Grau Havana Opera: Faust

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau

Emanuele Muzio

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
4 April 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

10 May 1866, Evening

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Gounod
Text Author: Barbier, Carré
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Signor Anastasi (role: Faust);  Domenico Orlandini (role: Valentine);  Mme. Polini (role: Siebel);  Signor L. Milleri (role: Mefisto);  Domenico Coletti;  Leonilda Boschetti (role: Marguerite)


Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 10 May 1866, 4.
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 10 May 1866.
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 May 1866, 4.

“‘Faust,’ as given by this Italian Opera Company, is not very attractive, so a small audience witnessed its performance last evening.

    That once popular opera no longer fascinates the general public, and its fading interest could not be revived by the uneven treatment it received from Mr. Grau’s company.

    Bright spots were perceived in the pervading feebleness of color, and flashes of brilliant execution from usually weak and dull voices occasionally enlivened a scene.

    The orchestra and chorus sympathized with this uneven style of performance throughout, giving some portions very badly, others moderately well, and some considerable part exceedingly well. It was very singular that such glaring inequalities should appear in the same opera, and the fact can only be accounted for by the supposition that extremely hurried rehearsal prevented thorough acquaintance with the work in hand. Mlle. Boschetti materially advanced her position among dramatic singers by her treatment of Marguerita’s music, although her voice has few pleasant notes and she has very little executive ability. Her command of public favor and critical approval in that role is derived from the soul and depth of feeling, combined with remarkable dramatic aptitude in delineating the phases of Marguerita’s character, that she displays. There is no exaggeration in her coloring or attempt to substitute mere sensational tricks for real passion and expressive singing. As Marguerita, she impresses the intelligent public most favorably, and when compared with her Violetta a wonderful difference in her favor is at once perceived.

    Mme. Polini has little to do as Siebel, but that little she did well.

    Anastasi really showed a pretty and tunable tenor voice in Faust’s duet with Marguerita and in the duel scene. His ‘Salve dinora’ would have been more acceptable if he had forced his voice less, and so avoided betraying its defects when delivered with any approach to power. He sang with general regard to pure intonation last evening, showing in that important point a marked improvement over his debut when he swerved constantly from the pitch, and not infrequently sang false in both ways.

    Orlandini, as usual, was excellent in all that Valentine had to do or sing, and the debutant basso, Milleri, effected by his gold song and serenade a positive control of his first public here. His voice is a good round, full bass pretty well delivered and managed with fair regard for expression so that his evident defects in school and finish were disregarded by the audience who clearly preferred vigorous tone and spirited delivery to school and style with a feeble voice for their expositer.

    There is material in that basso for a great dramatic singer, which only needs cultivation to polish into a first class artist.”

Review: New-York Times, 11 May 1866, 4.

“An excellent performance of ‘Faust’ was given last evening, to an utterly inadequate audience. What was deficient in numbers, however, was amply made up in enthusiasm, and the enthusiasm, we are glad to add, was deserved. Signor Anastasi was in good voice. He sang with discretion throughout, but not unfrequently wandered from the pitch—a grievous fault, which he is yet young enough to correct. The grand aria of the third act, in which the rejuvenated philosopher apostrophizes the chaste dwelling of his love, has seldom been given so clearly. It is vague in form and needs intelligence on the part of the artist. Mlle. Boschetti has not displaced our favorite—Miss Kellogg—in the rôle of Margherite, nor do we expect that any one will speedily do so. It is right, however, to say that the lady is seen to much better advantage in Gounod’s opera than in Verdi’s. Mlle Boschetti’s presence is graceful, elegant and friendly. Every one feels pleased with it, and this is half the battle. There were moments of earnestness, and, on the other hand, of girlish giddiness in the third act which have never been surpassed. The duo was passionately rendered, and merited the encore which it received.

    Signor Milleri was the Mephistopheles—making his debut in that trying rôle. The gentleman has a fine bass voice, particularly clear and ringing in the upper register and true throughout.  He made a highly favorable impression, and will, we doubt not, speedily become a favorite with the public. Mlle. Polini was the Siebel.”

Review: New York Post, 11 May 1866.

“A not very large but exceedingly enthusiastic audience last night listened to an excellent performance of ‘Faust’ by Mr. Grau’s company. Mlle. Boschetti was the leading star of the evening, and was especially successful in her conception and personation of the character of Marguerite. From first to last she won hand held the attention and admiration of her audience by her graceful modesty and by the naturalness of her transitions from girlish innocence and thoughtlessness to a womanly seriousness and strength.  Madame Polini, as Siebel, had little prominence, but performed her part well. Signor Mileri [sic], in the difficult part of Mephistopheles, was very successful. His acting in some of the more trying portions of the opera was superb, and elicited the heartiest admiration. He has a full and rich bass voice, well under control, and sang with remarkable expressiveness and power. The ‘gold song’ was especially worthy the enthusiastic encore it received. Signor Anastasi’s pure and beautiful tenor had not the same opportunity for display in ‘Faust’ that was afforded him in ‘La Traviata.’”

Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 12 May 1866, 8.

The event was very successful. Milleri, Boschetti and Anastasi were praised abundantly.