Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

engaged as a deputy) has not been without result. On the contrary it This surely proves that the ever-sparkling and effervescing imaginahas already had a most salutary effect. On Saturday last the “Prin- tion of the Drei Sterner has played him false, and made him appear, in cipal," who was naturally ireful that the terms he paid his deputy | its infinito fights, a little forgetful, and, perhaps, somewhat inconshould have been commented upon in the columns of a public journal, sistent, or he would hardly, after having recorded the demise of the somewhat indignantly intimated to Mr. Simmons that his services London Orchestra, venture to suggest the fact of its never having would no longer be required, thereby inflicting a crushing blow on the existed, in the following seven cruel words :-“Some people believe ambitious views 60 modestly expressed by Simmons, in the letter which that it was still-born." appeared in the last number of the Musical World. On Monday, But, sir, I am told the members of the London Orchestra are not so however, the “Principal" had changed his mind. Better counsel had unmindful, nor ungrateful, for what they owe to the learned “Plaubeen breathed into his ear. Possibly he deemed it prudent to tem- derein," and steadfastly believe the contrary to your otherwise fantasporise. So, accosting Mr. Simmons in his blandest manner (sotto voce), tically-funny hypothesis ; for they are entirely of opinion, that it was and reminding him of the "kind friend he (the ‘Principal') had ever solely to his timely unhomeopathic dose (although administered on the been to him," etc., informed him that he might continue to perform at | similia similibus curantur principle) in the shape of an abortire attempt the concerts until the end of the present series, magnanimously adding at a classical pianoforte trio, that the stillborn society owed its recovery that he should receive twelve out of the sixteen guineas, instead of four, and enjoyment of life, and only waits the advent of another such as in former seasons! I am not aware of the effect produced by this sickly-born institution to propose to it the only truly reliable specific, upon poor Simmons, but he doubtless felt elated; and I am sure your namely—another classical rhapsody from the same prolific goose-quill. readers will appreciate this act of liberality on the part of the I trust, sir, you will find a corner in your estimable journal for my “ Principal.” Permit me to offer one or two observations upon a change lengthy communication, which has been penned, I do assure you, of policy so wholesome in itself, so deeply interesting to the profession purely out of regard for truthful investigation; and, moreover, because (more particularly to the "Forty”), and which is, I think, entirely owing I think the announcement of the dissolution of the society contained in to the publicity afforded through the medium of the Musical World. your contemporaries of New York and Wapping, maliciously calcu.

The “Principal" alluded to is, at least so I am told, the recognised | lated to damage its interests by probably depriving it of lucrative engage* Atlas” of the Philharmonic Society, the whole weight of whose busi ments for either of these places. And, with apologies for troubling you, ness he carries on his unaided shoulders-gratis. It cannot, therefore,

I am, sir, one who to the *** would gladly prove a for a moment be supposed that he stood in fear of any steps likely to May 30th, 1855.

TOTAL ECLIPSE. be adopted by the "Forty" at their next general meeting, or that he

P.S. I am a member of the London Orchestra, and enclose my card. had been induced to believe that his proceedings with Mr. Simmons could be shewn to be against the interest of himself or the society. I am consequently led to conclude that the comedy has not yet fully developed itself. Probably at the next concert, Mr. Simmons will be

WHOSE IS THE BALLET OF EVA? astounded by the information that he is to be paid the balance of twelve

To the Editor of the Musical World. guineas for the seasun 1854, and that the “ starch will be taken out of

SIR-If, in answer to your repeated question, "Whose is the ballet him" at the final concert, by the announcement that he is to receive

of Eva ?" I was to follow the example of Mr. A. Harris, and to answer the like amount for the first season of his engagement. I am curious,

by questions of personalities and of morality, "j'aurais beau jeu," as and perhaps a little given to speculation; but I venture to guess it will either be as I have surmised, or something else equally advantageous to

we say in France; but leaving to him all the responsibility of his gentlethe modest and unassuming Simmons, whose newly declared Latinity

manly conduct, and acknowledging that he is more clever than I am in (nolens volens ") has put eight guineas in his pocket.

abuse, I will satisfy myself with quoting his own words. I will not Apologising for the length of this, and ascribing to you all merit for

eren try to translate, so as to leave to his words all their value:-the good that has been effected through the well-timed observations

A M. Pelèz de Cordova. that have appeared, I am,

AN ASSOCIATE May 31st.

(Only once black-balled).

