Grau Italian Opera: Il trovatore

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau

Emanuele Muzio

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
29 May 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

12 Nov 1862, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Muzio, cond. & musical dir.
Ullman, stage manager

Bernard Ullman, stage manager

Morensi's debut.

Barili could be Nicolò Barili, the basso, who was in Grau’s Havana Opera Company in 1862 (See VBL3, p.470) or Ettore, baritone, who also performed with the Grau Company.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Troubadour
Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Cammarano
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Catarina Morensi (role: Azucena);  Nicolo Barili;  Ginerva Guerrabella (role: Leonora);  Pasquale Brignoli (role: Manrico);  Federico Amodio


Announcement: New York Herald, 10 November 1862.
“Mlle. Catarina Morensi, the new contralto, will make her first appearance.”
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 10 November 1862.
Announcement: New York Post, 10 November 1862.
Announcement: New-York Times, 11 November 1862.
Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 11 November 1862.
The Leonora of the Travatore [sic], that [Guerrabella] grapples with tomorrow evening with the same artists that had so admirably sustained yesterday and with another debutante, Mlle Morenci - will allow this first judgment to specify itself more while confirming itself.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 11 November 1862.
Announcement: New York Herald, 12 November 1862, 4.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 12 November 1862, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 12 November 1862.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 12 November 1862, 7.
Announcement: New York Post, 12 November 1862.
“Morensi – a young contralto, who, in spite of her name, is of American education, if not native of this place – will sing.”
Review: New York Herald, 13 November 1862, 4.

     “Academy of Music.--Notwithstanding the unfavorable character of the weather, an excellent audience assembled last evening to witness the second appearance of Madame Guerrabella in the 'Trovatore.' Owing, probably, to the fact that the role of Leonora does not tax the energies of a singer to the same extent as that of Violetta, by keeping her attention constantly fixed on the dramatic requirements of the part, her voice was heard to much greater advantage than on the first night. Having had little strain upon it during the earlier part of the opera, it was enabled to do full justice to the beautiful music of the fourth act in which, so far as the soprano is concerned, all the more important parts of the score is demonstrated. We have rarely heard the opening scena of this act and the Miserere better sung and a perfect tempest of applause greeted the conclusion of the latter, and compelled its repetition. The more Madame Guerrabella is heard the more we are convinced she will ingratiate herself in the favor of our public. Her graces of person, distinction of bearing and exquisite taste and skill in vocalization are not often to be found combined in the same artist, and they compensate in their rare union for an occasional lack of that strength which is to be found in coarser organizations.  Mlle. Morensi, the new contralto, made a favorable impression.  Her voice is excellent in quality, not perhaps as sympathetic as it might be, but still young, fresh, and of pure timbre.  A little more study and stage experience will give her a fair position as an artist.  Brignoli sang with more than usual spirit, and shared with Madame Guerrabella the honors of the evening. Amodio also exerted himself to advantage, and elicited well merited applause in the 'Il Balen,' which was admirably given. Altogether the performance was a most satisfactory one.”

Review: New York Herald, 13 November 1862, 4.

     We publish in our advertising columns this morning notices of from eighteen to twenty places of public amusement. Nearly every one of these establishments is most satisfactorily patronized. Managers of all kinds and conditions report crowded houses and replenished exchequers. It is astonishing, during a war like this, that so many people should have the means and the inclination to pass their evenings at the Opera, the theatres and the concerts. There seems to be something prophetic in this singular and costly popular indulgence in amusements. It appears to demonstrate the general confidence of the masses that the sad troubles of the country approach their termination.

      The Academy of Music was crowded both on Monday and last evening, and the audience was even moved to little bits of enthusiasm by the performance. Guerrabella, the prima donna of these occasions, is a capital actress and a very enjoyable singer. With no preliminary puffing, she made a decided impression, and may achieve a great sensation as her powers are more fully developed in other operas. Certainly her face and figure are in her favor, and her perfect self-control and knowledge of the business of the stage show the finished actress. Besides this, her history is a romance in itself, and she has been a greater heroine in real life than upon the boards of the Opera. All these recommendations to public interest cannot fail of their effect, and La Guerrabella may yet win her way to a furor, as she has already acquired a succes d'estime. Brignoli sings better than ever, and is always thoroughly enjoyable. The other parts in the opera are well sustained. The fear of the draft has doubtless scared some of the able bodied male members of the chorus into enlisting for the war, and the female members do not make a very good show in old dresses, some too large and others too small for them; but on the whole this department is satisfactory. For the orchestra, it is sufficient to say that Muzio leads. That little giant, Ullman, divides himself between selecting the scenery and attending to the numerous goats who apply at the stage door for an engagement of ‘Dinorah.’ With so good a company, and such excellent audiences, Grau cannot but be prosperous and delighted, and he consequently dresses much more stylishly and unlike poor Greeley than ever."

