The Carnival, Opera and the Drama. The hush of a delicious Southern winter's night lies upon the city. The temperature is neither hot nor cold, warm enough to make the open air pleasant, yet not so warm as to render exercise uncomfortable. The streets are thronged with people, thousands ranging themselves along the sidewalks, while other thousands ramble aimlessly through the thoroughfares, gazing into the windows of brightly illuminated residences, or watching admiringly the electric lights that glitter in long festoons of light overhead, framing every artery of travel in long lines of fire.
Suddenly a rocket cleaves the sky with its long, slender shaft of blazing gold. It breaks on high in a cluster of multicolored stars. Ten thousand eyes follow it in its flight. A half-audible "Ah!" runs through the waiting crowd. The restless throngs pause in their slow motion, eddy a moment, and then fall into line along the curb. They know what is coming and are prepared.
That is the way the Carnival begins. The next day or two will bring Rex to the city, with bands playing and brilliant costumes flashing in the sunshine, and then the night follows with more and dazzling display, and another day brings the gayety to its climax — afterwards the city subsides into the solemnity and repose of Lent; of its brief period of surpassing splendor nothing remains but a delightful memory. It lasts so short a while, this Carnival, and yet how many men toil throughout the year, how vast the sums of money spent, how much taste and skill and talent go to the creation of these magnificent pageants or the giving of these superb balls! There is no institution so intensely characteristic of New Orleans as the Carnival. All the romance and poetry of the city; all the gayety of its Latin blood; all its craving for light, and beauty, and grace find expression in it. Other American cities have Carnivals, but not such as New Orleans understands by that word; nor is it probable that any other American city will ever evolve anything even remotely resembling this peculiar institution. It is something to which one is born; which is a matter of temperament; which implies a complicated French, Spanish, and American ancestry — something which cannot possibly occur elsewhere.
The observance of Mardi Gras was introduced into the Crescent City in 1827 by young Louisianian's on their return from Paris. They organized a street procession of maskers, somewhat primitive, no doubt, but sufficient of a novelty in those days to prove a great success. Every year thereafter the experiment was repeated, and each time it grew in popularity. But the celebration was quite different then from what it subsequently became. Each masker provided his own costume, there was no preliminary organization, the participants went for the most part on foot, and the music, if there was such, was hired by private subscription on the part of the various little groups of celebrants. Generally, the festivities came to an end with a ball at the St. Louis Hotel or the Salle D'Orleans, at which only the élite of the aristocratic old city was present. Bernard Marigny, who was a typical Creole, is credited with having done much in 1833 to put the celebration upon a permanent footing.
From these beginnings the evolution of the New Orleans Carnival may be traced along two well-defined lines quite distinct one from the other, though related in their common object. The first is the development of the open-air pageantry which is the chief attraction of the Carnival for visitors to the Crescent City, and the other is the perfecting of the unique system of masked balls which is the main feature of the Carnival for the people of New Orleans. The idea of the peripatetic tableaux was worked out first in Mobile, in 1831, by an organization known as the Cowbellions. New Orleans adopted it in 1837. The second procession took place in 1839, on which occasion the most conspicuous feature was an immense cock over 6ft in height, riding in a carriage, and emitting stentorian crows, to the great delight of an appreciative crowd. Nothing more ambitious seems to have been attempted till 1857, when the Carnival, as New Orleans knows it today, came into existence with the organization of the Mystic Krewe of Comus.