“Je n'ai jamais refusé de reconnaître que vous étiez mon collaborateur dans le ballet d'Eva, et que l'idée de la morte était entièrement de

vous; mais je ne suis pas tout-à-fait de votre avis, que le ballet original MR. J. F. GOODBAN.

tel que je vous l'ai soumit était (comme vous le dites) une cuvre imposTo the Editor of the Musical World.

sible, dont vous avez pu faire quelque chose.

"M. Gye aussi sait très-bien que vous m'avez beaucoup aidé dans le Royal Academy of Music, 25th May.

Academy of Music, 25th May. ballet, parcequ'il a vu tous vos brouillons. M. Desplaces le sait! DEAR SIR,— Will you kindly allow the following mistake to be cor- | Monsieur Panizza le sait!! Mad. Cerito le sait!!! etc., etc., le sait !!!! rected in the Musical World-tbat J. F. Goodban (student of the

"A. HARBIS." above Institution) is not a pupil of Mr. W. Sterndale Bennett, but of Mr. Robert Barnett; and you will much oblige, your's respectfully,

A M. Pelez de Cordova, à Londres. Jas. FRED. GOODBAN. (If “that Mr. Goodban is not a pupil of Mr. Bennett, but of:

« Votre ballet dEva ne se donnera pas beaucoup. Quant à Paris,

| j'écris aujourdhui même, afin d'y faire suspendre toute négociation Mr. Barnett," be a mistake, then we presume he is a pupil of

tendante à faire danser ce ballet à Paris, dans lequel but de vous être Mr. Bennett.--Ed. M. W.)

utile . . . . . . parceque mon intention était de vous donner

toute la gloire et tout le profit de ce ballet en France, etc. THE LONDON ORCHESTRA.

'« A. HARRIS.” To the Editor of the Musical World. SIR,- Being struck by the fantastically funny hypothesis contained

A M. Pelez de Cordova, à Londres. in your leading article of last Saturday, as to whether “The London Orchestra " was thrown into a state of collapse, through its unwisely

“Vous me dites que je vous ai manqué de procédés ; cela n'est pas,

parceque j'ai trop d'estime pour vous pour le faire. Je vous répète, que venturing to admit into the programme of its first concert a pianoforte

pour vous faire entrer le jour de la première représentation (soirée de trio by a composer whose name begins and ends with the same letters as that of the curiously dogmatical correspondent of your New York

l'Empereur), c'était hors de mon pouvoir. Quant à mon nom sur

l'affiche, cela s'est fait pendant mon voyage à Paris-laquelle absence contemporary; and finding that the Wapping Commercial Gazette

est aussi la cause de mon silence à votre dernière lettre, etc. which I believe derives its valuable inspirations from the same impartial

A. HARRIS." source—had fallen into a similar error, I have, out of mere curiosity, taken the trouble to collect the dates of the concerts at which the Now, Mr. Editor, I think I have no more to add to these proofs, London Orchestra was engaged for its first season after its inaugu- and that every one will be able to answer your question, “Whose is rative concert on January 19th at the Hanover-square Rooms.

the ballet of Eva ?" Let Mr. A. Harris say what he will now, but I They are the following :-At Birmingham, the Festival Choral declare that I will not trouble the public any more about this quarrel. Society's concert, February 3rd; at Dublin, the Great Exhibition, Only let him be aware that I expect he will be polite, or else I should March 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th, morning and evening; at the be obliged to ask him the only reparation the laws of this country allow Lyceum Theatre, in Passion Week, April 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and to a man insulted in such a libel as his last letter. In inserting this 15th ; at Mr. Aguilar's Concert, May 11th; Mr. Kiallmark's Concert, last letter of mine in the columns of your paper, you will do justice to May 29th; Signor Regondi's Concert, June 22nd.

your obedient servant,

L. A, PELEZ DE CORDOVA. ,

OPERA AND DRAMA.

RICHARD WAGNER AND THE PHILHARMONIC. (From the Atheneum.)

PART L HERR WAGNER makes no way with his public as a conductor. The Sinfonia of Mozart went worse than we ever heard it go. The violins OPERA AND THE CONSTITUTION OF MUSIC. were rarely together; the wind instruments were hardly able to hold out in the middle movement, with such caricatured slowness was that

BY RICHARD WAGNER. andante con moto taken,-and the finale was degraded into a confused

(Continued from page 324.) romp by a speed as excessive. That Chopin's Concerto, a work which is as delicate as it is difficult, pleased as it did, was owing to the exquisite playing of M. Hallé, who carried it through-supporting, not re

