[Met Concert/Gala] CID:17230
Testimonial Performance to Henry E. Abbey & Maurice Grau. Metropolitan Opera House: 04/24/1896.
Metropolitan Opera House
April 24, 1896
G A L A N I G H T
All the members of the Metropolitan Opera Co.
Henry E. Abbey and Maurice Grau
La Favorita: Act IV
Carmen: Act III
Don José................Albert Lubert
Mercédès................Marie Van Cauteren
Falstaff: Act II
Sir John Falstaff.......Victor Maurel
Alice Ford..............Frances Saville
Dame Quickly............Sofia Scalchi
Meg Page................Aurelia Kitzu
Dr. Cajus...............Roberto Vanni
Pistola.................Vittorio Arimondi [Last appearance]
Lucia di Lammermoor: Mad Scene (repeated)
[Note: For an encore, Nellie Melba repeated the final portion of the scene]
Faust: The Soldiers' Chorus
Lola Beeth [Last appearance]
Marie Van Cauteren
Aurelia Kitzu [Last appearance]
Sofia Scalchi [Last appearance]
Victor Capoul [Last appearance]
Jean de Reszke
Georges Mauguière [Last appearance]
Antonio Rinaldini [Last appearance]
Mr. De Longprez
Maurice De Vries
Edouard de Reszke
Antonio De Vaschetti
Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Aida: Act III
Radamès.................Jean De Reszke
Faust: Act V, Scene 2
Faust...................Jean De Reszke
Méphistophélès..........Edouard De Reszke
Unsigned review in the New York Herald
NEVER SUCH A SOLDIERS' CHORUS!
Sung by Devils, Crazy Girls, Courtiers, Carmens, Leonoras, Falstaffs and Fernandoes
ALL FOR ABBEY AND GRAU
Scenes of Wild Enthusiasm in the Metropolitan, Where Their Artists Gave Them a Testimonial
A VERY BRILLIANT HOUSE
Shades of Goethe, Gounod and Great Guns! Was there ever such a soldiers' chorus?
Give me an army of musical Devils, Crazy Girls, Courtiers, Carmens, Fausts, Aidas, Falstaffs, Fords, Micaelas, Quicklys, Leonoras and Marguerites and I'll conquer the world quicker than Puck could throw a girdle around it, and without a brass band, too.
Let me have those four noble Amazons, Melba, Calvé, Nordica and Saville for the centre of my rush line, and with Jean and Edouard de Reszke as ends and Ancona and Maurel as tackles. I would oppose any musical team in the universe.
Such was the formation of the collection of great singers that faced a vast audience last night to employ their united forces in a heartfelt testimonial to Messrs. Abbey and Grau in the Metropolitan Opera House.
There were all sorts of things on the programme and all sorts of girls in the house, but the crowding, the excitement, the ecstasy remained for the chorus of the Abbey and Grau soldiers who had fought so well here and are about the depart to conquer other worlds.
It was known that Mmes. Melba, Calvé, Saville, Lola Beeth, Traubmann, Marie Engle, Scalchi, Mantelli, Olitzka, Kitzu, Bauermeister, Van Cauteren and Nordica, and MM. Jean and Edouard de Reszke, Plançon, Cremonini, Lubert, Capoul, Mauguiere, Kaschmann, Ancona, Campanari, De Vries, Arimondi, Castelmary, Carbone, De Vaschetti, Viviani, Vanni, De Longprez, Rinaldini and Maurel, added by chorus singers, to set the time and tune, would compose that noble group of warriors who went to the war while Marguerite got left.
M. Jean de Reszke, who had much to do with the arrangement of this scene, and, in fact, with every detail of the splendid testimonial, when asked what language the "Soldier's Chorus" should sing, thought a second and replied:
"Chacun à son gout."
As there were good Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, and Americans to sing with a splendid assortment of chest notes, each sang at his or her best and the effect was marvelous.
BEVIGNANI IN THE CHAIR
It was eleven o'clock and the programme of the evening was half through, when Bevignani, who had led so many "Faust" soldiers on to victory, mounted his chair to lead the great "star" chorus.
In a second the faint fum, fum, fum and cing, cing, cing of the first chord of the soldier's march came up from below Bevignani's feet.
