Academy of Music
Harvey Bradley Dodworth
Price: $10 for man and woman; $5 additional ladies’ tickets
9 July 2016
“The grand Bal d’Opera closing the season has been postponed until Easter Thursday, April 5th, so as not to interfere with the solemnities of Lent. The orchestra on that occasion will number two hundred instruments. The burlesque processions will include a number of new and original caricatures; and to avoid a crowd it is announced that only one thousand tickets will be sold, the sale beginning on the 20th instant.”
“The preparations for the grand Ball d’ Opera are progressing rapidly, and we notice that the subscribers’ tickets will be ready for delivery on Wednesday next. We saw six imps of darkness, commonly called printers’ devils, carrying a proof to the Academy on Saturday. The wind was high, and they had some difficulty in entering, but finally succeeded. We were struck with the liberal proportions of the card and dazzled with the splendor of its typography. The sale of tickets for the public commences on Thursday, the 22d inst. It will be seen by reference to the official announcement elsewhere that cards can only be obtained by personal application to the Director of the Opera, or to a member of the committee. There can be no doubt that the opera ball will be the most brilliant entertainment of the season, and those who propose to assist on the occasion had better procure their tickets as speedily as possible. The number is limited to one thousand.”
“The Bal d’Opera will take place on Thursday, April 5, and promises to be the most unique, brilliant and successful affair of the kind that has ever been given at the Academy. The demand for tickets far exceeds the number limited by the management, but notwithstanding the tempting offers, that number, we understand, will not be exceeded. This is keeping proper faith with the subscribers, and will prevent the house being inconveniently crowded.”
“The preparations for the grand ball go on quietly, and we presume to the satisfaction of all concerned. The affair seems to be in the hands of the Committee, and there is barely a thought about it in outside circles. The fashionable world, however, is moved to its centre; so at least we are informed by one whose infirmity for bouquets and light-colored kids is known and respected.”
“The great event of the season takes place this evening, and for its entertainment all members of the fashionable, musical and literary circles are most eager. Arrangements are perfected which will make, it is believed, this ball memorable in the annals of New-York festivities. Capt. Cameron, who, by the way, deserves credit for the large force he had on duty at yesterday’s matinée, will have charge of the inside police, and Capt. Brackett, without whom no ball can be a ball, will attend to the outdoor matters. He has issued an order or rather notice, in which he directs all company to enter at the main entrance on Irving-place, the coaches to approach in a southerly direction through Irving-place, and pass out on Fourteenth-street. He has made arrangements which admit only such hacks as have been inspected, and he requests guests to take the carriage which may be in readiness at the door without waiting for any paritulcar one. The fare in each case will be $1 per passenger. The completeness of these arrangements adds greatly to the ease and comfort of those attending the ball, and to Capt. Brackett is due all the credit of their origin.
The pressure on Mr. Maretzek for tickets yesterday was unprecedented, and from all quarters of the country. The number issued being literally limited and literally exhausted, those who applied at the eleventh hour were compelled to bear their disappointment.”
“The Bal d’Opera to-night is the topic of conversation everywhere; all who have tickets seem to have entered the State of beatitude too intense for expression, while those who have not, regret that they were previously engaged, and tear their hair in private. This Ball will be a very recherché affair, with its magnificent music, its decorations, its wonderful portraits of everybody [sic], a little altered from nature, and its vast throng of beauty and fashion. It will be an occasion to be remembered.
The portraits after life, and a good way after, which will decorate the whole house, and will engulf the audience, as it were in a roar of laughter, embrace every class of noted characters. The likenesses are emphatic, not to say loud, and will speak for themselves. Those only who will not recognize the striking resemblances, will probably be the parties themselves. This is, however, natural, for if we could see ourselves as others see us, we should probably look like somebody else. These portraits will form for all future time an historic gallery illustrating the times, of very extraordinary interest. As we have said before, this Bal d’Opera will be an occasion to make special note of in the memory.
Those who visit the opera on Friday—Fra Diavolo—and those who throng the Matinée on Saturday—Lucrezia Borgia—will enjoy all the elaborate preparations made to give éclat to the splendid Bal d’Opera. None of the decorations will be removed until Saturday afternoon. An examination of the portraits alone, would be worth double the price of admission.”
“A Very Brilliant and Successful Affair.
Some Description of the Decorations and the People.
A Pleasant Time for All and Everybody Pleased.
The Toilettes and How They Appeared.
