Grover German Opera Company: Guillaume Tell

Event Information

Olympic Theatre

Adolph Neuendorff

Price: $1 for dress circle, balcony chairs; $1.50 for orchestra seats; $0.10 for family circle seats

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
9 November 2015

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

04 Feb 1867, Evening

Program Details

Fifty-voice chorus; 32 “first class soloists in the orchestra” (NYH, 02/02/67) “sustained by a Grand Chorus assisted by the Helvetia, Fröhsinn and Wolfsschulucht Choral Societies, and a Grand Orchestra, of the chief instrumentalists of this city: the whole comprising an ensemble of 300 musical virtuosos.” (NYH, 02/04/67)

Performers and/or Works Performed

Participants:  Chorus, unidentified;  Grover German Opera Company;  Johann Armand [tenor, director] (role: Rudolph);  Joseph Hermanns (role: Waldofurst);  Johanna Rotter (role: Gemmy);  Wilhelm Formes (role: William Tell);  Bertha Johannsen;  Alphonse Urchs [Grover German Opera] (role: Melchthal);  Marie Frederici (role: Hedwig);  Wilhelm Groschel [tenor and conductor] (role: Ruodi);  Theodore Habelmann;  Josef Chandon (role: Gessler);  Otto Lehman [bass] (role: Leuthold);  Franz Himmer (role: Arnold);  Elvira Naddie (role: Mathilde)
Composer(s): Rossini
Text Author: Jouy


Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 01 February 1867.
Article: New York Post, 02 February 1867.

“Meanwhile, German opera takes the place of the English at the same theatre, where Mr. Grover has arranged for a strong combination of well-known artists.  First of all he has engaged Mlle. Naddie, the favorite prima donna of the French Theatre. Besides this brilliant artist we are to have Mlle. Frederici, and Mmes. Rotter and Johanssen; Mr. Joscph Hermanns, the best Mephistopheles on the stage; Mr. Theodore Hablemann, Mr. Franz Himmer, Mr. Wilhelm Formes, and Messrs. Armand and Chandon, of the French Theatre. The first opera performed on Monday evening will be ‘William Tell,’ which will be given with a much stronger cast than last spring, when it was successfully presented by Mr. Grover at the Academy of Music. There will be the same grand chorus, assisted by the Helvetia, Frohsinn and Von Weber societies and a full orchestra, the whole corps of solo, chorus and instrumental performers numbering about three hundred. Mr. Grover, in pursuance of his previous efforts to popularize the opera, will retain the cheap dramatic rates of admission. ”   

Advertisement: New-York Times, 03 February 1867, 7.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 04 February 1867, 1.

“the whole comprising an ensemble of 300 HUNDRED RECOGNIZED MUSICAL VIRTUOSOS.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 04 February 1867, 4.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 04 February 1867.
Review: New York Herald, 05 February 1867, 7.

“Mr. Leonard Grover inaugurated a season of grand German opera at the Olympic theatre last evening with Rossini’s immortal work, William Tell.  It was placed on the stage and sung in splendid style, the choruses, in which a number of German societies took part, being particularly fine.  We lack space to point out the many beauties of last night’s representation, but assure our music loving public that the company engaged for the season is one of the best and most complete in German opera that we have had for a long time in this city.  Miles. [i.e., Mlles.] Naddi, Frederici and Rother, and Hermans, Himmer, W. Formes, Chandon, Groschel and Armand sustained the principal roles and were in general very successful.”

Review: New York Post, 05 February 1867.

“If the first night of Mr. Grover’s season of German opera affords any earnest of those which are to follow, he will deserve well of the music-loving public.  Notwithstanding the rain and mud, and general ‘moist unpleasantness’ of the evening, there was a full house to welcome German opera to its new quarters.  ‘William Tell’ was presented, as Mr. Grover promised it would be, with a fine cast, including Mlles. Naddie and Frederici, Mme. Rotter, Messrs. Wilhelm Formes, Himmer, Chandon, Hermanns and other well-known artists, a powerful chorus, and an efficient and well-constructed orchestra.  These last features, always desirable, are almost indispensable in a representation of ‘William Tell,’ which is as barren of solos as it is singularly rich in choral and orchestral effects.  Without attempting a minute criticism, we may simply note that the gathering of the cantons, in the third act, was grandly rendered by the combined voices of three musical societies; that the duet at the beginning of the second act was sung by Mlle. Naddie and M. Himmer with a tasteful and artistic expression which procured them a well-deserved encore; and that the succeeding trio, sung by MM. Himmer, Formes and Hermanns, seemed to us the finest feature of a delightful entertainment.  To-night ‘Faust’ will be presented with M. Hermanns as Mephistopheles, in which he is unequalled by any one now on the stage.  It is announced that this is to be the only representation of ‘Faust’ this season.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 05 February 1867.

