Draper Italian and American Opera: Rigoletto

Event Information

French Theatre

Manager / Director:
Henry Draper

Francisco Rosa

Price: $1.50 balcony box; $1 parquet; $.50 dress circle; $.30 gallery; $10, $6 proscenium boxes

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
21 June 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

27 Sep 1866, 8:00 PM

Program Details

“The full orchestra of the late Academy of Music.” “The Italian Chorus, with Max Maretzek’s kind permission.”

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Piave
Participants:  Draper Italian and American Opera;  Nicolò Barili (role: Rigoletto);  H. Weinlich;  Bine de Rossi (role: Magdalen);  Domenico Orlandini;  Emilie C. Boughton (role: Gilda);  Bernardo Massimiliani (role: Duke of Mantova)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 22 September 1866, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 23 September 1866, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 27 September 1866, 7.
Announcement: New York Herald, 27 September 1866, 4.
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 27 September 1866, 6.
Review: New York Herald, 29 September 1866, 10.

“Rigoletto, Verdi’s greatest and most successful work, was produced at the French Theatre on Thursday evening by Mr. Draper’s company. It was a pity that the first impression on entering was a bad one, from there being a complete lack of programmes, and thereby a corresponding ignorance on the part of the public as to the distribution of parts. The plot of the opera is generally known. It is a rehash of Victor Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse, and similar to the piece The Fool’s Revenge, taken from the French play. The part of Gilda, the buffoon’s daughter, was taken by Miss Emily Boughton, who has already appeared in Italian opera. This young lady merits much praise for the manner in which she acted and sang. She has yet much to conquer in the way of awkardness. She requires much more stage practice before she is fitted to appear as a prima donna. Though combining a good voice with an agreeable appearance she must educate her voice, so as to obey her wishes. Her faults in style and manner are all easily cured, but unless they are, Miss Emily Boughton can never become what she aspires to be—a good prima donna. The other singers were only passable. Massimiliani, as the Duke of Mantova, acted well, and sang badly. He strained his voice in a very disagreeable manner, to which was added constant breaking down in his sustained notes. La donna e mobile was his best effort of the evening. The artistes exerted themselves to the utmost in the grand quartette, but the weakness of the soprano spoiled its effect. The Rigoletto of the evening, Signor Barili, had not a proper conception of his part. He knew not how to draw the distinction between the outraged father and the Duke’s buffoon. His acting was a compromise between the two, in which he really impersonated neither. The mild manner in which he bore his wrongs belied the revengeful words which he constantly utters. In only two scenes did he appear to any advantage: that in the fourth scene of the second act, where the scuffle between himself and the nobles and his heartrending appeal to them takes place, was well done [sic], and the final scene of the opera between Rigoletto and Gilda is worthy of praise; but for the rest we can only censure. Signora Bina di Rossi as Magdalen was very good in the quartet. The orchestra, under the direction of Signor Rosa, was unexceptionable.”

Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 29 September 1866.

“We attended Thursday’s performance of Rigoletto by Draper’s company. We heard a debutante there, Mlle Boughton, who would do well to renounce the theatre. She doesn’t act and sings very little; but very little isn’t always a measure or always correct. The quartet, during which one didn’t hear her, was transformed into a trio. The trio that follows, during which one didn’t hear her at all either, metamorphosed into a duet. Mlle Boughton was less bad in the second act.

Mme de Rossi sang the short but difficult role of Sparafeccile’s [sic] sister very well. That hired assassin was very well suited to the talents of M. Barili.

M. Orlandini doesn’t seem to us to have enough power to sing Rigoletto. We don’t like his way of breathing in the middle of musical phrases, either. Nevertheless, M. Orlandini was rightly applauded in the finale of the third act and in the quartet of the fourth.

We’ve saved the best for last—M. Massimiliani, who is without contradiction the best tenor currently in America and at whom one is astonished to not see in M. Maretzek’s company. He sang his first-act air delightfully, and he had to repeat the famous La donna e mobile. If the quartet was also encored, it was because of him. The hall at 14th Street is a bit too small for the volume of M. Massimiliani’s voice, which filled the large vessel of the defunct Academy of Music so easily.” 

Announcement: Dwight's Journal of Music, 13 October 1866.

General announcement about small-scale opera productions throughout the fall; lists a few performances (including this one) but does not include reviews. “Operatic enterprises of the smaller sort are enjoying a brief after-summer season until the more absorbing Italian combination finds a rebuilt Academy ready for ‘inauguration.’ There has been Italian Opera at the French Theatre, under Mr. Draper’s management.”