April 12, 1885
Carl Theater: Italian Opera Performances.
The Italians are always welcomed among us with open arms. I suspect, however, that they excite far less enthusiasm in their own country than in ours, and that especially the company now playing here would arouse the indignation rather than the applause of Italian audiences.
Viennese operagoers appear to have looked forward to these birds of passage, who do more cawing than singing, with a longing hardly less passionate than a drowning person entertains for the nearest beach. The crisis must, indeed, have been desperate if we are to comprehend the boundless delight inspired by the eventual deliverance. One who has just escaped drowning thanks his lucky star that he is, at least, still among the living. But, alas, the inhospitable beach is just large enough to give him a running start for a fresh plunge into the water to escape, through a swift death by drowning, the cruel tortures of starvation.
Our operagoers are more fortunate, since they live from delusion, and delusion, on this occasion, seems to have survived every challenge of fact. They imagine themselves to be hearing divine Italians in their heavenly language, and the sweetest melodies sung con amore. Nor can one hold it against them, considering that even a Herr Polack, despite his prominent nose, now that he rejoices in the mellifluous cognomen of Polacco, can no longer turn up his nose at imagination.
Having thus reestablished the exterior harmony of this opera company, and agreed once and for all about the authenticity of Signor Polacco, let's have a look at the accomplishments of its other members. Lucia di Lammermoor was given with Signora Fohström1 in the title role. I could see the Signora because I have good eyes and a good opera glass (although not so good as the one I had before someone traded his for mine at the opera). Whoever is nearsighted, however, or the possessor of a bad opera glass, will have to be guided by his ears if he would know whether the Signora is stage right, stage left, in the foreground or in the background, for see her he will not. Signora Fohström is so dainty, so delicate, so ethereal, so transparent as can hardly be imagined. And this most especially as soon as she begins to sing. Then her mist-shrouded presence practically disappears, and the more so as the tones swell out. She sings nicely, and, as with all coloraturas, is strong at the top and weak in the