October 9, 1849 (Tuesday)

This is the great Election day, and quite an exciting scene it is to be sure, as if the salvation of the whole country depended upon the result.  To keep out of broils I went to the opera again this evening.  The “Bohemian Girl” was played.  It is tolerably good.

Since it is an odd numbered year, there are no races for the U.S. House of Representative, the Senate or President.  Further, the governor of Pennsylvania was in his first year of a three year term.  All of the races were local ones (e.g., Canal Commissioner, Register of Wills, Sheriff, etc.) but then as now, the sporting aspect of political races attracted a great deal of interest.

The Bohemian Girl (1843), which was playing at the Walnut Street Theatre, is an opera in three acts with music by Michael W. Balfe (1808–1870) and libretto by Alfred Bunn (1796–1860). It was tremendously popular from its debut until its last known production in 1933. It debuted in Drury Lane in 1843 and the Seguins brought it to America (at New York’s Park Theatre) in November 1844. This opera was to become their signature piece for at least the next six years. They appeared in the role for months on end in New York, then toured the South with it, only to bring it back to New York for another extended run. While they enjoyed critical acclaim at the beginning, by October 1848, the New York critics (but not the public) were tiring of their performance.  Perhaps, this is why, a year later, they were plying their wares in Philadelphia.

For more on Anne and Edward Seguin, see the entry for October 4.

Sources:

Lawrence, Vera Brodsky. Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong, Volume 1: Resonances, 1836–1849. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Tyldesley, William. Michael William Balfe: His Life and His English Operas. Music in 19th-Century Britain. Hants, UK: Ashgate, 2003.

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