[Met Performance] CID:1710
Faust {10} Haverly's Theatre, Chicago, Illinois: 01/21/1884.


Chicago, Illinois
Haverly's Theatre
January 21, 1884
In Italian

FAUST {10}

Faust...................Victor Capoul
Marguerite..............Christine Nilsson
Méphistophélès..........Franco Novara
Valentin................Giuseppe Kaschmann
Siebel..................Sofia Scalchi
Marthe..................Emily Lablache
Wagner..................Ludovico Contini

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

Sofia Scalchi repeated "Parlatele d'amor."

Review in the Chicago Tribune:

…the local effect of the initial performance did not come up to the general expectations, The most brilliant representation the opera "Faust" ever had in Chicago was anticipated, but it would be trifling with the truth to claim that was anything of the sort. It was a very good performance and one which, in some respects, had that in it which could have made it a revelation to Chicago opera patrons, but the condition of the stage prevented a full development of Mr. Abbey's magnificent resources, and the vast magnitude of the latter became really a drawback. Then, the scenic arrangements were entirely unworthy of the occasion. The stage setting was shabby - outrageously so - and it is surprising that this important factor in operatic performances could have been so entirely neglected, considering the stupendous efforts Mr. Abbey has made in other directions. This defect was all the more painfully notable because during the Irving season, just closed, the stage-setting had been treated with such consummate care and skill, and because the opera "Faust" really demands as much scenic display as any of the modern stage productions. The Kermesse scene, so far as its spectacular features are concerned, was entirely spoiled by an overcrowding of the stage, which presented anything but a Kermesse scene besides. The setting of the garden scene was as shabby as can be imagined, the setting of the church scene was so poor as to be almost irreligious, and the management and setting of Valentino's death-scene were clumsy and unworthy of a grand Italian opera season.

Those who expected a grand ballet were also disappointed for the great ballet scene was entirely omitted, and the twenty-four corypades employed in the Kermess scene had hardly the space on the crowed stage to show their art. As far as scenic display and ballet are concerned, last night's performance of "Faust" has frequently been surpassed in Chicago, and under managements of far less provisions that that of Mr. Abbey or of Haverly's Theatre.

Considering the performance from a purely musical-dramatic standpoint, not much fault could be found. That Signor Campanini was unable to appear as announced and that Mr. Capoul took the part of Faust in his place was of course a great disappointment, but Mr. Capoul knows how to make the best of his notes in the "Salve! Dimora," in the love scene with Margherita, and above all in the terzetta preceding the duel scene, he earned strong applause, while he acted throughout with warmth and spirit. Mme. Nilsson was evidently suffering from fatigue. Her Margherita, it is well known, is considered one of the very best. It is statuesque in acting and in music, and irresistibly beautiful when Mme. Nilsson is herself; but last night it was only at the very close of her work, in the prison scene that she overcame the cloud of indisposition that had veiled her genius and electrified the audience by an outburst of musical and dramatic passion in strong contrast to the coldness and lack of spirit that had characterized her work before. Mme. Scalchi's Siebel was one of the finest portions of the performance. In the "flower song" which was encored, she was not at her best, but gloriously redeemed herself in the beautiful romanza, "Tute il Creatto," which is heard so seldom. Sig. Novara gave an excellent Mephisto, free from exaggerations in acting and carefully sung. Mr. Kaschmann, a newcomer to Chicago, introduced himself in the part of Valentino, as a baritone, with strong sympathetic voice, and a fair actor. His Valentino was less aristocratic than the part is generally given, but strongly drawn. In the death scene Mr. Kaschmann carried the audience, which before had treated him rather coldly. Mme. Lablache was, of course, as fine a Martha as can be imagined.

The large chorus of eighty voices did magnificent work, and so did the orchestra of seventy-five pieces. Signor Vianesi seems to have his forces well in hand, and certainly gave the public as fine an interpretation of the music performed as was ever heard in Chicago.

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