Comus, which still exists, the oldest and, probably, the most important socially of the New Orleans Carnival societies, selected as the subject of its first parade Milton's "Paradise Lost." After the parade, a ball was given at the Varieties Theater, in conjunction with which a series of tableaux was presented illustrating such Miltonic themes as "The Diabolic Powers," and "The Expulsion from Paradise." The second of the Carnival organizations was the Twelfth Night Revelers, which came into existence in 1870. It continues to give an annual ball. Two other important organizations are the Knights of Momus and the Krewe of Proteus, the former organized in 1872, the latter in 1882. They, with the Krewe of Comus, always appear on the streets of New Orleans by night, and after a superb parade, entertain on a lavish scale at a ball, formerly at the French Opera House, but since the destruction of the edifice in 1919, at other places, usually the Athenaeum. It is quite probable that these balls are highly-elaborated developments of the Creole "king-parties" of colonial times; a process of merry-making, by which a young man was elected to preside over the dance, and selected his partner, or "queen," and they, jointly, became responsible for the next similar entertainment.
The daytime pageantry is supplied by Rex. The Rex Society is, essentially, the "popular" Carnival organization. It has the largest membership, spends the most money on its parades and balls, and claims a certain pre-eminence in carnival affairs. Its "king" is King of the Carnival; its "queen" is Queen of the Carnival. Rex was organized in January, 1872. The maskers who had filled the streets at Mardi Gras with their gaudy color and mirthful antics, were in that year assembled in one organization for the entertainment of the Russian Grand Duke, Alexis, who was then a visitor to the city. The bond of union thus formed was sufficiently strong to hold the members in a federation which eventually became the most picturesque of the whole carnival.
No feature connected with the Carnival is more curious than the mystery which envelops everything connected therewith. So far as the general public knows, the pageants emerge from mystery, wend their brilliant way through the streets and are then received back into the impenetrable darkness and obscurity from which they emerged. To only a few in New Orleans is it given to walk behind the impalpable but nevertheless very real screen which hides the doings of the Carnival organizations from the curious gaze of the outer world. To them the complicated machinery of the Carnival is known, and to them alone. For it is a complicated machinery, far more so than the uninitiated imagine. In that dim region where Rex and Comus and Proteus and all the others hibernate, save for a few hours in the year, there goes on a ceaseless activity, and scores of hands and brains are busy practically from the moment one parade is off the streets till it is time for its successor to appear.
This secrecy extends even to the Carnival balls. The first of these entertainments is given on January 6 by the Twelfth Night Revelers. The last is that of Comus, on Mardi Gras night. The social season is at its height in the city between those two dates. These balls are of two general kinds — those given by the parade organizations and those given by organizations which do not aspire to any more ambitious undertakings. Of the former there are four — Momus, Proteus, Rex and Comus. Rex presents certain differences from the others, differences to which allusion will be made later on in this article. The others are substantially alike. There are seven of the minor organizations — Twelfth Night, to which reference has already been made; Atlanteans, Oberons, Nereus, Mythras, Falstaffians and Olympians. These societies are, for the most part, offshoots of the older and larger organizations, and retain in miniature and with certain modifications their customs and methods.
With the exception of Rex, these balls are private affairs. The point is not very well understood, not merely by strangers in the city, but by the citizens themselves. The societies which give them consider these entertainments to be of the same nature as a banquet, a reception or a dance in some private residence. For this reason there are many restrictions upon the invitations. Each member is allotted a certain number, but is required to hand in to the invitation committee a list of names of persons to whom he desires them sent, and not until this list has been carefully inspected is it complied with. The total number of invitations is governed by the size of the building in which the ball is to be given. The French Opera House could not accommodate more than 2,500 persons. Since the burning of this hallowed structure, the balls have been given in places capable of housing only a smaller number. It will be readily understood that many people, though socially of the most desirable character, cannot obtain invitations every year to all the balls.
Every year the officers of the Carnival societies are besieged by late applicants, especially by strangers in the city, who, not appreciating the p723 nature of these entertainments, do not always see what their demands should not be complied with. In many cases large sums of money have been offered for invitations, but this method, so efficacious in nearly every other place, usually insures the refusal of the request in New Orleans. Rex, however, among the larger Carnival organizations, endeavors to provide for the stranger. This society issues nearly 15,000 invitations every year, and it is not difficult for any reputable person, newly arrived in the city, to secure a card to its ball. This generosity is for strangers only. Rex is as chary in the distribution of its favors to residents as any of the other organizations. Rex has more invitations to give, but he gives them just as carefully.
