Maretzek Italian Opera: La forza del destino

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Carl Bergmann

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
29 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

28 Feb 1865, 8:00 PM

Program Details

“Fifteenth Subscription night.”

Performers and/or Works Performed


Advertisement: New-York Times, 25 February 1865.

Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 26 February 1865.

Advertisement: New York Herald, 27 February 1865.

Review: New-York Times, 27 February 1865, 5.

“The work was received with unquestionable favor on Friday last. The critics are unanimous on the subject of its merits.  We have rarely witnessed such unanimity of opinion.  Only a few years ago it was considered good taste to cavil at, and take exceptions to the music of this great master. When ‘La Traviata’ was produced, a writer on the weekly press stated—after giving vent to all his contempt—that if the management persisted in playing it he would not notice it again; so unworthy did it seem to him of any kind of distinction. After such a threat it was clearly VERDI’S duty to have withdrawn from public life, or if he obstinately persisted in writing, to cancel the offending score in question. Instead of doing so, he has given us ‘Un Ballo in Maschera,’—a work which many competent judges regard as his best—and ‘La Forza del Destino.’ Concerning this last, we have no hesitation in predicting that it will take its place for many years to come as one of the best standard Italian operas. It may not reveal the freshness of ‘Ernani,’ or the exquisite feeling of ‘La Traviata,’ but it is a firmer and better made work than either.  Youth is prodigal; age is thrifty, and in the end it is thrift that we admire.  How to make a little go a long way is the science of life, and all true art is human in this respect. It was knowledge that made MEYERBEER, not inspiration. For the first time VERDI places a value upon his own ideas. Instead of scattering them with idle programmes he selects the best and elaborates them with conscientious regard to their varying phases. There is a degree of strong, healthy coherence about ‘La Forza del Destino’ which we shall seek in vain in his other works.  The melodies are reticent, not blatant; they are vitally connected with the orchestral tissue, not trumpery excresences that may be cut out at pleasure.  The ensembles are dramatic, and occur naturally, not artificially, at the end of each act. In short, the work exhibits the ripened knowledge of a master—the careful intention of one who knows what he is about, and the indispensable charm of a natural melodist. A single hearing may pique curiosity, but it takes many hearings to fully gratify it. When familiarity has brought its acceptance, we are certain that ‘La Forza’ will be accepted as the great work of its composer.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 28 February 1865.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 28 February 1865, 8.
“[W]as so successfully produced on Friday evening last.”
Review: New York Herald, 01 March 1865, 4.
“The house was quite as large as on its first presentation, and looked as bright and beautiful as ever. The opera improves as we hear it more often; so do the artists, who all sang remarkably well last night, and were received with a just measure of applause. The audience, as in the case of Faust and Don Sebastian, appreciate more the merits of the splendid music as they grow familiar with it. New York can claim the right of having established the success of Verdi’s latest work, before London or Paris had an opportunity to pronounce upon it—for in neither of these capitals has it yet been presented. In Madrid and St. Petersburg it met with a very emphatic approval, and the public verdict here would seem to accord with that of the capitals of Northern and Southern Europe. From what we have already said it will be understood that the opera owes a great deal of its attraction—apart from its really fine music—to the dramatic situations, which afford an opportunity for good acting; and the scenic effects, which Mr. Calyo has so admirably introduced. Zucchi and Massimiliani were very fine last night, and we observed that the choruses were most carefully sung, especially in the second and third acts.”
Review: New York Post, 01 March 1865.

“The second performance of ‘La Forza del Destino’ was in every way more satisfactory than the first. The artists were in better voice, and the whole entertainment passed off more smoothly. The audience, too, were more thoroughly alive to the beauties of the music, though by no means as enthusiastic as the admirable performance should have made them.

            Several omissions have been made in the music, which bring the opera within a reasonable length. These omissions do not deprive the public of any important points excepting in the case of the charming clarinet solo which precedes the tenor romanza. The usual encore was awarded last night to the Rataplan chorus, which has all the vigor and far more originality than the popular one by Donizetti, in La figlia. The tenor and baritone duet in the last act again attracted much attention.

            The scenery by Calyo is good, if not great. There is a façade of a convent chapel and a closing view among the rocks, which are in every way creditable.”

Review: New-York Times, 01 March 1865, 4.
“It is still too soon to speak of the public acceptance of the work.  Being unlike anything that Verdi has yet written, it required a new class of hearers to do it full justice.  Judging, however, from the frequent and discriminatory applause last evening, this class will be forthcoming, and the verdict will, we are sure, be that ‘La Forza’ is the most carefully written work that the composer has ever offered to the public.”
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 06 March 1865.
“The novelty . . . the Forza del Destino, has continued, this week, to be the musico-fashionable preoccupation of this city. At the second performance, there were more people than at the first; that’s natural. A crowd attracts a crowd. . . It’s incredible how many people there are who come here less attracted by a spectacle than by the spectators. . . .Also, all the New York opera fans will go, doubtless, to see the Forza del Destino; but I don’t believe that they will come back a lot, nor that that work will last a long time on the boards.”