The Astor Opera House, also known as the Astor Place Opera House and later the Astor Place Theatre, was an opera house in Manhattan, New York City, located on Lafayette Street between Astor Place and East 8th Street. Designed by Isaiah Rogers, the theater was conceived by impresario Edward Fry, the brother of composer William Henry Fry, who managed the opera house during its entire history.
Fry engaged the Sanquerico and Patti Opera Company under the management of John Sefton to perform the first season of opera at the house. The opera house opened on November 22, 1847 with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Ernani with Adelino Vietti in the title role. Sefton and his company were not re-engaged by Fry, and the opera management of the house went to Cesare Lietti for the second season. During his tenure the opera house presented the United States premiere of Verdi's Nabucco on April 4, 1848.
Lietti was also replaced after one season, and the Astor's third and longest lasting opera manager, Max Maretzek, was hired for the third season which commenced in November 1848. The following year Maretzek founded his own opera company, the Max Maretzek Italian Opera Company, with whom he continued to stage operas at the Astor Opera House through 1852. Under Maretzek the opera house saw the New York premiere of Donizetti's Anna Bolena on January 7, 1850 with soprano Apollonia Bertucca (later Maretzek's wife) as the title heroine.
The theatre was built with the intention of attracting only the "best" patrons, the "uppertens" of New York society, who were increasingly turning out to see European singers who appeared at local venues such as Niblo's Garden. It was expected that an opera house would be:
a substitute for a general drawing room – a refined attraction which the ill-mannered would not be likely to frequent, and around which the higher classes might gather, for the easier interchange of courtesies, and for that closer view which aides the candidacy of acquaintance.
In pursuit of this agenda, the theatre was created with the comfort of the upper classes in mind: benches, the normal seating in theatres at the time, were replaced by upholstered seats, available only by subscription, as were the two tiers of boxes. On the other hand, 500 general admission patrons were relegated to the benches of a "cockloft" reachable only by a narrow stairway, and otherwise isolated from the gentry below, and the theatre enforced a dress code which required "freshly shaven faces, evening dress, and kid gloves."
Limiting the attendance of the lower classes was partly intended to avoid the problems of rowdyism which plagued other theaters in the entertainment district at the time, especially in the theatres on the Bowery. Nevertheless, it was the deadly Astor Place riot in 1849 which caused the theatre to close permanently – provoked by competing performances of Macbeth by English actor William Charles Macready at the Opera House (which was operating under the name "Astor Place Theatre", not being able to sustain itself on a full season of opera) and American Edwin Forrest at the nearby Broadway Theatre.
After the riot, the theater was unable to overcome the reputation of being the "Massacre Opera House" at "DisAster Place." By May 1853, the interior had been dismantled and the furnishings sold off, with the shell of the building sold for $140,000 to the New York Mercantile Library, which renamed the building "Clinton Hall".
In 1890, in need of additional space, the Association tore down the opera house building and replaced it with an 11-story building, also called Clinton Hall, which still stands on the site.
8th Street is a street in the New York City borough of Manhattan that runs from Sixth Avenue to Third Avenue, and also from Avenue B to Avenue D; its addresses switch from West to East as it crosses Fifth Avenue. Between Third Avenue and Avenue A, it is named St. Mark's Place, after the nearby St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery on 10th Street at Second Avenue.
