Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
25 February 2019
“The opera of Fra Diavolo is one of Auber’s most genuine inspirations. It is charming from beginning to end, and is literally overflowing with melodies, fresh, piquant, and sparkling. The ensemble pieces are richly harmonized, dramatic in form, and singularly expressive of character, and the orchestra score is replete with the charming mannerisms and unfailing imaginative responses for which the petitions of Auber are so justly esteemed. The leading themes are of course familiar to everyone, and, although so well known, they are as fresh as the happiest inspirations of Haydn. It is hard to believe that the new numbers, so fresh in their nature and so identical in character with the original music, could have been added by Auber after a lapse of thirty years and at the age of nearly four score years. And yet, such is the case, and it would puzzle the closest critic, on looking at the score in its present form, and not acquainted with the facts to detect any appearance of addition to the original. . . . It would be well if the visitors of the opera would strive to be a little more punctual. A perfect crowd entered the house just as the overture commenced and one half of that spirited and dramatic work was almost inaudible. This is intolerable to those who are punctual and desire to enjoy the introduction to the opera.
The overture, what we could hear of it, was spiritedly and brilliantly played, and the instrumentation throughout the opera was played with delicacy, and with praiseworthy attention to the dramatic coloring. We must remark, however, that very many of the number songs, duos and ensemble pieces, were taken at so slow a tempo as to lose their individuality and esprit. We do not know where the fault rests, whether with the conductor or the singers, but it is a mistake quite destructive of the author’s intention.
Miss Kellogg is a very charming Zerlina; she acts with spirit and sings with grace and facility. She has the one fault of overacting, which destroys in a measure she intended simplicity and innocence of the character. It is so [illeg.] perhaps on the right side, but it is one that she will do well to strive to correct.
Mdlle. Morensi shows herself a thoroughly true artist by making so much of a character so entirely unsuited by the register of the music to the quality of her voice. It is altogether out of her style, but she goes through with it [illeg.] and with grace.
Signor Lotti is the beau-ideal of anything but a old brigand. Slight in stature and figure, and small in voice, the eternal [illeg.] of things is nullified by assumption of such a part. [Illeg.] by what nature has denied him in such qualifications he offers, as a substitution, artistic style and grace in singing and [illeg.] of voicalism.Signor Bellini makes Lord Rochbourg a perfect character [illeg.] caricature of an English Lord, according to the most approved continental [illeg.] He [illeg.] the part with remarkable spirit and with a [illeg.] in the music which we were as [illeg.] His singing was in perfect accordance with his acting, and we must concede that he has made a decided hit, and has stamped the character his own. Lorini, Dubreuil, Weinlich, and Muller were all very acceptable in their roles [illeg.]. Indeed, the opera as a whole and [illeg.]. The choruses were sung with spirit and precision, and the public, appreciating the general excellence of the performance were [illeg.] of appreciation.”
Friday night, we let ourselves be charmed by Fra Diavolo….The public understands admirably well the works of Auber, and this is one of the works in M. Maretzek’s repertoire that promises him the most profitable receipts. And yet, the performance was not irreproachable. M.Lotti, in whom we still notice some progress, lacks the amplitude and elegance in the role of the handsome bandit as dreamed of by Scribe. M. Lorini was frankly bad. M. Bellini and Mlle Morensi were excellent, however. Mlle. Kellogg is a charming Zerline, although we may estimate her success as exaggerated. After all, one has to give a share to her nationality, which the audience takes into consideration. But it wouldn't be right, in her own interest, [to think] that Mlle Kellogg believes that she doesn't have any more to achieve. She has all the qualities of a delightful comic opera singer, but she has to develop them. She also needs to watch out that her charm doesn’t degenerate into affectation; and that she makes fewer errors of very shrill high notes with which she likes to end pieces.