[Met Performance] CID:1800
La Sonnambula {4} Haverly's Theatre, Chicago, Illinois: 01/29/1884.


Chicago, Illinois
Haverly's Theatre
January 29, 1884


Amina...................Marcella Sembrich
Elvino..................Italo Campanini
Rodolfo.................Franco Novara
Lisa....................Ida Corani
Teresa..................Emily Lablache
Alessio.................Baldassare Corsini
Notary..................Amadeo Grazzi

Conductor...............Cleofonte Campanini

Review in the Chicago Evening Journal:

"La Sonnambula" at Harvely's.

Last night's audience at Haverly's demonstrated that Chicago, at least, cannot support two opera companies for even a short season, for, though two of the greatest singers in the world were announced to appear in one of the loveliest and most popular of the old-time operas, the house seemed but half-filled. What the audience lacked in numbers, however, it made up in enthusiasm, for again Mme. Sembrich's phenomenal voice and admirable acting made a startling impression upon her listeners. A more interesting and sympathetic impersonation of a sweet, innocent, loving girl than the Amina of Mme. Sembrich we shall never see. The portrait was to the life. Equally in her simple and confiding joy at the approaching nuptials, in her shy embarrassment, yet gratification at Count Rudolf's notice in her appeasing of her jealous lover, in her crashing grief at his suspicions and desertion, in the tender soliloquies of love that she breathes out while walking in her sleep, and in her outburst of intense joy at finding all misunderstandings over - equally in every phrase was Mme. Sembrich the mirror of nature. In fact, every time this artist is heard it is with new wonder at the rich assemblages of her gifts. Where, also can we find such evenness, purity, sweetness, strength, and compass in one voice? And the voice also so girlishly, dewily, fresh, The bloom is still all upon it, and, when the singer touches F in alt and actually ends an aria with sustaining E flat in alt, one can scarcely credit ones own ears. The flexibility, however…is not, and never will be, that of Mme. Patti, whose vocal execution differs from that of all other singers as the piano technique of Liszt and Jossefy differs from that of all other pianists. When they play or Mme. Patti sings a descending scale, it is like the wind blowing over a field of wheat. There is no perceptible break between the notes. When any one else does the same thing and Mme. Sembrich like all the rest, each note may be a pearl, but all the pearls are separate. Nor can the latter's trill be for a moment compared with Patti's trill, either in trills, sweetness or length. It is also inferior to that of Mlle Valleria. But this is said not in disparagement. Rather it is interesting to see why Sembrich is not Patti, and vice versa - why "one star differeth from another star in glory."

That she is not only a great singer that she is also a great actress is plain from the fact that each part she assumes seems to be the one best suited to her. She was a perfect Lucia. She was a perfect Rosina and last night she was a perfect Amina. Other singers may conceive and render these roles differently. They cannot render them better. That is impossible. More vocal, dramatic and physical gifts that this youthful artist combines will never be found united. Had we Malibran, for instance, doubtless the greatest genius that ever glorified the lyric stage, she would not have Mme. Sembrich's high notes or her even register, for Malibran was a mezzo, and moreover had a weak spot in her voice. And so it would be in every case. We repeat, more cannot be combined in a human being than the stage now possesses in Mme. Sembrich. Let it then prize her while it has her for the equally great and still rarer artist (for great soprano are much commoner than great tenors) who shared the honors with her last night is a warning proof how easily these vocal gifts may "take to themselves wings and fly away." Campanini sang and acted deliciously last night, and the audience fully appreciated him. Once when he walked up the stage and addressed Rudolf, the golden timbre of his voice seemed to strike across the others as might a beam of golden sunshine across a cloudy landscape, and if as some say, though others deny it, it is his own fault that this matchless organ is not still in all its glory, reproach can hardly be too severe against him for robbing the world of such a treasure. For such high gifts do not appear to belong to the current owner. They are the common heritage of humanity, and woe be to him who abuses the sacred trust.

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