Mora Italian Opera: La traviata

Event Information

French Theatre

Antonio L. Mora

Price: $1.50 for dress circle; $2 parquet; $25 for proscenium boxes; boxes $10-$15

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
21 November 2015

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

11 Feb 1867, 8:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

Participants:  Ettore Irfre (role: Alfredo);  Signor Fortuna (role: Germont);  Giuditta Altieri (role: Violetta)
aka Fallen Woman
Composer(s): Verdi
Text Author: Piave


Article: New York Herald, 02 February 1867, 4.

“The development of musical taste and talent in this metropolis is one of the remarkable phases of the times.  The delightful and refining art of music appeared to decline here for a time through the low standard and bad management of the opera; but there was a great deal of latent ability behind all this which the public generally did not see.  With the decline of the opera the attention of our people has been directed more to the music halls, churches and other places for musical excellence and enjoyment and they have learned that there is much of the highest order of talent outside of the opera house.  We have not failed to notice this fact in connection with our music halls; but the churches should not be forgotten.  In one, Zion church, on Thirty-eighth street, where Bishop Southgate and his assistant clergy perform the Episcopal service in a very impressive manner, most delightful music may be heard.  Mr. Mora, the organist, possesses the real genius of music, besides being an artist of the first quality.  He performs his own compositions, and the melodious sounds of his instrument steal over the soul like the music of running waters when they meet and blend together.  Under the influence of his master hand, together with the fine singing and the impressive manner in which the church service is performed, the mind is lifted up and experiences a greater and purer enjoyment than those who have not been to Zion church can realize.  We now see that Mr. Mora deems this sphere too limited for his talents.  The spirit of divine art is upon him, and he feels impelled to enter upon a larger field of action.  While he will continue to delight Bishop Southgate’s congregation he will also give the public of this city the benefit of his ability in another way.  He undertakes to give us the opera, with a combination of artists of the highest class.  We understand all the arrangements are made, and that in a few days he will open the French theatre with a first rate company, some of whom are fresh and spoken of abroad very highly.  We hope he will be as successful as he deserves to be; for he is entering upon this new career, not from necessity, he being one of our rich citizens, but from a pure love of music and from a desire to gratify and cultivate the public tastes.”

Announcement: New York Post, 02 February 1867.

“We understand that the French Theatre has been leased to Signor Mora for two seasons of Italian opera, the first to begin Monday evening, February 11th. Our best contralto, Miss Adelaide Phillips, has been engaged, and in addition a new prima donna, Signora Altieri, and Signors Irfre, Fortuna, and others.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 04 February 1867, 4.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 05 February 1867, 1.

“At the earnest request of his numerous friends and fellow citizens, Signor Antonio L. Mora has consented to give TWO SEASONS of Italian Opera in this city, each season to consist of TWELVE NIGHTS AND FOUR MATINEES.  For this purpose he has made arrangements with a number of first class operatic artistes, whom he will have the honor of introducing to the New York public at the French Theatre, in Fourteenth street, on Monday evening, February 11.  The music lovers of the metropolis may rest assured that Signor Mora has endeavored and will assiduously labor to bring before them a constant variety of entirely new artists, whose musical abilities are fully admitted in the principal European capitals.  As an earnest of his intention he has the pleasure of announcing that an engagement has been effected with SIGNORA GIUDITTA ALTIERI, Primo Soprano Assoluta, from the great Italian opera houses in Italy, Russia and Rio de Janeiro, whose successes in all these places has stamped her as one of the most accomplished artists on the operatic stage.  Among the members of the troupe, as to whose abilities the judgment of the public is respectfully solicited, are the following eminent artists:--

“SIGNORA ADELAIDE PHILLIPS, the favorite Contralto,

“SIGNOR ETTORE IRFRE, Primere Tenore Assoluto, from the Grand Opera in Milan, Paris and Madrid.

            “SIGNOR FORTUNA, late of the Bateman Concert Troupe.

