Mozart's 'Figaro' (1824), Davy's 'Rob Roy' (1818), with other English operas, and versions in the vernacular of standard works in Continental tongues, had, with the opportunities for hearing good singing afforded by the engagements of Incledon and Thomas Phillipps (1817), and other excellent English vocalists, gradually prepared the way for the first season of Italian Opera, which began at the Park Theatre, New York, Nov. 26, 1825, with Rossini's 'Barber.' The company, imported by Dominick Lynch, a French wine-merchant, included Manuel Garcia and his celebrated daughter Maria Felicita. [See Garcia.] At the same house there was begun, July 13, 1827, the first regular season of French opera, with Rossini's 'Cenerentola.' German opera was introduced Sept. 16, 1856, at Niblo's Garden, Meyerbeer's 'Robert der Teufel' being the work sung. The conductor was Mr. Carl Bergmann, and the leader of the orchestra Mr. Theodore Thomas, who had then barely attained his majority.
Opera-bouffe was introduced in New York, at the French Theatre, Sept. 24, 1867, by H. L. Bateman; Offenbach's 'La Grande Duchesse' was the work, with Mlle. Lucille Postée in the title-rôle. It ran for 158 nights. A troupe of Mexican children performed, in Spanish, the same work, in several cities of the Union, 1875–76.
In the winter of 1869–70, a company of Russians gave performances of operas in their native tongue, by Slavonic composers, at New York.
The theatres which have most faithfully answered their avowed purpose as opera-houses, have been the Academy of Music, New York, opened Oct. a, 1854, with Grisi and Mario, in 'Norma,' now under the management of James Henry Mapleson, of Her Majesty's Opera; and the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, opened Feb. 26, 1857, with Mme. Gazzaniga, Sig. Brignolé and Sig. Amadio, in 'Il Trovatore.' It should be recorded to the credit of American entrepreneurs that several important works have been produced at New York before they had been sung at either London or Paris—Verdi's 'Aïda,' Wagner's 'Lohengrin' and 'Die Walküre' being the most notable instances. American composers have received but little encouragement from the managers. Three works—George Bristow's 'Rip van Winkle,' Niblo's Garden, New York, Sept. 27, 1855; W. H. Fry's 'Leonora,' New York Academy, March 29, 1858; and 'Notre Dame de Paris,' by the same composer, Philadelphia Academy, April 1864—have been the most important productions: no one of these lived long beyond its birth. There is a formidable list of extravaganzas, and of operettas in the serio-comic vein or in imitation of French opéra-bouffe, by American musicians, the greater part of which have vanished after fluttering a butterfly's life in the glare of the footlights. Composers of recognised ability have written grand operas, but the scores have only gathered ignoble dust in their author's libraries, or found their only market among collectors when published. 'The Doctor of Alcantara,' an operetta by Julius Eichberg, a native of Düsseldorf, but for twenty years a resident at Boston, may be cited as the most successful work of any pretentious with an exclusively American reputation. Produced at the Boston Museum, April 7, 1862, it has been sung over a large part of the Union, and still retains its popularity. Mr. Eichberg has also written three other operettas which have been favourably received—'The Rose of Tyrol,' 'A Night in Rome,' and 'The Two Cadis.' No distinctive school of music has yet arisen in the United States, nor, so long as the Union maintains itself in its present extent, and its inhabitants present the cosmopolitan characteristics of to-day, is it likely that there will be one. But this want has not prevented the birth, education, in a large degree, and liberal encouragement, of operatic singers whose worth has been proclaimed in two hemispheres. Known nearly as well in England as in America are the names of Miss Clara Louise Kellogg, Miss Annie Louise Gary, Miss Adelaide Phillipps, Miss Emma C. Thursby, Mr. Charles R. Adams, and Mr. Myron W. Whitney. Mlle. Emma Albani, Mlle. Minnie Hauk, Mr. Jules Perkins, and Sig. Foli were also born and began their brilliant careers in the New World; and to this list should be added the names of Mme. von Zandt, Miss Julia Gaylord and Mr. F. C. Packard, now attached to Mr. Carl Rosa's English opera company. The Patti sisters, Adelina and Carlotta, gathered their first harvests of applause in America. The greater part of the facts herein presented, bear, it will be seen, reference to New York, for the reason that of no other city has there been prepared so complete and accurate a chronology as is included in the 'Records,' already cited. New York too has been for more than a century the American metropolis; and being the wealthiest city of the Union greater encouragement has been given to operatic enterprises than elsewhere, with the exception of New Orleans for a number of years before the Civil War, as already noted.
In Boston the first season of Italian Opera began at the Howard Athenaeum, April 23, 1847, with 'Ernani.' The company was the famous Havana party, which had previously appeared for two nights at New York. Sig. Luigi Arditi was the conductor, and the orchestra included Sig. Bottesini, the contra-bassist. The history of opera in Boston previous to the advent of this troupe presents the same characteristics as have been noted in the case of New York.
[ F. H. J. ]
OPÉRA BOUFFE. A French Comic Opera, of exceedingly light character, and constructed on too trivial a scale to entitle it to rank as an Opéra Comique.
[ W. S. R. ]
OPERA BUFFA. An Italian Opera, of light and playful character, in which the Dialogue is carried on in Recitativo secco, interposed between the Airs, Duets, and Choruses, which form the chief attraction of the piece. The subject of the Opera Bufia is always more or less comic, and not unfrequently extravagantly so. The finest examples extant are, Cimarosa's 'Il Matri-