The Ball season of 1865-6 will be memorable in the salons of the fashionable world. Its notable entertainments are numerous, and, in addition to the occasions which annually attract crowds of the gay and pleasure-seeking, there have been several extraordinary features which combine to render the season peculiar in its refreshment and enjoyment. Prominent among them was the Reception of the Seventh Regiment, which brought troops of assistants from every section of the country, especially such as are distinguished in military and political circles. Those who were present at that Reception need not to be reminded of its crowded elegance, its pleasurable jam, its fashionable discomfort; and none will readily forget the exquisite music to which it was impossible to dance because of the throng; or the multitudinous groupings of superbly attired beauties whose charms were hidden from too close inspection by the thicket impenetrable of God’s noblest creation, men and women, honest, fair and brave. But great as was the plan, and thoroughly pleasant, with the exception of the crowd, as were the general features of the Reception, it sinks into comparative insignificance by the side of what may be fitly termed the event in the ball season of 1865-6. Only that the record may be complete is it at all necessary to state that we refer to the grand bal d’opera given by Max Maretzek at the Academy of Music last night. The amusement-loving people of this City and vicinity are largely indebted to Mr. Maretzek for many things. Indomitable energy, persistent undertaking, undismayed courage, perseverance in the face of all obstacles, have characterized this faithful servant of the public, who having during the past season, as in years gone by, done more than his part in cultivating the love of art, by affording the opportunity for its study and appreciation, conceived the idea of capping the climax of his endeaver [sic] by giving for the first time in this country a grand bal d’opera.
In the announcements at the beginning of the season it was stated that the affair would be given on or about this date, and the excitement, which during the week was at fever heat, then began. Applications for tickets came from every State of the Union, and before a month had gone there were indications of a success as unprecedented as it would be brilliant. Experience teaches us many things, and the jolly Impressario had learned, in common with the rest of us, that jams are good on pastry, but bad at a ball; that crowded houses are excellent for the strong box, but bad for comfort; that close packing is all well enough for the little fishes soaked in oil, but bad for lovely ladies dressed in silks and laces; that close ranks are excellent in military organizations, but dreadfully stupid for the Lanciers; that a full turn out is most desirable at the polls and the worst thing imaginable on the Academic floor when the band plays a waltz. All this he has learned, and by it, thank fortune, we profited last night.
The personal friends who since the first of March have arisen like clouds of mosquitoes about the manager, could be counted by thousands. Men of whom he never heard wrote, ‘My dear Max,’ and begged like troopers (though why like troopers we never could see) for tickets; ladies whose husbands, brothers, lovers, friends, had not been sufficiently alert, sent the most charming little notes, requesting in the most bewitching phraseology the favor or a card; everybody seemed to think that Max had but to say the word, and the Academy would stretch like an India-rubber overcoat or a molasses-candy shoe, and when he courteously though firmly declined to crowd the house, his new-born friends and fair correspondents in despair and dungeon, spoke of him in terms somewhat disrespectful, not to say profane.
for the ball were quietly made on an extensive scale, but few people, and those necessarily, knowing much about them. It was no great venture to give a ball, but to give such a ball demanded an exercise of brain, a fertility of invention and a combination of ingenuity far beyond the requirements of an ordinary occasion. The place was of course to be the Academy. No other gilded monstrosity in the City is large enough, or showy enough, or sufficiently brilliant for such an undertaking, and thus point number one was easily settled. In what way the interior should be decorated, if at all, was the second question. Various authorities suggested various plans. One thought it would be a good idea to drape the entire theatre with the American colors; another preferred the Italian; a third suggested a combination of the American, Italian and German, with a statue of Maretzek in the centre. A clergyman in Providence, R. I., sent on a lurid scheme which would involve large purchases of black and yellow cloth, the same to be cunningly arranged to represent hell fire, in the midst of which should be an ideal figure of the great social tempter ‘Amusement;’ this was at once rejected as indicative of the shop. An artist thought the public would be interested in full-length portraits of the Director and all his troupe, the same to be handsomely framed and placed at convenient intervals about the front of the circle; this was rejected as being slightly expensive, and beside the motive of the artist was not entirely above suspicion. The regular hack decorators of the City, those pleasant gentlemen who delight the bumps of our Arion and Liederkranz friends, very naturally considered nothing so good as the old-fashioned paper birds, the well-worn devils of plaster, the comical burlesques on men and things, which make their annual processions excessively heavy and cumbersomely funny; to these Max objected because they were old, worn out, threadbare, and devoid of every element of pleasantry. At last he thought of something entirely out of the ordinary course, which would afford merriment to his guests, instruction to the public, and novelty to the blasé. It was no less than the procurement of a
series of caricatures
from the fertile pencil of Thomas Nast, a young man and skillful artist, whose happily-conceived and excellently-executed sketches during the war have won for him a name and a fortune. These, with a few drapings, a flashing centre-piece and a new drop by Calyo, he deemed sufficient, and such was all he made in the way of preparation.