CHAPTER I. ceiving support from, the orchestra. A finer display of execution and EVERYTHING lives and exists through the inward necessity of taste has rarely been heard. Neither did Herr Wagner condescend to

its being-through the exigencies of its nature. It was an inAssist Malle. Ney in her bravura; which, if well accompanied, might

herent quality of the nature of music to develope itself to a capahave produced a great effect, in spite of its rococo forms, thanks to her

bility of the most varied and decided expression, which it would lovely voice and brilliant execution. It is fair to give currency to the plea which, we are told, is put forth-to the import that Herr Wagner

never have reached-although the necessity for doing so was a protested, when making his engagements, against taking charge of the

part of itself-had it not been forced into such a position, as vocal and of solo music, on the score of adınitted incapacity. But how

regards poetry, as to be under the necessity of endeavouring to ill does such want of power assort with the consummate musical know- satisfy demands upon its utmost powers, even when these ledge assumed by the pretension of conducting certain favourite works demands could not but tend to what was an impossibility for it. by heart! There can be nothing in either concerto or bravura to tax An entity can only be expressed in its form: music owes its the quickness or resource of a conductor in comparison with the diffi | forms to the dance and song. To the mere word-poet, desirous culties, violences, and incoherences of "the music of the future," Due of availing himself of music for the purpose of heightening the pains had been bestowed by Herr Wagner on his own overture--but means of expression at his command for the dr ima, music apthe pains had been bestowed in vain, for never did new work making peared only in the restricted form of dance and song, in which it such a noise, and concerning which so much noise has been made, fall was impossible for it to display to him the fullness of expression more dead on the ears of a cullous and contemptuous publio.

of which it was really capable. Had music always remained in Though we have already spoken of this long-winded prelude in

long-inded prelude in the same relative position with regard to the word-poet, which general terms, we must be permitted a few more minute remarks on a

na | the latter now assumes towards it in opera, it would only have composition for which such high honours have been claimed. Our

ur been employed by him in its most restricted capability, and never impression is, that the overture to Tannhauser is one of the most

have attained the power of becoming such a complete organ of curious pieces of patchwork ever passed off by self-delusion for a complete and significant creation. The first sixteen bars of the andante

expression as it is at the present day. It must, therefore, have maestoso announce the solitary strain of real melody existing in the

been reserved for music to suppose itself capable of possibilities, whole opera. This is the Pilgrim's chant, and is the half of a good

which, in reality, were destined to remain impossibilities for it; tune in triple tempo,-which, however, seems to us no more eccle

it necessarily fell into the error of wishing, as a pure organ of siastic in style than the notturno in Mendelssohn's Midsummer expression in itself, clearly to fix what was to be expressed; it Night's Dream. The second part of the air is made up of those necessarily engaged in the arrogant undertaking of wishing to yawning chromatic progressions which seem Herr Wagner's only make arrangements and express intentions in cases where it bridge from point to point. After it has been given once, comes the should really assume a position subordinate to an intention not whole over again simply repeated with embroideries. In the allegro a to be understood from its own constitution, and in which subrude imitation of Mendelssohn's faëry music may be detected, both at ordinate position it cannot have more than a simply auxiliary the opening of the movement and in the phrases from bars 8 to 12. share in the realization of the said intention. To these succeeds a scramble, not leading into, so much as broken off Now the constitution of music has developed itself in two by, the second subject. This is a hackneyed eight-bar phrase, the directions in the branch of art fixed by it, and known as opera : commonplace of which is not disguised by an accidental sharp and the l in a serious direction--through all those composers who felt the omission of an interval. As the allegro proceeds, one or other of

weight of the responsibility which fell to music, when it assumed the above “notions” is repeated with small attempt at working out:

for itself alone the aim of the drama--and in a frivolous direcand the ear is thoroughly weary ere the point is reached where a busy

tion, through all those musicians, who, impelled by the instinct figure for the violins, identical with one used in Cherubini's overture to Lodoiska, dresses up the theme of the Pilgrim andante, which for the

of the impossibility of solving an unnatural problem, turned third time is presented in its integrity, with slight modifications of

their backs upon it, and, thinking only of enjoying the advanrhythm, none of harmony, and no coda by way of final climax or close.