The Rex Society, which as has been said, is the largest and wealthiest of the Carnival societies, has about 400 members. The membership consists of two classes, the Royal Host and the Carnival Court. The former is made up of the older members of the organization, and comprises between 100 and 150 of the best-known citizens of the city. All they receive in return for the large financial contributions which they make to the society's exchequer, and for the time and skill which they devote to its affairs, is a gorgeously emblazoned piece of parchment conferring the title of duke and a jeweled badge, the latter of a different design each year. The Carnival Court is composed of the younger members. It is from their ranks that the "cast" is made up — it is they who figure under masks upon the Rex cars in the two day-pageants that are the features of the Carnival street displays, and at the Rex ball Mardi Gras night, at the Athenaeum.
The names of none of the members of Rex, whether Royal Host or Carnival Court, is ever made public. The only exception to this rule is in the case of the King of the Carnival. This monarch, chosen by the organization to preside over its street display and at its ball, is always a member of the Royal Host. His name is announced in the New Orleans newspapers on Wednesday morning, the first day of Lent. But in every other respect the deepest secrecy is maintained with regard to everything that pertains to the organization. This mystery is not as well kept today as it was twenty years ago, but considering the large number of persons involved, is still maintained to a surprising degree. Relatively few know where the workshops of the Carnival organizations are located, for example, and the present is the first time that any extensive account of the ultimateorganization of the Carnival has appeared in print.
There must, of course, be one representative with whom contracts can be made and other business carried on; and he necessity is more or less known to the public. In the case of Rex this official is the "manager." He is the business agent of the Society. Over him is a select committee composed of members from both the Royal Host and the Carnival Court, whose authority is all powerful. When it is time to prepare a carnival parade, Rex's manager has an interview with his artist, and receives suggestions from him as to the subject, the character of the cars, etc. For many years the Rex artist was B. A. Wikstrom, the well-known painter, who died about ten years ago. There are always twenty cars in the Rex pageant — one a "title car," one the "king's car," and the remaining eighteen illustrating some theme of general interest. Rex's policy is to choose subjects which require little or no erudition on the part of the spectators to follow; in this respect differing from the night p724 organizations, the pageants of which are sometimes decidedly learned, even abstruse.
The artist's rough sketches of the proposed pageant are submitted to the select committee, and when finally approved thereby, are referred back to him to be put in final shape. This consists in carefully redrawing the designs, one by one, according to scale, each car on its own separate sheet of paper, not over •two feet square. They are represented in full color, with the maskers in place. In this form they go to the builders. The poetry, the sentiment of the pageants, of course, represent the artist's contribution, but the translation of his designs into papier-mache, canvas, tinsel and paint — which are the essential ingredients of a carnival tableau — this is the task of the builders.
For many years a wiry Frenchman, George Soulié, called the Rex pageant into being. Latterly, he had the assistance of his son, Henry. They constitute a dynasty of Carnival craftsmen whose time was practically spent exclusively in the service of the societies. Rex has large studios in an out‑of-the‑way corner of the city, especially designed for his use, and there his cars are built. The organization owns its own vehicles — platforms •some twenty feet long and eight feet wide, mounted on wheels — resembling the trucks on which theatrical scenery is moved. They are used repeatedly, but the fairy structures which are every year reared upon them are always and entirely new.
The artist's design is, of course, flat, and indicates variations in the surface only by means of shading — of lights and darks, after the manner of all painting. The business of the builders is to erect a framework which, when overlaid with the canvas, will actually represent those variations in the plane; hence they are allowed an immense latitude, and the demand upon their ingenuity is enormous. Let us take an example; for instance, a car representing some marine scene. The design as it reaches the workmen represents the waves just as they would be represented in any other water color drawing. The surface of the water arises in a series of huge billows, but these billows are seamed with countless lesser waves, ripples, undulations. In the drawing they are mere splashes of color, vivid green, gray, brown, even black — but there is nothing to tell the builder how these effects are to be attained.
