[Met Performance] CID:10010
Orfeo ed Euridice {2} Chicago, Illinois: 11/11/1891.

(Debut: Sofia Ravogli, Mathilde Bauermeister, Rebecca Salmoiraghi

Reviews / Chapter: Mathilde Bauermeister)

Chicago, Illinois
November 11, 1891

C. W. Gluck-Calzabigi

Orfeo...................Giulia Ravogli
Euridice................Sofia Ravogli [Debut]
Amore...................Mathilde Bauermeister [Debut]
Dance...................Rebecca Salmoiraghi [Debut]

Conductor...............Auguste Vianesi

Director................Theodore Habelmann

[Note: This production of Orfeo ed Euridice utilized sets from two defunct Met productions, Merlin and Asrael.]

Orfeo ed Euridice received eight performances this season.

Review: Dispatch from Chicago to The New York Times

The revival of Gluck's "Orpheus" on Wednesday evening was in every respect a highly interesting one. Giulia Ravogli's impersonation of Orpheus was throughout such a masterly one that it would be hypercritical to endeavor to point out any shortcomings. As Eurydice, Sofia Ravogli acquitted herself very creditably, and Mlle. Bauermeister, as Amor, was also satisfactory. The ballet proved a disappointment. The première danseuse, Mlle. Salmoiraghi, seems to know how to do one thing, and but one, and that is to stand on her toes.

Unsigned review in the Chicago Tribune


Gluck's Grand Simplicity Restful and the Singers in "Orpheus" a Gratification.

"I resolved to avoid all those abuses which had crept into Italian opera through the mistaken vanity of singers and the unwise compliance of composers. I endeavored to reduce music to its proper function, that of seconding poetry by enforcing the expression of the sentiment and the interest of the situations, without interrupting the action or weakening it by superfluous ornament. I also thought that my chief endeavor should be to attain a grand simplicity." It was thus that Gluck gave to the world the chief tenets of his newly-announced revolutionizing belief concerning the art of operatic composition. Though his belief be more fully expounded and more closely adhered to in "Alceste" - from the dedication to which the quotation is taken - and his later works, yet in "Orpheus" these tenets have been observed by the great composer, and this opera proves them to be as artistic as true, and as correct as do the works which were written after Gluck had announced his belief to the world.

Reappearance of "Orpheus" welcomed.

In "Orpheus" are found the freedom from overornamentation, the unity of music and drama, the natural evolution of musical numbers from the dramatic situation, and, above all, the "grand simplicity" which the composer believed should be his chief endeavor in composition. The best proof that the aria, "Addio, o miei sospiri," which closes the first act, is not a part of "Orpheus" as conceived by Gluck when revising the opera, lies in its ornate character and evident striving for those effects which win applause for the singer. Whether Bertoni wrote it for his "Tancredi," or whether Gluck made it from material found in his earlier works, is not the question here, but that it is entirely foreign in style to all that precedes and follows it in the opera is undeniable, and its presence in no wise shows any wavering of the composer in his belief. Embodying as it does artistic principles as true today as they were when Gluck published them, and as they will be so long as the art of music exists. "Orpheus," with its story truly classic, yet founded on those human heartbeats which are felt by every age and in every clime, could but live, and its reappearance in our operatic repertoire is most welcome, for its "grand simplicity" contrasts agreeably with the overpowering complexity of the modern opera, and its chaste beauty rests the brain, yet touches the heart, and fits one better to enjoy and comprehend the impassioned, intense creations that music's master minds of today have given to the world.

Ravogli's Reputation Maintained.

It was feared when the announcement was made that "Orpheus" would be sung by the Abbey-Grau company during the engagement here that the spectacular element of the work would be made unduly prominent in the production, and that musical and artistic beauties would be sacrificed to show and stage display. While the performance last evening was one in which spectacle occupied a by no means insignificant part, yet many artistic features were present and the production was deserving of praise.

Chief interest centered in Giulia Ravogli's interpretation of the title-role. Reports of a most flattering nature had been received from London, when she achieved success in the part, and expectations were high concerning her appearance in it here. It may be stated at once that the artist in no wise disappointed these expectations. Vocally and dramatically her treatment of the part is admirable. She is in everything the thorough, intelligent artist, and there is no feature of her work which does not reveal this. Greater passion, more incisiveness of style, might be desired in certain scenes, but these are largely matters of personal like or dislike, and detract nothing from an interpretation in which there is everything to commend and nothing to condemn.

In appearance Mlle. Ravogli is fitted for the role, of large stature, full figure, and commanding presence, enabling her to look the god, who, though sorrowing, is ever essentially masculine. Her voice is one of beauty, containing tones whose quality is that of a mezzo-soprano, rather than contralto, but full, pure, and warm. She sings with splendid finish, her phrasing and shading of Gluck's trying music being in the highest degree artistic and praise-meriting. Her singing of the noble music of the second act was a delight, and the great "Che faro senza Euridice" was perfect in the refinement and taste displayed in the vocal art, and touching in its spirit of despairing sorrow. Mlle. Ravogli's acting in the Elysian Fields, where Orpheus seeks Euridice, was also a splendid proof of the dramatic ability of the artist.

Sofia Ravogli's Debut.

Sofia Ravogli made her debut in Chicago last evening. The music written for Euridice affords but little real opportunity for a singer to prove her powers. The first aria, "E quest' asilo," is a beautiful bit, but offers little by which to judge an artist, and the duet with Orpheus in the last act is one of the least of musical importance. Suffice it, therefore, for the present that her voice, as heard last evening, seemed a soprano of agreeable quality, and that her use of it, while suffering artistically when brought in comparison with the fine method revealed in her sister's singing, was nevertheless deserving of praise. The few dramatic requirements of the role were met with an ease and intelligence at all times gratifying.

Mlle. Bauermeister as Amor.

Mlle. Bauermeister was Amor. It was learned that illness, so serious as to threaten complete incapacitation, had been endured by the artist for the last two days, and that only will power and the determination not to inconvenience the management enabled her to appear. Although fault-finding under such conditions would be manifestly unfair, yet, in this instance, there is no necessity for leniency, since Mlle. Buuermeister did nothing meriting censure. Such vocal work as she had to do she did well.

The ballet of the company was seen last evening for the first time. Nothing in its work merits unusual praise, and little, unless one considers the costumes, calls for disapproval. It is in every respect but indifferently good - a ballet the equal of which is seen in Chicago in any spectacular show and whose superior is by no means rare. Mlle. Salmoiraghi, the premier, is on a par with the ballet. She is in nowise out of the ordinary, an ability to dance standing on the ends of her toes being the one noticeable element of her work; and this ability she displays to the total exclusion of every other step.

The orchestra, under Sig. Vianesi, furnished splendid support. To hear Gluck's pure, chaste music as artistically and finely played and interpreted as it was last evening was a musical treat indeed. Of the scenery the setting of the first scene of the last act deserves especial praise.

Tomorrow night Marie Van Zandt will make her American debut, Amina, in "La Sonnambula," being the rôle selected by her for the occasion.

Photograph of Rebecca Salmoiraghi by Sarony.

Chapter/Review: Mathilde Bauermeister.

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