tages that opera had gained from uncommonly extended publiWhen it is stripped and sifted, Herr Wagner's creation may be likened,

city, gave themselves up to an unmixed system of musical not to any real figure with its bone and muscle, but to a compound of experimentalising. It is necessary for us, in the first place, to one shapely feature with several tasteless fragments, smeared over with contemplate more nearly the former, or serious, side of the quescement, but so flimsily that the paucity of good material is proved by tion. the most superficial examination. Of Herr Wagner's instrumentation The musical foundation of opera was, as we know, nothing as ill-balanced, ineffective, thin, and noisy, we have elsewhere recorded | more than the air, while the latter, again, was the national song our judgment. Yet, this overture is almost the sole coherent instru. introduced by the singer to the aristocratic world, with the mental work from his hand which he could produce in substantiation words left out and supplied by the production of the poetical of his claim to be considered the composer of the future. In London, artist engaged for the purpose. The development of the we repeat, he fails to make any converts; either as a conductor or

national melody into the operatic air was, next, the work of the composer.

vocal artist, no longer interested in the rendering of the melody, Ere we take leave of the subject, we should state that the loss to the Philharmonic treasury this season is, already, understood to be

but in the exhibition of his artistic skill; he determined the very heavy. Some argument of the kind was imperatively required.

resting points necessary for himself; the change from the more There must be a root-and-branch reform of the whole society, with its

lively to the more moderate expressions of song, and the passages laws and its institutes. It will not do to have directors who, because

where, free from all rhythmical and melodic constraint, he could, they are directors, engage themselves as players in their own orchestra.

to his heart's content, display his skill alone. The composer The evasions and indirect influences-the right of incompetence to

| merely arranged the materials for the virtuosity of the singer, ghaflle away obvious responsibilities, or to assume despotic power when and the poet, again, did the same for the composer. some measure of folly or injustice is to be carried-the wholesale

The natural relations between the factors of the drama were favouritism and wholesale antipathies with which the proceedings of the not yet fundamentally suspended; they were only distorted, directors are chargeable, must come to an end, and speedily:-or the inasmuch as the performer, the most necessary condition for the Philharmouic Society will cease to exiet.

possibility of the drama, was only the representative of an espe

cial degree of skill in a certain respect (absolute vocal skill), but were open to the ambitious composer, for the attainment of his not of all the general capabilities of the artistic individual. It end; either to develope the purely sensual substance of the air, was, also, only this distortion, in the character of the performer, with the assistance of all the musical means at his command, as which called forth the actual distortion in the relations of the well as of all those to be afterwards found, to the highest and above factors, namely, in placing the musician absolutely before most voluptuous fullness ; or-and this is the more earnest the poet. Had the singer been a real, complete, and perfect way, which we have now to pursue-to restrict all caprice in dramatic performer, the composer must have fallen into his the execution of the air, by an endeavour on the part of the proper position with regard to the poet, inasmuch as it was the composer to impart to the tune to be executed an expression latter who, decidedly, and as a standard by which everything suitable to the accompanying verbal text. If such texts were, else was determined, would have enounced the dramatic inten- in conformity with their nature, to have the value of the feeling tion, and arranged its realization. The poet standing next the conversation of acting personages, feeling singers and comsinger, however, was the composer-the composer, who simply posers must long previously have thought of stamping their assisted the singer in attaining his end, which, freed from all virtuosity with the necessary degree of warmth, and Gluck was dramatic and even all poetical connection, was, really and truly, assuredly not the first composer who wrote passionate airs, nor nothing more than to display his specific skill in the vocal art were his singers the first to sing such airs with expression. But to the best advantage.

that which makes him the starting point for what is, decidedly, We must firmly impress upon our minds these original rela- a most complete change in the previous position of the artistic tions of the artistic factors of the opera to each other, that we factors of opera to each other, is : that he enounced with consciousmay, in what follows, perceive how these distorted relationsness, and on principle, the appropriate necessity of having both became more and more confused from all the efforts to set them in air and recitative an expression in keeping with the accomright.

panying text. From this period, the preponderating influence From the luxurious craving of noble lords after variety in | in the arrangement of the opera passes, most certainly, to the their amusements, the ballet was added to the dramatic cantata. composer: the singer becomes the organ of the composer's intenThe dances and the dance-melodies, as arbitrarily taken from the tion, and this intention is, with full consciousness, enounced, in national dance-tunes as the operatic air was from the national order that the dramatic substance of the accompanying text song, allied itself, with the coy inability of coalition inherent to may be satisfied by being truly expressed. The only thing, in everything unnatural, to the influence of the singer; while, by this fact, attacked, was the unbecoming and heartless desire of the heaping-up of elements totally destitute of anything like inward singer to please ; but, in all other respects, everything relating conuection, there naturally arose for the poet the task of binding to the completely unnatural organisation of opera remained together in a combination, brought about anyhow, the display of exactly as before. Air, recitative, and dance-music, each comall the artistic capabilities spread out before him. A connecting pletely separate, stand as causelessly by each other in Gluck's dramatic medium, which became more and more evidently operas, as was previously the case, and is so, almost always, necessity, now joined, with the help of the poet, that which in even at the present day. itself really required no such connecting medium, so that the aim In the position of the poet towards the composer, not the of the drama-impelled by outward necessity-was simply given, slightest change was made; the position of the latter towards but by vo means taken up. Vocal and dance melodies stood, in him had in fact become rather more dictatorial than before, the coldest and most complete solitude, near each other, for the since, after enouncing the consciousness of his more elevated display of the singer's or dancer's skill, while it was only in task-with regard to the vocalist-he carried out, with more what should, at a pinch, connect them, in the musically recited maturely weighed zeal, the arrangements in the construction of dialogue, that the poet exercised his subordinate influence, and the opera. The poet never thought of mixing himself up at all that the drama was at all apparent.

