We went to see this attempt at a performance of the old Greek drama, fearing it could inspire only disappointment and distaste, but the result was so favorable, that we hope it may be carried further, and think a sincere satisfaction might be produced. The coup d’oeil is very good; the arrangements as to grouping and gradation of colors are so judicious as to produce a reflection of the reality,—a representation could not be expected. But, as Greek dress and Greek manners were as admirable as their art and poetry, being the purest and simplest expression of nature that has ever been known in the world, any good reminiscence of them is consoling, now that all our usages and methods are so remote from their sources, or so complex that common life is almost destitute of poetic enjoyment.—The play, too, though in an ordinary translation, and so inadequately recited, except by Vandenhoff himself, seemed much nearer to us, and more impressive than a modern play, the straight-forward progress of the story, the simple energy of motives, the unspotted loveliness of virtue, no less than the blind madness of the tyrant, may be understood by a child, as well as restore the man to childhood, or rather transport him to a Grecian childhood of a strength and beauty unknown to modern times.—The pure depths of the character of Antigone drew thither the listening soul, though superficially blurred by the acting. “We all must” says Shelley, “have known an Antigoné in some previous state of existence, and that is the reason we can never be content with beings such as we meet here.”—There is no heroism in the way in which she performs her perilous duty; to act otherwise was impossible to her; the question whether she could repent seemed strangest madness to her unfaltering soul. Yet the soft human, woman’s nature comes out at the thought of death, and the deep melancholy surprise at the baseness of men that can dream of punishing her for doing right, expresses, in few words and with overwhelming pathos, all the tragedy which noble natures can ever know.—The music is in itself good, and the effect of its introduction delightful; but it is ill performed.—The impression produced by failure in the attempt to accord the voice of the actor with the instruments in the closing scene was burlesque, but could not destroy the impression of that scene as a whole.*
“Palmo’s—the Antigone.” New-York Daily Tribune, 16 April 1845, p. 2.