April 20, 1884
The performance of Gli Ugonotti | Les Huguenots | had not at all the character of the stagione. Aside from Herr Mierzwinski and Fräulein Malvezzi, the participants were all local: German singers 1 singing in Italian. If you want to call that an Italian performance, you can accept, too, for better or worse, a Nevers sung in German by Herr Sommer. 2 Do Mierzwinski and Fräulein Malvezzi constitute a stagione, and with a Fräulein Malvezzi, moreover, who, with her threadbare, shrill voice suggests an Italian singer only in her misdemeanors? What a stagione!
Frau Lucca, a German dramatic soprano, numbers Valentine among her most celebrated roles. Whoever has heard Lucca knows what that means. Alongside her vibrant Valentine, Herr Mierzwinski's dry Raoul cut an almost miserable figure. Raoul, as is more or less true of any role, needs not only to be sung, but also to be acted, a fact utterly lost on Herr Mierzwinski. I would gladly have made him a present of every B flat, C and D flat for just one elegant, characteristic gesture. Mad generosity! What would a respectable audience have said about that, doing barter trade with others' ears! No, that would have been too monstrous even for a Tartar Khan, and still worse for a Christian music critic.
We found Fräulein Bianchi's dignified, tasteful singing uncommonly sympathetic. Herr Rokitansky sang Marcel gloriously. To Herr Sommer we recommend a good Italian diction teacher. He could take Herr Wiegand as a model, who sings pure Tuscan. Orchestra and chorus did their damnedest to throw each other off the beat. It was a long, bitter struggle, raging forward and backward inconclusively until the end. One was left in doubt whether the Huguenots were following the conductor or the conductor the Huguenots. One thing was clear. The Huguenots were not following the notes, and that was precarious.