Everyone strained and craned their necks. The boxes leaned way over in peril of life. The galleries hung in midair.
Would the soldiers march on? Would Melba, Calvé and other amazons come in carriages or in a Saint Patrick's Day parade, or would they march like Salvation Army lassies?
What would they wear? Would the great de Reszkes really sing, or would they only open and shut their mouths like automatons?
With the last cing! bum! of the overture the curtain went up. An army was drawn across the stage.
The useful old brass band was raised in the centre, as at a circus, The still more useful chorus was ranged at either side, but stretching across the front from arch to arch of the proscenium were the Abbey and Grau warriors.
Melba as Lucia, Calvé as Carmen, Saville as Mistress Ford, Lola Beeth as Anne, Nordica as Aida, Jean de Reszke as Radames, Edouard de Reszke as Mephistopheles, Plançon from "Navarraise," Cremonini as Fernando, Capoul as Faust, everybody in everything that they had played in during the evening.
Such an assortment of soldiers: Maurel as Falstaff might well have reviewed them were they not all so gorgeous and picturesque.
AND HOW THEY SANG
When each took the strain, which the HERALD reader can herewith consult in his own language, the house was so still that you might have heard a house fall down.
Melba and Calvé in the centre were stepping time with their feet and stifling laughter. Jean and Edouard de Reszke tried to look solemn until their paint began to crack, and then gave way to the universal merriment, Cremonini, with a cross on his breast quite lost his dramatic sounding and started a two step as the "warriors" marched forward to the footlights.
A very well known lady in a grand tier bow gave vent to a loud peal of laughter and that quite demoralized the house.
What followed was not an encore, but a wild Pawnee yell of delight and "heap more."
The voices of the "soldiers, worth a dollar a note under ordinary circumstances, which had been made subservient to the cheaper chorus during the first campaign, began to ring out as the singers lined up for the second attack.
Melba, Calvé, Nordica, Saville, Beeth, Scalchi, Bauermeister, nearly all smothered in flowers, threw open all their valves and drowned the brass band and orchestra.
The De Reszkes, Plançon, Cremonini, Maurel and their confreres, seeing that the Amazons were doing most of the shouting, let out "all stops." The orchestra, not to be outdone, blew and fiddled like madmen. The cable car bells outside took up the uproar.
For a few moments New York was consumed with the noise of a harmless battle scene in "Faust."
THE DEAD AND WOUNDED
When everyone had reached again the vere de vere composure observed in the Opera House, all being so out of breath that no more noise or confusion was possible: after the curtain had been raised ten times and the artists passed in review before it as many more, skirmishes were sent out to pick up the dead and wounded.
Mesdames Calvé and Saville made an emeute to the left fly and produced a tall, fair gentleman whom the audience yelled at as Mr. Abbey, while Mesdames Melba and Beeth deployed to the left and brought in a small, dark victim whom everyone shouted at as Mr. Grau.
To each of these was presented salve for his wounded ears in the form of beautifully illuminated parchments enclosed in silver cases, which read as follows:
"The undersigned, with a view of testifying their appreciation of the friendship and courtesy of their managers, Mr. Henry E. Abbey and Mr. Maurice Grau, beg their associates to join them in tendering their services for a representation on the evening of Friday, April 24, at the Metropolitan Opera House."
To those were affixed the names of every person who had appeared on the benefit.
Then at last the army, with its two vanquished leaders, was allowed to depart.
A great and memorable battle scene! One never to be forgotten! As for the rest of the evening it all went off beautifully.
I believe Faust fell in love with Leonora, Mephistopheles interdecked the loves of Carmen and Radames and Falstaff got thrown into the Nile by Aida.
The net receipts of the performance were in the neighborhood of $20,000.
SIGNOR RUSSITANO'S GRIEVANCE
The Tenor Feels That He Was Snubbed by M. de Reszke and Addresses the Public.
In the array of singers last night at the operatic testimonial one was conspicuous by his absence. It was Signor Giuseppe Russitano, he of the sweet voice and ethereal frame, who has sung in Jean de Reszke's place when the latter was indisposed, and who has striven to achieve fame like that of the Polish tenor. Signor Russitano's nonappearance was not because he was not invited, not because he was not given an opportunity to again charm his admirers at Messrs. Abbey and Grau's testimonial, but because be would not appear in a role on so important occasion that he considered was unworthy of him.