St. Mark's Place is considered a main cultural street for the East Village. Vehicular traffic runs east along both one-way streets. St. Mark's Place features a wide variety of retailers. Venerable institutions lining St. Mark's Place include Gem Spa and the St. Mark's Hotel. There are several open front markets that sell sunglasses, clothing and jewelry. In her 400-year history of St. Mark's Place (St. Marks Is Dead), Ada Calhoun called the street "like superglue for fragmented identities" and wrote that "the street is not for people who have chosen their lives ... [it] is for the wanderer, the undecided, the lonely, and the promiscuous."Academy of Music (New York City)
The Academy of Music was a New York City opera house, located on the northeast corner of East 14th Street and Irving Place in Manhattan. The 4,000-seat hall opened on October 2, 1854. The review in The New York Times declared it to be an acoustical "triumph", but "In every other aspect ... a decided failure," complaining about the architecture, interior design and the closeness of the seating; although a follow-up several days later relented a bit, saying that the theater "looked more cheerful, and in every way more effective" than it had on opening night.The Academy's opera season became the center of social life for New York's elite, with the oldest and most prominent families owning seats in the theater's boxes. The opera house was destroyed by fire and subsequently rebuilt in 1866, but it was supplanted as the city's premier opera venue in 1883 by the new Metropolitan Opera House – created by the nouveaux riches who had been frozen out of the Academy – and ceased presenting opera in 1886, turning instead to vaudeville. It was demolished in 1926.Alexander Saeltzer
Alexander Saeltzer (31 July 1814 Eisenach, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Germany — 23 September 1883 New York City) was a German-American architect active in New York City in the 1850s and 1860s. His work includes the Anshe Chesed Synagogue (now the Angel Orensanz Center), Academy of Music (New York City), Theatre Francais (New York), the Duncan, Sherman & Company building and the South Wing of the Romanesque revival structure at 425 Lafayette Street built between 1853 and 1881 as the Astor Library (which later merged with the Tilden and Lenox collections to become the New York Public Library).His father, Wilhelm Sältzer (1779–1857), was a brickyard-owner, an architect, a Grand Duke council of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, who also worked as the construction manager in the reconstruction of the Wartburg. Alexander Saeltzer was born in Eisenach, Germany. He studied at Berlin Bauakademie and was a pupil of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. He moved to the U.S. from Berlin.American Geographical Society
The American Geographical Society (AGS) is an organization of professional geographers, founded in 1851 in New York City. Most fellows of the society are Americans, but among them have always been a significant number of fellows from around the world. The Society encourages activities that expands geographical knowledge, and the interpretation of that knowledge so that it can be useful to geographers and other disciplines, especially in a policymaking environment. It is the oldest nationwide geographical organization in the United States. Over the century and a half of its existence, the AGS has been especially interested in three regions: the Arctic, the Antarctic, and Latin America. A signature characteristic of the AGS-sponsored exploration was the requirement that its expeditions produce tangible scientific results.Astor Place
Astor Place is a one-block street in NoHo/East Village, in the lower part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It runs from Broadway in the west, just below East 8th Street; to Lafayette Street, ending at Alamo plaza. "Astor Place" is also sometimes used for the neighborhood around the street. It encompasses two plazas at the intersection with Cooper Square, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Eighth Street – Alamo Plaza and Astor Place Station Plaza. It was named for John Jacob Astor (at one time the richest person in the United States), soon after his death in 1848. A $21 million reconstruction to implement a redesign of Astor Place began in 2013.Astor Place (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
Astor Place, also called Astor Place – Cooper Union on signs, is a local station on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Completed in 1904, it is one of the original twenty-eight stations in the system. Located at the intersection of Lafayette Street, Eighth Street, Fourth Avenue, Cooper Square, and Astor Place between the East Village and NoHo, it is served by the 6 train at all times, the <6> train during weekday in peak direction and by the 4 train during late nights. The station is on the List of Registered Historic Places in New York.Astor Place Riot
The Astor Place Riot occurred on May 10, 1849, at the now-demolished Astor Opera House in Manhattan and left between 22 and 31 rioters dead, and more than 120 people injured. It was the deadliest to that date of a number of civic disturbances in Manhattan, which generally pitted immigrants and nativists against each other, or together against the wealthy who controlled the city's police and the state militia.
The riot resulted in the largest number of civilian casualties due to military action in the United States since the American Revolutionary War, and led to increased police militarization (for example, riot control training and larger, heavier batons). Its ostensible genesis was a dispute between Edwin Forrest, one of the best-known American actors of that time, and William Charles Macready, a similarly notable English actor, which largely revolved around which of them was better than the other at acting the major roles of Shakespeare.Clinton Hall
Clinton Hall may refer to:
The third, fourth, or fifth home of the Mercantile Library Association of New York City. (The fourth home was the former Astor Opera House from 1853 to 1890.)