Review: New-York Times, 13 November 1862, 8.

      “Academy of Music.--All the best characteristics of Mme. Guerrabella’s finished style were displayed to advantage last evening when the lady appeared as Leonora in Verdi's opera of 'Il Trovatore.' The skill and elegance with which she manages a voice somewhat thin and not very fresh, is a satisfaction to every correct ear, and furnishes a new illustration of what art can accomplish where natural resources are not great.  In the earlier portions of the opera Mme. Guerrabella was so good that it almost became a matter of regret that she had not made her début therein, rather than as Violetta--a rôle which inevitibly excites comparisons. In the last act however, Mmme. [sic] Guerrabella had lost some of her power, and the exigencies of the Miserere, with its multiple effects, overtaxed her voice and roughened it. But the intelligence and tact of an artiste were there, and these traits, as they become better recognized, will, we are sure, enhance the estimation in which [she] is already held. In this scene Signor Brignoli was unusually admirable, his voice pealing forth in magnificent volume. During the entire performance he was in superb condition.

      The event of the evening was the début of Mlle. Morensi–a contralto who is new to our operatic stage–but native and to the manner born in all else–being a New Yorker by birth, and acquainted with the ways of mimic art. The lady is young and handsome but neither of these traits could be detected in the hideous disguise of the Gipsey, Azucena. What could be discovered, however was that Mlle. Morensi possesses a superb voice, rich and luscious in quality, admirable in extent, and tolerably under control. So marked and sufficient were these merits, that the débutante’s success was complete. We cannot recall a singer whose initial performance was more generally satisfactory, or who possessed more completely the best qualities of a first class operatic singer. We have only to add that Mlle. Morensi is freee from embarrassment, and acts with a good perception of effect. Her reception was all that could be desired. The house was full and fashionable.”

Review: New York Post, 13 November 1862, 2.

     “Madame Guerrabella appears to greater advantage in ‘Trovatore’ than in ‘Traviata.’ The dramatic requirements of the part are better suited to her admirable style, while the music certainly seems peculiarly adapted to her method.  In the entire last act she was in every way satisfactory, while her deficiency in vocal power was not as observable as on the night of her debut.  In regard to personal appearance the verdict of the house was unanimous in judging Madame Guerrabella the most queenly, graceful and beautiful woman who has ever appeared at the Academy of Music; while her becoming toilet aroused the special admiration of the ladies in the audience. To the cultivated ear, Guerrabella’s singing is a constant pleasur, while to the eye her graceful, easy movements and highly expressive features give most gratifying employment. The more the new prima donna is heard the better she will be appreciated.

      The chief feature of the evening was the debut of Mademoiselle Morensi, a young lady of New York, who met with an unexpected and marked success. As Miss Montmorency the new singer has already been favorably known in musical circles here, and she has lately enjoyed stage experience in the West Indies. Parodi and Adelaide Phillips, who both gave her instruction, have reason to be proud of their pupil, who possesses a rich, resonant voice of great power and fair cultivation, to which its possessor adds considerable dramatic fire and natural grace. She was heartily and genuinely applauded, and enters her new career with every prospect of success.

      Brignoli sang so well in the Miserere as to ensure its repetition, but as usual addressed his love songs to remote persons in the audience rather than to the charming singer by his side.  Amodio, whose whole soul is in music, sang with all the spirit and brio of an untamed colt, and showed that he possesses a voice of extraordinary richness.”

Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 13 November 1862, 2.
The debut of Mlle Morensi, in La trovatore, was perfect last night. The public applauded with the enthusiasm of surprise at a strong, beautiful voice and a strong dramatic ability, which was more than expected. This mention is all that the advanced hour allows.
Review: New-York Times, 14 November 1862, 5.

' . . . --so successfully rendered on Wednesday--. . . "

Review: New-York Times, 15 November 1862, 8.

"[Guerrabella] made so marked a success on Wednesday last."

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 17 November 1862, 2.
“Guerrabella is a good actress, very refined and intelligent. She is a good singer, but has more skill, style, and method, than voice. She has appeared in the Traviata and Trovatore with fair success. Miss Morenci [sic] is a second soprano – or contralto as it is called – with a good, full, round voice, fairly cultivated, who made a most remarkable debut as Azucena.”