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The part of Uberto is written with extraordinary force, and with a tnct * that in musical expression is analogous and not inferior to the finest personification of mental aberration that we have ever seen. The transitions from one state of insanity to another are inanaged with infinite effect; and the short and never to be forgotten strains of simple melody that return upon us, and are employer to pour. tray the leading ideas and associations of the madman, are inimitable. “ La figlia mia spiro,” and “ Come la nebbia al vento,” are those to which we more especially allude, as well as others which we have particularized in the progress of our analysis of the opera.t
There is one circumstance we have mentioned which strikes us as very singular in itself and peculiar to the composer—that is, the introduction of passages of mere ornament in the place of divisions or of plain notes. All these ornamental parts are familiar to us as the graces interpolated by singers ; but we do not recollect to have seen them before so generally set down by the composer. The notations of divisions are perhaps fairly exhausted, and perhaps also Signor Paer may not without reason be apprehensive of leaving a plain canvas for the artist to paint upon. The change forces itself upon our observation more strongly, because it falls in very much with notions we entertain in regard to the possibility of giving to ornament a settled and regular gradation in expression. SIGNOR Pabr hias done this in regard to all the pieces he has adopted into bis melodies.
* One of the Daily Journals (the Times) had the following excellent ohservation in a criticisim upon the opera when it first appeared in this country:
“ Paer is remarkable too for his great judgment: he understands perfectly what we may call the modelling of an opera: he knows where to employ the recitatito parlante, or speaking recitative, where an increased interest requires the recitative accompanied, and where the subject should rise to full melody, into regular rythm and movement. These circumstances, by the way, if properly considered, constitate the true attraction of the opera itself. Once allow for the elevation of recitative above ordinary dialogue, and we obtain à natural gradation of sentiment and passion without that abruptness which attends the transition from speaking to singing. There is th. n a certain congruity between the parts and the whole, without which no production will bear the scrutiny of taste. We particularly impress this remark, because it is the clue to the knowledge of the true merits of an entertainment which deserves to be held in general estimation.”
+ In the chamber we should be apt to complain of the length of the several airs, &c. but this is a fault incident to the great bulk of opera pieces, which are necessarily protracted in consequence of the paucity of character and incidents to which the Italian drama is usually limited.
In its general bearing Agnese reminds us of PAESIELLO's Nina. Intensity of feeling, expressed with simplicity, elegance, and sweetness, are the grand characteristics of both. The celebrity this opera has justly given to Paer's name in England may probably lead to a better knowledge of his very numerous works. Mr. Bishop has already put into circulation another of them in his harpsichord score of Numa Pompilius. The selection however of Agnese for representation is a just tribute to English genius, from whence the story is derived, and English taste has paid a liberal tribute to the talents of the dramatist and the musician, in the applauses which the most critical audience of the metropolis of the country has be. stowed upon AGNESE.
A Statement of Matters relative to the King's Theatre. By E. Walers,
There is no institution, perhaps, in the whole circle of English trade or amusement that exhibits so much of failure, loss, dispute, and disquietude, as the Italian Opera has done since its first introduction and establishment in this country. The sums which have been lavished upon the Theatre are truly astonishing in their amount-the patronage has been equally extensive—the attention directed to its management has been not less intense—the public and private property embarked in it capable as it should seem, of carrying on the work with the utmost facility and to the best advantage, and what is most difficult of all to account for under so much of epror as is ap: parent, first rate talents have been frequently engaged in its direc, tion. From the variance between the conclusions any one would be induced to draw a priori from these facts and the actual events, we should be inclined to suspect that some of the leading principles upon which the business has been founded and conducted, must be entirely erroneous. No other rule will account for such universal failure extending through almost eyery period of time and every succession of managers.
The acknowledged difficulty of first planting an Italian opera in this country, was met in 1720, by a public subscription of no less amount than fifty thousand pounds! yet strange to say, this all yą. nished in seven years !! while the Royal Academy, as it was called, was under the direction of noble persons, who (probably in consequence of the important trust implied) first assumed the management. From 1729 till 1738, Handel struggled in vain to support an opera, out of which he came, owing perhaps principally to an opposition theatre set on foot by some noble adversaries, with the loss of almost his entire property. The well known HEIDEGGER next tried a subscription, but failed, from the immoderate demands of the singers. In 1740 the New Theatre in the Haymarket was opened for Italian Dramas. In 1752 DR. CROZA, who had for some time conducted the Opera House, ran away deeply in debt, but taking with him the receipts of a very successful benefit. In 1756, VANESCHI, the subsequent manager, did the same. During the
next year, GIARDINI and the MingottI tried the experiment, but gave it up in despair, and not without pecuniary injury. From this period tiii 1762, M ATTEI and her husband TROMBETti carried on the concern, when it was again taken up by their predecessors for a short time. Two years afterwards we find Gordon, Vincent, and CRAWFORD, three musicians, in the management. Vincent, though possessor' of some considerable property, was entirely ruined, and Gordon and CRAWFORD barely escaped bankruptcy. The Honourable MR. HOBART next assuraed the direction. In 1772, Millico and SACCHINI 'entered upon this seemingly unconquerable labour, but continued not more than two seasons, when MRS. Yatis and Mrs. Brookes, who had succeeded, started the idea of intern ixing plays with operas, which plan was, however, forbidden by the Lord Chamberlain. From this time to 1785, the opera conti. nued with various degrees of injury to the proprietors, when it entirely sunk under the accumulated weight of lawsuits, factious cabals, and distresses of every sort.
