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- Chapters of Opera - 1/70 -


CHAPTERS OF OPERA

Being Historical and Critical Observations And Records Concerning the Lyric Drama in New York from Its Earliest Days Down to The Present Time

by

HENRY EDWARD KREHBIEL

Musical Editor of "The New York Tribune"; Author of "How To Listen To Music," "Studies In The Wagnerian Drama," "Music And Manners In The Classical Period," "The Philharmonic Society Of New York," etc., etc.

To MARIE--WIFE

and

DAUGHTER HELEN

Who have shared with the Author many of the Experiences described in this book.

"Joy shared is Joy doubled." --GOETHE.

PREFACE

The making of this book was prompted by the fact that with the season 1907-08 the Metropolitan Opera House in New York completed an existence of twenty-five years. Through all this period at public representations I have occupied stall D-15 on the ground floor as reviewer of musical affairs for The New York Tribune newspaper. I have, therefore, been a witness of the vicissitudes through which the institution has passed in a quarter-century, and a chronicler of all significant musical things which were done within its walls. I have seen the failure of the artistic policy to promote which the magnificent theater was built; the revolution accomplished by the stockholders under the leadership of Leopold Damrosch; the progress of a German régime, which did much to develop tastes and create ideals which, till its coming, were little-known quantities in American art and life; the overthrow of that régime in obedience to the command of fashion; the subsequent dawn and development of the liberal and comprehensive policy which marked the climax of the career of Maurice Grau as an operatic director, I have witnessed since then, many of the fruits of wise endeavor and astute management frittered away by managerial incapacity and greed, and fad and fashion come to rule again, where for a brief, but eventful period, serious artistic interest and endeavor had been dominant.

The institution will enter upon a new régime with the season 1908-09. The time, therefore, seemed fitting for a review of the twenty-five years that are past. The incidents of this period are fixed; they may be variously viewed, but they cannot be changed. They belong to history, and to a presentation of that history I have devoted most of the pages which follow. I have been actuated in my work by deep seriousness of purpose, and have tried to avoid everything which could not make for intellectual profit, or, at least, amiable and illuminative entertainment.

The chapters which precede the more or less detailed history of the Metropolitan Opera House (I-VII) were written for the sake of the light which they shed on existing institutions and conditions, and to illustrate the development of existing taste, appreciation, and interest touching the lyrical drama. To the same end much consideration has been paid to significant doings outside the Metropolitan Opera House since it has been the chief domicile of grand opera in New York. Especial attention has been given for obvious reasons to the two seasons of opera at Mr. Hammerstein's Manhattan Opera House.

H. E. KREHBIEL.

Blue Hill, Maine, the Summer of 1908.

AUTHOR'S NOTE TO THIRD EDITION

For the purposes of a new and popular edition of this book, the publishers asked the author to continue his historical narrative, his record of performances, and his critical survey of the operas produced at the two chief operatic institutions of New York, from the beginning of the season 1908-1909 down to the close of the season 1910-1911. This invitation the author felt compelled to decline for several reasons, one of which (quite sufficient in itself), was that he had already undertaken a work of great magnitude which would occupy all his working hours during the period between the close of the last season and the publication of this edition.

Thereupon the publishers, who seemed to place a high valuation on the historical element in the book, suggested that the record of performances at least be brought up to date even if the criticism of new operas and the discussion of the other incidents of the season--such as the dissensions between the directors of the Metropolitan Opera House, the rivalry between them and the director of the Manhattan, the quarrels with artists, the successes achieved by some operas and the failure suffered by others--be postponed for the present at least for want of time on the part of the author to carry on the work on the scale of the original edition.

It was finally agreed that the author should supply the record for the period intervening between the appearance of the first edition of "Chapters of Opera" and the present publication by revised excerpts from the annual summaries of the activities of the seasons in question published by him in the New York Tribune, of which newspaper he has had the honor of being the musical critic for thirty years past. For the privilege of using this material the author is deeply beholden to the Tribune Association and the editor, Hart Lyman, Esq. The record may be found in the Appendices after the last chapter.

H. E. KREHBIEL.

Blue Hill, Maine, Summer of 1911.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION OF OPERA IN NEW YORK

The Introduction of Italian Opera in New York English Ballad Operas and Adaptations from French and Italian Works Hallam's Comedians and "The Beggar's Opera" The John Street Theater and Its Early Successors Italian Opera's First Home Manuel Garcia The New Park Theater and Some of Its Rivals Malibran and English Opera The Bowery Theater, Richmond Hill, Niblo's and Castle Gardens

CHAPTER II

EARLY THEATERS, MANAGERS, AND SINGERS

Of the Building of Opera Houses A Study of Influences The First Italian Opera House in New York Early Impresarios and Singers Da Ponte, Montressor, Rivafinoli Signorina Pedrotti and Fornasari Why Do Men Become Opera-Managers? Addison and Italian Opera The Vernacular Triumphant

CHAPTER III

THE FIRST ITALIAN COMPANY

Manuel del Popolo Vicente Garcia "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" Signorina Maria Garcia's Unfortunate Marriage Lorenzo da Ponte His Hebraic Origin and Checkered Career "Don Giovanni" An Appeal in Behalf of Italian Opera

CHAPTER IV

HOUSES BUILT FOR OPERA

More Opera Houses Palmo's and the Astor Place Signora Borghese and the Distressful Vocal Wabble Antognini and Cinti-Damoreau An Orchestral Strike Advent of the Patti Family Don Francesco Marty y Torrens and His Havanese Company Opera Gowns Fifty Years Ago Edward and William Henry Fry Horace Greeley and His Musical Critic James H. Hackett and William Niblo Tragic Consequences of Canine Interference Goethe and a Poodle A Dog-Show and the Astor Place Opera House

CHAPTER V

MARETZEK, HIS RIVALS AND SINGERS


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