FAUST In Italian
An AMERICAN Cultural
Gounod, Charles. Faust. An opera in five acts.
Music by Gounod. As represented at the Metropolitan Opera House, under the direction
of Mr. Henry E. Abbey. New York: [Pr. by Wynkoop
& Hallenbeck for] the Theatre Ticket Office, .
8vo. (26 cm, 10.2"). 32 pp.
any image here for an enlargement.
A Survivor! The
first printing of the libretto of the very first opera produced at New York's
Metropolitan Opera HouseHenry Abbey's opening extravaganza of 22 October
1883, which featured Italo Campanini and Christine Nilsson as Faust and Margherita
and which was performed in Italian rather than the French in which it had been
composed. The early Met produced Faust in Italian only during
the premier season of 188384, after which the house preference switched
to German-language productions, and this, considered with its imprint details,
conclusively dates the piece.
Krehbiel, in his review of the opening night (the article ran first in the Tribune and
was later reprinted in Krehbiel's Chapters of Opera), says "Bouquets
rained from the boxes, and baskets of flowers were piled over the footlights
till it seemed as if there was to be no end . . . there was also handed up
a magnificent velvet casket inclosing a wreath of gold bay leaves and berries,
ingeniously contrived to be extended into a girdle to be worn in the classic
style, and two gold brooch medallions, bearing the profiles of Tragedy and
Comedy, with which the girdle was to be fastened. The donor was not mentioned,
but an inscription told that the gift was in 'commemoration of the opening
of the Metropolitan Opera House.'"
The souvenir booklet offered, though less flashy than those anonymously given
jewels, is a significant and desirable commemoration in its own rightattractive,
and rare even in major repositories (we find copies at Harvard and Stanford
only). It bears a front wrapper printed decoratively in red and black; the
Italian version of Gounod's tremendously popular opera that was sung on the
occasion is presented with its English translation in neat, readily comparable
parallel format; music is provided for the principal airs with syllabatized,
singable English lyrics appearing directly beneath the Italian ones. The printing
appears to have been heavily subsidized by Weber Pianosone of the Weber
advertisements including testimonials from Rossini and Strauss in addition
to Campanini and Nilsson, the debut evening's stars, themselves.
remarkably good condition, especially given its ephemeral nature.
On the Met's debut season, see: Krehbiel, Henry
Edward, Chapters of Opera, chap. IX; see also the Metropolitan
Opera's own webpage dedicated to its earliest performances at http://www.metopera.org/history/week-961202.php. In
original printed paper wrappers, with minor chipping to edges; two small
spots of staining to front wrapper carrying through to first few leaves.
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