Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Wednesday. 11th.

Friday. 13th.

Thursday. 12th. CFA Thursday. 12th. CFA
Thursday. 12th.

Cloudy and cold today. I went to the Office and read very uninterruptedly for about an hour in the Parliamentary. I thought that I would then amuse myself and accordingly called to see Mr. Davis with whom I had much conversation. I remained so long as to lose my walk. Afternoon quietly at home reading Bacon de Augmentis.

Evening, my Wife never having seen the Opera of the Barber of Seville, and Mr. and Mrs. Wood, good singers being here, I went with her and Miss Julia Gorham to see them and hear them. The piece is a charming one. I have seen it often but never should be tired of it.1 Mrs. Wood is a fine performer though her natural voice is not so pleasing as Mrs. Austin’s. His is a fine man’s voice without any great pathos in it.2 Afterpiece, My Aunt. Returned home early.


For CFA’s delight in Rossini’s music, see vol. 2:60, 277, 321; also, below, entry for 2 Oct. 1835. A different response, following CFA’s acquisition of greater operatic sophistication, is in the entry for 15 March 1836, below.


The voices of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wood had first been heard in America at the Park Theatre in New York in the September just past. Their success was instantaneous and maintained over the next three seasons during which they dominated the musical scene.


Mrs. Wood’s voice was hailed by the influential music critic of the Mirror in New York as “one of the most extraordinary ... we ever remember to have heard” and he saluted her as “the first English singer of the day. We say English ... recollecting Malibran.” For Mr. Wood there was praise as “a good actor and a very fair singer.” Odell, Annals N. Y. Stage , 3:657, 664; 4:63, 109.

Although CFA came, during this first Boston season of the Woods, to sense more fully the extraordinary vocal gifts of Mrs. Wood (see the entries for 19 Dec. 1833; 24 April and 5 May 1834, below), it was when he heard them again during the 1835–1836 theatrical season that his enthusiasm for Mrs. Wood’s singing and for opera reached its fullest expression. During the Woods’ three Boston engagements in that season his Diary shows that he attended sixteen of their performances, especially those of La Sonnambula (see note to entry for 29 Dec. 1835, below). A sheet–music cover of Mrs. Wood in the role of Amina in that opera is reproduced in the present volume; see also p. x–xi, above.