Grau Italian Opera: Norma

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau

Emanuele Muzio

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
24 June 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

14 Nov 1862, Evening

Program Details

Lorini Whiting's debut.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Bellini
Text Author: Romani
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Augustino Susini (role: Oroveso);  Alessandro Maccaferri (role: Pollione);  Virginia Lorini Whiting (role: Norma);  Catarina Morensi (role: Adalgisa)


Announcement: New York Herald, 10 November 1862.
“The debut of Mme. Lorini Whiting, artistically not the least attractive of this bevy of new vocalists, is reserved for Friday, when she will appear as Norma, a character in which she is said to have achieved great success abroad.”
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 10 November 1862.
“Lorini, a New York lady, who has been at the European opera-houses, will make a debut here as Lucrezia Borgia.”
Announcement: New York Post, 10 November 1862.
Announcement: New York Herald, 12 November 1862, 4.
Announcement: New York Post, 12 November 1862.
Announcement: New-York Times, 13 November 1862.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 13 November 1862, 7.
Announcement: New York Post, 13 November 1862.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 13 November 1862.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 14 November 1862, 7.
“Mr. Grau has much pleasure in announcing that Signora Lorini, whose success in the principal opera houses of Europe has drawn forth the highest encomiums of the press, will have the honor of making her first appearance since her return from Europe.”
Announcement: New-York Times, 14 November 1862, 4.

Review: New York Herald, 15 November 1862, 4.

     The first appearance of Madame Loini, after an absence of several years from her native city, attracted a large and brilliant audience to this house last night. The success that she had achieved in London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Brussels and other European cities had been watched with interest, and prepared for her a cordial and flattering reception. There is an incident in connection with her careerr abroad which will serve to show the estimation in which her talents are held both by the profession and the public. She was engaged by M. Calzado, of the Italien in Paris, and made her debut in 'Semiramide.' She was received with marked favor, and the opera was repeated the next night. On the occasion of the debut Madame Ponce did not happen to be present; but on the second representation of the opera she took care to be there and witnessed the great success of 'the American artist,' as Madame Lorini was styled. The favorable impression made by Madame Lorini on both those occasions induced M. Calzado to put up her name for Leonora in the 'Trovatore.' Crowds flocked to the theatre to enjoy her rendition of the part, when to the surprise of every one, Madame Ponce appeared upon the scene as the Leonora of the evening. The expanation was this:--Madame Ponce, jealous of the triumphs of her American rival, had, the same day, gone before the Tribunal of Commerce and obtained an order directing M. Calzado to allow her to take the part of Leonora that night, as, according to her signed agreement with him, she had the exclusive right to the role. She had, when so requested by the director, agreed that Madame Lorini should appear in this part, but that was before she had heard her sing. There could be no stronger tribute to Madame Lorini's merits as an artist than this exhibition of jealousy on the part of so well a favorite as Madame Ponce. We should add that Madame Lorinio gave up her engagement in Paris in consequence of this lady's hostility and went to Milan, where she esdtablished a reputation that soon procured her engagements in all the leading cities of Italy.

      It follows, as a matter of course, from what we have just stated, that Madame Lorini's debut last night was a success.  She had sung but a few passages when the audience recognized the beautiful quality of her voice--pure, round and fresh--and, though not as powerful as one would wish to hear in Norma, still with volume sufficient to give a perfect interpretation to the music of the part.  Her method is excellent, and exhibits evidence of her Italian training. Although her face and figure are not favorable to dramatic effect her artistic intelligence and earnestness enable her to surmount these obstacles and present us with Norma which, if not dramatically striking, is at least above the average of the impersonations that we are accustomed to witness by Italian artists. Her ‘Casta Diva’ was given with great brio and artistic finish, and drew down enthusiastic applause. It was the same with nearly everything she sang throughout the opera, and the general impression made was so favorable that she was called before the curtain at the end of every act.

