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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: (1854-1923)

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The HTML version of this text was produced by Bob Frone for his Opera Books page. Plain text adaption by Andrew Sly.


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



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.




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

"Joy shared is Joy doubled." GOETHE.


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.


Blue Hill, Maine, the Summer of 1908.


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... Continue reading book >>

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