Grau Havana Opera: L’Africaine

Event Information

Venue(s):
Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau

Conductor(s):
Emanuele Muzio

Event Type:
Opera

Record Information

Status:
Published

Last Updated:
19 July 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

18 May 1866, Evening

Performers and/or Works Performed

1)
aka Afrikanerin
Composer(s): Meyerbeer
Text Author: Scribe
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Domenico Orlandini (role: Neluska);  Signor Musiani (role: Di Gama);  Signor L. Milleri (role: Don Pedro);  Marietta Gazzaniga (role: Selika);  Domenico Coletti;  Leonilda Boschetti (role: Inez)

Citations

1)
Announcement: New York Post, 17 May 1866.
2)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 17 May 1866.
3)
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 17 May 1866.
4)
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 19 May 1866, 5.

“Meyerbeer’s splendid opera of L’Africaine was produced . . . last night, before a large and fashionable audience. It is needless at this date to say anything of the music of this wonderful opera. Certain it is that every hearing serves to develop some new, appreciable, though subtle, beauties of melody, construction or instrumentation. A work of such magnitude cannot be grasped until after many hearings, so absorbing is the interest attached to each department, vocal and instrumental.

    The cast comprised some of the most prominent members of the company, Gazzaniga, Boschetti, Musiani, Orlandini, Milleri, Coletti, &c. It is not our purpose to make any comparison between the respective merits of the artists on the present occasion and the artists of Mr. Maretzek’s company. Both have their special excellencies, and both are deserving of warm commendations and admiration.

    The Selika of Gazzaniga, like all that she does, is characterized by strong individuality. She thoroughly enters into the spirit of every character she attempts, and presents a reading which is full of intelligence, earnestness and passion. Her reading of the slumber song in the second act had all the wild tenderness which the situation calls for and the music expresses. In the fourth act she rendered that wonderfully passionate music with a force and an abandon that was as grandly effective as it was impulsively natural. The whole of the last scena was impressive and full of power in the expression of the varied emotions of the situation—now of hopeless love, of wild despair, of jealous madness and of resignation. The whole was a splendid example of vocal and dramatic power.
 
    Mlle. Boschetti made an admirable Inez.  She looked the part to perfection, for she is a woman of rare and exquisite beauty, and dresses in unexceptionable taste.  She sang the part finely; her voice was fine and her execution was brilliant, true and telling. She dignified the part, making it a marked feature. Signor Musiani sustained the difficult role of Di Gama with great ability. His voice, though lacking that grandeur of tone to which we have been accustomed of late, was ample for all the musical demand, and he sang the music with admirable taste and judgment, and with an energy and power which called forth repeated plaudits.  He is a fine actor, and enters thoroughly into the feelings of the character he personates.

    Orlandini’s Neluska was a spirited and vigorous personation of the jealous but devoted savage. He sang the music with artistic finish and sustained power throughout. Milleri was also an excellent representative of Don Pedro. His noble and well cultivated voice told out with admirable effect, both in solos and concerted music.

    The chorus and orchestra in their execution of this music far exceeded our expectations. To many in each department the music was new, but Signor Muzio kept both steadily in hand, and produced a more excellent result than could have been hoped, from so hasty a preparation. Much of the orchestral performance was worthy of warm praise, and the exceptionable points were excusable under the circumstances, for we cannot expect such rounded perfection from a passing company, as we should demand from a settled management. The shortcoming in certain scenic effects, must be overlooked for the same reason, although we should have supposed that the scenery and properties previously used would have been at the disposal of the present incumbent.”

5)
Review: New-York Times, 19 May 1866, 5.

Academy of Music.—Meyerbeer's opera of L’Africaine was given last evening with a cast entirely new.  It comes to us with a suddenness which courts comparison—and the comparison is not, we think, favorable to Mr. Grau.  Of all the artists who did their best last evening there was only one who came up to the pleasurable experience of the public—Mme. Gazzaniga.  This lady was superb in every phrase that she delivered. Her sympathy with the part was perfect; her passion complete; her voice excellent. Of the rest we prefer not to speak.”

6)
Review: New York Post, 19 May 1866.

“Meyerbeer’s ‘L’Africaine’ was produced last night by the Grau company before a large and appreciative audience. As often as this opera has been presented during the last season the interest in it has not abated and there was much anxiety as to how the new company would compare with its predecessors in its production. It is not our purpose to make minute comparisons, which are especially odious in such matters, but we will say that ‘L’Africaine’ was rendered satisfactorily in nearly every respect, and in some particulars better than has been before achieved in the New York Academy.

    Gazzaniga, as a matter of course, seemed the part of Zelika [sic], the African, splendidly, and in a style peculiarly her own. We have never before seen this character represented with so much fidelity to a proper conception of it, and with such unforced intensity of look and action. Gazzaniga’s style of dress and of rendering the part differs considerably from that adopted by her predecessors here in the delineation of the character, and—as we think—the difference was an improvement. Her vocalization was as effective as her acting.

Mlle. Boschetti, who is always as graceful on the stage as she is beautiful, was especially felicitous in her representation of the part of Inez. The character could scarcely be personated more faithfully or with more of quiet and easily sustained dignity. She was in good voice, and sang with all her usual brilliancy and effectiveness.
 
    Signor Musiani assumed his part well, and sang better than ordinarily. Orlandini’s singing was artistic and effective, as is always is, but his acting was deficient in the fire and energy appropriate to the character of Neluska. In this respect he suffered by comparison with Bellini’s almost faultless and spirited rendering of the same part.
    
    The orchestral performances were worthy of high commendation; those of the chorus were by no means of equal excellence.”