      Mlle. Morensi as Adalgisa gave Mme. Lorini most efficient support in the concerted part of the score and received a large share of the applause of the evening. The tenor, Maccaferri, did the best that he could with his limited resources, and Susini was in magnificent voice.

      We were glad to notice a marked improvement in the choruses, which exhibited more ensemble than on the first two nights.”

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

     Academy of Music.--Bellini's grand tragic opera of “’Norma’ was revived here last evening to a house that made us forget that the work has seen the day of its greatest popularity, and is now, unjustly and almost sacrilegiously, voted slow. Mme. Lorini (née Whiting, an American, as our readers who can recall the last decade of opera will remember,) made her début as Norma, and was supported in the contralto part by the new and favorite prima donna, Mlle. Morensi. During the interval of seven years that has elapsed since Mme. Lorini was last heard in public, she has made a tour of Europe, and obtained a reputation which we can now estimate at its just value in the principal opera houses there. She returns to us fresher than when she left, with a method vastly improved and a style at once large and lyrically dramatic. The vastness of the Academy imposes a severe tax on the voice of the singer, and we should be lending ourselves to a fiction if we said that Mme. Lorini makes us utterly forget this circumstance. Nevertheless her voice is fuller and richer than any other soprano of American origin we have yet heard on the stage, and its genuine quality-- the true soprano sfogato--enables the artiste to make her best effects in a way that the most distant listener can appreciate.  There was no lack of appreciation last night; the house applauded every well-known morceaux with enthusiasm, but the greatest treat was undoubtedly to that limited number who knew what constitutes art, and who had, in consequence, the pleasure of fully recognizing Mme. Lorini’s great ability. The soft charm of a rich fresh voice added to consummate skill of execution, and rare elegance of style, left really nothing to be desired. We cannot think of a singer who has created a more profound impression.Mme. Lorini suggests so muchthat may be said, that the general commendation is the briefest form in which to express it. The lady must be pronounced the best of our native prima donne. We hope that the treat of her early departure for Europe will be speedily withdrawn, in view of a triumph and a recognition so complete.

     Mlle. Morensi, as Adalgisa, displayed the splendor of her voice once more, but was hardly equal to the technical difficulties of the role.  Time and study will correct this. It was an absolute feast to hear two such fresh charming voices in the same opera. Signor Maccaferri as Pollio and Signor Susini as Proveso  were acceptable--the last-named artist being in fine voice, and singing with grand emphasis. The entire performance, we may add, was smooth, and above the average.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 17 November 1862, 2.

     “The muse of the Academy, after a good deal of coquetry, has at last consented to appear once more before the public. The vox populi has welcomed the vox of the prima donna. Good audiences are in attendance. Mr. Grau, the manager, thus far, has no reasonto regret the experiment. If things continue to be as prosperous, the 'grand gala, concluding, final, last positively-so, night" will be a movable feast, capable of several repetitions, like a sentimental nfarewell to an actor who leaves the stage forever once-a-year.

     We have already uttered our lyrics on the new vocalists. But we recline again, sub tegimi fagi--at the Editor's desk--to rehearse them.

     There is Madame Guerrabella with a history, and Miss Morenci without a history, and Madame Lorini with simply operatic,--they have all been journalized, and will bear it again. Madame 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 Traviate and Trovatore with fair success. Miss Morenci is a second soprano--or contralto as it is called--with a good, round, full voice, fairly cultivated, who made a most remarkable debut as Azucena and as Adalgisa. Madame Lorini-–née Whiting-–is a lady, like the others of this city – and who has done leading business in the opera-houses of Europe. She has an amplitudinous person.  A soprano voice.  A fine, pure, smooth, polished, elegant soprano, – which presents all the registers with equal success.  Such voices are seldom found outside the chests of others than singers of full habits.  Madame Lorini did Norma-–succeeding best in the Hymn to the New Moon and arbelletta to the Young Roman: but not showing her best points in the virago passages--the inverse this of Madame Grisi. The success of Madame Lorini, however, was marked.”