Semiramide has met with the warm reception its merits claim, and we doubt not, that the public will always show the same sense of uncommon interest in it; and be ready to requite the difficulties that may be experienced in bringing forward as fine an opera as this: though many faults are observable in the decorations and management, yet, on the whole, they are effective. The massive style of architecture, and grandeur of accessories are sufficiently well represented to sustain the imposing character of the music. Rossini still must be esteemed the prince of the modern Italian opera. Others have all his faults; his superficial melody, his repetitions, his love of effect, but they have not, in equal measure, his sustained vigor and abundant life; his flashing, sparkling brilliancy, his free and flowing graces. His mind is truly Italian; all happens “under the blossom that hangs on the bough.” There is indeed, a higher Italian nature than this, such as is expressed in the works of Dante, and Alfieri, of Domenichino and the Caracci; such as formed the mind of Handel to an excellence which harmonized the claims of Germany and Italy; but, take the common character, the fulness, the joy, the sunny hues and rich shadows, Rossini is a fair expression of it. His music is so fresh; it all seems improvised. There were almost enough voices of merit to sustain the parts adequately in Semiramide.
Valtellina’s part was well adapted to him, and well sustained. The duo between him and Signora Pico was beautifully given. The scene between Pico and Borghese (act 2d scene V,) produced a great impression; the music is fine, and the singers did justice to it. Pico, beside a voice of fine quality, has native vigor and talent that will enable her to act her parts well, if cultivated with judgment. Borghese sang uncommonly well; the music gave her voice fair play. As an actress, she surpasses any thing we have ever witnessed in the perfect impartiality with which she treats her parts, and every emotion depicted in them. Joy, grief, remorse, are all expressed by the same attitudes, the same gestures, and with a serenity worthy the gods of Olympus. The orchestral accompaniments are very brilliant, and were given with much spirit. Could not the victim scene in the tomb be better managed? It produces, at present, an impression of perfect burlesque.*
“Italian Opera on Friday Night.” New-York Daily Tribune, 13 January 1845, p. 2.