was announced for Thursday evening, April 5, 1866, the same to be opened to such favored ones as possessed tickets at the early hour of 9 o’clock. The dressmakers, indignant though they be at the alleged unjust exception made of them by the Internal Revenue Department, groaned with vexation of spirit under the mass of work before them, and as the fated hour big with fête drew near, they redoubled their exertions, laboring with all industry and skill for the cunning enrobement of their fair and unfair patrons. We can easily imagine the sigh of relief with which the latest artiste delivered her last garment and sank back into her rocking-chair, calling loudly for a cup of tea and a roll. We can readily undertake to sympathize with this greatly used and much abused class up to the full measure of their work, reminding them, however, that when their rest begins the work of the reporter looms up large and imperative before him. By 9 o’clock a long line of carriages patiently moved along to the main entrance on Irving-place. The vigilant forethought of that prince of officers, Capt. Brackett, had provided in the amplest manner for the easy and unembarrassed delivery of passengers by coaches, so that no trouble whatever was experienced except such as inevitably accompanies a half-hour’s trip from one end of a block to the other. The company arrived rapidly from 9 o’clock on, and by 10:30 the greater portion of those who went at all, had joined issue on the main platform.
were novel, unique, sui generis, and all that sort of thing. Nothing was ever done like it before, nothing we hope will be attempted like it again; success would decline to perch a second time on so pointed an idea. The caricatures, which varied in size from six feet by three feet, to four feet by two feet, were placed on the front of the boxes and upper tiers, where in plain sight they became in the eyes of an astounded audience their own commentary, their own monument. The list is as follows—the jokes being, we hasten to add, furnished with the pictures without extra charge. A catalogue indicating the pictures and explaining the jokes was furnished each guest as follows:
1. Bennett’s friend—Max Maretzek.
2. An African who has gained universal suffrage—Zucchi.
3. A luna that cannot be eclipsed—Bellini.
(It has been found impossible, up to the time of going to press, to procure a joke on our tenor robusto. Several have fainted in the effort to make one, and the greatest apprehensions are entertained for a professional joker who jauntily said he could do so, and has not been heard of since. We shall publish a postscript below on this painful subject.)
5. The Star of the North—Kellogg.
6. His own and everybody’s friend—Kingsland.
7. A wind instrument—Windt.
8. A counterfeiter of nature—Brady.
9. One who sticks to his friends, (a glue-rious man,)—Peter Cooper.
10. The traveling head-centre of the opera—Grau.
11. A luddy-fuddy-fying representative of the modern Narcissus—Lester Wallack.
12. The wretch who did it all—Thomas Nast.
13. The pacific male—L.W. Jerome.
14. Phœnix, an early bird who catches the worm—P.T. Barnum.
15. Chevalier Cœlebs in search of a Miss-ion—Wykoff.
16. The man who Own’s the apple-sass—John Owens.
17. The Nephew of his Uncle, with his toy—Napoleon III.
18. The Spruce (street) philosopher—Horace Greeley.
19. The winning mare—Hoffman.
20. A hero whose patronymic is a compound derived from a sainted Irishman and a propensity to slaughter the enemies of his country—Kilpatrick.
N.B.—There will be an intermission of a few minutes here, in order that all who do not understand the humor in the above explanation may retire without disturbing the rest of the audience.
21. Dead duck. A study from nature. By A. Johnson—Forney.
22. A Phillips, but not the Phillips of this establishment—Wendell Phillips.
23. A gallant soldier, who went on expeditions by land and sea, and came safe back again—Burnside.
24. This lady desires to be let alone—Jeff. Davis.
25. All is well that ends Welles—Welles.
26. Ninety days after date I promise—Seward.
27. ‘Perdona a Tutti’—Ernani—Andy Johnson.
28. Mars as—Stanton.
29. ‘As you like it’—Shakespeare—Butler.
30. I will fight it out on this line if it takes all Summer—Sanford. N.B. –General Order No. 1—This line will form at the City Hall Park, the right resting on Broadway, march up to Union-square, and dismiss between Maison Dorée and Delmonico’s.
31. ‘Now is the Winter of our discontent made glorious Sumner—Sumner. [No end quote.]
32. All abroad for Ireland—G. F. Train.
33. ‘I hope I don’t intrude’—Paul Pry—Gurowski.
34. This statue is of—Marble.
35. Betwixt you and me and the Post, this is—Bryant.
36. A fillip to the taste—Adelaide Phillips.
37. No. 290. The number that did not draw the prize—G.B. [sic].
38. A popular ward in Brooklyn—Henry Ward Beecher.
39. Handy-Andy-Dandy—Dan Bryant.
40. A Relic of Sumter—Maj.-Gen. Anderson.
41. The Pellerine to Rome—Victor Emmanuel.
N.B.—Entered according to act of Congress in the Southern District of New-York, by the author.