And yet the clever craftsman asks no more. In his atelier there is a large open floor. Upon this he spreads sheets of stout manila paper, pasting them together until he has a surface measuring •20 or 22 feet long by 18 wide. Then, with a brush dipped in red paint, he traces upon the paper the forms of various bits of timber which, put together, will constitute the vitals of the tableaux. These lines cross each other at all angles, but each is numbered, and can easily be followed in the maze of conflicting designs. Then the carpenters come in and, working from the pattern, prepare all these separate pieces of timber, fitting them on the tracings till they are exact duplications of the master's design. At this stage not even the carpenters can guess the eventual appearance of the car.
The next stage is to assemble the framework on the wagon. Under the supervision of the master builder each part is fitted into place. In the meantime papier-mache workers have done their part. Their productions are quickly tacked into place. Stout canvas follows, together with prodigious amounts of excelsior, rags and various other kinds of "stuffing" to round out the proportions of sea serpent or sinuous marine p725 plant. And as the canvas is fastened to the timber framework, suddenly the beholder perceives how all the innumerable billowlets which the artist in his drawing represented by hasty strokes of the brush have become actual undulations, reproducing exactly the infinite variety of the surface of the sea.
To create a car under such circumstances calls for peculiar talent and immense experience. It is because New Orleans possesses a school of Carnival craftsmen, and because they are content to devote their lives to the fabrication of Carnival pageant, that the Crescent City is unique in the success and splendor of its pageants. The thing has been tried elsewhere, and always with comparatively small success; for, easy as it may seem to the uninstructed to rear the fairy fabric of a typical Carnival "float," the task assumes quite another phase when it is actually attempted. There is a genius which goes to this as to almost every other kind of artistic endeavor; New Orleans has that genius, and it is not found anywhere else.
The same hands which build the Rex pageant create also those of the three night organizations. The work begins in May or June and proceeds at the rate of one or two cars every week. Thus in eight months eighty complete cars can be turned out. In the meantime the artist has designed the costumes, some 125 to 150 in number, which are to be worn by the maskers. The policy of Rex is to have as much of its work done in the city as possible. Formerly the costumes were made in Paris, and the jewels and masks are still manufactured in Europe, but otherwise practically everything used in the pageants is of local origin. This is not true to the same extent of the other organizations, some of which still depend upon Paris for costumes, while others put their trust in Kalamazoo and Chicago.
The chief feature of the Carnival ball is the royalties who preside over its fleeting gayeties. The "king" is actually masked, but the queen wears no disguise. Both of them are invariably costumed in the richest and most splendid style. The queen wears crown, necklace, stomacher and other ornaments exquisitely adorned with gems. The gems, it is true, are rhinestones, but they are set by European jewelers of acknowledged skill, and the effect is quite as royal as though they were genuine. This superb regalia is provided by the Carnival organization, and becomes the property of the fair wearer, a souvenir of her brief reign. She likewise is presented with the handsome cloak which she wears and frequently receives some other costly souvenir from the "king." The queens of the Carnival societies are invariably chosen from the families of members, but with this restriction the committee is entirely free to follow its own judgment in nominating her. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that no financial consideration has any weight in the choice of either king or queen. The idea which exists in some quarters that the Rex scepter is an emblem awarded in consideration of a contribution to the society's treasury is entirely without foundation. Of course, the royal honors are not likely to fall to persons financially unable to carry them off with fitting splendor, yet it must be said that Rex has always striven to curb the propensity of its kings to lavish display. It has even been proposed to fix a sum beyond which the king's expenditures may not go, but that has not yet been done.
