Grau Italian Opera: La favorite

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau

Emanuele Muzio

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
16 July 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

03 Dec 1862, Evening

Program Details

12th Subscription Night.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka La favorita; The Favoured One
Composer(s): Donizetti
Text Author: Royer, Vaëz
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Fanny Stockton (role: Inez);  Ginerva Guerrabella (role: Leonora di Gusmann);  Pasquale Brignoli (role: Fernando);  Augustino Susini (role: Baldassare);  Federico Amodio (role: Alfonso XI)


Announcement: New York Herald, 01 December 1862, 5.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 02 December 1862.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 03 December 1862, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 03 December 1862, 7.
Review: New York Herald, 04 December 1862, 5.

     “Manager Grau certainly shows great zeal in catering to the New York opera-goers. Not content with the production at great expense of 'Dinorah,' for which he engaged that most pleasing artiste, Mlle. Cordier, and the variety given us in the performance of such established and favorite operas as 'Norma,' 'Il Trovatore,' 'Traviata' and 'Lucrezia,' he offered to his patrons a treat last night in the shape of Donizetti's 'La Favorita,' with the fine cast of Guerrabella, Brignoli, Amodio and Susini. This opera was originally written by the immortal composer for Madame Stoltz, the celebrated French tenor, Duprez, Barronilhet and Levasseur, of the Grand French Opera of Paris. Mme. Stoltz had a contralto voice of great power and purity. Of course the music has been transposed for Guerrabella. The first act was marked by the fine singing and acting of Brignoli, whose first notes stamped the role of Fernando as one of his triumphs. His romanza, ‘Una Vingine’ [sic], was given with great sweetness and expression, and drew from the public a well deserved round of applause.

      It was evident that the favorite tenor was in fine voice, and that the success of the opera was assured. Guerrabella came upon the audience in all the splendor of a most tasteful toilet, and sang through the first act with effect.  She was truly charming, acted with judgment and sang in a most pleasing manner. In the second act, Alphonso (Amodio), the young king, sang the aria ‘Vieni Leonora’ with power, while in the duetto with Guerrabella, ‘Quando ie Soylie, [sic]’ he sang finely. We wish to commend most sincerely this young artist’s evident care and study to fill his roles to the full extent of his talent. The duetto we have just mentioned was executed with taste and skill and was loudly applauded. Guerrabella sang and played well during this act. We missed the fine ballet which is introduced in this act in Paris and London. The grand finale of the second act was well rendered, the curtain going down amid great applause.

      In the third act Leonora (Guerrabella) gave the aria ‘Ah mio Fernando,’ terminating with a rondo which drew great applause.

     The rondo in question was written by Botesini [sic] for Steffanoni to introduce in the same opera, 'La Favorita.'

     The fourth act was the scene of Brignoli's greatest and most successful effort. He gave the 'Spirito Gentil' with wonderful sweetness, finish and power, and was rapturously encored. The success of this artist was indeed a marked one. We have never heard him to such advantage. The duette finale between Fernando (Brignoli) and Leonora (Guerrabella) was much applauded. On the whole the opera was a decided success, and Guerrabella may be said to have fairly supported her share of its weighty responsibility.  Susini gave the music of his role with his usual skill and effect.”

Review: New York Post, 04 December 1862, 2.

“Men of mere matter die literally, those of genius but figuratively, their works being a spiritual perpetuity of themselves. Fourteen years have passed since Donizetti disappeared from among the living, yet at the Academy last evening his immortal musical spirit filled the whole space of the house, and sank deep into the souls of those who really love music for its own sake.  The influence of Rossini on Donizetti is evident in ‘La Favorita,’ in the rich and versatile instrumentation which is added to its melody. That 'Favorita' was drawn from the musical depths of Donizetti's nature is easily seen in the fact that, during the evening of its first representation, he took a walk on the Champs Elysees to quiet the burning emotions of his own soul. What a pity that those who go to hear his operas have not a little of the author's musical susceptilility!

      The audience last night was large, in view of the unfavorable weather, and had a certain operatic brilliancy, but was rather deficient, as usual, in vivacity.  Guerrabella sustained her part very well, observing a measured care in her rendering of the music, but rather deficient in that tremulous dramatic impulse which electrifies an audience. Fine culture she surely has, but scarcely fire enough in her nervous system. Brignoli delighted the audience by his dignified and artistic efforts last evening.  He bears with him always the ineffaceable stamp of vocal distinction.  Susini and Amodio gave satisfaction.”

Review: New-York Times, 04 December 1862, 5.

     “Academy of Music.--Donizetti's Opera of 'La Favorita' was produced here last evening to a fashionable audience, attracted by the novelty of Mme. Guerrabella’s appearance in a fresh part. The role of the heroine is, we believe, entirely new to the lady, and has been studied in more than the usual haste. It follows that Mme. Guerrabella does not feel entirely at her ease, especially as the music is, at best, too low for her voice. Under these circumstances the performance is entitled to a large share of allowance, when we remember, too, that it was also good of its kind, and particularly touching as a dramatic picture. Mme. Guerrabella’s forte lies in a lighter style of music and acting than that involved in the character of Leonora; something with dash and spirit in it–as in the first act of ‘Traviata.’ Nevertheless it is the privilege of a good artist to make all parts acceptable, and this we may unhesitatingly say of Mme. Guerrabella.  In the third act, the lady introduced a rondo brilliant by Bottesini, with marked effect.

      It rarely happens that Signor Brignoli is heard to such advantage as in this opera. He was in singularly good voice last evening, and gave great breadth and effect to the music. In the last act his Spirito gentil was tumultously encored, and merited that or any other kind of compliment. Signor Susini and Signor Amodio sustained the rôles of Balthazar and Alfonso--the first-named gentleman with his usual largeness of style and wealth of voice, and the latter carefully but rather tamely. The chorus did not display much strength or precision; the orchestra, under Mr. Muzio, was good.”

Review: New York Herald, 08 December 1862, 2.

      “During the past week we have had the first performance for the season of Donizetti's chef d'oeuvre , 'La Favorita, with Guerrabella, Brignoli and Susini. We have already reviewed this performance, and will merely say here that the artists greatly distinguished themselves in their rendition of that most delightful music.  Guerrabella, in the fourth act, was beyond anything we ever before witnessed in her–dramatic and forcible. Her role was carefully and ably sung, while, as a piece of acting, it was truly grand. We cannot award too much praise to Signor Brignoli for his Fernando. No artist of the present day could have surpassed his performance of what is evidently one of his favorite roles.  We doubt whether any could have equalled him. He was in splendid voice, and had evidently resolved to give us a taste of his quality. His ‘Spirito Gentil’ was rapturously encored. His singing of this favorite air, and Guerrabella’s splendid acting during the fourth act made a triumph for those artists. Susini was, as usual, grand in his Balthazar.”