Grover German Opera Company: Merry Wives of Windsor

Event Information

Olympic Theatre

Manager / Director:
Leonard Grover

Adolph Neuendorff

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
16 November 2015

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

09 Feb 1867, Evening

Performers and/or Works Performed

Participants:  Grover German Opera Company;  Johanna Rotter (role: Anne Page);  Bertha Johannsen (role: Mrs. Ford);  Marie Frederici (role: Mrs. Page);  Joseph Hermanns (role: Sir John Falstaff);  Wilhelm Formes;  Wilhelm Groschel [tenor and conductor]
aka Merry Wives of Windsor; Merry Wives of Windsor, The; Falstaff
Composer(s): Nicolai
Text Author: Mosenthal


Advertisement: New York Herald, 08 February 1867.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 February 1867, 7.
Review: New York Herald, 10 February 1867, 5.

“In the evening Nicolai’s sparkling, merry, light and laughable work, The Merry Wives of Windsor, was given. The music of this opera is charming throughout. The overture, a structure of grace and beauty, was splendidly played by Neuendorf’s orchestra. This department of the opera was indeed beyond reproach, and entirely different from the preceding nights. Herman’s [sic] Falstaff is too well known to need extended comment on our part, and Mesdames Johannsen, Frederici and Rotter as Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Page and Miss Ann Page, were everything that could be desired. A more successful rendering of this pleasant little opera could not be given, and we hope Mr. Grover will repeat it, even after Monday night.”

Review: New-York Times, 11 February 1867, 5.

“Mr. Grover is succeeding well, but not greatly, with his German opera. The activity which has been displayed during the past week justifies more than ordinary support, and would, we think, have received it had the weather been steady or the roads passable. On those days when nature suspended her functions and Judge Whiting rusemed his—the one to make, the other to clear away dirt—the house was invariably crowded. The representations have been characterized by evident and worthy effort. The artists have tried to do their best, and the manager in the matter of orchestra and chorus has fully sustained them. The company—in numbers, strength and intent—is the best we have ever had in New-York—and as a stranger we should give it welcome…On Saturday, Nicolai’s charming opera of the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ was brought out, and was received with a favor which justifies its repetition tonight. It will be seen that hard work has been done at the Olympic.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 13 February 1867.

“Otto Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor, and the more formidable Tannhauser of Richard Wagner have been, of late the musical temptations of the Olympic.  The former is merely a suggestion of Shakespeare and no more: but its story follows, pretty closely upon the original Merry Wives. Most of the dramatis personae are in the opera not omitting Slender and Dr. Caius. The libretto is well contrived, offering in feasible shape the most popular scenes of the drama, and the music, on the other hand, fills up the scene with corresponding animation. The amount of actual character in the opera as compared with the drama, is, of course, very small, but it is enough to color the composer’s vivacity. Thus, the crotchety Falstaff is a poor apology for the brave old Sir John, who had more ideas in the Shakespearean composition than any composer is able to translate; but it will do indifferently well for the fat roisterer of an operatic company. Slender’s outfit is much the same as it is in the play; he is a more boisterous moon-calf than we know him; and his lackadaisical plaint about ‘Sweet Anne Page’ is conveyed in a phrase of musical humor. Dr. Caius makes up after Shakespeare, and sings theatrically. The ‘Merry Wives’ are as garrulous as they can be, and make mischief with a vocal concert that is delightful. The movement of the opera is throughout lively, and the music, though never profound, is generally well-studied and able. Perhaps the best scene in the opera, in all respects, is that of the tavern where Falstaff quaffs sack and sings a drinking song which as an imitation of Shakespeare, would be considered lunatic with respect to version, but as a composition is bold and unique, with a breadth and positiveness of character and humor that ought to make it very effective with a good basso. “Wir freu ich mich,” as sung by Falstaff and Mrs. Ford, is one of the best known morceaux of the opera, and Fenton’s air, “Horch, die Larch,” is a passage of rare ideality.  There, with the general finale of the work--which is dancing and brilliant, if nothing more--make up the most charming and substantial features of Nicolai’s opera.  Its precise rank, though high and peculiar, it would be difficult to determine: the music is not essentially original, or homogeneous, but it is never weak or uninventive.  It is to be valued, however, as a remarkable attempt at a great subject rather than as an entire success.  That the performance of Saturday evening was but half-hearted is not a matter of wonderment.  Yet nothing could have been more acceptable than the earnestness and animation of Madame Johannson as Mistress Ford.  Madame Frederici’s Mistress Page is commendable for being well-dressed, well sung and prettily acted, and what fell to Madame Rotter’s part as Anne Page was cleverly done.  The part of Falstaff could ill dispense with Hermann’s sonorous and noble voice, but the characteristics scarcely deserves [sic] the name.  It was simply a mass of stuffed and preposterous obesity, almost barren of humor and when he plays it again we trust Mr. Hermanns will at least make up with some deference to probabilities.  Lastly, we have to regret that the fine music of the part of Fenton suffered almost from non-performance, or a little worse.”

Review: New York Clipper, 16 February 1867, 358, 3d col., top.

“Manager Grover seems to have a liking for Opera, as that has been the staple production at the Olympic the past four weeks. It was thought by many that after having had so successful a season of English opera, and then to follow it up with German opera, was bad policy; but the large houses that have witnessed the productions of the German troupe have at once dispelled all these doubts of success. Mr. Grover has exemplified the fact that opera, properly given, can be sustained in this city providing a manager has sufficient tact to understand the people for whose entertainment he is providing. The office of director of a troupe which undertakes to produce three or four operas per week is no sinecure. And yet it is only by a constant succession of novelty that full houses can be secured. The operas given last week were ‘William Tell,’ ‘Faust,’ ‘The Magic Flute,’ ‘The Marriage of Figaro,’ and ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor.’ A large audience was in attendance at each representation. The operas were placed upon the stage in good style, and evidently gave satisfaction to all present. The chorus was large, and powerful, and the orchestra was also good. The artists were in good voice, and appeared to advantage in their several roles. Mad. Johannsen appears to be the great star of the troupe. Her voice is a soprano of great power and evenness. Her method is good, her intonation true, and she sings with the feeling, passion and expression of an artist. She is also a clever actress. German opera will continue to hold forth at the Olympic for the present.”