Richings English Opera: Maritana

Event Information

Olympic Theatre

Manager / Director:
Caroline Richings

William G. Dietrich [cond.-pf-dir.]

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
3 November 2015

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

15 Jan 1867, 7:30 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Wallace
Text Author: Fitzball
Participants:  Richings English Opera Company;  Richings English Opera Orchestra;  Richings English Opera Chorus;  Zelda Harrison (role: Lazarillo);  Henry C. Peakes (role: King);  William Castle (role: Don Caesar);  Sherwood C. Campbell (role: Don Jose);  Caroline Richings (role: Maritana)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 13 January 1867.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 13 January 1867.
Review: New York Herald, 16 January 1867, 5.

“Last evening an audience which filled the theatre in every part was present to witness the rendering of Wallace’s Maritana. The cast of the opera was excellent [list of performers and roles], all of whom received deserved applause for their artistic efforts in their various parts. The principal arias, as well as most of the concerted selections, met with an encore. The chorus singing was better than on Monday night, though there were instances, especially in allegro passages, where the soprano seemed to be too anxious to reach the finale movement accompanied by the other choral parts. This apparent haste somewhat marred the unisons that are demanded by the score of the opera and made the choral efforts grate harshly on the cultivated ear. The ‘Angelus’ chorus in the first and the final chorus in the last act were, however, exceptions to this rule. The gem of the entertainment was the duo ‘Holy Mother, Guide His Footsteps,’ by Miss Richings and Miss Harrison in the last act, which so pleased the audience that a unanimous encore brought about its repetition in which both the artistes received the heartiest applause. Independent of its musical features, the plots of the opera was excellently acted—a matter hardly less noteworthy than the vocalization itself.” 

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 16 January 1867.

“The opening of the new season of English Opera is auspicious. We have to regret that unusual pressures excluded its earlier notice; for the performance of Martha on Monday evening was exceedingly creditable to our American company, and in parts and chorus would have been worthy of any clever foreign rival. It is something to hear our not always sweet-spoken mother-tongue sung mellifluously, if we may be allowed to speak with euphemism of the satisfaction of hearing good English rationally and agreeably pronounced in music. [Review of earlier performance of Martha.]

We have to thank the Richings company for another performance of William Vincent Wallace’s pleasant opera of Maritana, which owes its first production in many years to this company. Maritana derives its current popularity from two ballads of euphonious but somewhat unmeaning versification, in the best sentimental style of Balfe’s ballad-maker, Mr. Alfred Bunn. ‘In happy moments’ and ‘Scenes that are brightest’ are widely known songs which represent the genius of this opera. Nothing else in it has nearly so much inspiration. They are more fervid and sensuous than the melodies of Balfe, and well deserve their place in favor.

Of Maritana it is not necessary to speak at great length. Suffice it to say that it is among the earliest works of one of the very best of English composers, and while it shows unmistakable genius, it has also crudities and inequalities that are equally plain. The composer’s taste gives to [sic] much in his opera that is conventional and wanting in pure invention the appearance of enthusiasm in his work. His cavatinas and ensemble pieces are not as a rule successful; he does not always improve his situation; nor have his finales great effect, though what Mr. Wallace was able to do with music of this kind is evident in some of the concerted music of the first act. The delicacy of Mr. Wallace’s style as an instrumentalist is shown in his overture, which wants vigor and sustained idea quite as much as the opera itself. The overture was as feebly played as many of the choruses were weakly sung. Miss Richings, whose style as a singer seems to us much too accentuated, acquitted herself, nevertheless, well as Maritana, and Mrs. Seguin sang with excellent feeling the air of Lazarillo in the second act. ‘There is a flower’ was given with unusual expression by Mr. Castle, and ‘In happy moments’ was sung with admirable fervor by Mr. Campbell. We trust that the managers will be induced to repeat the opera before the season closes.”