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was sold at auction at high prices. The tide turned; but, nothing daunted, the society kept on its course, and soon regained its hold on that part of the public that had deserted it. To-day the Philharmonic Society is as popular as ever before, and the public rehearsals and concerts are attended by a refined audience, who listen with hearty appreciation. The musical perceptions of thousands have thus been awakened, and the society has conquered in its long struggle for classical music. Under the same conductor (Mr.Thomas), with nearly the same membership and repertory, the Brooklyn Philharmonic Society is a younger sister. Probably the most important musical events of the past year in New York were the production of Berlioz's Dammation of Faust, and Bach's Passion Music. The former was presented February 14, 1880, for the first time in America, to an audience consisting in great part of musicians and amateurs, that completely filled both the large and small Steinway Hall. Dr. Damrosch had the Symphony, the Oratorio, and the Arion societies under his direction, and led them through the intricate mazes of the score with a master hand. The soloists were Miss Amy Sherwin (Marguerite), Mr. Jordan (Faust), Mr. Remmertz (Mephistopheles), and Mr. Bourne (Brander). Mr. Remmertz proved the most satisfactory of the soloists, as the
music was admirably suited to his virile bass. A few bars at the beginning lead to the opening lines of Faust, who, wandering on the plains of Hungary, sings an ode to awakening spring, accompanied by soft vibrating strains of the orchestra. His meditations are interrupted by a chorus of peasants dancing to the sound of flutes, clarionets, and horns. Hardly has the chorus ended, when the sound of approaching troops is heard, and here Berlioz introduces the superb Racokczy March, scored with a brilliancy and variety possible only to him who has a supreme knowledge of the capabilities of each instrument, and a grasp firm enough to bind them into one harmonious whole. Few orchestras could have rendered this with the accuracy and the fidelity to the composer's conception shown by the playing of the Symphony Society. The precision, vigor, and swing of the march as it rang through the house thrilled the audience, and, when ended, a repetition was demanded. While all hearts were beating fast and strong in sympathy with the glorious movement of the advancing soldiers, Faust's voice was heard crying out, in utter dejection: “All hearts are thrilled—they chant their battle's story; My heart alone is cold—ay, dead to glory.” The second part introduces one of those contrasts of gloom and sunshine in which Berlioz delighted. Faust, weary of existence, yearning and suffering; while from the neighboring church the glad triumphant Easter hymn ascends peacefully to heaven. Then Mephistopheles transports Faust to Auerbach’s cellar in Leipsic, where students and soldiers are drinking and singing. A scene of mad jollity follows, during which Brander and Mephistopheles respectively sing “The Song of the Rat” and “The Song of the Flea.” The humor is ponderous, but both soloists sang with great sonority and much artistic feeling. Leaving the carousers, the scene shifts to the banks of the Elbe, with Faust asleep, dreaming of Marguerite. As the Racokczy March is the ideal of soul-stirring martial music, so is the chorus of gnomes and sylphs the very ideal of dainty, fantastic harmony. Male and female singers, the string and wind of the orchestra, move in a perfect net-work of transparent rippling harmonies, part in three-four, the other in six-eight time, wonderfully blended into one delicate fairy-like composition. No wonder that when it is heard for the first time the hearer is surprised as by a new revelation.
The unhappy Marguerite, yielding to her fate, is condemned to die, but Faust, torn by anguish and remorse, extorts her freedom from Mephistopheles at the price of his own salvation. Having sold himself, Faust and the demon, mounted on their devilish steeds Vortex and Giaour, enter upon their ride to hell. Surrounded by Satanic demons, hounded on by the incantations of witches and imps, pursued by the curse of God and man, Faust's heart fails him, and he screams with horror as Mephistophelestaunts and sneers at him. Faster and faster their coursers rush madly through space, and with a hideous roar and blare plunge into the awful abyss of hell. Words fail to describe the titanic power with which this episode in the legend is treated by the composer. Its influence leaves the mind of the hearer in an agitated state that almost unfits him to appreciate the melody of the angelic chorus that is bearing Marguerite's soul to heaven. The harps and strings accompany this closing chorus with celestial strains growing louder and louder, until Marguerite enters the abode of the pure and the blessed.
Such was the popularity of the Berlioz legend that six performances were given to densely thronged houses, and Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia extended invitations for a repetition in those cities.
For generations Bach had been esteemed “dry,” and held up to admiration simply as a master of counterpoint, until Mendelssohn brought the Passion Music out of the obscurity into which it had fallen. Every year has witnessed a growing interest in Bach, and each performance of the Passion Music has drawn attention to his other works. The reaction from melodious jingle and meaningless harmony shown by the increasing study of Bach is one of the cheering signs of the times.
