Grau Italian Opera: Lucrezia Borgia

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Jacob Grau

Emanuele Muzio

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
27 June 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

21 Nov 1862, Evening

Program Details

VBL3, p.513 says that Ettore Barili substituted for Susini in the role of Alfonso. Reviews in the NYH and NYP, however, say Susini sang.

6th Night.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Lucretia Borgia
Composer(s): Donizetti
Text Author: Romani
Participants:  Grau Havana Opera Company;  Virginia Lorini Whiting (role: Lucrezia);  Catarina Morensi (role: Maffio Orsini);  Pasquale Brignoli (role: Gennaro);  Augustino Susini (role: Duke Alfonso)


Announcement: New York Herald, 17 November 1862.
“Lorini makes her third appearance in ‘Lucrezia Borgia,’ a part in which she is said to have achieved great success abroad.”
Announcement: New-York Times, 17 November 1862, 8.
“’Lucrezia Borgia’ will be produced for the last night of Madame Lorini.”
Advertisement: New-York Times, 18 November 1862, 7.
“Only night of Lucrezia Borgia.”
Announcement: New York Post, 19 November 1862.
Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 20 November 1862.
Announcement: New York Herald, 21 November 1862, 5.
“This is a new role for Lorini.”
Advertisement: New York Herald, 21 November 1862, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 November 1862, 7.

Review: New York Herald, 22 November 1862, 4.

     "The gods war against Grau, but he stands up to his work like a man, and will win in the end. Such bad weather as has disgusted this city during the past week would have dampened the ardor of any other manager, but Grau keeps his temper admirably, and  trusts to next week's sunshine and 'Dinorah' to repair his losses. Hope is typified by an anchor. Grau is moored by this anchor and rides safely through the storm and the deluge.

     Last night the Academy of Music opened its doors to the public, and advertised that old, favorite opera, 'Lucrezia Borgia.' No sensible man, however, could have expected the public to come out on such a night. The sky was dull and leaden. The rain came drizzling down in an aggravating mist, far worse than a hearty heavy shower. The streets were wet, muddy and full of puddles. The wind was cold, raw and damp. Out of doors everything seemed miserable. Indoors everything was clammy, uncomfortable, except in one's own house, by one's own fireside. What temptation could Grau hold out to lure the public through the drizzling rain, the wet streets, the cold wind, to the Academy? Madame Lorini as Lucrezia Borgia. We doubt it the temptation would have been sufficient.

     No, we regard the hundreds of people who came to the Academy last evening as inspired by a nobler impulse than a mere desire to hear good singing. They were a Spartan band. They had devoted themselves to the opera as Leonidas devoted himself to Greece. They came from no mere love of a fight. They knew that somebody must support the Opera, and they offered themselves. If people were to act as nobly in regard to the country we should need no drafts. Self-sacrifice seldom fails of its reward.

     The house, then, was excellent for such an evening. There was a comfortable colony of people in the parquet, a small settlement of fashionables in the dress circle, and representatives in almost all of the private boxes. Very few full toilettes were visible, the ladies having dressed for the storm rather than for the Opera. As for the gentlemen, they made no special toilettes on opera nights here, and are considered to be in full dress when they wear a pair of light colored kid gloves. The house, then, was about half filled. The audience appreciative, but not brilliant. The performance, on the other hand, was really first class.

          ‘Lucrecia Borgia’ is an opera of gems, its only fault is that we are too familiar with it. Organ grinders and students of the pianoforte have made it universally popular, but dreadfully trite. But if the opera was not fresh the voices were. Lorini sang better than in ‘Norma,’ and the delicious purity and sweetness of her tones charmed and delighted the audience. She was not Grisi, nor Steffanone, nor perhaps even Parodi, but if you shut up your eyes the best of this trio was sometimes recalled to your recollection. Morensi improves upon acquaintance, and, as the young Orsini, acted well and sang superbly. She deserves the favor with which she is always received. Brignoli surpassed himself. Susini sang, acted, and appeared admirably. The minor parts were well done.

          The audience warmly appreciated the performance. The principal artists were called before the curtain at end of each act, and the grand trio in act second was encored. Why is it that we generally have the best performances when the audience are slimmest it is impossible to say. Perhaps the artists are grateful and wish to reward the few who are present. At any rate, whatever may be the reason, the fact is self-evident, and we can only condole with those who preferred comfort at home to good music at the Academy. Unfortunately there is but little chance that 'Lucrezia' will be repeated this season."

Review: New-York Times, 22 November 1862, 8.

           “Academy of Music.--Mme. Lorini’s success, last evening, in 'Lucrezia Borgia,' exceeded the best expectations of her friends, and surpassed, in musical interest, the promise of her début. In the difficult and dramatic music of the first act she sang so well and delivered her voice with such a fine, artistic sense of its capacity, that its inadequacy for so large a building ceased to be noticed, whilst its beautiful, fresh quality was as remarkable as the skill and taste of her method and phrasing.  It is now evident that in Mme. Lorini we have an artist who is destined to grow upon the audience; one who leaves in each performance something pleasant to be expected in the next. In the majority of instances, our prime donne play their best cards on the opening night, and lose ever afterwards. 

            The performance was a good one in all respects, Signor Brignoli being in remarkably fine voice. The superb trio of the third act was rapturously encored, thanks mainly to the delicious voice of this gentleman. Signor Susini was the Duke, and Mlle. Morensi  the Orsini.”

Review: New York Post, 22 November 1862, 2.

          “Perhaps the most genuine artistic success of the season was the excellent performance of Lucretia Borgia. Madame Lorini appears personally to better advantage in the rich robes of Ferrara’s Duchess than in the more simple drapery of Norma, while the music of the part seems specially fitted to her ornate style. Her greatest successes were in the Come bello and the pathetic adagio of the last act, M'odi ah! m;odi, while the usual encores were given to the trio and to Orsini’s drinking song. Mlle Morensi also made a very happy success, while Brignoli and Susini sang even better than usual. The audience was not very large, but the opera–which should be repeated–was so admiringly done, that there was enthusiasm enough for even such an audience as will be present at the gala performance to-night, when, by the way, the performance will begin at half past seven o'clock, and the house will be illuminated as at the Prince of Wales' s Ball.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 22 November 1862, 8.

     "Madame Lorini as Lucrezia Borgia. The appearance of Madame Lorini, in another high-class lyrico-tragic character, enhances the reputation she acquired on her first night. We deem it somewhat remarkable that more should not have been reflected from Europe respecting the career of this Americn prima donna there. She has a most charming voice with a most peculiar unction of tone; her method is admirably Italian; her style large, refined, and elegant. We take the liberty of assuring persons who do not go to the opera unless there be something really good, that they will not be disappointed in the volume, sweetness, fluency, correctness, and finish of this cantratice [sic]. The admirable manner in which she executed that brief piece of musical beauty, the Adagio cantabile of the last act, crowned her successful performance. Mr. Brignoli exerted himself especially, and was much applauded. Miss Morenci [sic] was vociferously encored on the brindisi or toast couplets.

    The audience was not felicitously heavy in numbers. The rain came down under the persistently stormy weather; and prevented, doubtless, many from attending. Next week by the doctrine of meteorological contrasts, we may look for dry, fine, crisp, bracing nights; and a corresponding increment of  auditors to welcome and enjoy the gifts of the new American prima donna--as well as the first New-York production of the latest Opera of Meyerbeer."

Review: New York Herald, 23 November 1862, 4.

Brief mention that Lorini sang well.