in such arrangements; he could not conceive music, to which Nor did recitative arise in opera, as a new invention, from a real opera owed its origin, otherwise than in those narrow, and perimpulse towards the drama; long before this speaking style of | fectly defined forms-completely binding down even the musician song had been introduced into opera, the Christian Church had himself—to which he was accustomed. It would have struck employed it for the recitation of Biblical passages. The cadence him as incredible, from any demands of the dramatic necessity which, in these recitations, soon became, in obedience to the pre- | upon them, to work on these forms in such a degree, that they cepts of the ritual, stationary, and common-place; only apparently, should, with regard to their constitution, have ceased to act as not really, any longer speaking, and rather indifferently melodic limits to dramatic truth, since he only conceived the constitution than expressively conversational, was next transferred, but also of music in the above forms—unassailable even by the musician modelled and varied by musical caprice, to opera, so that, with himself. He was obliged, therefore, if he once lent himself to the air, dance-melody, and recitative, the whole apparatus of the the production of an opera-text, to be more painfully attentive musical drama-absolutely, as regards its constitution, unchanged to these forms than even the musician, and, at most, leave it to down to the most recent opera-was definitely fixed. The sub- the latter to carry out enlargements and developments in a stance, too, of the dramatic plots serving as a foundation for this field of action where he was at home, and to which he, the poet, apparatus, soon became stereotyped ; mostly taken from the would only pretend to be auxiliary, but where he could not pretotally misunderstood Greek mythology and hero-world, they sume to exact anything. Thus it was by the poet himself, who formed a theatrical scaffolding, deficient in all capability of excit- looked with a kind of holy dread upon the composer, that the iug warmth and sympathy, but which, on the other hand, possessed dictatorship in opera was rather completely given up to, than the faculty of presenting itself for the use of every composer, to disputed with, the musician, when the poet perceived what be treated according to his peculiar views, and thus we find that earnest zeal the latter devoted to his task. the majority of these texts have been set to music again and 1 But it was Gluck's successors who first thought of taking again by the most dissimilar musicians.