“SIGNOR L. MILLERI, Grand Basso Assoluto, from the Italian Opera at Milan, St. Petersburg and Rio de Janiero.

“SIGNOR NICOLA BARILI, Basso Cantanfere Buffo, well known to all New York operagoers.  The season will be inaugurated on MONDAY, Feb. 11, with Verdi’s favorite Opera of LA TRAVIATA”

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

Announcement of the formation of the Mora opera company, with cast and very brief biographical information.

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

(…) Mme. Altieri is the wife of the renowned pianist Oscar Pfeiffer. Other performers of the Italian Opera ensemble are Adelaide Phillips, Signor Barilli, Signor Mille [illeg.].

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 08 February 1867.
Announcement: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 09 February 1867, 424-25.
Announcement: New York Herald, 09 February 1867, 10.

“The season of Italian opera under the direction of Signor Mora opened at the French theatre last evening.  Rarely before in the annals of Italian opera in this city has a season commenced under more favorable auspices.  The house was crowded to its utmost capacity, and rich toilets graced box, parquette and balcony.  Long ere the rise of the curtain a line of carriages passed up Fourteenth street in front of this handsome little temple of Melpomene, and deposited there their precious cargoes of sparkling eyes, bewitching ringlets, rich opera cloaks, voluminous alike, satins and moiré antique, while attendant cavaliers hovered around, kid gloved and dressed a la mode.  Within, ivory handled lorgnettes scanned each tier in search of familiar faces; jeweled hands flirted fans that seemed the handiwork of fairy fingers, and fashion, in the truest sense of the word, reigned predominant.  It seemed like a revival of the nights when the great queen of tragedy thrilled the audience in the same theatre. The opera selected for the opening night was Verdi’s well known Traviata, in which pleasing music is blended with a story of woman’s love which appeals to the sympathy of all. Violetta’s sad history is familiar to every opera goer, and the voices of Piccolomini, La Grange, Colson, Ortolani, Brignoli and other celebrated representatives of that character, still ring in our ears. At first, the gay, reckless queen of fashion and pleasure, before whom a crowd of infatuated worshippers bow, again the devoted lover of Alfred, sacrificing herself for his sake, Violetta has ever touched the hearts of an audience. Whatever may be the impressions of our public on the selection of such a subject in point of morality, to illustrate love with its attendant broken heart, there is no doubt about the interest surrounding the chief character in the opera. Verdi has written better and worse music than Traviata, but he has brought out the principal dramatic situations into strong relief, and has put some pretty airs into the mouths of Violetta and Alfredo. Signora Giuditta Altieri, the prima donna of Mora’s troupe, made her debut last night in this role. She labored under serious disadvantages, having been engaged the night previous at a long and tasking rehearsal. Singing until two o’clock in the morning previous to a debut before a metropolitan audience is not calculated to give a prima donna much chance to exhibit her powers, and doubtless the second representation of Traviata on Wednesday night will bring out the full power of the fair Violetta’s voice. Her striking beauty and splendid stage appearance interested every one. In the first act her archness, coquetry and vivacity amid her gay companions with her infatuated lover by her side, [again?] her anguish at the cruel words of that lover’s father, who tears her away from the earthly paradise where she and Alfredo lived in peace and happiness, then the terrible scene in the salon where she is cast off by him who was all to her and the sad finale of a broken heart were life like delineations stamping the beautiful debutante as an actress of no mean powers. Signor Irfre’s Alfred was excellent. His voice has wonderfully improved since his last appearance in the metropolis and has acquired [?] strength, breadth of tone and flexibility. His acting, if not impassioned enough for the role, showed thorough acquaintance with the stage and the ease of a practiced actor. Signor Fortuna, formerly a member of the celebrated Bateman troupe, made his debut as Germont. He has a light, pleasing, well cultivated baritone voice, and makes good use of it on the stage. The orchestra, under Signor Antonio L. Mora, was deserving of all praise. The tempo was rather slow in some parts of the opera, but the director kept his subordinates well in hand, generally speaking. The genial face of the young impresario would occasionally flush, as if with pain, when the staid looking oboe player or the ruddy cheeked flutist would forget themselves, and an involuntary start from his seat would follow any peccadillo on the part of the horns. Truly, the seat of the conductor of an Italian opera on the first night of the season is something like what the Roman emperor accommodated St. Lawrence with at his martyrdom. Anxiety, care, doubt, a thousand [?] and conflicting thoughts crowd through his mind, and Signor Mora deserves the highest credit for the coolness and presence of mind he displayed on the momentous occasion. He has excellent materials in his troupe, and with such an encouraging commencement we have no doubt that his enterprise will meet with success. As organist, operatic composer and impresario he has appeared before the public, and their verdict has been and will be of the most unqualified nature.”