In 1786, Sir JOHN GALLINI (a celebrated dancing master) became the manager, and he afterwa ds associated himself with MR. TAYLOR. Their reign was ended most disastrously by the fire, which consumed the entire edifice,* on the 18th of June, 1789. In the beginning of 1791, the present splendid and beautiful structure, which is amongst the first (if not the very first) buildlings both for sound and splendor in Europe, was finished by Novosielski." Claims and disputes precluded its immediate opening, in the mean while Mn. O'REILLY obtained a licence for the Pantheon. Shorwy
* It was built by Sir John Vanbrugh. + Mr. NovosīELSKI was a man of uncommon genius, though almost totally without education. He was invited to this country by Mr. Wyatt, to assist in painting the ceiling of the pantheon. From this obscure origin, a foreigner, and with no other assistance than his abilities, he suddenly became known to the British public as the architect of this, by far the finest of their theatres. His health and fortune sunk beneath the labour, and he died at an early age, leaving a young widow and four children in almost unprovided circumstances. While Mr. Taylor remained in the management, a small box, in the upper circle, was allotted to this lady; but, to the disgrace of his successor, this privilege was, as we have understood, taken away, and the melancholy pleasure they enjoyed thus denied to the family of departed worth and merit. We have no communication either with Mrs. N. her children, or her friends. We notice the fact spontaneously without their knowledge, in the hope that a representation of what is due to the memory of genius, may reach the present proprietor, and induce aiın to recall the former decree.
after MR. TAYLOR commenced his distressful career with an entertainment of music and dancing. The pantheon was unfortunately in the same year burnt to the ground * The Haym'rket Theatre, during this interval, offered a refuge to the Drury-Lane Company while th: new theatre was building, and it was not till the 26th of January, 1793, that it was opened for the Italian Opera Since this period, the concern has passed into the hands first of Mr. Goold, and next of MR. Waters, the present proprietor, whose dominion has been vexed by an increasing series of cabals, disputes, and those worst of evils, never ending suits in law or equity. To say the truth, the Lord Chancellor of England has been compelled ex officio to take a very burdensome share and responsibility in the management of the King's Theatre as well as in the keeping of the royal conscience. Such has been the ill-fated bistory of operatic affairs, and such is the present state of the concern, the embarrassments being now augmented, as it appears from the publication whose title is cited at the head of our article, by the complaints of the sub. scribers and the attacks of dissatisfied individuals.
The pamphlet hy Mr. Waters, the present proprietor of the King's Theatre, was published in reply to the resolutions of certain meetings of noblemen and gentlemen, proprietors and subscribers to the Opera, held at the Thatched House Tavern in the first instance, and subsequently by adjournment at the Opera House. The first meeting was on the 30th of May, 1918, and according to the Journals of the day, the complaints embodied by LORD AYLESBURY, who was called to the chair, were as follows :
“His Lordship stated the manner in which the meeting of the proprietors and subscribers had been called, and proposed to read some facts that had come to bis knowledge, after which he should propose a resolution for the adoption of the preseut meeting. He proceeded to say, that a letter had been written by Mr.
* The regulations for the prevention of fire in France are very strict. The dresses, scenery, &c. in short, all those combustibles which constitute at once the property and the danger of a play-house, must, by a decree of the 21st of March, 1799, be kept in a building completely apart from the theatre itself. The managers are bound not only to have a sufficient provision of water, firepumps, &c. but they are further obliged to have a sufficient guard of publie fremen always on duty at their respective houses; and the care of seeing that Ao danger of fire exists is not entrusted to managers and their servants alone, but forms a part of the daily duty of the police, and the failure in these precautious, even for one single day, forfeits the license. All the great theatres of London had been burned down in succession, before any aceident of that kind tappened at Paris.