[Met Performance] CID:15840
Fifth Grand Sunday Night Concert
Messiah {1}
Metropolitan Opera House: 12/22/1895.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 22, 1895



Soloist............Frances Saville
Soloist............Marie Brema
Soloist............Adolph Walln÷fer
Soloist............Armour Galloway [First Appearance]
Chorus.............Euterpe Society of Brooklyn

Conductor..........Anton Seidl (solos)
Conductor..........Mortimer Wiske (choral passages) [First appearance]

Messiah received two performances this season.

[The 300-voice Euterpe Society was prepared by its conductor, Mortimer Wiske.]

Review in the New York Sun of the first Met "Messiah"


"The Messiah" Given by the Opera House People Last Evening

For the fifth grand Sunday night concert Messrs. Abbey & Grau presented their patrons with a performance of Handel's "Messiah." The soloists were Mme. Saville, soprano: Mlle. Brema, contralto: Herr Wallnoefer, tenor, and Mr. Armour Galloway, basso.
The last named gentleman had but lately arrived from Europe, where he had been pursuing his musical studies, and he is now a member of the solo quartet at St. Bartholomew's.

The choruses of the "Messiah" were advertised to be sung by "a chorus of 300 from the Euterpe Society of Brooklyn," under the baton of Mortimer Wiske, solos only being conducted by Mr. Seidl. Within the memory of the oldest oratorio habituÚs no performance has been so poor, so feeble, so sickly, or, indeed, so mistaken, as the one here chronicled.

There was, indeed, a goodly stage showing before the orchestra began, a scene set as the interior of a cathedral- the one used in "Le ProphŔte" - with candelabras placed at small distances apart among the singers, and an effectively illusive gilded railing separating the men and women. The musicians looked unusually numerous also, so that to the eye the promise of grand effects seemed secure. As early, however, as the middle of the overture the orchestra was found to work heavily, without light and shade, or buoyancy, or finesse in phrasing, conditions which lasted throughout the whole performance. Almost without exception every number was taken at too slow a tempo.

The bounds of solemnity and dignity were passed and the desert of tedious dragging thoroughly explored. This was true of both soloists and chorus, but especially so of the latter, which was feeble and incompetent, apparently timid, and, in a word, utterly inadequate to their task.
So they jogged along at a moderate and safe pace in a way that was harmless to themselves, but not to the audience, many of whom left long before the close of the performance. Of the third part Mr. Seidl gave only two numbers, skipping all the intervening ones between "I know that My Redeemer" and the final chorus. In solo efforts Mlle. Brema, Herr Wallnoefer and Mr. Galloway were successful.

Not quite to the same extent Mme. Saville, since her voice lacks both the beauty and the sympathy required for such music, and her rendering was neither intelligent nor earnest enough to compensate for lack of purely vocal charm.

Herr Wallnoefer is always interesting because he is so decidedly sincere and so evidently imbued with love for his art. Brema gave a touchingly tender rendering of the smoothly serene aria, "He shall feed His flock," again showing herself to be a woman of deep feeling and of high sentiment.
Mr. Galloway's work was neat and good. His voice, if not powerful, is agreeable and even. Stronger accentuation was needed in almost all his phrases, but great maturity will undoubtedly develop in him greater breadth of style.

Unsigned review in The New York Times

The "Messiah" at the Opera House

At the Metropolitan Opera House last evening the concert was devoted to a performance of Handel's "Messiah," which generally makes its appearance in musical circles at this time of the year. The house was well filled, and the audience appeared to be well pleased. The pleasure was probably like that of a German musician who, after hearing a certain tenor sing Beethoven's " Adelaide," said: "Ach! I never knew before how beautiful that song was. Even you could not spoil it." It was, indeed, a tribute to Handel's masterpiece that it triumphed over such a poor interpretation. The solo singers were Mme. Saville, soprano; Mlle. Brema, contralto; Herr Wallnoefer, tenor, and Mr. Galloway, bass. Mme. Saville's work was the most satisfactory, though her intonation was not always perfect. The contralto music lies disadvantageously for Mlle. Brema, and she sang it without color. The chorus was that of the Euterpe Society of Brooklyn, conducted by C. Mortimer Wiske, and no other chorus heard here lately has sung with such an utter lack of power, tone, accent, or style - to say nothing of some painful departures from the pitch.

Unsigned review in the Tribune

There's nothing of a gratifying nature to be reported concerning the performance of Handel's "Messiah" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. The chorus which Mr. C. Mortimer Wiske brought over from Brooklyn was almost ludicrously inadequate, equally deficient in sonority and familiarity with the music, and even the solo singers, organist and orchestra felt their way through the music as if it were a strange work - as indeed it may have been to most of those concerned in the performance, not excepting Mr. Seidl. The solos were in the hands of Mme. Saville, whose voice seemed light for the task set by the score; Mme. Brema, who found some of the contralto music too low for her, but sang "He Was Despised" most feelingly; Herr Wallnoefer and Mr. Armour Galloway, a church singer, the bass of St. Bartholomew's choir, who has come out of the West, bringing some taste and intelligence with him, but only a modicum of the voice demanded by such a work as "The Messiah" and such a concert-room as that of the Metropolitan Opera House. Mr. Seidl conducted the solo numbers and Mr. Wiske the chorus.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).