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 09 February 1867.
Announcement: New-York Times, 11 February 1867, 5.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 11 February 1867, 7.
Review: New York Post, 12 February 1867.

“Signor Mora must have been satisfied with the pecuniary results of his first night’s experience in giving opera here. The French Theatre last evening was not only filled in all the better portions of the house, but the audience was unmistakably a fashionable one, which would have lent a brilliant appearance even to the old Academy. In addition to the usual frequenters of the opera there was an extraordinary gathering of those whom we have been accustomed to see on the operatic stage. There was enough artistic material there for the making of two or three full companies.

We suppose that a laudable desire to hear the new prima donna and give her a cordial welcome caused this large congregation of professionals. It would be discourteous to them to impute any less worthy motive, or to imagine that the icy coldness of the reception given to the fair stranger was at all due to anything like professional jealousy, or any bad feeling toward the gentleman under whose management she has made her first bow to the American public.

‘La Traviata’ is not a favorite opera with us, but answered well enough as a means of giving us a conception of the young prima donna’s quality. Signora Altieri’s personal appearance is prepossessing, and her voice, which seems rather deficient in power and often somewhat thin, is a pleasant one. Last night, however, she must have done herself less than justice. She was very much fatigued from the effect of a long rehearsal the night before, and was undoubtedly more than usually embarrassed by the fact that her reception was so provokingly cold. Perhaps another trial in the same part may justify some of the glowing eulogiums bestowed on her by Signor Mora. Our public like fair play, and will give every candidate for its favor a fair chance. When Signora Altieri again essays Violetta we shall feel more like giving our views as to her artistic merits than now.

Signor Irfre was the tenor of the evening, and was received cordially, as he deserved to be. He is too well known to our musical community to stand in need of any favorable criticism at this time. It seemed to us, however, that he never appeared to so much advantage as last evening. He was in unusually good voice, and acted with more than ordinary animation. Signor Fortuna, whom we have learned to like rather than to admire, as the baritone of the Bateman company, made his first trial at operatic singing, and achieved a creditable success. The orchestra was led by Signor Mora, and betrayed a lack of proper discipline, while the conductor himself occasionally erred through over enthusiasm. The less said about the chorus the better.”

Review: New-York Times, 12 February 1867, 5.