Signor Russitano does not speak English, but his friends do. They issued a letter to the public yesterday in which they told of the tenor's grievance, but only in part. In fact, no person could have retained its integrity under the influence of the burning wrongs from which Signor Russitano suffers. But-well, here is the letter:
TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD
Before sailing for Europe I wish to thank you and the American public generally for the reception and kindness shown me during the season. I much regret not having been allowed to take part in tonight's performance (gala night at the Metropolitan) as announced, owing to the fact that the gentleman that made up the programme did not wish that I should sing a number of my repertoire.
My contract expired April 28, but on such an occasion and especially as testimonial to Messrs. Abbey and Grau, I offered my talents. Unfortunately they were not accepted. Thanking you again for the kindness and impartiality of your paper, I remain, sincerely yours. GIUSEPPE RUSSITANO, New York April 24, 1896
Signor Russitano's friends declare that M. de Reszke has taken occasion to snub the former. It is not because Signor Russitano is not a great artist or that is he unworthy of his confrere's esteem, but because M. de Reszke has regarded the applause which the singer of lesser weight has received as distracting from his fame. In fact, M. de Reszke is jealous of Signor Russitano, and because of this did all in his power to prevent him from appearing last night in a role which was worthy of "his talents." They add that Signor Russitano offered to sing Arnoldo's great aria from "William Tell," but that it was declined, that he offered to appear as Radames in "Aida" instead of M. de Reszke, but this was also refused him. Instead of these opportunities he was given a choice between a few bars in "La Favorita," or to sing Ford's music in "Falstaff," both quite unworthy of him. Therefore, they said, last night Signor Russitano declined to appear in the "Soldier's Chorus" from "Faust" with the other artists, that his admirers would understand his feelings in the matter and would fully appreciate them.
M. de Reszke, when he heard of this, leaned back in his chair at the Gilsey House, shrugged his broad shoulders and smiled. "It is incomprehensible" he murmured, and then his brother-in-law, Mr. Schutz, explained:
"You see." he said. "Signor Russitano does not understand the matter at all-not at all. M. Jean only assisted in arranging the programme. Messrs. Abbey and Grau decided it, Signor Russitano wanted to sing an act from "William Tell." It could not be done, because the programme, already long, would have been extended well into to-morrow morning. The roles in "La Favorita" or in "Falstaff" gave him ample chance to appear. That was all that any of the artists wanted. They merely wished to testify to their affection for Messrs. Abbey & Grau. Why, M. Edouard only sings ten bars during the entire evening - in the finale of "Faust." Miss Engle does not appear at all except in the chorus. M. Capoul, who is not alone a great artist, but a brave comrade, appears only in the "Soldiers' Chorus." Does Signor Russitano think that he is superior to these singers?
"I don't want to say anything unpleasant about Signor Russitano, but M. Jean jealous of him, why, that is amusing! The truth is that Russitano is afflicted with too great a love for himself. I don't like to say it, but really he is what you call a "striker," a man who causes trouble. It's a shame! But M. Jean jealous of him, why, it is too funny to think of "
Signor Russitano is a famous duelist. He has a reputation in Rome, Milan Padua and Pisa, and throughout Lombardy he is known as a fire eater. There were rumors last night that he may challenge M. Schutz. The brother-In-law of the De Reszkes is a big man and a brave one, it is said, and will not eat his words.
Happily for all parties concerned Signor Russitano will sail for Europe this morning on the Campania, while the MM. de Reszke, with M. Schutz, will remain over until Wednesday next.
Other singers who will be passengers on the Campania are Mme. Melba, Mme. Mantelli. Mlle. Beeth, Signor Ancona, Signor Arimondi, Signor Vaschetti, Signor Rinaldini and M. Castelmary, The conductors, M. Bevignani and Signor Seppilli, and the chorus master, Signor Corsi, will depart on the same ship. Mme. Saville and MM. Maurel, Plançon and Capoul also will sail today on the Gascogne.