42. The Great Western in a Storm—Gen. Thomas.
43. A self-appointed lecturer to the representatives of Foreign Powers—Bancroft.
44. Le Beau Sabreur, (the modern Centaur who made ‘that ride’)—Phil. Sheridan.
45.The composer of ‘The March to the Sea,’ the most popular march on record—Sherman.
46. No blower—Dr. Bellows.
47. A pastoral view of a mead-ow—Meade.
48. Never say die, we’ll make both ends meet yet—Cyrus W. Field.
49. A celebrated Chap-in the pulpit—Dr. Chapin.
50. ‘Ye gentle savage.’—Mrs. John Wood.
51. The forsook—Miss Bateman.
52. The Irish lyre, furnished by an—Intelligence office.
53. Bateman’s E flat—Mlle. Parepa.
54.—A blossom from le jardin de Hioer—Stuart.
The Idols we Worship.
55. The hand we shook so often—Grant.
the fenian duel.
57. ‘The pen is mightier than the shillaleh,’ Bulwer—Raymond and Mahoney.
58. Dr. Monroe’s patent pills—U.S.
59. The veto house—A.J.
60. The oldest General on record—Scott.
N.B.—This is not the picture that was presented to Gen. Grant by the Union League Club.
We have just received the following dispatches from Artemus Ward, and other humorists, in answer to our request for a few jokes on Mazzoleni:
Salt Lake City, April 1—2 A.M.
Max Maretzek, Director of the Bald Opera:
I have some, but none that fit Mezzo-leni. Several jokes on hand for Mezzo-soprani. Sample: Arrah-na-Poca.
Trades supplied at liberal rates C. O. D.
In great haste.
Perhaps, my dear Colonel, you think I am going to do it.
So did I.
But I am not.
There are people who can.
But I will for the next Opera Bal.
You might try Ralph Waldo Emerson. figaro.
Special Dispatch from Mark Twain.
San Francisco, 6 o’clock A. M.—April 5, 1866.
Have had an interview with the spirits of Jno. Phoenix and Joe Miller. In their opinion it can’t be done. Joe wanted to know if it’s a regular ‘Tenner,’ or something ‘queer.’ mark twain.
From Josh Billings.
Po’keepsick—6:45 A. M.
It’s a beat. Can’t be did. josh billings.
No. 1.—Is excellent. Max’s attitude is characteristic, his expression bland, his pockets full.
No. 2.—This charming lady is rather roughly handled, but the face is jolly good.
No. 3.—In his most extravagant mood Bellini would find it difficult to eclipse the extravagance of this. His crispinic posturings are at length paralleled.
No. 4.—Mazzoleni, stomach and all, is here. He is all himself, the little round bald-spot alone being missed.
No. 5.—In the only suspicious attitude Miss Kellogg has been detected she here appears. The nose is large and the small clothes very small.
No. 6.—The mysteries of that private box in which this eminent genialist presides are here shadowed forth. Kingsland is undoubtedly his own best companion.
No. 7.—If ever there was an ill-looking wind that blew no one any good this should be he. But looks are deceptive, and he never scrapes any but catgut, being himself quite tender hearted.
No. 8.—Brady, not Jas. T., nor the Judge, nor one-eyed Brady, the California runner, but the good-looking Brady, who is always ready to ‘take something,’ stands near his apparatus in an attitude, characteristic and imposing.
No. 9.—Cooper, not Fenimore, but a much-more Cooper, who built the hall for the Union, (and the stores underneath it,) is recognized by his wig and glasses.
No. 10.—Poor Grau. Grau’s fair game, we suppose, and his telegraphic Chicago feats made him lose his head at one time.
No. 11.—Rosedale is before us, hair, ointment, eyeglass and trowsers. What a charming song that Luddy-Fuddy was. Nast has well preserved it.
No. 12.—The wretch who did it all. Well, this is, as an Englishman at our elbow remarked, the Nastiest picture of the lot. It don’t do the little fellow justice. He has much more hair than this indicates, and his bump of Nastology is more prominent than here represented.
No. 13.—This is an admirable hit. We don’t know how pacific Mr. Jerome may be, for we have a very distinct remembrance of his readiness at the time of the riots in 1863. The male part is undeniable, also the four-in-hand—we’ve seen them—(they’ve passed us.)
No. 14.—Mr. P.T.B. was detected last night, in the disguise of a Sandwich (Islander,) looking eagerly at this picture. He said he didn’t recognize it, for it neither laughed nor advertised—two things he is always doing.
No. 15.—On this we are not posted, but must refer our readers to ‘My Courtship’ and the files of the ‘Daily Sulphur and Molasses.’
No. 16.—For a man who has as much cheek as this, there is none too much (apple) loss.
No. 17.—Napoleon is undoubtedly a man, and he undoubtedly has a large nose; it has never seemed to us though, that his nose was his most prominent feature. Playing policy has sharpened his wit, and given grasp (a good deal of it) to his hand.
