Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
17 July 2013
“Academy of Music.--That Verdi's latest opera, ‘Un Ballo in Maschera,’ is a favorite with the public is abundantly proved by the brilliant gathering which always greets its performance. It was given last night with a cast almost entirely new, and a success which justifies its repetition at the matinée on Saturday. The rôle of Amelia was sustained by Signora Guerrabella with marked ability, and that of Oscar the page by Mlle. Cordier, with the requisite degree of grace and lightness. Signora Morensi was also heard to advantage as Ulrica. Owing to the indisposition of Signor Brignoli, the part of Richard, 'Count of Warwick and Governor of Boston,' was intrusted [sic] to Signor Maccaferri, who astonished the house with a very energetic and intense impersonation of it. The smaller parts were well filled, and the performance gave satisfaction to the audience.”
“The opera selected for last evening's perfomance at the Academy was Verdi's ‘Il Ballo in Maschera,’ with its incomprehensible plot and location, mysterious sorcerers’ music, conspirators, gibbet and all. The 'Ballo' is one of Verdi's latest compositions, and at its production here last year, it became immensely popular, and now brass bands, hand-organs and whistlers retail it in small quantities. It possesses all the elements of popularity, and not at all surprising was it that the Academy was thronged last evening with a brilliant and appreciative audience. The opera at its first representation was interpreted by Mme Colson, Miss Hinkley, Adelaide Phillips, Brignoli and Ferri, and then again by Miss Kellogg as Amalia, Mme Strakosch as Ulrica, and Mancusi as Reinhart. The cast announced for last evening embraced Guerrabella, Cordier, Morensi, Brignoli and Amodio, but Maccaferri was substituted for Brignoli, for reasons which the following certificate will explain:
‘J.Grau, Esq. – Dear Sir: I have seen Mr. Brignoli this morning, and I find him so much indisposed from a severe cold that he will no be able to sing to-night. J. M. Carnochan, Professor of Surgery, New York Medical College. New York, December 10, 1862.’
The above certificate, and an announcement that Signor Maccaferri had undertaken the rôle of Signor Brignoli, was conspicuously posted in the lobby of the Academy. The newness of the parts to the artists filling them, and the change in cast, tempers the tone of criticism. There was a sort of nervous hesitancy on the part of the artists that will probably wear off after a second performance. Maccaferri sang with his usual excessive gesticulation. It seems a pity that a good voice and a willing and obliging artist should have this one unpleasant fault. Guerrabella was in good voice and sang well. In Oscar we missed Hinkley. Cordier, with all her vocal skill, can never make the page’s character what Hinkley made it. Morensi was good in the Ulrica music, and Amodio very fine.”
"The habitues of the Opera were somewhat annoyed upon entering the theatre last Wednesday evening to find that Brignoli was so indisposed he could not sing the role of Richard, one of his best, and one in which he has achieved triumphs on our stage. A certificate from his doctor attested to the fact that this was no artist's whim, and the public could but regret the illness of their favorite tenor.
Maccaferri, always obliging, always ready, assumed the irole Signor Brignoli was too unwell to sing; and, when we state that he had but one rehearsal, it will be understood that the artist merited the applause which was bestowed upon his efforts by the public.
It is unnecessary we should enter into any detailed account of 'Ballo,' as the New York opera-goers are familiar with it.
[detailed summary of plot follows!]
The first act introduces the Count (Maccaferri) and the page Oscar (Mlle Cordier). The lady has an ungrateful role in that of the page, as she has to struggle against our remembrance of the lamented Miss Hinckley’s Oscar. That lady was so charming a representative of the role, sang the music so sweetly and purely, and appeared to such advantage upon the scene, that the present Oscar is injured by the comparison. Mlle. Cordier’s voice is not so well adapted to the music, and her whole style is thoroughly French. Verdi’s music is thoroughly Italian. Our readers will understand that we deem Mlle. Cordier’s Oscar anything but a success.
We would advise the artiste to be less flippant, more natural and easy in the role. It calls for but a little of the archness she chose to invest it with.
In the second act we see the sorceress Ulrica (Morensi). She sang the music of her role with great effect, and was certainly forcible and dramatic. Her splendid voice lent interest to the part. In this act the Count (Maccaferri) sang with animation and taste the canzone ‘Se tu che fidele’ [Di’ tu se fedele?] It was roundly applauded and an encore insisted upon and obtained.
We must accord to Guerrabella (Amelia) the art of dressing her roles to perfection. She sang with effect, but was, of course, not so much at ease in her part as she would have been had Brignoli, with whom she had rehearsed the opera, been able to sing. She was forced to go through the opera with Maccaferri as the Count, and with him she had had no rehearsal. He certainly was a most commendable Richard; but, of course, his being so suddenly called upon to sing the part was somewhat of a drawback to Madame Guerrabella. At times on Wednesday evening her voice gave evidence of fatigue, while at intervals her acting was more dramatic than was called for by the situation. We deem overacting as great an error as under acting. Signor Maccaferri mars the effect of a really very fine voice by an inconsiderate display of agitation. He should be more calm, more moderate; the public would the more readily appreciate his qualities as an artist. In the third act Guerrabella sang with marked effect the romanza ‘Ma dell’ arredo steio.’ It was encored.
In the fourth act the ballet took place in very shabby splendor. The gallop, composed by Signor Muzio and played so sweetly by his orchestra, was danced in so ludicrous a style by some of the more energetic of the masqueraders as to cause a general laugh among the audience. This display, as a ballet, was the most miserable failure we ever witnessed. Madame Marzetti and Monsieur Tophoff made amends, however, for all the shortcoming of the gallop by their graceful mazurka. While the dance was going on the gem of the opera, the duet between the Count and Amelia, was given by Maccaferri and Guerrabella with great success–the passionate phasing[?] of the ardent lovers being accompanied by the mazurka movement. The effect was melodious and pleasing.”