p726 The king of the Carnival, after having been selected by the committee, remains unknown to the other members of the organization until the Saturday before Mardi Gras. He is then formally presented to his future subjects. The queen is notified by the committee, sufficiently long before the Carnival for her to prepare the splendid dress which it is her pride to wear. Rex allows his queen the privilege of choosing her court — that is, the maids and their escorts. In many of the other organizations the maids are chosen by the governing committee; in others, they are elected by the members, but in both cases they are young women who have relatives in the society. The queens, especially those of Rex, have always been local young women, and while non-residents have from time to time figured among the maids, this, even, is rare. The one conspicuous exception to this rule was the case of Miss Winnie Davis, the "Daughter of the Confederacy,"a who was queen of one of the night organizations, although she neither made her home in New Orleans nor had any relatives connected with the Carnival. Her position in Southern society, however, was unique, and the fact that she was thus honored is not held to have established a precedent.
In many respects the night organizations which give pageants are organized along lines similar to those indicated above. A few points in which they differ have already been noted. These societies are wholly controlled by the executive councils, elected by the organization. The authority of the council is to a very considerable extent delegated to the captain, who, with two lieutenants, are responsible for the creation of the pageant and the management of the ball, just as the manager is, in the case of Rex. Neither the captain nor his lieutenants receive any compensation, In their sphere these officials are all powerful. For instance, the captain selects the king — "No. 1," as he is known to the members. While the parades are on the streets the captain, masked and on horseback, may be seen riding to and fro, guiding and directing the function in its minutest detail. His is no sinecure. In fact, it is the ability of the organizations to find men of talent to undertake the duties of this office that is the second great element in the success of the New Orleans Carnival. The amount of labor, ingenuity and enthusiasm which they put into their unremunerative task is beyond the power of the public to judge, but to those who are behind the scenes, it is — it must be — a matter of perpetual admiration and amazement. The attention which is given to the minutest detail may be inferred from the fact that on occasion, when the ball illustrates some special historical incident — as for instances, when Consus, a now defunct society, represented the meeting of Henry of England and Francis of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold — the queen and her maids are required to wear costumes characteristic of the period. The young women who constituted the court at that brilliant ball were directed to arrive at the Opera House with their hair in plaits. A half-dozen hair-dressers were in attendance, and under their deft fingers the proper coiffures were built up from designs carefully prepared months before by artists working from ancient paintings brought from France.
In closing, it may be of interest to estimate what a carnival costs. The sum of course varies from year to year. As a general proposition, however, a single Carnival car may be constructed for about $800. Taking into consideration the cost of the costumes, the fees of the artists, etc., a pageant can be put on the streets for from $15,000 to $20,000. As p727 a rule, the night pageants are more expensive than those given by day. The Carnival balls cost about $4,000 each. The larger Carnival societies have budgets of about $25,000 each. It will thus be seen that the outlay for the Carnival functions, including the Twelfth Night Revelers' ball, will not fall far short of $150,000 per annum. This sum is, as I have said, drawn almost entirely from the pockets of the members. There are less than 3,000 men who belong to these organizations. The pro rata expense is, however, considerably greater than might be inferred from a comparison of these figures, as each masker permits himself to make gifts to the young ladies whom he invites to dance with him, and incurs other expenses for carriage hire, flowers, etc.
It is a fact not generally known outside of New Orleans that at one time the city boasted of the largest and most sumptuous theater in North America; that it supported the first operatic company in the United States; and that for many years it played in the theatrical world a role as important as New York does at the present time. These and many other interesting features of the musical and dramatic history of New Orleans would be widely known but for the fact that the early glories of the city, in this respect, at least, have been meagerly chronicled. No adequate account of the theaters themselves, nor of the happenings within their walls, has ever been attempted. What has come down to the present time exists in allusions scattered over the files of old newspapers, the memoirs of some of the theater managers of the long ago, a few letters, some reminiscence by old-time theatergoers — but for which the palmiest days of art in New Orleans would be a closed book.
