Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
30 December 2015
“‘Lucrezia’ was performed last night at the Academy in a manner worthy of a larger audience than that which greeted its presentation with frequent demonstrations of applause. The weather was unpropitious, and threatened to be more so, a fact which had much to do with the diminution of the regular attendance. Besides, in a season so full of variety, and in which so many operas less worn out by frequent performance have been given, it is natural that ‘Lucrezia’ should be somewhat slighted, in spite of its recognized excellences. Those who attended last evening were, however, richly repaid for venturing out in the damp weather. With one exception the prominent artists sustained their parts with as much zeal and fidelity as though they were to be encouraged by the applause of a crowded house.
Senora Poch rendered the odious and yet bewitching character of Lucrezia with rare dramatic fidelity, and sang with her usual brilliancy of execution. Madame Testa never appeared more charmingly than as Orsini, while her singing of the famous gem of the opera, the ‘Brindisi,’ was exquisite. Signor Antonucci filled admirably the part of Duke Alfonso, on which much of the dramatic interest of the opera hangs. The stage equipment of ‘Lucrezia,’ the costumes, &c., were worthy of the management.”
“…Lucrezia Borgia is one of the very current works of the stage, and the public for a generation are familiar with its best and worst as a performance. That does not prevent us, though, from greeting it season after season, whenever Donizetti’s melodic and dramatic masterpiece receives its artistic due. Lucrezia is one of the most charming works of its school, and therein is both its fault and its virtue. Poison and murder flourish in it like the flowers in Rappacini’s [i.e., Rappaccini’s] garden. The barrenest [in…?] of verse is spirited off into musical beauty. In strains of languorous passion, the very poetry of melody, Gennaro tells us that he is the son of an ignoble fisherman (Di pescatore ignobile). Some business matters of the venomous Duke are [discoursed?] with a melodic sensibility that is absolutely touching. The Queen of Poisoners is accused of a dozen murders in the most delightful of choruses. Gennaro is smitten at last with a sense of propriety, and sings with exquisite sincerity of passion ‘Mecco [i.e., Meco] benigni tanto,’ than which nothing, perhaps, is finer in the whole work. Phrases occur in Donizetti broad and sweet enough for any of the masters to have written; but, like two or three of his fellow genii, this olive-colored Apollo deceives us. The beginning of his song seems to flow out from a fountainhead, but before it is done we are made aware that a reservoir has been opened on it. A genius of essential gifts seems thus diluted for the sake of popularity; seems, and no more—so many of the maestro’s good things are mere sirens on the stage—the heads of mermaids, the tails of fishes! Nevertheless, Lucrezia, with all her crimes, is inspired. The sweet poison of a dusky romance runs through her veins. She outbreathes the sigh of mediaeval Italy, and its most sanguine sunset flushes through her song. Now it flows through Venice like a lagoon, into which the bodies of luckless lovers or rivals are dipped without ceremony or shrift. Again it is an exciting debate in high melodrama. But Lucrezia is dramatic as well. Hardly any scene that Italy has given us surpasses the passage between the Duke and Lucrezia. With this preface, we wish to say that the late rendering at the Academy was one of the best of the season. This acknowledgment is particularly due to Senora Poch’s mature and earnest effort in the title role, and Signor Antonucci’s vigorous personation of Alfonso. The full and stately recitative, the nervous dialogue of the most vitalized scenes, lost nothing by the able delivery of this excellent actor. Madame Testa’s clever Orsini is wanting in the single quality of mellowness, if we except the fault of the tremolo, which is likewise the blemish of a whole school.”