Clinton Hall (Ithaca, New York), a historic commercial building in Ithaca, New York.Cooper Square
Cooper Square is a junction of streets in Lower Manhattan, New York City located at the confluence of the neighborhoods of Bowery to the south, NoHo to the west and southwest, Greenwich Village to the west and northwest, the East Village to the north and east, and the Lower East Side to the southeast.Country McCleester
George "Country McCloskey" McCheester or John McCleester (fl. 1841-1850) was an American bare-knuckle boxer and sportsman involved in the early history of pugilism and prize fighting in Old New York. A well known fighter in his youth, his 1841 bout with Tom Hyer at Caldwell's Landing reportedly lasted nearly 3 hours and went to 101 rounds before the "Pride of Chatham Square" seconds threw up the sponge. Considered one of the greatest fights in the city's history, Hyer was recognized as the top fighter in the United States and awarded the American heavyweight championship. He and Yankee Sullivan were part of a group of promoters arrested following the death of boxer Thomas McCoy who died during a match against Christopher Lilly in Westchester County on September 13, 1842. Sullivan, who was the main promoter, was sentenced to two years in prison while McCleester and the others received light jail sentences or fines. McCleester had served as one of the cornermen during the bout.McCleester first became involved with Captain Isaiah Rynders' Empire Club with John Morrissey during the early 1840s and eventually became an active member of the Democratic Party. Around the time of the nomination for Henry Clay, Johnny Austin was supposed to have been offered $2,000 to bring himself and several members over to the rival Whig Unionist Club including McCleester, Manny Kelly, Bill Ford, Mike Philips and Dave Scandlin. It was hoped that McCleester and the others would be able to bolster support for the Whigs, but the offer was refused.Involved in graft, corruption and election fraud in Manhattan's Sixth Ward during the 1840s and 50s, later to become known as the Tweed Ring, McCleester was one of several lieutenants to Isaiah Rynders, along with Dirty Face Jack, Edward Z.C. Judson and Yankee Sullivan. He later accompanied Yankee Sullivan as his cornerman during Sullivan's much publicized battle against Hyer in Still Pond Creek, Maryland on February 7, 1849. After the 16th round, McCleester signaled to the referee to stop the match. Three months later, he and Dirty Face Jack assisted Rynders in instigating the Astor Place Riot in which an Irish-American mob chased British actor William Charles Macready from the Astor Opera House.He was among several prominent sportsmen who supported Rynders when, in the autumn of 1850, he announced his intention to become active in the Sixth Ward and run for the state assembly. McCleester was present along with Bill Ford, Tom Maguire and Hen Chenfrau when Rynders attended the primary meeting at Dooley's Long Room with "hundreds of the captain's friends". Opposition from Matthew T. Brennan, Constantine J. Donoho and other Five Points political leaders however, who considered the political club thugs and squatters, eventually defeated Rynders over control of the ward.Eliza Biscaccianti
Eliza Biscaccianti (1824 in Boston – July 1896 in Paris) was an American operatic soprano from Boston, Massachusetts. Born Eliza Ostinelli, she was the daughter of pianist Sophia Hewitt Ostinelli, the only woman to have ever been employed as an organist and accompanist by Boston's Handel and Haydn Society and the second musician ever to perform the work of Beethoven in Boston, and Louis Ostinelli, a native of Italy who became a second violinist with, and later a conductor of, the Handel and Haydn Society. Her uncle was composer John Hill Hewitt and her grandfather was conductor, composer and music publisher James Hewitt.She was nicknamed "The American Thrush."Germania Musical Society
The Germania Musical Society (1848-1854) was a classical musical group that performed in the United States in the mid-19th century. Its musicians emigrated from Germany after a successful tour of England. Carl Lenschow and Carl Bergmann served as directors. The group toured throughout the country. Concerts took place in the Melodeon and the Music Hall, Boston; Brinley Hall and City Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts; Astor Opera House, New York City; Metropolitan Hall, New York City; Ocean Hall, Newport, Rhode Island; Westminster Hall, Providence; and elsewhere.
