October 1, 1849 (Monday)

Cold, stormy day.  The squares begin to look like autumn – the leaves turning and falling.

Went to the opera this evening to witness the debut of Rosa Jacques, a French Songstress, before an American audience.  She appeared in “the child of the regiment.” She is very good.

October 1 was the beginning of the opera season in Philadelphia. Nathan was joined by the city’s glitterati at the Walnut Street Theatre to see La Fille du Régiment, music by Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848), libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François-Alfred Bayard. The comic opera, variously translated as The Daughter of the Regiment or The Child of the Regiment, was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on February 11, 1840. Its American premiere came at New Orleans on March 2, 1843. La Fille has been popular from its debut through to the present day.  It, along with Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) are Donizetti’s most enduring works.

Rosa Jacques (?–1857), diminutive French soprano, sang many roles and enjoyed near universal acclaim throughout the United States before returning to Europe in 1853. She came to Philadelphia with “an exalted reputation as a vocalist.” After returning to Europe, she married Philip Meyer and died in Baden-Baden, Germany in 1857.

On October 3, the Philadelphia Inquirer had this to say about Miss Jacques’s debut:

“On the appearance of Miss J., she was received in the most enthusiastic manner, and although the part is, perhaps, one of the most difficult in the whole range of English [sic] Opera, it was sustained first to last, with a degree of earnestness, vivacity, and power, that called forth repeated plaudits. . . . her voice possesses wonderful strength and compass, her manner is easy, graceful, and natural, and enters into the character with a degree of feeling that identifies her with all its passions and emotions, and excites the liveliest sympathy on the part of the audience.”

This French opera-comique, with music by an Italian composer and which is set in the Swiss Tyrol, was almost certainly sung in English by Miss Jacques and her fellow cast members.

Sources:

“Amusements.” Philadelphia Inquirer. October 1, 1849.

“The Opera.” Philadelphia Inquirer. October 3, 1849.

Hamilton, David, ed. The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Guide to the World of Opera. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Ireland, Joseph N. Records of the New York Stage from 1750 to 1860. New York: T. H. Morrell, 1867.

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