Maretzek Italian Opera: Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
28 September 2011

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

29 Nov 1864, 7:30 PM

Program Details

Tenth subscription night. Increased chorus and orchestra.

Donizetti: Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal
Includes: Incidental ballet [Ballet, unidentified] by Mlle. Ernestine and Mlle. Auriol

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;  Fernando [bass-baritone] Bellini (role: Camoens);  Carlotta Carozzi-Zucchi (role: Zaida);  Bernardo Massimiliani (role: Sebastian);  Mlle. Ernestine;  Mlle. [dancer] Auriol;  Augustino Susini (role: Giovanni);  Domenico Lorini (role: Abadialos)


Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 26 November 1864.

Advertisement: New York Herald, 27 November 1864.

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 27 November 1864.

Advertisement: New York Herald, 28 November 1864.
Full cast list.
Announcement: New York Herald, 29 November 1864.
Third performance.
Announcement: New York Post, 29 November 1864.

Announcement: New-York Times, 29 November 1864, 4.
Listed in “Amusements This Evening.”
Advertisement: New-York Times, 29 November 1864, 7.
Brief excerpt of a review from The World.  The success of the performance on the previous Friday was “more positive than was that of ‘Faust,’ when originally played here a year ago.”
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 29 November 1864.

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 29 November 1864.

Review: New York Herald, 30 November 1864, 1.
“The Opera. The very marked appreciation of the audience last night proves that Don Sebastiano is growing in favor as it becomes more familiar to the public ear. The house—as on the two previous nights of its presentation—was immense. The artists were quite as good as usual, and the smoothness with which the great spectacular parts went off show that it only required a little practice on the part of the very large force employed on the stage [word cut off] render the difficult scenic effects perfect. Massimiliani received the tribute of a call and an encore by the excellent rendering of the romanza Deserio in terra. [Word cut off] other morceaux were also very enthusiastically encored. [Words cut off]  Zucchi gaining still more the good graces of the audience. The opera will be repeated on Friday night.”
Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 30 November 1864.
“As mentioned before, the music which would have been
worthy being worked at by Meyerbeer does not live up to its full potential. The introduction can hardly be called an overture. The aria or better ‘romanze’ for the baritone (Camoens) was insignificant and less impressive than the choir piece ‘Giustisia divina’ and Zaida’s recitation aria, ‘Signor Clemente e pio’, the last mentioned clearly showing Donizetti’s signature by the way it uses the guitar, flutes and clarinets. The ensemble number of the prophecy of the Camoens is quite effective. Here the composer uses almost continually a unisono on stage and a fully-composed piece in the orchestra. A respectable women’s choir closes the act that otherwise and without the thundering of the canons would not have made a big impression. The second act is consistently very weak. The opening women’s choir is colorless, and the romance ‘Terra adorata’ is only mildly entertaining if only to experience Zaida on this occasion. However, the rest of the act is tiring and downright boring and not even – what would be typical for Donizetti – melodious.  The duet and the tenor aria ‘Deserto in terra’ are excluded here; the melody of the aria is rather pleasant-sounding and will stay in people’s heads for quite a while. In the third act we would only like to mention the duet between Sebastian and Camoens and the funeral march. The latter is as simple as gripping. The fourth act is the best. The highlight and crucial point of the opera is the septet which covers almost half of this act. The scene leading into the septet is quite effective and well-done (description of the scene follows); the septet being sung by a soprano, three tenors and three bases. Musically it is typical for the composer, fiery and melodious and although only moderately well performed will always be received enthusiastically by audiences. The duet for soprano (Zaida) and tenor (Sebastian) in the fifth act is interesting and is followed by a barcarole for baritone which is of noble and beautiful melodious character. The latter leads into an aria which should end the opera, because the rest of the final act does not offer any climax to satisfy the audience.
Despite the many weaknesses, ‘Don Sebastian’ will always stay an impressive and ingenious opera which deserves to be listened to. The Maretzek Society cast the major parts with fine singers who fill the parts excellently. In addition, the direction of the house put a lot of effort in creating a striking stage set with lots of splendor. Yesterday’s third performance could be called almost perfect; choir and orchestra deserve a lot of credit including their conductors.”

Announcement: Dwight's Journal of Music, 10 December 1864, 364.