- Azora, the Daughter of Montezuma
"Azora, The Daughter of Montezuma" is an
operain 3 acts by American composer Henry Kimball Hadleyto a libretto in English by author David Stevens.
The story takes place at the time of the conquest of the
Aztecsby Cortéz. The Tlascalan Prince Xalca and Ramatzin, General of Montezuma's Army, vie for the hand of Montezuma's daughter Azora; the former having prevailed, Montezuma condemns the lovers to death. In a scene set at dawn in a cavern, all gather by the sacrificial stone, but before the execution can proceed Cortez and his priests appear, and the lovers are set free.
Chicago Opera Associationgave the work its world premiere in Chicago, Illinoison December 26, 1917and performed it once more in Chicago shortly thereafter.
As a single performance during an out-of-town residency perhaps more notable for having opened with the New York premiere of
Mascagni's " Isabeau", the Chicago company then gave "Azora" its New York premiere on January 26, 1918at the Lexington Opera House. The composer conducted, and the cast included Anna Fitziuas Azora, Forrest Lamontas Xalca, Cyrena van Gordonas Papantzin, Arthur Middleton as Ramatzin, Frank Preischas Canek, and James Goddardas Montezuma. Although all members of the cast were promoted as young American singers, Lamont, who admittedly first trained and would make most of his career in the United States, was actually of Canadian birth.
"The New York Times" offered mostly praise for the "fresh, young, powerful voices" of the cast; only Goddard was "out of voice," and even he received high marks for his dramatic presentation. The paper's assessment of the work itself, however, although on balance favorable, was not unmixed: "... [W] hile [the] opera lacks somewhat the routine of the theater, and still more the dramatic note, it nevertheless escapes being either mere scholar's music or unsingable." The "Times" singled out for praise "a fine barbaric dance in the first act," the heroine's aria "Now Fades the Opal Sky" in Act 2, and some ensembles but suggested that more than one segment of the score somewhat outstayed its welcome. The paper also faulted the work for setting the execution in a cave: "The opera should have ended in the open, for the Aztecs worshipped on plateaus, on the pyramid of Cholula, for example, and not in caves." Nonetheless, it deemed the setting appropriately atmospheric for the drama's purposes.
After the performance, both Hadley and Stevens appeared for curtain calls. Fitziu presented Hadley with a large silk American flag, and the "representative audience of New York musicians and society folk" joined in singing as the orchestra played "
The Star Spangled Banner".
*A Spanish Priest
Azora, the Daughter of Montezuma(soprano)
Canek, High Priest of the Sun (bass)
*Hernando Cortéz, Conqueror of Mexico
Montezuma II, Emperor of Mexico(bass)
*Ramatzin, General of Montezuma's Army (baritone)
Papantzin, Sister of Montezuma (contralto)
*Piqui-Chaqui (Flea-footed), A Runner
*Xalca, A Tlascalan Prince (tenor)
The New York Times", "'Isabeau' to Start Chicago Opera Here," January 13, 1918
*"The New York Times", "'Romeo and Juliet' Sung,"
January 27, 1918
*"The New York Times", "Hadley's 'Azora' Given,"
January 28, 1918
*"The Virtual Gramophone", biographical sketch of Forrest Lamont, [http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/gramophone/m2-1077-e.html Biographical sketch of Forrest Lamont.]
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