advantage of this position of theirs for enlarging the forms they Gluck's revolution, which became so celebrated, and which found ready to their hand. These successors—among whom we has been wafted to the ears of many ignorant persons as a com must comprise the composers of Italian aud French origin, who, plete distortion of the views commonly taken until then of the shortly before the conclusion of the last, and at the commenceconstitution of opera, really consisted in the mere fact of the ment of the present, century, wrote for the operatic theatres of composer's revolting against the caprice of the singer. The Paris-imparted to their songs, with a more and more comcomposer, who, after the singer, had especially attracted the at | plete degree of warmth and truth of immediate expression, a tention of the public, since it was he who always provided the more extended formal foundation. The old established divisinger with fresh materials for the display of his skill, felt him- sions of the air, still retained in their essential characteristics, self injured by the singer's influence in exactly the same pro were fixed upon more varied motives, and even transitions and portion that he was desirous of fashioning the said materials connecting passages drawn into the domain of expression ; the after his own creative phantasy, so that his work, and perhaps recitative joined involuntarily, and more closely, the air, and only his work should, at last, strike the bearer. Two roads leven entered as a necessary expression into its composition. The air, however, gained an important degree of expansion from But how did this poet stand with regard to Spontini and his the fact that more than one person-according to the dramatic contemporaries? With the whole growth of the musical form exigencies—took part in its execution, and that thus the essen- of opera, with all the development of the capabilities of exprestially monological characteristic of the old opera was advan-sion contained in it, the position of the poet was not in the tageously lost. It is true that pieces such as duets and trios had least changed. He always remained the preparer of foundations been long previously known; but the fact of two or three persons for the perfectly independent experiments of the composer. singing together in an air had not fundamentally produced the If the latter, through successes obtained, felt his power for freer least change in the character of the air, which, in the melodic plan movement within his form increase, he only set the poet the and maintenance of the thematic tone once adopted—which tone task of serving him with less fear and anxiety in the supply of did not exactly refer to individual expression, but to a general subjects; he said to him, as it were, “See what I am able to specifically musical disposition-remained quite the same, accomplish! Do not trammel yourself; trust in my activity to nothing being really changed in it, whether performed as a resolve your most hazarded dramatic combinations, body and monologue or as a duet, except what was perfectly material, bones, into music.” Thus was the poet merely carried along by namely: the fact of the musical phrases being sung alternately the musician; he must have felt ashamed to bring wooden by different voices, or by all together, by a simple harmonic con-hobby-horses to his master, when the latter was able to bestride trivance, such as two or three voices, etc. To indicate this spe- a real steed, for he knew that the rider understood how to cifically musical element, so far that it might become capable of handle the reins bravely—the musical reins, which were destined vivaciously alternating individual expression, was the task to guide the steed hither and thither in the well-levelled operatic and work of the above mentioned composers, as is evident in riding school, and without which neither musician nor poet their treatment of the so-called dramatico-musical ensemble. | dared to bestride it, for fear it might spring high above the The essential element of this ensemble always remained in truth inclosing fence, and run off to its wild, magnificent naturesimply the air, recitative, and dance music; only, whenever, in home. the air or recitative, a vocal expression, corresponding to the The poet thus certainly attained, by the side of the composer, text-foundation, was once acknowledged as a fitting exigence, increasing importance, but only exactly in the proportion that the truth of this expression logically and of necessity had to be the musician ascended before him, while he merely followed ; extended to whatever dramatic connection was contained in the the strictly musical possibilities alone, which the composer text-foundation. From the honest effort to satisfy this necessary pointed out to him, were all that the poet thought of, to serve as consequence, arose the extension of the older musical forms in his standard for arrangement and form, and even for the choice opera, as we find them in the serious operas of Cherubini, of a subject; he remained, therefore, with all the reputation Méhul, and Spontini. We may say that, in these works, is which he, also, was beginning to gain, only the mere skilful fulfilled what Gluck wanted, or may have wanted-yes, in them person, able to serve the “ dramatic” composer so suitably and is attained, once for all, whatever natural, that is to say, in the well. Immediately the composer himself took no other view best sense of the expression, consistent qualities could be de- of the relative position of the poet, than that which he derived veloped on the primitive foundation of opera.

from the nature of opera, he could only regard himself as the The youngest of the above three masters, Spontini, was so per-| responsible factor of the opera, and thus, with right and justice, fectly convinced of having really reached the utmost limits of retain the position assumed by Spontini, as being the most suitoperatic style ; he had so firm a belief in the impossibility of his able, since he could procure himself the satisfaction of producing productions ever being, in any way, surpassed, tbat, in all his in that position, all that was possible for a musician, if he wished subsequent artistic efforts, which he published after the works the opera, as musical drama, to preserve its claim as a valid form of his great Parisian epoch, he never made even the slightest at- | of art. tempt, in form or meaning, to go beyond the stand he had taken That, however, there were things possible in drama, which in those works. He obstinately refused to recognise the subse could not be touched in the form of art of which we have been quent, so-called romantic, development of opera as anything but treating—if it were not to be entirely ruined—is at present an evident decay of opera; so that, on those, to whom he after very apparent to us, although it must have completely wards communicated his ideas concerning this subject, he neces escaped the notice of the composer and poet of that sarily produced the impression of a person prejudiced, to mad period. Of all dramatic possibilities, only those could strike ness, in favour of himself and his own works, while he really only them which were to be realized in their perfectly decided, enounced a conviction, which could very easily be founded upon and, from their constitution, altogether limited operatic a perfectly sound view of the constitution of opera. On surveying form. The broad expansion of, and long resting on, one the deportment of moderu opera, Spontini could, with justice motive, necessary for the musician, that he might express ask: "Have you materially developed, in any manner, the himself clearly in his own form ; the purely musical additions musical component parts of opera in any greater degree than which he required, for the purpose, as it were, of setting his what you find in my works? Or have you been able to effect any bell a-swinging, that it might sound, and sound, too, so as thing intelligible or sound, by really going beyond this form? Is expressively to satisfy a decided character, at all times imposed not all that is unpalateable in your productions simply a conse upon the poet the task of busying himself with a particularly quence of stepping out of this form, and have you not been en decided species of dramatic ideas, which afforded sufficient space abled to produce all that is palateable simply within this form ? for the extended, ambiguous commodiousness indispensable to Where, now, does this form exist more grandly, broadly, and the musician for his experimentalising. The purely rhetorical, comprehensively than in my three great Parisian operas? Who, phraselike, stereotyped element in his expression was for the however, will tell me that he has filled out this form with more poet a duty, for from this element alone could the musician glowing, passionate, and energetic substance than I have ?" obtain sufficient space for the expansion necessary for his pur

