[Met Concert/Gala] CID:12300
Gala Performance. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/15/1894.
Metropolitan Opera House
February 15, 1894
Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Overture
Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Act II
Count Almaviva..........Fernando De Lucia
Dr. Bartolo.............Agostino Carbone
Don Basilio.............Edouard de Reszke
[Note: In the Lesson Scene, Sigrid Arnoldson sang "Contro un cor," the music composed by Rossini for the scene.]
Aida: Act III
Radamès.................Jean de Reszke
Rigoletto: Act III
Duke of Mantua..........Fernando De Lucia
[Note: The Quartet was repeated.]
Roméo et Juliette: Act II
Roméo...................Jean de Reszke
Benvolio................Antonio De Vaschetti
[Note: Act II of Hamlet, originally planned for Jean Lassalle, Nellie Melba, Antonio De Vaschetti, Antonio Rinaldini, Lodovico Viviani, was cancelled because of M. Lasalle's indisposition.]
Carmen: Micaela's Aria
Faust: Act V, Scene 2
Faust...................Jean de Reszke
There were two Gala Performances this season.
Unsigned review and account in The New York Times
OPERA SUNG -FOR CHARITY
OVER $20,000 RAISED AT THE METROPOLITAN LAST NIGHT
The Great House Crowded with a Fashionable Audience - The Hour of Beginning Was Early, but Most of the Holders of Seats Saw the First Curtain Rise - Acts from Six Operas Heard with Pleasure - Some of Those Present.
Of all the social multitudes seen beneath one roof this Winter that which gathered in the Metropolitan Opera House last night for the benefit of various charities, and to hear superb gleanings from great operas, was by far the largest and most fashionable. At the box office it was officially announced that over $20,000 was cleared.
From the first chair in the orchestra to the last in the upper tier the house was filled. After 8 o'clock those who only had admission tickets were standing four rows deep at the back of the house. At 9 o'clock, when the great charity performance was an hour and a half old, it was impossible for even those holding tickets for orchestra chairs to gain entrance from the lobbies to their seats. Nor could they do so at the end of each act, as is usually the case, for those who had obtained good positions did not leave them when the curtain fell, but remained standing in one spot throughout the performance. Ushers were helpless, and many a party owning seats and arriving late had to give up all hopes of reaching them, and either return crestfallen to their homes or stand near the exits and try to enjoy the opera as best they could through opera glasses and with strained ears.
Many of the regular box owners said they could not remember seeing a larger audience at any opera performance in New York.
On entering the lobbies one was immediately greeted by feminine voices, crying " Souvenir programmes," " Charity flowers," &c. The smiles and pleadings of a score of pretty women rendered the opera-goer so helpless that he at once succumbed and purchased flowers and silken programmes for no mean prices.
One noticeable feature of the women's costumes was the abundance of jewelry worn. Tiaras, necklaces, and every kind of diamond ornament shone brilliantly from every dress in the boxes. The costumes were, as a rule, as handsome as those worn at the opera every night.
Besides the usual immense society audience, there were many present who rarely attend the opera. The upper tiers were crowded with people who had assembled there for the purpose of hearing acts from the various operas, rather than all the acts of one which they can see any night during the week.
An amusing conversation was overheard in one of the lobbies. Two visitors to the city entered the inner doors.
"You see, dear," the husband whispered, "though we are paying $10 for our seats, we are really saving our money, for we are going to see selections from six great operas, which would cost us an awful pile if we went on separate nights."
As a rule performances of grand opera begin at 8 o'clock, and the good and gracious high world which consumes much time and labor over its dinner has to descend to the common level and indulge in the vulgar process of "hustling" if it desires to be in time for the first act. Conceive, then, the uncomfortable state of mind into which Ward McAllister's collection of social examples was thrown by the decision of, the committee that the grand benefit performance must begin at 7:30 o'clock, lest it might not be over in time for the members of the committee to start for business this morning. So, at an hour which was more than surprising to him, the only Maximilian Hirsch in the business put four extra copies of the morning papers under his beautiful white shirt front and prepared to stand at the iron gate through which the audiences enter the sacred domain of art, and take his chances of pneumonia for the sacred cause of charity. L. M. Ruben, with an extra large pink rose in his buttonhole, took up his customary position in the corridor, where he spends many hours in promising forgotten singers that they shall have a chance to sing the old songs once again. Mr. Ruben looked at Mr. Hirsch, and they both looked at the handsome doorkeeper with the beautiful silk derby, and he let the people in.
Promptly at 7:30 Signor Mancinelli, the conductor, climbed out on his little perch and raised the pretty little stick with which he beats music out of the sixty Teutonic instrumental experts, who stretch all the way across the auditorium from Carl Pieper to Sammy Bernstein. Down came the stick, and the gay and brilliant overture of Rossini's admirable opera buffa, "Il Barbiere di Seviglia," burst forth. And when the audience, already large in spite of the unhallowed hour, had finished applauding, William Parry, hidden away on the prompt side of the stage, touched the electric button, and the curtain rose on the happy home of Dr, Bartolo, and the good buyers of seats in the auditorium found themselves plunged into the middle of the funny intrigue invented many, many years ago by Beaumarchais. There were Mme. Sigrid Arnoldson as Rosina, Mlle. Bauermeister as Berta, Signor de Lucia as the Count Almaviva, Signor Ancona as Figaro, Signor Carbone as Dr. Bartolo, Signor Mastrubuono as an official, and M. Edouard de Reszke as Don Basilio.
