Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
29 August 2018
“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 After such a threat it was clearly VERDI’S duty to have withdrawn from public life, or if he obstinately persisted in writing, to cancel the offending score in question.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.”
“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.”