Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
25 February 2019
“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. ”