Neha Patil (Editor)

Amilie, or the Love Test

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Librettist  John Thomas Haines
Language  English
Composer  William Michael Rooke
Amilie, or the Love Test httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Premiere  2 December 1837 (1837-12-02) Covent Garden Theatre, London
Website  archive.org/details/amilieorlovetest00rook

Amilie, or the Love Test is an opera in three acts by the Irish composer, William Michael Rooke, to a libretto by John Thomas Haines.

Background

Although written around 1818 in Dublin, the opera was not performed until almost twenty years later, at Covent Garden Theatre, London, on 2 December 1837. The music critic George Hogarth considered that the work displayed "genius, learning, taste, and a rich vein of melody, flowing, graceful and expressive", whilst the orchestral writing was "skillful and beautiful". The role of Amilie was played by the Scottish soprano Jane Shireff (1811–1883). The Musical Review was not so complimentary, quoting the London correspondent of the New York Mirror: although conceding that "the music [...] is of a superior description", he added that "the plot is almost unintelligible" and that "vocal talent is at a miserably low ebb."

The production's success however led to further performances elsewhere. Michael William Balfe (who had studied with Rooke as a boy) sang the baritone role in a performance at the Theatre Royal, Dublin in 1838, and the opera was performed in New York at the National Theatre on 15 October in the same year, with Jane Shireff repeating the title role in her American debut and with the Scottish tenor John Wilson as Jose. Her success there led to a 20-month tour of the US (with Wilson as her manager). The second act was gven as part of a musical entertainment at the same theatre in 1839. The music historian Karen Alquist couples the American debut of Amilie with the contemporary performance there of Bellini's La Sonnambula, and suggests that "they taught New Yorkers a new musical style, enabling them to enjoy a broad new repertoire in which elaborate musical structures were no longer reduced to simple ballad forms but could be understood in their own terms".

The work's success gave rise to further performances in America, including a burlesque version by the actor-manager William Mitchell at the Olympic Theatre, New York, in 1839, entitled Amy Lee, or Who Loves Best?

The existence of manuscript orchestral parts, copied in New York, with the stamp of a Melbourne agent, in the National Library of Australia suggests there must also have been antipodean performances. Indeed, The Melbourne Argus of Tuesday 20 January 1863 refers to the Australian Premiere at the Theatre Royal "last night."

Rooke's subsequent operas did not meet the success of Amilie: Henrique, or the Love Pilgrim was pulled after a few performances in London in 1839, (perhaps due to disagreements with the manager of Covent Garden, William Macready), and his subsequent works Cagliostro and The Valkyrie were never staged.

References

Amilie, or the Love Test Wikipedia


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