No. 18.—Here our pen fails us. Admiring throngs did not gather about this caricature. (Why in this instance a caricature? Why not a portrait?) Nor did we hear except ‘just once’ anybody express great pleasure in looking at it.
No. 19.—If ever a man deserved to be sued for telling too much truth, it’s Nast. He must have had a game of the Chinese ‘chin-chin’ with our worthy Mayor, or he never could have preserved his countenance so accurately. We doubt very much whether the Common Council has offered $15,000 for it—we could stand $14,000 but really—
No. 20.—This and the catalogue need no explanation.
No. 21.—Feathers and all. The great D.D. is well preserved; he hangs head down, and seems embarrassed by his novel position and patriotic company.
No. 22.—The great Always-in-trouble is seemingly distressed about his colored baby. The general impression was that he might as well be troubled with this as anything else; if it should die he’d got another one, and if it didn’t worry he’d pinch it.
No. 23.—Rather platitudinous, particularly about the forehand, which he wears in two stories.
No. 24.—Poor old Jeff. He can’t ride in a carriage, but Nast as put him in a cart-oon.
No. 25.—A great mistake; he’s wide awake. What would the fat boy in Pickwick be if pictured as wide awake. Preposterous.
No. 26.—Well promised. A man who can look Se(a)ward and landward at the same time, and come out right ninety-nine times in a hundred, can afford to give a ‘three-months’ option.’
No. 27.—A grand picture.
No. 28.—Quite up to the original.
No. 29.—It’s hard to get the weather side of old Ben.
No. 30.—This is too bad. The General will certainly part his hair on the other side of his head hereafter. ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘if I only had been at Bull Run.’ ‘Wish you were there now,’ said a private privately, last 4th of July.
No. 31.—Not much in this. However, Nast assures us he did his best, and don’t want to bear all the blame.
No. 32.—A combination of brass, gas and steam.
No. 33.—Hardly up to the average.
No. 34.—It is easy by this to see what makes the subject stoop so. His load is too heavy, needing a giant to keep it up. Stooping low, however, gains sometimes—so suggested Shakespeare.
No. 35.—Very fair.
No. 36.—Well styled a caricature. The grace and charming abandon of this Eastern lady contrast singularly with this rough and hardly delicate sketch.
No. 37.—Not felicitously named. ‘Our Mutual Friend’ would be much better.
No. 38.—How many voters were there in this gay and festive Ward we are not informed. He made his first appearance at a ball on this occasion, and resolutely declined to recognize his friends, making believe he was some one else. Sly dorg [sic] that.
No. 39.—Dan never looked better.
No. 40.—Quite neat and not at all gaudy.
No. 41.—This passes the comprehension of his moustache imitator.
Nos. 42, 43, 44, 45.—Of these there is nothing to be said.
No. 46.—We dissent from the title. The good Doctor has done his share of blowing during the past four years and with great effect. His attitude and expression are here admirably preserved.
Nos. 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, are fair takes off of excellent subjects.
No. 51.—Miss Bateman leans from the frame in a most unnatural way.
No. 52.—The best thing in the collection, the only one that we care to have given us.
No. 53.—A fizzle. There was nothing flat about Paupa.
No. 54.—Capital, my boy and my deah fellah [sic], and God bless you several times you know, you know, you know.
No. 55.—Poor Grant, how his hand is swollen—the only thing about him, by the way, which seems to be affected by the popular homage.
No. 56.—Well named and quite creditably executed.
No. 57.—A capital memorizer of a well remembered battle.
No. 58.—Nothing very extraordinary in this.
No. 59.—A large picture of a large subject.
No. 60.—Furrowed and seamed, and entirely self-satisfied.
Quite naturally these pictures attracted a great attention, deservedly eliciting commendation and general approbation. Aside from these there were no decorations of note; from the centre of the ceiling depended a gorgeous star, (used by Arion,) from the upper circles hung in gloomy grandeur the banners of the festive Arions, and at the extreme rear was a new and very beautifully painted garden scene, a drop from the facile pencil of Calyo—
began at a comparatively late hour, the following programme being conscientiously followed:
Quardrille Band, Promenade Music.
Jos. Noll. H. B. Dodworth.
order of dancing.
