Maretzek Italian Opera: Dom Sébastian, roi de Portugal

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Max Maretzek

Carl Bergmann

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
25 September 2012

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

14 Feb 1866, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Dom Sebastian, King of Portugal; Dom Sebastien; Don Sebastian
Composer(s): Donizetti
Text Author: Scribe


Advertisement: New-York Times, 10 February 1866.
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 14 February 1866.
Review: New York Post, 15 February 1866, 2.

     “Ash Wednesday is not usually a favorable occasion for operatic demonstrations, but if the audience at the Academy of Music was the smallest of the season, it was also one of the most enthusiastic. The opera ‘Don Sebastian’ was splendidly performed, Zucchi, Bellini and Massamiliani doing even better than on the first night.  The duet and tenor romanza of the second act, and the septet of the fourth, were encored.”

Review: New-York Times, 15 February 1866, 4.

     “ACADEMY OF MUSIC.—Donizetti’s opera of ‘Don Sebastian’ was revived last night with complete success.  The work possesses all the elements of popularity, and satisfies the eye as well as the ear.  The ensembles and tableaux are effective in both respects, particularly that at the end of the third act.  Mr. Maretzek’s chorus and orchestra are better now than they were last year.  They contributed very forcibly to the enjoyment of last evening’s performance, although the orchestra it seemed to us was somewhat rougher than usual.  The distribution in all leading respects was the same as last year, the only important variation being in the rôle of Giovanni, which was intrusted to Signor Antonucci.  The music is a little low for that stalwart basso’s voice, and in the third act he touched ground; but in the beautiful septette of the fourth act its magnificent quality was exhibited in the finest manner, Signor Antonucci is certainly an improvement on Signor Susini, whose voice had bronchial tricks which were surprising but not agreeable.  Signor Massimiliani made his rentrée as Camoens, and gratified every one by the freshness of his voice.  The romanza was sung excellently, and merited the encore which was demanded but not acknowledged.  Mr. Maretzek wished to have the performance terminate before Ash Wednesday, and so was stingy.  Mme. Zucchi was very good as Zaide.  The grand duo of the second act could hardly have been better.  The ballet in this act, by the way, was not so cheerful as might have been anticipated, and Signor Ronzani could, we think, have displayed more invention in the arrangement of the dances, which were a little in the public-garden-polka style.  Mme. Zucchi gave a new charm to the part by wearing a much more becoming dress than the one which she wore last season.  Signor Bellini was, of course, admirable.  When is he otherwise?  The new danseuse, Mlle. Vidal, was received with favor.

     The procession in the third act was received with the usual demonstrations of approval.  The septette was encored, and fully merited that compliment.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 15 February 1866, 8.

     Donizetti’s fine opera, Don Sebastian, was given last evening for the second time this season to a very excellent house, considering the miserable state of the weather, rain above and mud below, and that the season is Lent and the day Ash Wednesday.

     The opera, which contains some of the most solid music that Verdi [sic] ever wrote, and some of the best constructed melodies, was very strongly cast, the character of Zaide being taken by Carozzi Zucchi, that of Sebastian by Massimiliani, Camoene by Bellini, and Giovanni by Antonucci.

     Highly as we have had to praise Mdlle. Zucchi for her faithful and brilliant rendering of the character of Selika in L’Africaine, we must accord her still higher commendation and admiration for her superb performance in Don Sebastian. In  this she threw the whole force of her power, and in the impassioned portions of the action the power arose almost to inspiration. Her singing was simply grand and powerful, and her acting fully sustained the greatness of her singing. We have rarely heard such warm and enthusiastic applause a[s] greeted her efforts last night and we certainly never heard applause more justly and discriminatingly bestowed.

     Massimiliani is heard to the best advantage in this opera.  The music affords him full scope for the display of his powers, and both in his singing and acting he proves himself to be an artist of high merit. Bellini’s rôle is admirably suited to his powers. The rich and admirable tones of his voice and his smooth and impassioned style render his aria, ‘O Lisbona’ a perfect luxury to listen to. Indeed, throughout the opera his performance is characterized by pure taste and passionate earnestness. Antonucci also deserves especial mention for the artistic rendering of his part, and his smooth and refined vocalism. The minor parts were most ably sustained and the chorus and orchestra were specially excellent. The opera is produced in the most costly manner in regard to scenery, dresses, and appointments, and the effects and the management of the processions and the ballet are worthy of special mention. It is a pity that this opera cannot be repeated once more before the close of the season.”