The Oratorio Society was not daunted by the time and labor necessary to produce a work of such length and technical difficulty and in so unaccustomed a style, but devoted many months to the study of Bach's Passion Music, and had it been given in Steinway Hall, its effect would have been better than as sung in St. George's Church, under the disadvantage of having orchestra and chorus divided.
And yet the associations of the sacred place added greatly to the spirit in which it was heard.
The great success of the Handel and Haydn festivals in Boston, and the May festivals in Cincinnati, has encouraged Dr. Damrosch in the belief that a like success is possible in New York. With a chorus of twelve hundred singers, an orchestra of two hundred and twenty-five performers, Miss Cary, Mr. Georg Henschel, and other eminent soloists, it is proposed to give a series of performances at the Seventh Regiment Armory, which will seat ten thousand persons in addition to the performers. As the time approaches, the activity of preparation increases and the interest intensifies. The works decided upon are the Messiah, the Ninth Symphony, the Dettingen Te Deum, Rubinstein's Tower of Babel, and Berlioz's Grand Requiem.
ANNIE LOUISE CARY.
Nearly two generations have elapsed since the Garcia troupe, containing the famous Malibran, first transplanted that brilliant exotic, the Italian opera, from Europe, and despite the many attempts, with varying success, that have been made to domicile it with us, only of late years does it appear to have taken deep root. The lyric drama did not die—the indications of weakness at times were merely the transitory stages to a fresher and more vigorous life. At present, thanks to the owners of the Academy of Music and the enterprise of Mr. Mapleson, stimulated by the generous encouragement of the public, it has been established on a firm basis, and for some years to come probably as good an ensemble as money and managerial skill can command will be secured. The chorus and ballet are good, the scenery and stage settings fresh, and the orchestra, under the direction of Signor Arditi, is superb. The names of Gerster, Cary, Valleria, Bellocca, Campanini, Galassi, and Del Puente awaken hosts of pleasant recollections. The chief fault found with the management is the poverty of the repertory. A public that has encouraged representations of Aida, Lohengrin, and other works before they had been heard either in London or Paris, deserves some novelties each season. The only novelty
of the past season was Boito's Mefistofele. The lovers of opera in New York must at all times have an idol to worship. Some old gentlemen yet alive can remember the glorious Malibran, who sang their hearts away in early days. A greater number will ever remain faithful to their remembrance of the wonderful Jenny Lind. The present occupant of that exalted throne before which the devotees of the opera and all lovers of song bow in admiration is that bright gem of modern song, Gerster, whose winning gentleness, grace, and dramatic power have charmed every listener. Judging from the operas in which she has sung, Gerster's preferences are for parts of which the prevailing characteristics are florid passages elaborately embellished. And yet perhaps her greatest success in New York was as Elsa in Lohengrin—a part she surrounded with an atmosphere of tenderness, truth, and beauty. Owing to Gerster's absence during one year, the unusual sight was presented of a tenor and a barytone overshadowing the prime donne of a well-organized company. The burden of that season was undoubtedly borne by Campanini, whom the appreciative King of Italy has recently knighted, whose life has been full of strange vicissitudes. While still a lad, he served in Garibaldi's Army of Liberation, and was wounded in the face during battle. From the heroic to the practical was but a step. Leaving the army, he was apprenticed to a blacksmith, and the hard work at the forge developed that robust health which to-day enables him to bid defiance, in his chosen profession, to hoarseness and overexertion. After some study, and two years of service with a travelling opera company, he made his début as Faust at La Scala, and three years afterward came to America with Strakosch in the Nilsson company. During that engagement he appeared in the title rôle of Lohengrin, with Nilsson as Elsa. On this memorable occasion there was an outburst of enthusiasm on the part of the public unparalleled, exsuccess of Gerster in after-years.
cept in the case of Parepa, since the days ment. The languid interest paid to scaleof Jenny Lind, and equalled only by the singing heroines and sentimental heroes
gives place to an absorbed interest in both
Nature endowed Campanini with a the music and the action.