1. Quadrile [sic]—‘L’Etoile du Nord’…..Strauss
Promenade—‘Les Vespers Siciliennes’…..Verdi
3. Galop—‘Frok und Heiter’…..Faust
4. Lanciers—‘Ballo in Maschera’…..Verdi
5. Valse—‘Die Osmanen’…..Lanner
Promenade—‘La Fille du Regiment’…..Donizetti
6. Polka—‘Tip top’…..Maretzek
7. Lanciers—‘William Tell’…..Rossini
Promenade—‘Forza del Destino’…..Verdi
13. Lanciers—‘Opera Ball’…..Noll
Promenade—‘Crispino E’la Comare’…..Ricci
Promenade—‘Un Ballo in Maschera’…..Verdi
22. Galop—‘Mon Plaisir’…..Berge
At the late hour at which we write we can only say that the dancing was exactly like that at any other ball.
present were in excellent temper and jolly mood. How many we don’t know, but should say not far from 5,000. Prominent among them were * * * * * and * * * * * and several others.
arrangements outside, under Capt. Brackett, were admirable, and could not have been better. Under Capt. Cameron the internal arrangements were undisturbed from the most perfect order. To Capt. Brackett praise is of no particular account, but it may be pleasant for him to know that his endeavors are appreciated by the public he so well serves.
The ball was decidedly the most unique and elegant of anything we have ever had in this City, and consequently on the Continent. The full-dress toilettes were equal to those at the great Charity Ball, while the fancy dresses must have put the resources of the costumers to a test.
But one thing was lacking, that was abandonment to the genius of the hour. We doubt if American ladies will attain this in one day and generation. They do not seem to know nor understand that a masque bal is for the purpose of dispensing pro tem with restraint, instead of an an [sic] institution for the assumption of greater dignity than usual. But they will leave it, after a while, and only the repetition of such occasions as the present will enable them to realize it.
Among the most magnificent robes present were those of wine-colored satin, trimmed with bands of peacock feather-tips. These tips were all curled, except the little bright, blue-green eyes, which glittered like mirrors beneath the shading of their curled margins. The coiffures worn with these robes were en suite. Sometimes they took the form of bandeaus, but more frequently they consisted of tiny peacocks, made of real peacock features and nestling in curls or perched flauntingly on the chignon. Velvet was also worn, and when in light colors did not look warm, though a thousand gaslights let their subtle fires through the perfume-laden air. Indeed even in dark colors were a few that looked in keeping. One was imported for the occasion from Paris and was in Lyons velvet, of intensest black. It was made in the latest style for dark velvets and dark satins—i.e., the ‘Metternich.’ That brilliant Princess after whom ‘tis named dared to appear at an Imperial ball in black satin—an heretofore unprecedented thing, a defiant thing, ‘twas thought—but so much lightness, so much grace and beauty did this artiste embody in it, that Her Majesty the Empress paid her that highest compliment—of herself, soon after, appearing in a similar one. So it was established that, even at Court balls, black is admissible—if sufficiently ‘lightened’—and it is now the rage in Paris. Ladies who cannot afford rich and gorgeous array, new for the first time every night in the week, are delighted with the innovation; and those who can get up toilettes every night in the year regardless of expense are delighted at the larger latitude it furnishes and eagerly avail themselves of the change. And as Paris is but ‘a nine days’ journey’ and nothing is any longer, ‘a ‘nine days wonder,’ it is not thought strange that black satin and black velvet should be admitted to the grand Bal d’Opera. Let us say here that only the crème de la crème hazarded the experiment here, and but few of those. The predominance, was as it should be, in favor of light colors if not of light materials. We describe one minutely, which may be taken as a type of the ‘Metternich,’ though that style admits of endless variation. It was a plain black velvet Princesse, dress cut low-necked and short-sleeved. A bias band of pink satin bordered the bottom of the skirt behind, and was continued up the front, a là tunique. It did not stop at the waist, but swept round the shoulders, simulating a tiny jacket, little straps of the same crossed the sleeves, forming epaulettes, or rather shoulder-bands. The whole of the front width, from the top of the corsage to the bottom of the skirt, was crossed in lattice-form with very narrow bands of pink satin. The coiffure consisted of pink satin bands, blush roses and Metternich curls. The gloves were flesh-colored kid, inclining a little to pink. As the wearer was young and beautiful, graceful and elegant, and as she redeemed herself by a single five-thousand-dollar brilliant in her bracelet, she could afford to appear in the modest attire which we have described.
More in keeping with the occasion, but not less chaste, was the toilette of a well-known lady of Baltimore, who, for the last month, has worked harder than any down-trodden Cuffee ever dreamed of in behalf of the Southern Relief Fair, and who, we are told ‘cried her eyes red’ because her young husband would take her away from her work, and make her expend so much on a costume, when the cry for common clothes and common food came up from the desolated hearthstones of her fair Southern home-land. Simple yet extremely elegant was her toilette, a princess robe of white velvet, the corsage was low and round, but over it was worn a tiny berthe of point applique lined with pink satin—this berthe was cut square, or in what is known as the Pompadour style, which is the most fashionable cut for the necks of dresses whether low, half-low, or three-quarters. Covering each of the seams were barbes of pointe applique laid over bands of pink satin. White kid slippers trimmed on the toes with real roses, which emitted perfume at every step, and even when the little twinkling feet were still. White kid gloves with bracelets of rose-coral, the most delicate and exquisite gems of the lapidsaries’ art that were present on the occasion; ear-rings en suite, a coiffure of Metternich curls and natural magnolias completed this most artistic and exquisite toilette. On complimenting the lady on her success she replied, proudly, ‘My husband gave me a check for a thousand dollars, with special directions and supplications that I should get myself up worthy of myself and worthy of the occasion, and he assures me I have done so, though I bought nothing new but my gloves and my slippers and the magnolias in my hair. Let not men talk of the extravagance of women after this. That it was an exceptional case counts nothing. [No end quote; unsure where the lady ends and the author begins.]
