Carreño at Roberts’ Opera House

Posted on February 21, 2014 by

This past October I visited the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) after stumbling upon an entry about Roberts’ Opera House written by Jennifer R. Sharp on the Inside the CHS blog.1 I was digging into details about Carreño’s performances in Hartford, CT during the 1870s and ’80s, hoping that in addition to newspaper advertisements or reviews about her performances, I could locate other primary source documents held by LAMs (libraries, archives, museums) that were digitized or at least had descriptive metadata. One of the venues in which Carreño performed between 1874 and 1883 was Roberts’ Opera House in Hartford, which was in use from 1869 through 1929.2

In her blog post, Sharp describes a ledger book kept by the management of Roberts’ Opera House, which is now housed in the Connecticut Historical Society (MSS 26034).3 She included several photos from the book, but it has not been digitized in its entirety at this time. The images included in this entry were taken by me during my research visit to CHS. The ledger book is a red bound book with an embossed gold border on the front and back covers with a paper label that reads: Hartford Roberts Opera House Records 1871-86. Inside the front cover is a bookplate that reads: No. 26034 Presented By Mrs. Samuel B. St. John, Hartford.

Roberts' Opera House Records, MSS 26034. Connecticut Historical Society.

Roberts’ Opera House Records, MSS 26034. Connecticut Historical Society

Due to the fact that there is very little information available about Teresa Carreño’s income from her annual concert tours, I was excited to learn that this ledger book exists. It contains handwritten records for entertainments and performances beginning with June 2, 1871 through May 20, 1886, including the date, title of the entertainment or main performer, as well as the amount collected from ticket sales for each event. The last page of the ledger contains a list of the yearly receipts from 1871 through 1885. This ledger, then, sheds some light onto financial aspects of Carreño’s career, however, as these performances were not solo appearances, information pertaining to the final amount dispersed amongst performers is missing. In addition to the financial information, the ledger provides a glimpse into a fifteen-year period in Hartford, which saw visiting artists and performers, as well as local acts, authors, and speakers at Roberts’ Opera House. It also places into perspective the popularity of certain types of shows or events based on ticket sales. For example, an operatic performance by German soprano Thérèse Tietjens (1831-1877) on March 16, 1876 earned $1449 in ticket sales. Minstrel shows were also highly attended, for example on September 15, 1874, Madame Rentz’s Female Minstrels brought in $439.95; several years later, Haverly’s Minstrels brought in $1004 for one evening’s performance on March 11, 1881.4

Roberts’ Opera House Records, MSS 26034. Connecticut Historical Society.

After her successful tours (1862-65) in the United States as a child prodigy, Carreño traveled throughout Europe with her family where she continued her music studies and performed in solo, shared, and orchestral concerts. During her first return to the United States in fall 1872, she performed with the Maurice Strakosch concert troupe, which included French violinist and composer, Émile Sauret (1852-1920) whom she married in July 1873 in London, England. Carreño joined the Strakosch troupe for a second U.S. tour in September 1874, only a few weeks after the death of her father, Manuel Antonio (d. 1874). Her first performance at Roberts’ Opera House occurred on October 7, 1874 with Hungarian soprano, Ilma de Murska (1834-1889), a singer whom Carreño frequently performed with between 1874-79. Émile Sauret, Gaetano Braga (1829-1907, violoncellist), Pietro Ferranti (d. 1896, baritone) and Theodore Habelmann (1833-1920, tenor) also performed at this concert. Between 300 and 400 people attended this concert and ticket sales equaled $251.10.5

<br />albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s<br />3 5/8 in. x 2 1/4 in. (92 mm x 57 mm) image size<br />acquired Clive Holland, 1959<br />Photographs Collection<br />

Ilma de Murska (Ema Pukšec)
by Robert White Thrupp
National Portrait Gallery x136636

Carreño remained in the United States until 1889 and during this time she appeared at least three more times at Roberts’ Opera House. On November 5, 1878 she performed in a concert with August Wilhelmj (1845-1908), a German violinist, during his only tour of the United States. Carreño performed several works, including Franz Liszt’s Illustrations du Prophète, S.414. Ticket prices ranged from $0.35 to $1.00 with the total sale amounting to $375. 6

Carreño returned to Hartford in spring 1879, appearing on April 2 with Edouard Remenyi (1828-1898), Hungarian violinist and composer. She performed with Remenyi on numerous occasions between 1879-1883. This performance also included the Italian baritone Giovanni Tagliapietra (1846-1921) who became Carreño’s common-law husband after her divorce from Sauret. Ticket prices ranged from $0.25 to $0.75 and according to the ledger books $110 in tickets was sold.7  Another concert featuring Remenyi was advertised for April 27, 1880 at Roberts’ Opera House with Carreño as the pianist, however she was unable to appear on that occasion.8 Her last appearance at Roberts’ Opera House took place on March 16, 1883 with Leopold Damrosch and his orchestra, which accompanied her performance of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Op. 16, which she had only begun performing as of the 1883 spring season. Ticket prices ranged from $0.50 to $1.50. According to the ledger book $200 was collected from ticket sales.9

Roberts’ Opera House Records, MSS 26034. Connecticut Historical Society.

Additional details and primary sources documenting Carreño’s performances at Roberts’ Opera House have been added to Documenting Teresa Carreño and can be found here.

If you are aware of additional performances given by Carreño at Roberts’ Opera House or would like to contribute general details or information about resources related to her performances between 1862 and 1917, please contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Jennifer R. Sharp, Roberts’ Opera House: Finest Place of Amusement in New England, Inside the CHS (blog), September 30, 2010, http://manuscripts.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/entertainment-in-hartford/.
  2. “Last Tribute is Paid to Old Theater: Vanished Glories Recalled at Ceremony in Roberts’s Opera House Soon to be Razed,” The Hartford Courant, March 10, 1929: 1.
  3. I’d like to thank Barbara Austen, Florence S. Marcy Crofut Archivist and the Connecticut Historical Society for giving me permission to reproduce the images of the ledger book.
  4. Roberts’ Opera House Records, MSS 26034, p. 40; 55; 102.
  5. Hartford Daily Courant, October 8, 1874: 2; Roberts’ Opera House Records, MSS 26034, p. 41.
  6. Roberts’ Opera House Records, MSS 26034, p. 74.
  7. Roberts’ Opera House Records, MSS 26034, p. 78.
  8.  Hartford Daily Courant, April 26, 1880: 2.
  9. Roberts’ Opera House Records, MSS 26034, p. 116.
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