the curtain. ”
Review: New-York Times, 03 February 1865.
“The house was full, and the weather was fine. We have seldom seen a more fashionable assembly. The boxes were filled, the parquet and balcony crow[d]ed, and up stairs the lieges—who were privileged to hear good music for little money—cropped out in black but not picturesque masses. Mad. ZUCCHI was in superb voice, and threw into the rôle of Zaida all that subdued intensity which belongs to the best school of Italian art, but is exhibited to us but rarely on the American stage.  Sig. MASSIMILIANI’S rentrée is memorable for the fact that it marks a distinct improvement in his style. His manner is no longer indifferent.  He acts.  In the ritornelli, which are embarrassing to the best dramatic artists, he succeeded last evening in giving a bearable idea of the emotion—or change of emotion—intended by the composer, and throughout he exhibited strength, individuality, and even power. We record these facts with pleasure, because the defect of Signor MASSIMILIANI’S style, so far, has been a lack of warmness and identification with the character he was interpreting. In every other respect the gentlemen’s impersonation was admirable. He has seldom been in better voice. The romanza at the end of the second act was superbly rendered—the high note flowing easily and melodiously from his well-trained voice. Signor BELLINI—most conscientious, enthusiastic, and striving of artists—was excellent as Camoens. The performance, indeed, was in all respects a happy inauguration of a season which, although the last, bids fair to be the most brilliant on Mr. Maretzek’s honorable record.”
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 03 February 1865, 4.

“Mr. Maretzek commenced his new season at the Academy of Music last evening, with Donizetti’s serious opera, ‘Don Sebastian.’ This opera exhibits a phase of Donizetti’s art life, very different from that by which his name has been made so universally popular.  In this there is but little of that exquisitely sensuous music which has for so many years held possession of the public heart.  In place of this he has aimed at a certain modified severity of style, foreign to his nature, and not particularly successful as a whole.  It contains, however numbers beautiful in melody, dramatic in form and masterly in construction and effect.  These alone and sufficient to attract the refined and sensitive musician, who will pick out the gems from the mass of platitudes by which they are encumbered.  To the many this opera will always be attractive outside its music, its scenery, its pageantry, its costumes and its general costliness of detail.  As a spectacular opera we have had nothing like it since Mr. Maretzek produced ‘La Prophete’ [sic] years ago.

            The cast is very strong, embracing all the principals of the company, with the exception of Mdlle. Morensi.  Mdlle. Carozzi-Zucchi has a fine conception of the character of Zaida, and sustains it throughout the opera with a rare fidelity to nature; she never descends beyond its h[e]ight, but throws the whole strength of her feeling into the development of its passionate characteristics.  As an actress she often rises to the sublime, and we recognize in all she does the true, earnest, and conscientious artist.  She sang her role finely, especially in the latter part of the evening, when her voice was warmed up by emotion; in the first acts it was somewhat stiff and unmanageable, but it gradually attained its richness and fullness, and was fully equal to the splendid bursts of passion in which she so excels.  It is needless to say that her efforts were met with the warmest tokens of approbation, or that the usual honors were awarded her. 

            Massimiliani is not very happy in the part of Don Sebastian; it either does not suit him, or he does not suit it.  He appears to better advantage in almost every other character that he has undertaken.  Like Zucchi, he was cold and distrait in the first acts, and warmed to something like a passion-glow afterward. His voice is of fine quality, and he uses it like a true artist.

            Susini makes a burly and portentous Grand Inquisitor; his rich and sonorous voice fills the entire building. His acting is dignified and impressive, and he sang his music with emphasis and force.

            Camoens is one of Bellini’s best parts. He subdues his somewhat too demonstrative style and sings like the excellent artist he is. We have rarely heard anything more delicious than his rendering of the beautiful aria, ‘O Lisbona, alfin te moro;’ it is a fine specimen of passionate musical elocution. The secondary characters were well sustained.  The ensemble pieces were executed with unusual care and with more than usual attention to artistic coloring. The chorus, which comprises many fine voices, especially among the basses, was prompt and efficient, and the orchestra was handled with masterly skill by Carl Bergmann. This branch of the opera is an improvement over all previous seasons, and we can now listen with pleasure to the orchestral developments of the scores.

            The house was most fully and brilliantly attended, but it would have looked much better but for some gaps left by unoccupied seats of stockholders. When these unnecessary gentlemen cannot attend, they should allow the management to sell their seats for its benefit. It would be the only good thing they have ever done. ”
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 06 February 1865, 1.
Don Sebastien bore the expense of this evening, and this opera has never been better performed. MMs. Massimiliani and Bellini were powerfully good. We won’t talk this time about M. Susini, to whose throat an obstinate cat didn’t cease to attach itself during the entire show. Mme. Carozzi-Zucchi was perfect, but where she surpassed herself was in Poliuto, the day before yesterday….
Review: New York Clipper, 11 February 1865, 350.
“[Maretzek] has done remarkably well the attendance being quite fashionable . . .”