“Signor Antonio L. Mora commenced his brilliant season of Italian opera at this establishment last night. The house was well filled in the lower and more remunerative parts, and even up stairs it presented a good appearance. It was gratifying to find so many Italian artists present. It is on such occasions that we see the devotion they have to all who interpret it. The rudiments of at least a dozen companies could have been collected last evening. But of the occasion. The operas selected was ‘La Traviata’—a work too familiar for an opening night, but calculated in many respects to display the qualities of the prima donna, the tenor and the baritone. In these particulars it has surpassed ‘Lucia,’ without perhaps deserving to do so, although we regard it as one of the best vocal dramas on the stage. The artists, with one exception, were entirely new. The exception was Signor Irfre—a gentleman long and favorably known to the public, although comparatively un-Heralded. He has been heard in this opera, and is acceptable in everything. He was in good voice last night, and gained the first genuine round of applause in the scena of the third act. The audience was cold, critical and uninspiring. It extended no reception to Signor Irfre, nor to Signore Giuditta Altieri. The lady is a stranger to our public, except in such way as friendly reference in the paper has made her known. She has, we are informed, sung in Europe, and recently in Rio de Janeiro. That she has experience and routine is unquestionable. She acts with remarkable spirit. Being, however, nervous, many of her best efforts were over-elaborated, and the effect was thereby impaired. A few repetitions will undoubtedly correct this defect, which is at all events on the right side. Mme. Altieri’e voice is a very light soprano. It has received some cultivation, but the style is a little pronounced, and decidedly too much so for New-York, where acting and singing must alike be earnest in such a work. We make these remarks with the reservation that a debut, where the debutante does not receive a single hand of applause on her entry, is a thing to explain many deficiencies. Mme. Altieri’s personal presence is in every way charming; and we may add that she dresses with rare taste—a merit which ought not to be beneath notice. Signor Fortuna was the Germont—appearing for the first time on the operatic stage. We have spoken repeatedly of the gentleman’s voice, and need only say that it is good for everyone that he has determined to utilize it in that way. He was eminently successfully in the whole of the second act. There were necessarily many points in acting which Signor Fortuna has to study, but his debut may be regarded as a success. The orchestra, under the personal direction of the maestro, Signor Antonio L. Mora, wandered frequently from the strict purpose of accompaniment, and touched on ground that was unknown to the composer. Generally, however, it was apparent that the material was good, and that with proper discipline it will be sufficient to the day, without, we trust, being the evil thereof. The chorus was poor in numbers and quality.”

Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 12 February 1867, 8.

(…) Altieri as “Violetta” was mediocre. It was her debut in this part. Since the gathering of a chorus, an orchestra and the soloists was hurried, this can only lead to a lack of rehearsing. Thus we can not say much about the performances. The house was well filled.

Review: New York Sun, 13 February 1867, 4.

“On Monday evening the French Theatre held an audience of remunerative proportions, flattering distinction, and unusual variety.  The cause of attraction was the commencement of a new operatic enterprise, under Signor Mora, a well-advertised organist of this city, and the debut of a new prima donna.  New operatic enterprises have been plenty of late, in this vicinity, but new prima donnas have not.  The one is a quick weed—the seed of hot aspiration and a soil of money bags.  But, although we often hear of golden voices, as a general thing, gold won’t make great voices nor good prima donnas.  Signora Altieri, who as La Traviata, made her first appearance before a North American audience on Monday night (she comes from Rio Janiero), has everything in her favor but the supreme charm of a voice conquered from its native wildness.  Personally she is charming.  She is yet youthful—is round and rosy—has a siren smile—that womanly taste in dressing, which, if not inborn, is never to be acquired—and those active eyes which never fail of victory!  Over these attractions beams a sunny flood of self-confidence, and nothing is needed to make the new prima donna perfectly irresistible but command of her voice.  She possesses what musicians would call a light soprano; but it is a willful organ—and is childlike in its freaks, and uncertain at the best of times.  Its unworn freshness even loses half the power which that rare quality should exert, because of its free method and untrained gambols over the letter and spirit of the composer.  Two things stood in the way of Signora Altieri’s success on Monday.  At first her self-reliance made her reckless of the strict demands of the music—and indeed the orchestra was quite as reckless of its obligations; and finally the chilling nature of her reception and the cold favor shown her by the audience operating on her nerves, shook her confidence, and she ended her duty for the night in that nervous state of vocal dismay with which most debutantes begin theirs.  Her immediate support of the evening was not such, either, as to reassure the Signora.  Sig. Irfre—who has frequently sung here before, and had no cause therefore to be timid—acted as usual, as if he was afraid the prima donna would imagine that his operatic asseverations of affections were personal protestations, and visit upon him the consequences of break or promise.  Consequently, while his lips are on fire his heart is an icicle, and his body is as stiff as stone.  By such intelligible signs, therefore, and painful reserve, the maiden Irfre informs too forward soprano’s that his tenor love is only ‘make believe’ and ‘not for fair.’  Signor Irfre however, has a singularly pleasing organ, and he sang the tender melodies of Alfredo last night with applauding results.  Signor Fortuna, a gentleman who also made his first appearance in opera in this performance, sang that beautiful music which Verdi, with his great fondness for the baritone, has given to Germont with great sweetness, and a power only slightly affected by nervousness produced by the novelty of his appearance in stage clothes, and the obligations to utter his soft notes to one person instead of firing them at the whole audience as concert singers may.  The unfamiliarity of the artists with each other, and the wild Indian warfare plan on which the orchestra and chorus worked against each other made the general performance of this initial night somewhat unendurable and as a hint of their dislike of family jars, many persons in the audience retired from the scene of conflict at the end of the second act, thus missing the cleverest portion of this phenomenal entertainment, which occurred in the finale of act third, when the musicians actually yielded to their leader, and orchestra and singers actually hitched together for a few harmonious seconds.