The group met with particular success in Boston, where they performed Mendelssohn's "Overture" to A Midsummer Night's Dream 39 times at 22 concerts, and spent the summer in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1852 they settled in Boston and remained for three years before disbanding. They performed regularly in the oratorio performances of the Handel and Haydn Society, which gave Boston's first performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Germania Orchestra under the baton of the Germania's conductor Carl Bergmann on April 2, 1853. A reviewer in the Journal of Music wrote: "It was the unanimous feeling that the 'Germanians' covered themselves with glory upon the occasion."By one account:
In the fall of 1854 the Germania Musical Society came to an end at the height of its fame. ... Many of the players were determined to establish permanent homes and avoid the discomforts of touring. The Society had given approximately seven hundred concerts in the United States and one hundred matinees and soires. ... The total sum of public performances exceeded nine hundred, with more than one million listeners.
Band members, who had become U.S. citizens, settled in Baltimore, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Syracuse and Chicago.Isaiah Rogers
Isaiah Rogers (August 17, 1800 – April 13, 1869) was a US architect who practiced in Mobile, Alabama, Boston, Massachusetts, New York City, New York, Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio.Lafayette Street
Lafayette Street is a major north-south street in New York City's Lower Manhattan. It originates at the intersection of Reade Street and Centre Street, one block north of Chambers Street. The one-way street then successively runs through Chinatown, Little Italy, NoLIta, and NoHo and finally, between East 9th and East 10th Streets, merges with Fourth Avenue. A buffered bike lane runs outside the left traffic lane. North of Spring Street, Lafayette Street is northbound (uptown)-only; south of Spring Street, Lafayette is southbound (downtown)-only.
The street is named after Marquis de Lafayette, a French hero of the American Revolutionary War.Max Maretzek
Max Maretzek (June 28, 1821 – May 14, 1897) was a Moravian-born composer, conductor, and impresario active in the United States and Latin America.Max Maretzek Italian Opera Company
The Max Maretzek Italian Opera Company (sometimes referred to as the Italian Opera Company, the Italian Grand Opera Company, or Academy of Music Opera Company) was a touring American opera company that performed throughout the United States from 1849-1878. The first major opera company in Manhattan and one of the first important companies in the United States, it had a long association with the Academy of Music in New York City where it presented an annual season of opera from 1854 until the company's demise in 1878 There the company performed the United States premieres of Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata among other works.
The company also presented an annual season of opera at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia from 1857-1873, in addition to touring throughout the United States and to Cuba and Mexico. Musicologist George Whitney Martin described the company as the only opera company in the United States to perform with a full opera orchestra during the Civil War era and as "possibly the country's strongest" opera company in its day.May 10
May 10 is the 130th day of the year (131st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 235 days remain until the end of the year.New York Mercantile Library
The Center for Fiction, originally called the New York Mercantile Library, is a not-for-profit organization in New York City, with offices currently located at 80 5th Avenue, Suite 1201 in Manhattan. The Center for Fiction will be moving to 15 Lafayette Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn in the fall of 2018. Prior to their move in early 2018, The Center for Fiction was located at 17 East 47th Street, between Madison and Fifth Avenues in Midtown Manhattan. The Center works to promote fiction and literature and to give support to writers. It originated in 1820 as the (New York) Mercantile Library and in 2005 changed its name to the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction. although it presents itself as simply "The Center for Fiction".
The Center, which is one of 17 remaining membership libraries in the United States, three of which are in New York City, maintains a large circulating library of 20th and 21st century fiction, in addition to many stored volumes of 19th century fiction. It also stocks non-fiction volumes on subjects related to literature. It maintains a Reading Room, operates a curated independent bookstore primarily featuring works of fiction, rents space to writers at low cost, and presents literary programs to the public. The organization also awards the annual Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.William Macready
William Charles Macready (3 March 1793 – 27 April 1873) was an English actor.