[Met Performance] CID:9150
United States Premiere
Asrael {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/26/1890.
 (United States Premiere)
(Opening Night {8}
Edmund C. Stanton, General Manager

Debut: Andreas Dippel, Marie Jahn, Marie Ritter-Götze, Bruno Lurgenstein, Peter Mastorff, Miss Leontine, Miss Francioli, Fanny Lengyelffy, Miss Polednik, E. S. Freisinger

Metropolitan Opera House
November 26, 1890
Opening Night {8}

Edmund C. Stanton, Director of the Opera

United States Premiere
In German


Asrael..................Andreas Dippel [Debut]
Nefta...................Marie Jahn [Debut]
Loretta.................Marie Ritter-Götze [Debut]
Lidora..................Charlotte Huhn
King....................Conrad Behrens
Lucifer.................Bruno Lurgenstein [Debut]
Peasant.................Peter Mastorff [Debut]
Dance...................Miss Leontine [Debut]
Dance...................Miss Francioli [Debut]
Dance...................Fanny Lengyelffy [Debut]
Dance...................Miss Polednik [Debut]

Conductor...............Anton Seidl

Director................Theodore Habelmann
Set Designer............Henry E. Hoyt
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian
Costume Designer........E. S. Freisinger [Debut]

Translation by unknown

Asrael received 5 performances this season.

[Miss Francioli may have been Ida Francioli, who was listed as Ballet Mistress in 1907.]

From the unsigned review in The New York Times




The fact that the operatic institution of the day has acquired force and independence was adequately demonstrated last evening. A new season was begun at the Metropolitan Opera House with the performance of an opera never before heard in America by a company including three principal singers wholly unknown to this public and of whom one - a tenor - sang the leading rôle in the opera for the first time in his life. This is a combination of conditions which would be hazardous for any but a firmly established and systematically conducted opera house. That the undertaking was carried out smoothly is another proof of the executive ability of Director Edmund C. Stanton. It is hardly necessary to say that the occasion was one of the flutter in that fashionable world of which Mr. Ward McAllister is at once the Mercury and the Homer. The boxes were filled with a brilliant assemblage, and the "nobodies" of whom Commodore Garry spoke in such courteous terms last season, were generously permitted to fill all the seats and standing room in the other parts of the house at the usual prices.

The work chosen for production was "Asrael," of which the music is by the Baron Alberto Franchetti, an Italian composer living in Dresden, and the libretto by Ferdinand Fontana. This opera has been performed with success in Italy and Germany. It has, of course, not reached England yet. Some of the entr-acte music was played here three or four years ago by Mr. Thomas, but the work was wholly unknown in America until last night. "Asrael" is a modern opera in every sense of the word. The tendency to ransack not only the world, but also heaven and hades for topics suitable for operatic treatment has been widely developed in recent years. Owing to Wagner's delving among the treasures of Norse and Christian mythology, librettists have acquired a fondness for supernatural which is seen in such works as that under consideration and "Esclarmonde."

Signor Fontana has put not bridle on his imagination, but has permitted it to stray at will, and the results are bewildering. Perchance there will be today those who will believe that the libretto of "Asrael" is almost as dark and mysterious as that of "Il Trovatore." Signor Fontana has borrowed from Oriental literature the name, but not the nature, of his leading character. This is not the Asrael of the Koran or of mythology. He is, on the contrary, an inconsistent person, sometimes angel, sometimes devil, and ultimately a redeemed human being of Roman Catholic faith. Signor Fontana's heaven is quite as inconsistent as his spirit. It is a very pretty blue and white heaven with regulation winged angels. It is a Roman Catholic heaven, however, and we learn that even the angels are obliged to approach the throne of grace through the intercession of the Virgin. Perhaps Signor Fontana has followed this plan from loyalty to his mother Church, which was rather hard on Franchetti, an orthodox Hebrew, or it may be that he discerned in the employment of the Virgin a means of escape from commitment with certain troublesome problems in regard to a visible enshrinement of the Trinity, together with the certainty of giving offense. As it is, his heaven is not likely to bring the blush of anger to the cheek of piety, and the decorations are in such good taste that the occupants of the boxes will feel quite at home…

The performance last evening was excellent. It would be a pleasure to pronounce final judgment on the new artists after last night's work, but this would not be safe. They were received with great favor by the audience, and recalled four times after the second act, and frequently throughout the evening. They were Andreas Dippel as Asrael, Fräulein Marie Jahn as Nefta, and Frau Ritter-Götze as Loretta. Bruno Lurgenstein had the small rôle of Lucifer. The old members of the company who appeared were Fräulein Huhn as Lidora, and Herr Behrens as the King. The whole performance went with great smoothness, and reflected the highest credit on Herr Habelmann, the stage manager, and Herr Seidl the conductor. The opera was received with no small favor, but it will have to grow into deep public affection. It is not the kind of work to carry an audience by storm. There is too much thought in it.

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