It was the first performance this season of any part of Rossini's happy work, and it was a charming selection with which to begin so notable an entertainment. The act was given with excellent spirit, and was well sung. Mme. Arnoldson's pretty little voice and neat vocalization were heard to great advantage, and her "Contro un cor" proved a genuine triumph for her. Signor Carbone, a capital buffo, was thoroughly at home in this act, and his work was highly commendable. For that matter, only praise can be written of all the artists. They seemed to desire to show their appreciation of the good cause for which they were working, and threw themselves heartily into their work. At the end of the act they were enthusiastically called out several times. Each of the ladies received a handsome basket of flowers and each of the gentlemen a large wreath.
The curtain descended and a buzz of conversation arose. The moderate length of the entr'acte showed that the stage hands were also working with a will. In a remarkably short time Signor Bevignani took Signor Mancinelli's place and was received with applause by orchestra and audience. The violins began a mysterious whisper, and the curtain rose to reveal the moonlit Nile, with a temple on its bank. It was the great third act of Verdi's immortal "Aida" that had begun. The cast for this was as follows: Aida, Mme. Nordica; Amneris, Mme. Guercia; Amonasro, M. Dufriche; Ramphis, Signor Viviani, and Radames, M. Jean de Reszke. It was the first time this season that any of this superb work had been given, and the audience listened with rapt attention. As Aida, Mme. Nordica did the best work she has ever done here. She sang "Patrla mia" with breadth, dignity, and feeling. M. Dufriche was also heard to better advantage than ever before, and his Amonasro was a very creditable piece of work. M. de Reszke was in good voice and showed no disposition to spare himself. His B flats in the exclamation, Sacerdote, io reste a te." rang out finely. When the curtain descended, there was another scene of enthusiasm, and the presentation of floral tributes was repeated.
Again the entr'act was of reasonable length, and the curtain rose on the peculiar one-sided house where Il Duca, who had no other name, went to meet the seductive Maddalena. This time it was the last act of Verdi's "Rigoletto." Those who were disposed to be thoughtful might have noted the wide difference between the styles of the two works of the famous maestro, but probably few persons were in a musically historical mood. Signor de Lucia as Il Duca sat carelessly on the corner of the table and announced in waltz time "La donna e mobile" - the lady from Mobile, as it is sometimes called. More B flats and more applause. M. Dufriche as Rigoletto, Mme. Schalchi as Maddalena, M. Castelmary as Sparafucile, and Mme. Melba as Gilda, completed the cast. The great soprano was in fine voice and the famous quartet was, superbly sung - so superbly, indeed, that the audience emphatically insisted on its repetition. When the act had ended, the enthusiasm that broke out was without bounds, and the artists were recalled again and again. There was another corner in the flower market, and the singers retired laden with bouquets and wreaths. So many bunches of flowers were thrown from the boxes that the stage was fairly carpeted with roses, and when the artists had finally retired it still presented a festal appearance.
The next thing on the programme was the second act of Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette." This is the always popular balcony scene. The artists who appeared were Mme. Emma Eames as Juliette. Mlle. Bauermeister as the nurse, Signor de Vaschetti as Benvollo, and M. Jean de Reszke as Romeo. This opera has been given so frequently this season that comment on the performance of last night's excerpt is wholly unnecessary. It is sufficient to say that Mme. Eames never looked lovelier or sang better as Juliette, while M. de Reszke was, as he always is, admirable as Romeo. The beautiful duet was exquisitely sung, and the solo of Romeo was given in a manner beyond criticism. At the conclusion of the act the audience again gave vent to its enthusiasm, and there were numerous recalls, and the air was laden with the perfume of flowers. In fact, the flowers were now more numerous than at any other time.
The second act of "Hamlet," with M. Lassalle in the title rôle, was to have followed, but M. Lassalle was unfortunately indisposed, and consequently this selection had to be omitted. Nothing was substituted for it, as the programme was already sufficiently long. The next number was Micaela's beautiful scene from the third act of "Carmen," with Mme. Eames as Don Jose's faithful sister. Everyone knows how artistically Mme. Eames sings this bit. Last night she was at her best, and she was made the recipient of abundant proof of the esteem in which she is held by this public.
The last number of the programme was the fifth and last act of Gounod's masterpiece, "Faust." The cast was different from that at which the opera is usually presented at the Opera House. Mme. Melba was the Marguerite, M. Plançon the Mephistopheles, and M. Jean de Reszke the Faust. It looked like a particularly graceful act on the part of M. Edouard de Reszke to resign his great rôle to M. Plançon, but otherwise the latter could not have had any opportunity to appear at all, and it was understood that he was especially anxious to contribute something toward the benefit. There were other artists who would also have been glad to sing. Mme. Calvé was prevented by illness, and Signor Vignas unfortunately could not be fitted into the scheme, though he wished very much to appear. The finale of "Faust" went with great spirit, considering the fact that the artists had not the inspiration of the preceding acts to lead them up to it. There were numerous recalls and plenty of flowers. Indeed, the audience seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of enthusiasm and roses.