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- Chapters of Opera - 3/70 -


Sickness of Lilli Lehmann The De Reszke Brothers and Lassalle Emma Eames Début of Marie Van Zandt "Cavalleria Rusticana" Fire Damages the Opera House Reorganization of the Owning Company

CHAPTER XVII

THE ADVENT OF MELBA AND CALVÉ

An Interregnum Changes in the Management Rise and Fall of Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau Death of Henry E. Abbey His Career Season 1893-1894 Nellie Melba Emma Calvé Bourbonism of the Parisians Massenet's "Werther" 1894-1895 A Breakdown on the Stage "Elaine" Sybil Sanderson and "Manon" Shakespearian Operas Verdi's "Falstaff"

CHAPTER XVIII

UPRISING IN FAVOR OF GERMAN OPERA

The Public Clamor for German Opera Oscar Hammerstein and His First Manhattan Opera House Rivalry between Anton Seidl and Walter Damrosch The Latter's Career as Manager Wagner Triumphant German Opera Restored at the Metropolitan "The Scarlet Letter" "Mataswintha" "Hänsel und Gretel" in English Jean de Reszke and His Influence Mapleson for the Last Time "Andrea Chenier" Madame Melba's Disastrous Essay with Wagner "Le Cid" Metropolitan Performances 1893-1897

CHAPTER XIX

BEGINNING OF THE GRAU PERIOD

Beginning of the Grau Period Death of Maurice Grau His Managerial Career An Interregnum at the Metropolitan Opera House Filled by Damrosch and Ellis Death of Anton Seidl His Funeral Characteristic Traits "La Bohème" 1898-1899 "Ero e Leandro" and Its Composer

CHAPTER XX

NEW SINGERS AND OPERAS

Closing Years of Mr. Grau's Régime Traits in the Manager's Character Débuts of Alvarez, Scotti, Louise Homer, Lucienne Bréval and Other Singers Ternina and "Tosca" Reyer's "Salammbô" Gala Performance for a Prussian Prince "Messaline" Paderewski's "Manru" "Der Wald" Performances in the Grau Period

CHAPTER XXI

HEINRICH CONRIED AND "PARSIFAL"

Beginning of the Administration of Heinrich Conried Season 1903-1904 Mascagni's American Fiasco "Iris" and "Zanetto" Woful Consequences of Depreciating American Conditions Mr. Conried's Theatrical Career His Inheritance from Mr. Grau Signor Caruso The Company Recruited The "Parsifal" Craze

CHAPTER XXII

END OF CONRIED'S ADMINISTRATION

Conried's Administration Concluded 1905-1908 Visits from Humperdinck and Puccini The California Earthquake Madame Sembnich's Generosity to the Suffering Musicians "Madama Butterfly" "Manon Lescaut" "Fedora" Production and Prohibition of "Salome" A Criticism of the Work "Adriana Lecouvreur" A Table of Performances

CHAPTER XXIII

HAMMERSTEIN AND HIS OPERA HOUSE

Oscar Hammerstein Builds a Second Manhattan Opera House How the Manager Put His Doubters to Shame His Earlier Experiences as Impresario Cleofonte Campanini A Zealous Artistic Director and Ambitious Singers A Surprising Record but No Novelties in the First Season Melba and Calvé as Stars The Desertion of Bonci Quarrels about Puccini's "Bohéme" List of Performances

CHAPTER XXIV

A BRILLIANT SEASON AT THE MANHATTAN

Hammerstein's Second Season Amazing Promises but More Amazing Achievements Mary Garden and Maurice Renaud Massenet's "Thais," Charpentier's "Louise" Giordano's "Siberia" and Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande" Performed for the First Time in America Revival of Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann," "Crispino e la Comare" of the Ricci Brothers, and Giordano's "Andrea Chenier" The Tetrazzini Craze Repertory of the Season

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION OF OPERA IN NEW YORK

Considering the present state of Italian opera in New York City (I am writing in the year of our Lord 1908), it seems more than a little strange that its entire history should come within the memories of persons still living. It was only two years ago that an ancient factotum at the Metropolitan Opera House died who, for a score of years before he began service at that establishment, had been in various posts at the Academy of Music. Of Mr. Arment a kindly necrologist said that he had seen the Crowd gather in front of the Park Theater in 1825, when the new form of entertainment effected an entrance in the New World. I knew the little old gentleman for a quarter of a century or more, but though he was familiar with my interest in matters historical touching the opera in New York, he never volunteered information of things further back than the consulship of Mapleson at the Academy. Moreover, I was unable to reconcile the story of his recollection of the episode of 1825 with the circumstances of his early life. Yet the tale may have been true, or the opera company that had attracted his boyish attention been one that came within the first decade after Italian opera had its introduction.

Concerning another's recollections, I have not the slightest doubt. Within the last year Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, entertaining some of her relatives and friends with an account of social doings in New York in her childhood, recalled the fact that she had been taken as a tiny miss to hear some of the performances of the Garcia Troupe, and, if I mistake not, had had Lorenzo da Ponte, the librettist of Mozart's "Nozze di Figaro" and "Don Giovanni" pointed out to her by her brother. This brother was Samuel Ward, who enjoyed the friendship of the old poet, and published recollections of him not long after his death, in The New York Mirror. For a score of years I have enjoyed the gentle companionship at the opera of two sisters whose mother was an Italian pupil of Da Ponte's, and when, a few years ago, Professor Marchesan, of the University of Treviso, Italy, appealed to me for material to be used in the biography of Da Ponte, which he was writing, I was able, through my gracious and gentle operatic neighbors, to provide him with a number of occasional poems written, in the manner of a century ago, to their mother, in whom Da Ponte had awakened a love for the Italian language and literature. This, together with some of my own labors in uncovering the American history of Mozart's collaborator, has made me feel sometimes as if I, too, had dwelt for a brief space in that Arcadia of which I purpose to gossip in this chapter, and a few others which are to follow it.


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