Manager / Director:
24 November 2015
"Verdi’s beautiful and animated opera of ‘Un Ballo en [sic] Maschera’ was given here last evening to a house somewhat less bad than usual. It would be useless to compliment it in any other way. The business of amusing the public has been a serious affair for several weeks. It is agreeable, therefore, to notice even an alleviation of managerial sufferings. The opera was very well rendered, and, so far as the caste was concerned, has never been offered in so interesting a shape. The three female roles were entrusted to American artistes, viz.: Miss MCCULLOCH, Miss HAUCK and Mlle. STELLA BONHEUR. It was, we think unfortunate that Miss McCulloch selected the rôle of Amelia for her début. The music is embarrassing even for experienced artists, and must naturally present unusual difficulties to the débutante. We cannot recall the name of a singer who has made a success in it. Miss MCCULLOCH suffered from timidity, and was unable to do justice to her powers. The appearance of the lady was highly in her favor, and her bearing on the stage was singularly graceful and easy. Miss MCCULLOCH’S voice is a soprano of good power—sufficient, indeed, for all lyric purposes. The upper register is somewhat hard and unsympathetic, but this may have been the result of fright. We have no desire to criticize. It is sufficient that the lady was successful, and that her début gives us the promise of another American prima donna. Miss STELLA BONHEUR was in admirable voice, and sang ULRICA’S music with positive effect. Miss HAUCK, as the page, looked charming and sang with perfect sweetness, accuracy and musical feeling. The piquancy of the melodies secured several encores, all of which were merited. It is unnecessary to speak of Messrs. MAZZOLENI, BELLINI, DUBREUIL, &c. They were excellent.”
“The debut of Miss E. McCollock [sic] in the character of Amelia, in Verdi’s opera, ‘Un Ballo in Maschera,’ attracted a fair, but by no means crowded audience.
Amelia is an arduous character for a debutante to personate. It is difficult vocally and dramatically, for it entails the necessity of dramatic power, which novices very rarely possess. Miss McCollock’s debut gave evidence of great promise. She has a good person and an expressive face; her action, though timid and nervous, is by no means awkward; on the contrary, it betrays a positive earnestness which redeems her from the appearance of crudeness. She has a voice of great capacity, which, with careful practice and experience, may be made capable of the highest musical efforts. She has been fairly taught up to a certain point, but she betrays the pupil in everything. She does not seem to have thought much, but has been content to receive instruction without digesting it, to the end of reproducing emotions that shall seem to spring spontaneously from natural impulse. There are qualities in her voice which are really beautiful, and its general tone is very sympathetic. She sings with much expression and is so evidently in earnest that we cannot but have good hopes of her future if she continues to study with a competent instructor. Her debut was a success taking into consideration the needs we have mentioned.
Miss Hauck as the Page was charmingly piquant and effective, and Mlle. Rosa [sic] Bonheur acquitted herself as Ulrica with more dramatic power than we expected. It was altogether a clever performance. Mazzoleni sang admirably, paying special attention to the artistic coloring of the music. Bellini was also excellent.”
“A performance of some interest to any who take an interest in American talent occurred at the Winter Garden Opera on Wednesday evening. To offset a cast which was altogether foreign in the male parts, three ladies of native birth and education sustained the leading roles of the opposite sex. The opera was Verdi’s Masked Ball (‘Un Ballo in Maschera’), which contains some of the prettiest exceptional passages that this composer has written. To hear it is like hearing Verdi making music for his own amusement, sometimes starting an unusual strain, and sometimes remembering himself, but not always displaying the most characteristic features of his genius. The individual performance which secured the leading attention of the audience was that of Amelia by Miss M’Culloch—a young lady who has been heard frequently before, but not so prominently, and therefore may be said to have made her debut on this occasion. Miss M’Culloch has a tall and comely figure, and extremely modest bearing, and sings and acts altogether earnestly. Although she is neither phenomenal nor startling, she impresses a listener pleasantly. She displayed tolerable capacity of voice but not enough, perhaps, to give promise of the attainment of more than ordinary power. Still energy may accomplish much, and we shall probably hear more of an artiste who begins her career by showing herself so really in earnest. On the stage it is the secret of success in everything—even in opera. It does not do to play at either acting or singing. She was several times recalled. Another little American lady who sang in this Opera was Miss Hauck, of whom we said some kind words in early autumn, when she made her debut. She conferred much grace upon the pretty role of Oscar, the page, and sung the pleasant music of the part with girlish freshness, although with a bit of girlish timidity. Miss Hauck continues to improve with practice, and really may be considered the most successful of our more recent native debutantes. Mdlle. Stella Bonheur completed the fair trio—and in the gipsey character of Ulrica won her own share of the applause of the night—which was noticeably [sic] liberal, but impartially distributed. The rest of the performance was not extraordinary enough to entitle it to any particular mention. It may be characterized as usual, and thus dismissed. Not so the scenery which illustrated the play—that was singularly bad, and even dirty, and in decidedly offensive contrast to the clean new dresses in which the characters were attired. We have noticed this of all the scenery at Winter Garden on opera nights, and have often wondered at the reason; for whenever Mr. Booth played (on the alternate evenings) the stage pictures looked quite different and quite new. Something must be charged in indifference, perhaps, as the season was on this occasion but one night removed from its end. This evening, the least profitable season of opera that M. Maretzek has carried through for many years, will close with the performance of the ‘Barber of Seville.’ It is perhaps useless to speculate upon the causes of failure, now; they are probably too well known to the parties most interested in avoiding them for all future time. But one fact has been proven by the disaster of the winter—(corroborating, as this disaster does, the lesson taught in previous years)—that opera, like all exotics, must be kept in its hot-house, and that out of its natural conservatory, the opera house, it cannot live. The public will only accept it, and only seek it, in the Academy. May that struggling structure soon triumph over the opposing forces, and open its doors to natural tenants.”
“The greatest warmth surrounded the debut of Mlle McCulloch in Il Ballo in Maschera. This young person, to whom is attached the most lively and well-justified interest, still has a lot of studying to do, and she proved her courage in accepting one of the most difficult roles in the repertory.
It must be said that Mlle McCulloch was scarcely supported by M. Mazzoleni, who seemed to make fun of the audience almost the whole time. M. Mazzoleni was at odds with b-flats, which he always attacked falsely. What would have happened if he had been asked to sing c’s! When M. Mazzoleni wasn’t bawling, M. Bellini was bellowing. Mighty Gods! Deliver us from shrieks!
Mlle Stella Bonheur was suitable in the role of Ulrica. As for Mlle Hauck, she is always charming, and she was the most graceful little page that one could imagine.”
Mazzoleni did not sing, he screamed. The former sweetness in his voice was completely spent, which took all the “poetry” out of the music. We hope he will recover his voice in the break. Thankfully Bellini’s performance balanced out the unpleasant sounds from Mazzoleni. Mrs. Hauck was delightful in her part and if she keeps making progress the way she has (perhaps the rumors about her complacency and arrogance are not true), she will be a great success.