pose, but, in truth, wholly undramatic. Had the poet made his

heroes speak in a short, decided, succinct manner, full of meanIt would be difficult to reply to these questions of Spontini in ing, he would only have drawn down upon himself the reproach a manner that would confuse him, but, in every case, still more of the impracticability of his poem for the purposes of difficult to prove to him that he was mad, if he held us to be so. the composer. Feeling compelled to place a number of Out of Spontini's mouth speaks the honest voice of conviction of commonplace, meaningless phrases in the mouth of his the absolute musician, who gives us to understand: “If the heroes, he could not, consequently, with the best desire musician will, by himself, as arranger of the opera, bring about in the world, distinguish persons so speaking by true character, the drama, he cannot, without in addition exposing bis utter nor set the seal of perfect dramatic truth upon the context of their incapacity, go one step further than I have gone." In this, how actions. His drama became more and more a pretext for the drama; ever, there is involuntarily expressed the demand for something he never dared draw all the conclusions he might have drawn further: “If you desire more, you must apply, not to the musi from the real aim of the drama. Strictly speaking, he only cian, but to the poet."

| translated, therefore, the drama into operatic language, so that, really, in most instances, all that he did was to work up, for

DRAMATIC. opera, dramas which had long been known and performed until

STRAND.-A new version of the Adelphian farce of Betty people were completely tired of them, on the stage of spoken | Martin, called Sally Smart, has been produced for the purpose plays, as was especially the case in Paris, with the tragedies of of introducing Miss Somers in Mrs. Keeley's part. The attempt the Théâtre-Français. The aim of the drama, which, as a natural is an ambitious one, and altho'we must not compare Miss Somers' consequence, was inwardly hollow and null, thus passed, notori

performance with that of her more experienced rival, it was quite ously, into the intentions of the composer, from whom the public worthy the rising popularity of the youthful provincialist, who expected what the poet had previously given. It fell, therefore,

is unquestionably destined to occupy a prominent station on the necessarily, to his, the composer's, lot, to remedy this inward

London stage, in the parts in which she excels. hollowness and nullity of the whole work, as soon as he per-| DRURY LANE.-If crowded houses be a proof of success, the ceived them; he saw himself, therefore, charged with the unpa- Royal Opera at Drury Lane must be pronounced triumphant, tural task-from his own point of view, from the point of view | The cheap prices, no less than the performance, have proved of one who has to assist in realising, only by the means of ex- attractive, and Mr. E. T. Smith has found the suppression of free pression at his command, the fully displayed dramatic aim-of tickets and orders to answer. Nevertheless, the prices are too himself conceiving and calling the aim into life. Thus, strictly | low, and the theatre would fill just as well if they were higher speaking, the musician had to endeavour really to compose the I to say nothing of preserving its respectability. On Friday Norma drama, and to make his music not only the expression, but also

was given with two new singers from the Continent. Madame the very substance, which substance, according to the nature of

Arga is a very pleasing actress, and has a fine mezzo-soprano the thing, was to be nothing less than the drama itself.

voice, which she manages skilfully. She is prepossessing in From this point commences, most plainly, the wonderful con- l appearance, and displays intelligence in all she attempts. Her fusion of ideas, occasioned by the predicate "dramatic,” con- 1 success was decided. We have no doubt she will prove an cerning the constitution of music. Music, which, as an art of acquisition to the theatre, and a useful set-off to Madame expression, can, in its greatest fullness, only be true in that ex

Gassier. Signor Armandi is a tenore robusto, as Pollio should pression, is, under these circumstances and in conformity to its be. The part of Pollio, however, is not a favourable one nature, simply referable to what it should express ; in opera this for a first appearance. We must not, therefore, judge Signor is most decidedly the sensations of those speaking and perform Armandi until we have seen him in something else. ing, and any music doing this with convincing effect is exactly