The first dramatic performance in New Orleans dates back to the year 1791, when a troupe of comedians, under the management of Louis Tabary, came from France to New Orleans, and, having neither hall nor place for their performances, were content with appearing in parlors of private houses, and in halls which they could rent for a time. Often the artists had to present their dramas, tragedies and sketches under tents. At last, in the year 1792, they located on St. Peter Street, between Bourbon and Royal streets, in the house now bearing the number 716. At that time the population of New Orleans was not much over 5,000 white citizens. That establishment was named Le Theatre St. Pierre, and as most of the artists were refugees from France, and incarnate demagogues, they interspersed their acts with some of the songs of the Terreur, such as "La Carmagnole" and the "Ça-Ira." The disorders were such that the painting interfered, and the place was closed until the year 1803.
The first parquette in any theatre in New Orleans was put in the Theatre St. Pierre on October 23, 1806. There was some trouble between the managers and the city authorities regarding the alleged unsafe condition of the theatre, and the City Council ordered the place to be closed unless proper repairs were made. In the early part of the year 1807 the Theatre St. Pierre was closed because of a riot between some hoodlums and the police. One year later it was decided to build a real theatre, but after two years the venture proved unsuccessful and the theatre went out of existence under the sheriff's hammer in 1810.
In the meantime another theatre had been erected. In the latter part of the year 1807 a number of theatre-lovers combined to build a theatre which the best element of this city might frequent, and a site was chosen on St. Phillip Street, between Royal and Bourbon streets, on the spot now occupied by the school of that name. The cost was $100,000, and p728 Louis Tabary was elected director. The theatre opened its doors on January 30, 1808. The auditorium could accommodate 700 people, and there was a parquette and two rows of boxes. For several years the Theatre St. Philippe was the rendezvous of all the fashionable people of New Orleans. In 1814, for the first time, a ballet was given. During a performance in that year an interesting incident occurred. A captain of a vessel attended the performance on the 7th of December, 1814, and told a few friends about the return of Napoleon from his exile in Elba. The news immediately spread among the audience, and for at least a quarter of an hour the cheers for Napoleon interrupted the performance.
It was worthy of note that the first entertainment in honor of the Declaration of Independence took place at the Theatre St. Philippe, on July 4, 1810. A gala performance was given, the proceeds being devoted to the relief of sufferers by a big fire which occurred on July 1 and destroyed twenty-five houses.
In 1817 the first English dramatic and comedy troupe came to New Orleans, under the management of Mr. J. Ludlow, and he leased the Philippe for one year.
The play presented, as stated for the first time in English, was "The Honeymoon," and the cast was as follows: Duc d'Aranza, John Vaughn; Comte de Montalban, M. Plummer; Jacques, M. Morgan; Roland, N. M. Ludlow; Balthazar, M. Lucas Lampedo, M. H. Vaughn; Julienne, Mme. Vaughn; Zamora, Mme. Ludlow; Volante, Mme. Jones; Hotesse, Mme. Morgan.
Thereafter until the year 1832, when Mr. Caldwell, manager, had a brief season of English comedy, the Theatre St. Philippe declined, and it closed its doors altogether at the end of that year.
In the early part of 1809 an association was formed for the purpose of building a theatre on Orleans Street, between Bourbon and Royal, to cost about $10,000. The first play was presented on November 30, 1809, and the theatre was destroyed by fire in 1813. Another building was erected at a cost of $80,000, and it was at that time considered a most handsome theatre. Four years later a magnificent ballroom was built adjoining the theatre, the outlay being $60,000. In the year 1845 a special performance was given in honor of General Lafayette, who was then on a visit to New Orleans.
