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1883 One Hundred Years Ago

July 2024
1min read

The evening of October 22 offered an embarrassment of riches to New York society. At the Metropolitan Opera House the first of all first nights; at Madison Square Garden, the first National Horse Show. Both were socially obligatory; some of the great managed to split their time evenly between the two events, and a Mrs. Paran Stevens, it was reported, squeezed in yet a third entertainment at the Academy of Music.

The gaslit Metropolitan presented Faust (sung in Italian) with Christine Nilsson, Italo Campanini, and Franco Novara (an Englishman named Frank Nash). The New York Times generally approved of the splendor of the evening but had several reservations about the acoustics and sight lines of the new theater. The performances were well received, and Nilsson’s rendition of “The Jewel Song” prompted an avalanche of flowers.

The horse show was every bit as big a success. The Garden was filled to capacity for five afternoons and evenings, the mayor made a speech (which no one could hear over the noise), the great English actor Henry Irving came and applauded. The only “mistake,” according to the press, was the effort to introduce “Anglo-mania.” The American “lover of horse flesh who is used to the free, open and handsome action of that noblest of animals, the American trotter, cannot be induced by the imitators of English mannerisms to accept in its stead the mincing, jumping-jack action of the English cob.”

NOVEMBER 3: The World Women’s Christian Temperance Union was organized in Detroit.

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