strong, even, and sympathetic voice, and art has enabled him to greatly increase its compass, while imparting flexibility and brilliancy throughout its range. An ardent, painstaking student, he is to-day a living proof that good vocalism is worth all the time and labor it takes to acquire, for without it no voice could have borne the strain to which his has been subjected. In one season he sang in opera a hundred times, took part in numberless rehearsals, besides singing in the Stabat Mater seven times, and assisting at a number of concerts in Boston, New York, and Cincinnati. His acting is nearly as good as his singing, and the poorest singer in the cast feels his magnetic influence. But not only as an artist is he enviable: his genial, manly character has won him hosts of friends, who love the man as much as they admire the singer. When it had been decided that Gerster would not appear, Mlle. Valleria, an American lady under an Italian name, was put forward, and the manner in which she sang the parts allotted to her gave general satisfaction. Another American, who sings under her own name, and is almost as well known throughout the Union as in New York city—Miss Annie Louise Cary—is probably the most popular contralto yet heard on the lyric stage in America, with the exception of the incomparable Alboni. After completing her studies in Germany with Madame Garcia, she accepted engagements in opera for two years, singing successfully in the chief cities of Northern Europe before returning to America. Since her début here in the year 1870, Miss Cary has gradually developed both as actor and singer, and her last appearances have been the best. In operas like La Favorita, in which the interest centres in the tenor and contralto, with two such capable artists as Cary and Campanini, few hearers would look upon opera as an irrational and unintellectual amuse
The experience of impresarii during
ARTHUR SEYMOUR SULLIWAN.
late years has convinced them that nothing is too good, too elaborate, or too costly for New York. Mediocrity has proved fatal. Those enterprises succeed best that treat the public in the most generous manner; that offer the best of their kind, that do thoroughly well whatever is done at all. The most costly opera company ever brought to our country, that of Strakosch with Nilsson, Campanini, and Capoul, was the most successful pecuniarily. And the results made public by Mr. Grau at the end of his season of French opéra bouffe confirm this opinion. In a little over a year he gave 452 performances, of which over 200 were in New York, and after paying great salaries to Capoul, Paola-Marie, Angele, and the other members of the company, a large sum remained for the manager. The remarkable success of this company in New York, remembering the fact that when Grau's first announcement appeared, a kindred organization, the Aimee troupe, had just completed a successful season, is in a great measure due to the large French element in the city. Some of the twenty-five operas produced were very popular, notably La Fille de Madame Angot, which was sung fifty-six times; Le Petit Duc, fifty-one times; Les Cloches de Corneville, forty-six; Madame Favart, thirty-seven; Girofle - Girofla, thirty-six; and Mignon, thirty-three. The success of Pinafore brings to mind an old Dutch story of how a rat, in search of pleasure or profit, burrowed through one of the dikes that protected Holland from the angry sea. At first only a few drops of water trickled through. Then a little stream appeared, which, gradually growing larger and stronger, at last broke down the barrier, and a mighty flood of waters rushed in and submerged the land.
CLARA LOUISE KELLOGG.
The adventurous manager who first put Pinafore on the stage in Boston, and his compatriot who followed in New York, certainly never dreamed of the popularity that would attend their venture; but a success unparalleled in the history of the stage was the result. For over a year it seemed as though every theatre in the larger cities was engaged in that “charming nonsense Pinafore.” And not content with these, the enthusiastic public supported innumerable performances by amateurs, church choirs, children, ne
groes, and others in every possible variety. Probably to-day numbers of towns and villages are enjoying the bright music and innocent fun of this operetta. The authors received very little money directly from America, but were doubtless compensated in some degree by the effect in England of its popularity here. Taking advantage of the distinction drawn by our judges between printed and unprinted MSS., Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan visited us with a new opera in their pockets, which in due time was presented to the public. In some respects superior to Pinafore, the Pirates of Penzance lacks the great advantage of novelty. The plot, the characters, the catches, seem simply the Pinafore kaleidoscope shaken up a little. Ralph in Pinafore is Frederick in the Pirates, Josephine is Mabel, the Admiral is the General, Buttercup is Ruth, the sisters, cousins, and aunts are the General's daughters. The chief novelty is the policemen's chorus; for the General's funny patter song is the Sorcerer's song in a new dress. While arranging for new operas, it might be well to let the public hear the Sorcerer. If properly mounted, with a better orchestra and better soloists than those of the Pirates, it would be sure to win great approval. The production of Pinafore marks a new era in the history of music in this country. To Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan the utmost praise is due for the brilliant outlook of English opera in America. Thousands of the best people, fond of music, who had hitherto shunned the theatre, were induced to attend the performances during the Pinafore period, and were gratified to find nothing in the words or action to shock the most refined taste. Managers have not been slow to cater to the wants of this class, who wish their wives and daughters to participate in their amusements. A large number of companies have already been called into existence, and more are promised. Among the best of these are the Boston Ideals, the Emma Abbott, and the Strakosch companies. In addition to the large number of travelling companies, there are innumerable local societies scattered