The Theatre d'Orleans, however, is remembered chiefly for its connection with the early days of opera in New Orleans. Opera was sung in New Orleans in a small way as early as 1809. It was not, however, till 1837 that serious attention seems to have been given to this form of entertainment. In that year, Mlle. Julia Calvé, a singer of great talent, made her debut at the Theatre d'Orleans, and scored a great success. Her engagement, which lasted till 1840, is considered to mark the beginning of the history of the French opera, as an institution in this city. In 1840 M. Charles Boudousquié, who subsequently became the husband of the fascinating Calvé, recruited in France the first important company of singers to visit New Orleans. They arrived on the ship "Le Vaillant," after a voyage of sixty days, and less than a week later made their appearance at the Theatre d'Orleans in Adams' "Le Chalet," Lecourt, tenor, and Victor, baritone, appearing in the cast. Boudousquié continued to direct the operatic performances at the Orleans till 1859. During that interval many important works were produced, among them "Robert le Diable," in 1840; "William Tell," in 1846; "La Juive," in 1847; "Jerusalem," p729 "Lucie de Lammermoor," and "Le Prophete," in 1850; and "Les Huguenots," in 1853.
In 1859 the Theatre d'Orleans was sold to a Mr. Parlange. Boudousquié proposed to continue the lease of the premises, but not being able to accept Mr. Parlange's terms, announced his intention of abandoning the house. Mainly through his exertions the French Opera House Association was incorporated March 4, 1859, with capital stock of $100,000, divided into 200 shares of $500 each. Boudousquié himself was largely interested in the company. Rivière Gardère was chosen president, and the first board of directors was composed of George Urquhart, E. J. McCall, Charles Kock, Gustave Miltenberger, E. Roman, C. Fellows, Charles Roman, Leon Queyrouze and Adolphe Schreiber. A site was purchased at the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse streets, and the erection of the present building was begun on April 9, 1859. The architect was James Gallier, and the builders were Gallier & Esterbrook. The work was prosecuted by day and by night, 150 men being kept constantly on duty. The building was completed November 28, 1859, at a cost of $118,500.
In the meantime Boudousquié had, by a contract dated April 12, 1859, undertaken the lease of the new theater. He associated with himself the veteran manager, John Davis. The opera house was formally opened December 1, 1859 with "Guillaume Tell." The principal singers were Mathieu, first tenor; Escarlate, tenor of grand opera; Petit, third tenor; Melchisadek, baritone; Genibrel, first basso; Vauliar, second basso; Mme. St. Urbain, second falcon. Later during the season "Le Trouvère" and "La Fille du Regiment" were produced, and "La Tour de Nesle," "La Dame Aux Camelias," and other French plays were acted, in accordance with a tradition of which the opera had not yet been able to shake itself free. The season of 1860 was likewise successful. The same singers appeared, with the exception that Mme. Brochard replaced Mme. St. Urbain, falcon. On November 8, 1860, the opening night, "Le Barbier de Seville" was presented with Mme. Faure in the role of Rosine. Among the operas which were presented during this season were "La Favorite," "Il Trovatore," "La Juive" and "Robert le Diable." Early in 1861 Adelina Patti made her first appearance at the French Opera House, as Martha, in Flotow's opera of that name. During her engagement Patti sang also in "Les Huguenots," "Robert le Diable," "Charles VI," and "Lucie." In 1862, 1863 and 1864, on account of the Civil war, there were no performances at the Opera House. In January, 1866, an Italian troupe, under the direction of Thioni and Susini, gave a few performances. Paul Alhaiza then became director of the opera. He recruited in France a very large and capable troupe, but the entire membership was lost at sea, October 3, 1866, in the wreck of the steamer "Evening Star." Of the 250 souls on board this ill-fated vessel, only seven escaped. Among those who were lost were Gallier, architect of the opera house, his wife and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Alhaiza, relatives of the impresario. Mr. Alhaiza was, however, able, with the assistance of several excellent artists, to open the season on November 16, when Octave Feuillet's "La Redemption," a comedy in five acts, was presented.