Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
26 June 2013
“Academy of Music.--Donizetti's opera of the 'Daughter of the Regiment,' was played here last evening to a good audience. Signor Susini as Sulpice, was admirable, both vocally and dramatically. The rest of the artists did not make themselves sufficiently prominent to call for extended notice. We may add, however, that Madame Guerrabella, who acted superbly, did not appear to be in good voice, and in the character of Maria suffered seriously by comparison with her previous efforts.”
"The President is not alone in the misfortune of a divided Cabinet. What with Seward and Chase, Blair and Stanton, Bates and Welles, President Lincoln has his hands pretty well filled; but there are other people in the world quite as much bothered about such matters as himself. If Honest Old Abe belongs to that school of philosophers who believe that misery loves company and solace themselves by regarding the misfortunes of others, let him look at Grau, the impressario of our Academy of Music, and be comforted. Grau, like the President, wears a smiling face and good clothes; but he has a secret griefnevertheless. Somehow or other, Grau has caught the President's complaint. His Cabinet is no more united than that at Washington. His generals agree about as well as the Kilkenny cats. Lincoln has his Mephistopheles Chase. Grau has his Mephistopheles Muzio.
Singularly enough, the troubles of President Lincoln and Manager Grau arise from causes not dissimilar. A peep behind the scenes of the Opera, therefore, may very likely give us a hint of what is going on behind the scenes of the Cabinet. It appears that Madame Guerrabella was rehearsing one morning, with Brignoli and Susini, while Muzio accompanied the singers in his unequalled style upon the pianoforte. The utterances and the hearts of the quartette were in tender harmony. Guerrabella, with one of her brightest smiles, complimented Muzio by saying that she would like to sing one of his compositions, in order to show her appreciation of his merit as a composer, a conductor and a man. Muzio, as is well known, is the nephew of the great Verdi, and can write quite as good music as his uncle. His songs, his fantasias, his barcaroles, his melodies, are most delicious. If he were not already universally celebrated as a conductor, he would be illustrious as a composer. With his accustomed grace, therefore, he consented to write a charming bit of music for the beautiful Guerrabella, stipulating only that she should furnish the Italian words. An arrangement more satisfactory could not have been devised: for Guerrabella is a capital linguist and can compose, as well as look, [sic] poetry in any language from French to Russian. The party separated in the best possible humor with each other and themselves. Guerrabella retired to invoke the muses. Muzio, who is independent of the muses, went to work single handed to embody in music one of those exquisite conceptions which seem always floating through his brain and brightening up his countenance with a remarkably enchanting smile..
The next morning Guerrabella, while pondering over her poetry, received the music from Muzio; but with it came a note which drove all the poetry of the affair out of her head. This note stated that Muzio's irrepresible ardor had induced him to sit up all night to finish the music, and enclosed a bill for one hundred dollars as the price of the composition. A development more unexpected cannot be imagined. Of course a piece of music over which so admirable a composer had burned the midnight gas was cheap at one hundred dollars; but then the lovely Guerrabella did not want the music and had only offered to sing it out of compliment to Muzio. Decidedly, she would not pay the bill, under these circumstances, and so sent the music back. Muzio, taking a different view of the affair, locked up his rejected melody, and calmly awaited the opportunity for his revenge. Wednesday night came, and Guerrabella appeared for the first time in the ‘Daughter of the Regiment.’ Muzio smiled grimly, waved his baton and started the orchestra half a note too high. The consequence was that the singers and the orchestra made most terrible discord. It was as if two operas were under way at the same time–the dramatis personae singing one and the orchestra playing the other. The glorious Guerrabella strained her voice in vain. Brignoli–the best tenor we have had since Mario–looked as indignant in Tonio’s soldier clothes as if he had been unexpectedly drafted, refused to sing any of his beautiful romanzas and finally stalked off the stage in disgust. Susini, who seems always jolly, came out strong, like an operatic Mark Tapley, and did the singing for the whole company. Mephistopheles Muzio persisted in his half a note too high, and the curtain fell upon a tableau of disorder.
Only the initiated can imagine the scenes which ensued. Mephistopheles Muzio, laughing in his sleeve, kept out of harm’s way. Guerrabella imitated Niobe, and became all tears. Brignoli vented his wrath upon poor Grau, who understands only the receipts of the Opera, and does not know or care whether the musical notes are too high or too low, so that the bank notes are sufficiently numerous. The redoubtable Ullman who knows all about music, but cannot manage money, endeavored to compromise matters, like a genial Secretary Steward. All such efforts failed, however, and this very petty quarrel is still raging. We hope that those concerned will settle it at once. If Muzio must have his hundred dollars, we are willing to open a subscription for him. Then, let mutual apologies, explanations and reconciliations follow. The public cannot allow such estimable artists and such a splendid conductor to be at variance.”
"The performance of La Fille du Régiment Wednesday evening did not correspond to the expectations of the numerous and elegant listeners who had courageously braved the terrible weather to come and fill up the hall. Mme Guerrabella put vivacity and charming coquetry into her role in vain; her disobedient voice, which seemed to be rendered powerless [by] a state of illness, completely failed to convey Donizetti's graceful composition. Brignoli was in unison with the atmosphere, which, as we have said earlier, was far from bright. The secondary roles were performed wretchedly and reduced to such an imperceptible level of expressiveness that there wasn't anything left of the piece, strictly speaking. Only Susini was in the spirit of his role; but in spite of an enormous expenditure of liveliness and good will, he didn't succeed in animating this chilly evening."