Tickets being at a premium, small fortunes were expended for that item alone. Here is a lady who, but a few hours since arrived from Paris, who gave $500 for a ticket. She did not leave that city of styles without a complete wardrobe. So we will describe what she wore.
She entered late and en domino, in one of those fancy dominos lately so fashionable in France—she entered leaning on the left arm of a cavalier in the costume of a disguised knight; her ducenna hung—literally ‘hung’—on his right arm, and kept a close eye on her young charge. Every one else seemed desirous of doing the same, for the lady was ‘sensational,’ though she uttered not a word, nor allowed a glimpse of her face to be seen. Her domino was of white satin, made tight, or semi-tight fitting in front, but at the back fell in voluminous folds from a square yoke of pink gold embroidered velvet. Her hair, which was golden, and reached to the waist, was waved and powdered profusely with gold dust. Her mask was of pink satin, with real lace fall. The long full sleeves of the domino concealed all but the tips of her delicately hidden fingers. Two figures that elicited much attention, on account of their majestic pose and carriage, were attired as Sisters of Charity, and were escorted about the hall, by two equally majestic looking men, in the habit of Monks.
A very elegant domino was made as a Princess’ robe, with a large hooded talma en suite. The material was purple silk; the talma was trimmed with white guipure, beaded with silver cord. The mask was of white silk, with guipure fall.
A lady from New-Orleans made quite a sensation in a heavily brocaded chintz pattern silk robe Gabraelle, over which was a domino of marvelously-wrought white lace.
An interesting couple was a little, elegant, young Frenchman, dressesd as Mephistophiles, and a sweet, coquettish little German maiden; he was showing her the pictures, to her evident delight.
There was a limited number of flower-girls and dancing-girls. Among the latter was ‘Esmerelda,’ with the inevitable tamborine [sic], but minus that other self—her beautiful dancing goat.
A lady of New-York, lately returned from Paris, appeared as an archangel, with adjustable wings of silver gauze, which she spread whenever a space large enough was clear, which toward the close of the evening was not often.
court-dresses of the time of Louis XIV. and Louis XVI. were much affected, and Pompadours outdid Pompadours in friendly rivalry. Circassian Princesses and Turkish Houris abounded, and the Revessaince [sic] period of the world’s history was revived and repeated and improved upon.
Blue silk, with swan’s-down trimming, constituted an elegant domino, the masks worn with this being blue or white, or both.
Several young misses just escaped from the nursery were present and, with escorts of their own age, formed a very pleasing and unique, though not a very prominent, feature of the evening.
Among the most beautiful coiffures present was that of a young maiden in the loose voluptuous dress of a Creole. Her hair, which was naturally long and curling in wild luxurience, fell unfettered to her graceful waist, and was wreathed with flaming pomegranate blossoms.
One of the dresses that attracted the attention and elicited the envy of the ladies was worn by the young and elegant Mrs. M. It was made of heavy white silk and raised leaves of dark and light blue silk scattered it. The corsage was low and square, and trimmed with pearl bordered bands of blue satin. The skirt was looped with large mother of pearl medallions, set in circlets of small petals, blue satin pearl, embroidered lapels behind. Gold ornaments in the hair.
The elegant Mrs.W – was robed in softest white merino, ornamented with blue pearl, set diamond-shaped pieces of blue enamel.”
“Masks and Masqueraders at the Academy of Music—Nast’s Clever Caricatures of Living Celebrities—The Last and Most Successful Affair of the Season.
For those good Americans who are not yet dead, and may not in the flesh visit Paris, Paris comes to New-York. In fashions, in customs, in bonbons, in architecture, in books, in language, that gay capital divides itself into delightful fractions, by no means vulgar, and when we add them we find their sum total almost equal the parent unit.
We have long had the Opera, which, though Italian in name, is French by virtue of transplantation, and which we brought from Paris. We have even had the French Theater—most charming of resorts—but it had not entered the heart of Gotham to conceive the excitement reserved for it by the indomitable Impressario of the Academy.