The opera of Traviata is to be repeated, we believe, this evening. Later rehearsals will highly better the performance—and, who knows, Mora’s Italian Opera may yet wipe out of existence Maretzek’s, as Maretzek’s wiped out all others.  The Nineteenth Century is the age of miracles.”

Review: New-York Times, 14 February 1867, 5.

“The attendance last night was slim on the occasion of the repetition of ‘La Traviata.’ The work itself cannot be expected to draw. It has been played in this City far more often than in any capital in Europe. Graceful and pleasant as it may be in the matter of melody and feeling, it is no longer fresh or strong enough for a new career. An occasional performance is justified only by the importance of the artists who take part in it. On Monday, when Mr. Mora brought out the work, the performance was by no means impressive, but allowances were properly made for the difficulties of an opening night, and the embarrassment which artists, new to each other, must necessarily have felt.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 16 February 1867, 358, 3d col., middle.

“The French Theatre—a somewhat unfortunate establishment in 14th street, t’other side of Sixth avenue—is to be operated on this week by a man to fame and fortune a stranger, whose name it is Mora, not Metamore, but Antonio, who professes to manage an Italian opera troupe, composed of Signora Guiditta Alderi, Signora [sic] Ettore Irfre, Sig. Fortuna, etc. The boldness of this man Mora is more astonishing than anything in the opera line we have heard of for some time. It seems to be a sort of crowd hashed up for the occasion, pending the advent of the irrepressible and interminable Maretzek.”

Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 16 February 1867, 400.

Quotes Weekly Review from “last Saturday:” “Signor Mora is quite a young man, who feels it to be his mission to give to the public the genuine article of Italian opera, in a style worthy of the great maestros of his country.  Signor Mora, we believe is the organist of Zion Church, and an industrious composer.  Sixteen operas which he has written have been hitherto lost to the admiration of the world; and numberless Oratorios, Masses, and Motets will be discovered among the valuable worldly goods which Signor Mora will bequeath to his heirs. Signor Mora is supported by some gentlemen whose keen perception has convinced them that the young Italian is the coming man, and in fact, the only one to bring back the old and glorious times of Italian opera, and they have therefore put at the disposition of the neophyte impresario the modest sum of from one and a half to four million dollars.  We confess that we should hesitate to believe that there are such magnanimous people in existence in times like the present, when money is rather scarce, but since Signor Mora himself is the source of our information, we must put aside our surprise and be solely delighted.”

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 16 February 1867, 440.

The audience seemed unusually reserved towards the performance. No one received applause, not even Mora. Altieri’s performance was clearly influenced by the lack of response by the audience. She was not in control of her skills. She has a pretty appearance, acts very well and will do better under more favorable circumstances. Irfre might be musical; however, the tremolo in his little voice is highly unpleasant. The baritone Fortuna will hardly make a fortune for Mora.