“Having concluded a brilliant season of English opera, Manager Grover last evening begun a new term of the late mismanaged, but now happily restored, German opera.  Under the business direction of one so well known for the talent of enterprise, the prospects of the new school of opera are as cheering as the fortunes of its predecessor.  One of the best operas, Rossini’s ‘William Tell,’ was given last evening in a style suited to its genuine musical beauty, Mesdames Naddi, Frederici, and Rotter, three leading ladies of cleverness, and Messrs. Hermann, Formes, Chandon, and Himmer, were in the cast.  With such a remarkable distribution of force the performance could not be otherwise than impressive.  Few works demand so much strength in cast and chorus, and to say that it was well given is to accord to its production high praise.  The characters, as a rule, were sustained with earnest spirit and the grand chorus in the famous gathering of the Cantons was massive and thrilling in its effects.  The majestic delivery of Hermann as Waldofurst, and Wilhelm Formes’s dramatic rendering of Tell, are to be particularly commended.  We can think of no concerted music that was not ably given last night; and in this respect the representation of ‘William Tell’ was one of the grandest we have known. Something may be said in objection to a few of the soloists, but the cast, without exception, sang earnestly if not always too well.  Contrasting it with the general character of opera in late years, we deem last evening’s production extraordinary; and it is to be hoped that we are to hear it again before the present season is over.”

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 06 February 1867, 8.

The performance was disturbed by a young man named John Simpson who, while sitting on a chair in the orchestra pit, mimicked the movements of the singers on stage. Eventually he was removed from the theater. Yesterday morning Simpson was charged by Grover and taken to court where he was penalized $10 for inappropriate behavior.

Announcement: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 09 February 1867, 424.
Review: New York Sun, 10 February 1867, 4.

“Mr. Grover has followed his pleasant evenings of English Opera with some nights of German Music.  German Opera for some reason, perhaps not hard to guess, has never obtained a hold upon popular affection, in this city at least.  As an enterprise it has been invariably profitless.  Under native impresarios it passed through fitful and fretful spasms of life—ended by internal quarrels, family jealousies, rebellions, and pecuniary deaths. For some years Mr. Grover has tried to master the inharmonious elements, and to rear German Opera into an enduring institution.  But hitherto, we believe, he has had his labor for his pay.  And if the truth be told, we do not think he is much nearer success now, than he was before.  The Olympic Theatre was, last week, but thinly attended to hear William Tell, the Magic Flute, and the Merry Wives, although those works have been as well sung there, as they ever could be sung in German.  Whatever the drawbacks to the popularity of German Opera may be, however, certain it is Mr. Grover’s experience does not seem to promise that he will be able to master it.  Indeed it never was a joke to a Yankee to manage Opera.  Apart from the necessity of employing an accommodating Hebrew to convey his ideas to the artists in that choice tongue, which he cannot pronounce, he has to struggle against the prejudices entertained by the Children of the Hague which picture all Americans as unmusical barbarians—who any day would rather have a dinner than go hungry to hear a fine aria.  We would not, for many sacks of gold, endure the deprecating appreciation of his merits which Mr. Grover must see in the faces of his German company.  We can imagine the suave Hermanns or portly Weinliek viewing the un-musical speculator, as elephants might gaze at their small keepers.  It requires an effort, also, to separate from the idea of an Operatic manager a musical taste and a refined ear.  We would see Mr. Grover at the back of his parquette beating, unconscious time to his orchestra, growing enthusiastic over his prima donna, and burying his head in his hat when Formes grates over his snags, as he sometimes does.  The successful Impresario must be a man of cultivated tastes, well known to the musical masons, habituated to the Foreign schools of art, to the styles, the expression, the meaning of every composer; capable of giving a hint at the proper moment at rehearsal, able to wield the baton for ten minutes without drowning the violins in the big horns, and sinking both into the bass drums;--a man au fatt to the requirements of good society—a beau perhaps—an enthusiast of course.”

Review: New-York Times, 10 February 1867, 5.

“‘William Tell’ was produced last week with marked success. The first act was rendered very finely, and the orchestra throughout was excellent.”