Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
2 May 2012
Announces performance originally scheduled for April 21, 1865.
Includes the same excerpts from the New York Herald and Dwight’s Journal of Music that appear in AD: NYH 05/05/65.
Includes a review from the New York Herald dated 09/24/64 - “It is a long time since Halevy’s grand opera was sung in this city. The announcement of its performance by the German artists drew to the Academy of Music one of those immense audiences to which we are now becoming accustomed but which at the opening of the season excited intense surprise and wonder. Before entering into any details as to the performance, we will give the plot of the opera as found in the libretto. It will doubtless interest many to whom ‘The Jewess’ is a novelty: -
The performance was a success to judge from the applause bestowed upon it by the immense audience. Himmer, as the Jew Eleazar, acquitted himself creditably of a role which taxes the best talent. In the first act, and in fact, throughout the opera, he was much applauded. Hablemann [sic], Mme. Johannsen and Mme. Rotter contributed to the success of the opera, the first singing very sweetly to the second act, which, by the way, was the most successful of the whole performance.
The opening chorus in the first act and its finale were rendered with great effect. We may add that all the choruses were admirably sung, while the instrumental music was exceedingly well rendered by M. Anschutz’s very effective orchestra. The mise en scene was fine.
‘The Jewess – Grand Opera by Halevy. – The opera presented entire. – This superb opera is very rarely presented entire in America, from the great difficulty and labor attending it through study and rehearsal, by both the principals and troupe. Its presentation this season (for the first time in several years) by the grand German Opera Company, attracted a series of the largest houses ever known or congregated at grand opera in the world.
Its rendition in this city, last week, drew forth one of the largest audiences, and created a genuine furor with the public and press.
The part of the Jew Eleazar is an eminently dramatic one, and M. Himme5r was admirably faithful and equal to its requirements. Mme. Johannsen as the Jewess, and Mlle. Canissa as the Princess Eudoxia both sang and acted with fine artistic skill and fervor. Their duet brought the house down, and it was indeed a fine triumph of double prima donnaship. Habelman was grateful to ear and eye in the part of the Prince; double primo tenorship also.’ – Dwight’s Journal of Music.”
“As the season of German Opera advances, the houses are more largely attended. Last night the Academy was pretty fairly filled, presenting one of the best appearances of the season. Halevy’s grand opera La Juive was given, with Mme. Johansen [sic], Mme. Rotter and Messrs. Weinlich, Himmer and Hableman [sic] in the cast. The latter gentleman was remarkably good as Leopold. Carl Formes, it appears, was suddenly attacked with the favorite disease of artists known as ‘indisposition,’ and, therefore, the part of the Cardinal was assumed by Weinlich, who sang it well, and was very warmly received.”
“Halevy’s grand opera of the ‘Jewess’ was given here last evening to a good audience; the best, numerically considered, of the season. The work is certainly one of the finest of the French repertoire. It is filled with ideas, and contains more melodic suggestions than any two or three productions of the present day. It was the exhaustive effort of the composer. Writing many other works, he has yet always returned to this as the fountain of his freest and best inspiration. Like all really elaborate works, it has made its way slowly, but its acceptance has been based on the firmest judgments of the world, and it would be superfluous and impertinent to question their authority now.
The performance was a very good one: mise en scene was fine, the choruses powerful, and the orchestra excellent. There was but a single disappointment. Herr Formes, who was announced as Cardinal, was unable to appear in consequence of indisposition. The role was sustained by Herr Wenilich [sic], who was in excellent voice, and did full justice to it.”
“Halevey’s [sic] grand, spectacular opera ‘La Juive’ was given at the Academy of Music last evening, with the following strong cast: Becha, Mme. Bertha Johannsen, Cardinal Brogni, Carl Formes, Eleazar, Frank Himmer, Princess Eudoxie, Mme. Rotter, Prince Leopold, Theodore Habelman, with clever subordinates, a powerful chorus and a vast number of supernumeraries.
The music of ‘La Juive’ is of a purely sensational character; while it lacks in quiet intensity—in the real evidence of earnest passion, it has immense power in its ensemble piece, and its passages of tearing emotion are fearful tests of the vocal and physical strength of the soprano and tenor especially. There are some touches of pure melody, which closely simulate passion, tenderness and sentiment, but the glimpses are very rare. We confess we have but little sympathy for individuals who are always in mortal agony, and yell out their crushing pangs at the top of their voices and with all the strength of their lungs, as is the case in this robustious opera. It is contrary to nature; the most miserable creature that ever lived has some moments of repose from agitation, and few people are in the habit of shrieking out ‘how miserable I am.’
Carefully as this Opera was sung, so far as regards the principal singers are concerned, it must be confessed that in vocal strength and endurance they are unequal to Halevey’s [sic] music. It is no disparagement to their abilities, for they are good, conscientious and capable artists, but this music over tasks all but stentorian lungs, and to our mind, clever as it is, it has so little spontaneity, so little reality, that it would not be deemed a calamity if it should disappear from the operatic repertoire. Formes did not appear, for reasons not explained. It would, indeed, be difficult to explain why singers do not sing.
The true reason is, of course, that they do not choose; they have their whims and their little vagaries, they defy the manager, and they snap their fingers at the public, which has not the pluck nor the dignity to rebuke such insolence, by hissing the perpetrator from the stage. A few such decided demonstrations would effectually cure the whimmiest of our public singers.
The concerted pieces, and the choruses especially, were really admirable. We could forgive the rest of the opera for the real pleasure which this department afforded us. The orchestral performance was also well worthy of praise.”