In the inner circles, indeed, wherein his nod is potent, it was long ago whispered that the grand season would close with a grand ball. But then Lent came, and hope was deferred, and the faithful turned their thoughts to penitence and the unfaithful forgot it.
the committees and anticipations.
But the great Conductor did not. He secured names for the back of his little violet-lettered programme which were calculated to strike awe to the souls of the most recklessly impecunious who should behold them. The Bank of England might suspend, the Government securities might hopelessly collapse, the Pyramids might topple, but in the bright ledgers of these magnates there was no such word as fail; they were elastic beyond possibility of contraction; they were more solid than the primeval rock.
A ball under such auriferous auspices must be a brilliant success one was sure. Hearing that it was a fancy ball, the uninitiated expected to see those managers in full armor of gold plate with diamond-hilted swords. Suffice it to say, they were not, but as Whittier observes, they ‘might have been.’
One was led to believe that this affair would be the counterpart of the famous opera balls of Paris, where even royalty under its dominion is not more royal than the last nouveau riche from the Provinces, and where the grotesque madness of the hour laughs at all laws of separation, and drives gravity out of window.
the reality—costumes and music.
It was not. It was a very quiet, well-bred, richly-attired, rather grave assemblage of fashionable people. The costumes were few; the masques not many more. The majority of persons were evening dress, and looked as unhappy as Americans usually do when they dance.
But the music was delicious. There was space for the dancers, and no surging mass of people making light of each other’s toilettes, and invading the sanctities of concealed yet aching corns.
the display in the boxes.
In the boxes was marvelous display of diamonds, and laces, of smiling dowagers, and pretty demoiselles, looking as if they longed to dance, but feared some snare to the feet beneath the glittering surface of a naughty Paris ball.
few masks and little merriment.
There was none of the rollicking fun of the German mask balls. None of the absurd jokes, and appalling humor of those deep-lunged festivals. None of the breathless, whirling, beautiful dancing.
And the excellent Glendower who called the spirits of French Masque and Merriment from the vasty [sic] deep of fashionable life here will forgive us for whispering that they did not come when he did call for them.
The costumes were not novel, not brilliant, not significant; the masks, as we said, were too few, and the idea of supporting a character where one was assumed, did not, apparently, occur to the disguised.
nast’s picture gallery.
The Picture Gallery of Mr. Thomas Nast was a collection of 60 caricatures of the celebrities of to-day. All the portraits were charmingly absurd, and most of them were delightfully clever.
No. 35, ‘A Popular Ward in Brooklyn,’ was an irre [illeg.]
“For months the grand ‘Bal d’Opera,’ promised by Maretzek, has been the topic of remark and eager speculation among the fashionable circles of this city. For it was known that what Maretzek promised he is apt to perform—the performance generally exceeding the promise. And Maretzek had said that this ball should be an exception to the most of the affairs of this nature heretofore given in New York, and be a crowning feature of his long and brilliant opera season. He first took good care that the tickets of invitation should be judiciously distributed through a committee of our best citizens. There should be, at all events, no jam and no improper persons on the floor.
He also wisely protested against the admission of those noisy and disagreeable harlequins, who generally constitute an unpleasant feature of large masquerade balls. Instead, he engaged Mr. Nast to decorate (?) [sic] the Academy with a large number of well-conceived and executed caricatures of prominent citizens, editors, singers, and civil and military officials. These quiet and unobtrusive objects afforded quite as much amusement, and of a more refined character, as would have been given by the traditional harlequins and clowns.
When we add that two excellent bands were provided, which discoursed lively music during all the evening and well toward daylight; that—for a wonder—the floor was not too much crowded for the enjoyment of dancing; that all the minor arrangements for the order of the entertainment and for the convenience of those present were unexceptionable; and that the supper—from the Maison Dorée—was excellent, we simply do bare justice to the forethought and perfect management displayed by Mr. Maretzek.
It was not his fault that there were few of those on the floor who seemed to comprehend that a masquerade means anything more than a simple disguise of the faces of those who participate in it. Whether they understood this or not, there were scarcely any who made even an effort to maintain their assumed characters, while the majority of the masks were merely worn as disguises, and were generally very insufficient. There was none of the freedom and jollity which should distinguish a masquerade from other balls. As a brilliant social gathering, of the pleasantest nature, the ball was a success. As a masquerade it was a complex failure.”
Although an elegant and brilliant affair, the ball was not as expected. The participants seemed strangely reserved and uptight which was in stark contrast to the humorous caricatures used for decoration. The ladies’ wardrobe was extraordinary and brilliant, though.
This ball was not comparable to a Parisian Masked Ball with its care-free, frivolous and “wild grace” atmosphere. Except for the comical mask caricatures as decorations, there were hardly any masks to be seen. Everyone was rather solemn and serious.