Maretzek Italian Opera: Jone

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Max Maretzek

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
7 May 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

02 Oct 1865, Evening

Program Details

Debut of Enrichetta Bosisio.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Ultimo giorno di Pompei ; Last Days of Pompeii; Ione
Composer(s): Petrella
Text Author: Peruzzini


Announcement: New York Post, 01 October 1865, 3.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 01 October 1865.
Advertisement: New York Post, 02 October 1865.
Announcement: New-York Times, 02 October 1865, 4.

“First time in two years.  The distribution is unusually strong, and affords an opportunity for the début of Mr. Maretzek’s new prima-donna, Mlle. Bosisio in the title role.  The lady is quite young, and her personal appearance will not be unnoticed among her other attractions.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 02 October 1865.

New York Debut of Bosisio.  She “is scarcely past 20, charming in form and exceedingly pretty. Her appearance will enlist the sympathies of all, and she is said to have a very beautiful voice, well cultivated and to possess fine talent. Such is the report, and if true, there can be little doubt of her achieving success. The opera this evening is of still further interest to us, as it brings back Signor Mazzoleni, one of the finest tenors that ever visited our shores.  As a tenor robusto, he has but few equals in the world.”

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 02 October 1865.
Announcement: New-York Times, 02 October 1865.

The first performance of this opera in two years, with the principal singers listed.

: Strong, George Templeton. New-York Historical Society. The Diaries of George Templeton Strong, 1863-1869: Musical Excerpts from the MSs, transcribed by Mary Simonson. ed. by Christopher Bruhn., 02 October 1865.

“As Ellie wanted to hear the new prima donna (Bossissino or Bossissini—what matters the name of a woman whose vocation is to sing such drivel as she sang tonight?) we walked to the Ac. of Music and took seats in the Balcony.  House over-crowded with an enthusiastic and enlightened public.  Heaven help the public wits!  There was ‘Ione’ by one ‘Petrella.’ Libretto supposed to be related to Bulwer’s novel ‘The Last Days of Pompeii.’  People behind the footlights seemed to be having a dreadful time.  I don’t know about what, nor do I care. And the audience neither knew nor cared.  Enough for them that it was Lyric Drama and High Art and a Masterpiece of a great composer, with whom it would be simply absurd to compare such an obsolete bewigged old pedant as—e.g.—Mozart.  We sat through three acts of twaddle and twiddlings and unsure vocalization and just as I had made up my mind of offer E. a douceur of fifty dollars if she would spare me the fourth, she spontaneously announced that she had had enough, and we came off.  One should be very thankful for getting off with only three fourths of an Ione.  It is a specimen of the lowest degradation and debasement to which the apparatus of music (viz. good voices, a chorus, and an orchestra) can be seduced by human imbecility.  Verdi’s operas are bad enough.  He can express certain coarse passions in a barbaric and vulgar but effective way, and can do nothing more.  He is among composers what I suppose Edwin Forrest to be among actors—a great dull brutal muscular athlete, satisfying the Bowery Theatre with his bouncing and hallooing.  But this wretched Petrella is the smallest of monkies striving to equal the vigorous rampant bestiality of the biggest and fiercest of Blue-Nosed Baboons. ‘Ione’ is all feeble and flat and foolish and absolutely insignificant and null, except that one perceives now and then an attempt to speak so as coarsely & as vehemently as Verdi, and a total failure to do so.  The production of this opera is an act of Profanation or Blasphemy against the noble and sacred art of music.”

Review: New York Post, 03 October 1865.

“The most brilliant and cordially enthusiastic audience of the season was attracted . . . last evening by the announcement of ‘Ione.’ That the return of Mazzoleni to the Academy of Music had a great deal to do in bringing about this result was proved by the hearty and noisy reception awarded to him. It shows how thoroughly he is remembered and appreciated by our musical public. His performance of the part of Glauco was marked by all his usual intensity and vocal magnitude and he depicted the few gentler emotions introduced in this boisterous opera with equal success. His singing of the love song Dell’Ilisso sulle sponde was one of the most delightful bits of vocalization we have heard. At times Mazzoleni’s voice showed signs of weariness, but the audience seemed to find nothing in his performance to call for aught else but applause.

          Adelaide Phillips, Antonucci and Bellini all lent efficient aid. The performance of the two former was satisfactory, but does not call for special remark; and Bellini’s Arbace is too well known and too thoroughly admired to need further comment.

          The new prima donna Bosisio was kindly received on her first appearance. She possesses a good voice and is personally handsome and prepossessing. It is believed she suffered terribly from stage fright, and either this detracted much from her performance, or else the audience were too mindful of the last Ione for the new comer to gain satisfaction. In fact, Bosisio created no decided impression either way. That she has the elements of an admirable singer there is every reason to believe; but she did not appear to advantage Monday night. In some other part, when she will probably justify the anticipations of the public.”

Review: New-York Times, 03 October 1865, 4.

“A house of magnificent proportions, and full of what the Irish call the ‘quality’—more so than on any other evening since the season began—assembled here last night. The occasion was the revival of a favorite opera, and the return to the operatic stage of one of the best tenors we have ever had on it. The first was Petrella's ‘Ione;’ the second Signor Mazzoleni . Let us at once record the genuine favor with which the gentleman was received. His appearance was the occasion for a burst of applause, so hearty and kindly in its nature that it was apparent it came from those who remembered his previous triumphs, and were glad to see him back to win others. The reception, if it may be dignified by the name, was quite flattering, and somewhat unusual. New-York as a rule is decidedly ungrateful to its favorites. It is glad, on any pretext, to get rid of them. Remember how this precious community used that unfortunate Brignoli, the man who is declared at this moment to be not only the successor to but the equal of Mario. No; as a rule we save our applause for new comers, and are fractious and unfair when called upon to confirm our early preferences.

          It is somewhat different with operas. Right or wrong we hold by what we like with singular tenacity, probably because we do not think of applauding a new work until we have become thoroughly acquainted with it. ‘Ione’ on its first presentation was listened to with civil patience and a well-bred show of attention. Every one acknowledged that there was a great deal to see in it, and much to hear. After a short while it became the most popular opera in the repertoire, and will we think always maintain a part of this popularity. The music, whilst it preserves all the easy flow of the Italian school, is yet free from that ordinary stamp which we find strongly marked in so many admirable works. Signor Petrella has found a way for himself. He is clear and consistent in pursuing it. The music of ‘Ione’ is original—not a very large style of originality perhaps—but still original. The finale to the third act and the whole of the second and fourth acts are at least equal to anything that the Italian stage can now boast. There is a little sameness in the solos, but the concerted music, as a rule, is spirited and melodious throughout.

          The cast last night was, we think, in many respects an improvement on the original one.  Miss Adelaide Phillips was decidedly better than Mlle. Sultzer [sic], and Signor Antonucci was an improvement on Signor Biachi.  The role of the priest was, as heretofore, in the hands of Signor Bellini.  It would be difficult to make a change for the better. The artists we have named were all in good voice, and sang excellently.

          Signor Mazzoleni’s trip to Mexico has not repressed that artistic ardor which was his characteristic of old. He identifies himself so entirely with the character he is impersonating, that his dramatic energy sometimes causes him to forget his vocal resources, or rather to overtax them. True, these resources are great, and are, as far as we can tell, unimpaired. The very trying music of the second act was never sung with more effect, or in a larger, grander style. Throughout the opera, indeed, Signor Mazzoleni was intense, impressive and good.

          The debutante Mlle. Bosisio did not fully come up to the anticipations formed of her.  The title role, indeed, is somewhat too heavy and important for any singer who is not thoroughly at home with the audience and the music.  This was not, we apprehend, the case with Mlle. Bosisio, whose voice and manner were alike disturbed by an excess of trepidation. We are assured that the lady has appeared on the Italian stage, although it was impossible last night to detect any trace of professional routine, except, perhaps, in a few dramatic movements, and a certain ease in coming on and going off the stage. It would be obviously unfair to speak of the lady under these circumstances.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 03 October 1865, 4.

“The production of Petrella’s opera, ‘Ione,’ attracted a very large and brilliant audience last night.  The house was so full that the unusual announcement was posted outside, ‘Standing room only.’ Such large audiences clearly indicate the deep interest which the public takes in operatic music, when the company is worthy of its favor. The cast of ‘Ione’ was very strong; all the artists were recognized favorites, with the exception of Mdlle. Enrichetta Bosisio, who tried her strength last night against the critical judgment of our musical circles.

          ‘Ione’ is a very noisy opera; it is a perpetual flurry from the beginning to the end. Everybody is troubled, but none of them have ‘a silent sorrow,’ for all shout out their grief in the public highway, but are unobserved where others are shouting too. Petrella is a noisier and weaker style of Verdi, an imitator without his genius. There is literally not one clear, straight-forward melody in the work. Very many small but good phrases are found, but they have hardly formed into shape, before the composer diverges, cuts up the thought, whittles it down to a skeleton, which nobody cares for, and then goes over the same routine immediately. There are, of course, redeeming points, but they bear little comparison to the whole work. There is some good music in the third act, especially the ‘dead march,’ and for immensity of effect, so far as outspoken volume of sound is concerned, we have rarely heard anything louder and more tumultuous than the finale of the third act. It seemed, however, to delight the audience, who shouted and ‘bravoed’ till they were hoarse, and all the artists had been recalled before the curtain a second time. This was the grand success of the opera.

          The sanguine friends of the management must have been disappointed with the debutante at first, for Mdlle. Bosisio made but little impression in the two first acts.  She, however, aroused the enthusiasm of the audience somewhat in the third and fourth acts.  She is decidedly handsome, well-formed and interesting—strong points in her favor.  She bears herself well and is a good actress—a little too demonstrative, perhaps—and her voice is of that material from which a brilliant singer can be made.  Her upper notes, when tasked much, are rather harsh—the result more of a faulty method than of the voice itself, and which can be overcome by a little judicious study, as her intonation is already true.  Bosisio is one of those artists who are forced by circumstance too early upon the stage.  She seems to have received a good dramatic education, but the delicate and intelligent culture of the voice has been sadly neglected.  All the graces of the vocal art so necessary to all classes of music, and to Italian opera particularly, were either cast aside as being of less importance than the production of a great body of emphatic sound, or have not been included in her study.  To sum up her style in a word, it is raw.

          We have said that she possesses first-rate materials from which to make a good singer. She has youth, and beauty of form and figure, is a good actress, has sentiment and passion, sings well in tune, and has a voice of a timbre favorable to work upon, and she only needs a more precise education to fit her for a high position. Experience will do much for her—just and kind criticism more—and we may yet send her back to Europe an accomplished singer, to win a reputation and a success which she could hardly hope to achieve now.  We have no doubt that she will improve with each performance, and her personal appearance and her impulsive acting will win favor with a large portion of the public.

          Mazzoleni’s reappearance was the signal for a burst of applause, long continued, and of the most enthusiastic character. He is evidently warmly appreciated by the New-York public. He sang with great spirit and fervor, but with far too little shading to give due effect to his tremendous force. Because a horse is a horse, we do not expect him to neigh all the time. It is well to have a giant’s voice, but it is not always well to use it like a giant. One fine bit of artistic singing we must place to his credit, namely: ‘O Ione! O di quest’anima.’ He rendered this most charmingly, and if our singers would remember that perpetual loud singing is not pleasant to our cultivated ears; that no music demands it; that in real life people do not continually bawl at each other, we should have fewer prematurely worn-out voices, and the intellectual would prevail over the muscular vocal art, at present in vogue.

          Miss Adelaide Phillips, Signori Bellini and Antonucci were respectively excellent.  The orchestration was most brilliantly played, and its many delicate effects were carried out conscientiously.  The chorus, too, was most excellent and we have rarely heard the ensemble pieces given with more accuracy, force and spirit.

          Some of the scenery was singularly original. The grand street in Pompeii, for instance, cannot fail in recall to the classic traveler the well-remembered localities of that disinterred city. He will recognize those ancient gable roofs together with the graceful cathedral spires rising up in the heathen heavens, and dedicated, of course, to heathen gods. We can learn important chronological facts by attending the Academy of Music.”

Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 03 October 1865, 8.

Very well attended as all operas have been lately. It seems as though a night at the opera has become so fashionable that even less favorable works as Jone draw large audiences. Certainly the debut of the new primadonna Bosisio could have been another reason for the filled auditorium.

          The warm reception of the debutante helped to alleviate her beginning timidity. The seemingly young, slender and attractive woman with a pleasant voice and a graceful stage presence sang beautifully. This opera is certainly not an easy work to debut with. Verdi has not written another opera that requires such a strong and dramatic vocal ability. Furthermore, the memory of the monumental Medori who sang the part two years ago, is quite something to compete with. The loveliness of Bosisio’s voice will require other parts to show its full splendor. We would like to hold off with a more detailed analysis of Bosisio’s voice, until we hear her in other roles.

          Mazzoleni was received enthusiastically and did not disappoint. He seems to have gained “fire” since his travels in the summer. His acting in the second and third act was almost too lively. Bellini was excellent as usual just as Antonucci, who proved himself again as the best Italian base we had in years. Mrs. Phillipps sang decently and accurately, however, without warmth. The cast of this opera was better than we ever had except of course for the Medori as Jone.

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 07 October 1865, 233.

Well attended event despite the dispute between the Herald and Maretzek. Tonight Signor Mazzoleni was celebrated as one of the most significant tenors of the present time again. His robust voice, his skillfulness in its application, his dramatic expression, and his fine acting ability is not spoiled by his minor flaws, which can be easily corrected if someone will tell him about them: his sometimes too strong expression and the lack of attention to the rounded sound of his voice.

          Signora Bosisio is a very young and pretty woman who with diligent training is certainly capable of a beautiful development of her mezzo soprano. Although she is not a beginner anymore she will still need more practice to convince in dramatic roles.

          Miss Phillips pleased as Nidia, less so as Orsini.

          Signor Bellini gave a favorable impression due to the “splendor” of his voice, which is the most metallic sounding we know. He sings with fire and dramatic accent; however his voice is lacking warmth. Furthermore, he does not nuance well and is not diverse enough with the colors of his voice.

          Signor Antonucci could have done better. However, altogether Jone was the best opera of the season.