Mr. Hamilton Braham was the Oroveso. Mad. Gassier conall it can ever be. Any music, however, intended to be more

tinues to delight in the Sonnambula, the Barbiere, and Don than this any music not referring to an object to be expressed,

| Pasquale. In the last-named opera, on Tuesday, Sig. Fortini but intended also to fulfil it, that is to say to be the object itself, made his first appearance as the amorous old bachelor, and susis fundamentally no longer music at all, but a phantastic abstract tained the part with much effect. Although occasionally exmonstruosity, which can in truth only be realised as a caricature.

travagant, Sig. Fortini possesses humour. In spite of every wrongheaded effort, music, if at all effective

In the ballet, in addition to Malle. Palmyra, who improves on has really remained nothing more than expression; from such

acquaintance, a Mdlle. Paolo has made her debut with success. efforts to make it the substance itself- and that, too, the sub- She dances neatly and gracefully, has a pretty face, and possesses stance of the drama-has sprung what we have to acknowledge a good figure. M. Friant, another dancer, also made his first as the logical decay of opera, and, therefore, the notorious proof bow. of the complete unnaturalness of this form of art.

I SURREY.—On Tuesday-week the dramatic season closed with Although the foundation and actual substance of Spontini's the Lady of Lyons, and the Love Chase, for the benefit of Miss operas were hollow and null, and the musical form displayed Fitzpatrick, whose appearance as Pauline Deschapelles took upon them circumscribed and pedantic, still they were in their the audience a little by surprise. The early scenes were given restrictedness a frank and, in themselves, clear confession of with grace and naïvetė, and, though the scenes in the third and what was possible in this form, without pushing its inherent fourth acts wanted energy, the whole displayed a power of unnaturalness to madness. Modern opera, on the other hand, is

expression, at least in its more subdued form, for which we had the public proof of this madness having commenced. In order hardly given the fair actress credit.-On Monday last the more nearly to examine its constitution, let us now turn our

operatic season commenced, under the direction of Miss Romer, attention to the other direction taken by the development

with a lyrical version of the drama of Faust and Marguerite, of opera, a direction we have characterised as frivolous, and |

called Mephistopheles, the libretto by Mr. Henri Drayton, and the through the mingling of which with the serious direction, of

tion, of music by Herr Lutz, musical director of the theatre. Herr which we have just been treating, has been produced that in

Lutz produced an operetta here two years ago, with moderate describably confused oaf which we hear designated, and that, success. His present work is not likely to obtain a more lasting too, not unfrequently, even by apparently sensible people, as hold on the public. That it contains the elements of popularity “Modern Dramatic Opera.”

is not to be denied; but that it contains no more, is equally (To be continued.)

certain. The writer is evidently a votary of modern Italianism; his models, however, are not the best of their kind. There is a

pretty and spirited opening chorus, and a quintet in the finale AMATEUR PANTOMIME.-The following letter has been ad

to the first act, which display some good part-writing. The dressed to our contemporary, the Leader, by Mr. Albert Smith:

second act contains a quartet of the same kind ; this was encored, _" THE AMATEUR PANTOMIME.(To the Editor of the Leader.)

as were also a tenor and bass song. The choruses in the last act SIR, -Be kind enough to allow me, through your columns, to have, apparently, merit; but it is impossible to speak with give up an honour which I am not fairly entitled to the author confidence until the singers have been better drilled. It is only ship of the opening of the Olympic Amateur Pantomime. The fair to Herr Lutz to add that he had but scanty justice from the original burlesque scene of Guy Fawkes was written by Mr. Ed

performers, either on the stage or in the orchestra. Mr. Drayton mund Draper, for The Man in the Moon-a little periodical

and Mr. Perren were the only artists who seemed at ease in which I edited in 1848, conjointly with my poor friend, Mr.

their parts. Mrs. Drayton (late Miss Lowe) sang timidly, as if Angus Reach. I have done little more, with my collaborateur she had not sufficiently studied the music allotted to her. Mr. Hale, than remodel it, according to our exigencies, and put The house was crammed from floor to roof. in the songs and business,' and such local or personal allusions as were considered adapted to the audience. Yours obediently, | Don GIOVANNI.—Herr Pauer, the well-known pianist and ALBERT Smith. The Fielding Club, April 11, 1855.".

composer, having been commissioned to dispose of the original NEWS FOR SIMS REEVES.–Our contemporary, L'Europe Artiste, score of this masterpiece, in Mozart's own handwriting, offered it

his last number, writes:-“M. Simes Rèves supports at Drury to the British Museum for two hundred guineas (the minimum Lane the whole burden of the répertoire." Possibly Mr. Smith price). His offer was declined instantaneously. They would would not object to this being true.

have purchased a mummy for the same amount, no doubt,

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »