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OPERA AND DRAMA.
language.* The vocalic sound of the pure language of the feelings
endeavours to render itself distinctly recognizable in words, BY RICHÁRD WAGNER.
just as the inward feelings endeavour to distinguish the outward (Continued from page 633.)
objects working on the emotions, with regard to them, and,
finally, to render intelligible the inward impulse of this commuPART IL
nication itself. In the pure language of tune, the feelings, when
communicating the impression received, rendered only themCHAPTER VII.
selves intelligible, and were enabled to do this, seconded by
gesture, through the most various raising and sinking, lengthening The language of tune is the beginning and the end of the
and shortening, increasing and diminishing of the vocalic sounds; language of words, just as the feelings are the beginning and
but, in order to designate outward objects by their distinguishing end of the understanding; the mythos, the beginning and end of
features, the feelings were compelled, in a manner corresponding History; and lyrics, the beginning and end of poetry. The to the effect produced by the object upon themselves, and mediator between the beginning and the centre, as well as be
realizing this effect, to clothe the vocalic sound in a distinguishing tween the latter and the termination, is fancy.
garb, that they took from this effect and thus from the object The course of this development is, however, of such a kind
itself. This garb was woven out of mute consonants, which it that it is not a return, but a progression towards the attainment
combined, either as initial or final sounds, or as both together, of the highest human capability, and is worked out not only by
with the vocal sound, so that the latter was surrounded and mankind generally, but by every social individual, according to
retained by them as a definite, distinguishing manifestation, its essential attributes.
just as the object itself, thus distinguished, was outwardly disJust as all the germs for the development of the understanding
played and isolated by a garb—the brute by its hide, the tree by are contained in unconscious feeling, while the understanding
its bark, etc. The vowels, thus clothed and distinguished by itself contains the compelling power for the justification of the their garb, form the roots of language, out of the combinations feelings, and man only becomes the reasonable man, when he and various arrangements of which the whole material edifice justifies these feelings by the understanding; and just as, through of our endlessly ramified language of words has been built. the mythos justified by history, which sprang from it, in a similar | But let us now first note with what great instinctive prudence manner, the really intelligible picture of life is first obtained ;
this language only gradually left the nourishing breast of its lyrics contain all the germs of poetry properly so called, and mother, melody, and her milk, the vocalic sound. Corresponding which finally and necessarily can only utter the justification of
to the essential attributes of an inartificial view of Nature, and lyrics, and the work of this justification is precisely the highest | the desire for communicating the impression of such a view, work of human art, the perfect drama.
speech combined only what was related and similar, for the purThe most primitive organ for the expression of the inward |
pose not only of rendering clear, in this combination, what was man is, however, the language of tune, as the most involuntary
related, by means of its similarity, and explaining what was utterance of the inward feelings excited from without. A mode
similar, by means of its relationship, but, also, by means of an of expression similar to that still peculiar to animals was
expression, founded upon the similarity and relationship of its certainly the first human mode as well; and, we can, at any
own points, for the purpose of producing a so much more definite instant, picture it to ourselves according to its essential
and intelligible impression upon the feelings. The materially attributes, immediately we reject from our word-language the
poetizing faculty of speech was here manifested: it had arrived mute consonants, and retain only the vowels. In the latter,
at the power of forming points distinguished from each other in if we imagine them divested of the consonants, and fancy the
the roots of language by clothing in a garb of mute consonants, manifold and increased charge of inward feelings, according
which was received by the feelings as the objective expression to their various painful or joyful purport, manifested in them
of the object, according to a quality taken from itself, the vocalic alone, we obtain a picture of the first language of man's
sound employed for an object-according to the standard of emotions, and one in which his excited and heightened feelings
its expression-in the mere subjective expression of feeling. If could certainly be communicated in a combination of vowels,
speech combined such roots according to their similarity and that, completely as a matter of course, must have presented
relationship, it explained to the feelings in an equal measure itself in the form of melody. This melody, which was accom
the impression of the objects, as well as the corresponding expanied by suitable gestures of the body in such a manner that
pression, by the increased strengthening of this expression, and it appeared simultaneously only as the suitable inward expres- | | by this means depicted the object itself as strengthened, namely sion of an outward manifestation by means of gesture, and, as manifold in itself, but, in conformity with its essential attritherefore, from the changing motion of the gesture, borrowed its
butes, impressed, by relationship and similarity, with unity. standard of time in the rhythm-in such a way as to return it
This poetizing point of language is alliteration, or Stabreim to the gesture, in the form of a melodically justified mea
in which we recognise the most primitive quality of all poetic sure for its own manifestation-this rhythmical melody, which
language. we-in consideration of the endlessly greater many-sided
In the Stabreim the roots of the language allied to ness of man's power of emotion compared to that of animals,
each other are so arranged that, just as they strike the and especially because, in the reciprocal influence-possessed by
material ear as similar in sound, they combine similar no animal-between the inward expression of the voice and the
objects in a joint picture, in which the feelings wish to outward one of the gesture,* it can be endlessly heightened
express a conclusion regarding them. They obtain their matewe should, from its beauty and effect, be wrong in estimating lowly l rially recognizable similarity either from the relationship --this melody in conformity with its origin and nature, was, of
between the vocal sounds, especially when the latter have no itself, so much the standard for the word-verse, that the latter
initial consonant,t or the similarity of this very initial consoappeared dependent upon it in such a degree as to be actually
nant, which characterises them as a something particular, subordinate to it—a fact which is evident to us at the present
corresponding to the object ;I or, also, from the similarity of the day if we carefully examine any real song of the people, for we
final sound (as assonance) closing the roots, immediately the see in it the word-verse plainly conditional on the melody, and
individualising power lies in this final sound. The distribution that, too, in such a manner, that it has frequently to adapt itself, and arrangement of these roots rhyming with each other takes even for the sense, to the arrangement most peculiar to the
place according to laws similar to those which decide us in every latter. This circumstance exhibits to us very plainly the origin of
* I picture to myself the origin of language out of melody, not in
chronological but architectonic order. * The animal that expresses its emotions most melodiously-the + “ Erb und Eigen." '" Immer und Ewig." wood-bird-does not possess the slightest power of accompanying its I “Ross und Reiter.” “Froh und Frei." song with gesture,
Ś “ Hand und Mund." "Recht und Pflicht."
artistic tendency in the repetition, necessary for the under- and more completely from lyrics, sought another bond for its standing, of those motives on which we lay the greatest weight, connection with the melodic breath passages, and procured such and which, on this account, we so place among less important a bond in the final rhyme. motives, presupposed again by themselves, that they knowably The final rhyme, to which, also, on account of its position appear to be the presupposing and essential ones.
with respect to our modern music, we must return, was placed Since, for the purpose of stating the possible influence of at the termination of the melodic section without being any the Stabreim on our music, I must reserve till a future period longer capable of corresponding to the intonations of the melody the nearer consideration of this subject, I will here coutent itself. It no longer joined the natural bond of the language myself with calling the reader's attention to the conditional of tune and that of words, a bond, in which the Stabreim relation in which the Stabreim, and the word-verse, included brought forward the rootlike affinities to the melodic intonations, in it, stood to that melody which we have to understand intelligibly for the outward and inward sense, but merely flutas the most primitive manifestation of a more manifold tered loosely at the end of the bonds of the melody, with regard human feeling, but again in its manifoldness separating itself to to which the word-verse fell into a more and more arbitrary and unity. Not only is the word-verse, according to its extension, unbending relation. But the more complicated and mediating but also the Stabreim determining that extension, according the course which the language of words was obliged to pursue to its place, and particularly its quality, to be explained in order to designate objects and relations, belonging only to by us only by that melody, the manifestation of which social convention, and not to the self-defining nature of things ; was again dependent on the natural capability of the the more trouble language was obliged to take, in order to dishuman breath, and the possibility of producing stronger cover designations for ideas, which, of themselves diverted from intonations in one breath. The duration of an emission of natural facts, should be again employed for combinations of these the breath by the vocal organs determined the extension of one abstractions; the more it was compelled to screw up the primisection of the melody, in which an important part of the same tive signification of the roots to a double and treble one, artificially must be included. The possibility of this duration decided, assigned to them, and only to be thought and no longer to be felt, also, the pumber of the particular intonations in the melodic and the more complicated the mechanical apparatus which it had section, which, if the several intonations were of passionate to put together, for the purpose of moving and supporting the strength, was, by the quicker consumption of breath by them, screws and levers, the more stubborn and strange did it become lessened, or, if the intonations, being of less strength, required towards the primitive melody, of which it at last lost even the a less rapid consumption of breath, increased. These intonations, most distant recollection, when, breathless and tuneless, it was which agreed with the gesture through which they conduced to obliged to plunge into the grey turmoil of prose. the rhythmical measure, were verbally condensed, around the
(To be continued.) root words in the Stabreim determining their number and place, just as the melodic section, conditional on the breath,
RACHEL. determined the length and extension of the verse.—How simple
“THE success of Mdlle. Rachel at New York," writes a corà thing is it to explain and understand the length and extent of
respondent of the Moniteur Dramatique, “surpasses all expectaall metre, if we but take the reasonable trouble to go back to
tion. Every sort of ovation is paid to her at the theatre, and, the natural conditions of all human artistic power, from which
| indeed, wherever she is seen. Marie Stuart, Adrienne Lecouvreur, conditions alone, we can, again, attain real artistic productivity!
Horace, Phèdre, have alternately created a furore. The GardesLet us, however, at present, confine our investigations to the
| Lafayettes and some other Frenchmen resident in New York course of development pursued by the language of words, and
entreated Malle. Rachel to sing the Marseillaise. The great reserve until later the melody it abandoned.
artist, however, abstained, and replied to the solicitations ad
dressed to her by the following letter :Exactly in the same proportion that poetic invention, from “ "DEAR FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN-It is seven years since I sang the being an activity of the feelings, became a matter of the under Marseillaise. At that time something, I know not what, had given me standing, the united, primitive and creative bond of the language the semblance of a voice, and my health was still young. Now I am of tune, gesture and words in lyrics was dissolved ; the language frequently prostrate after a representation, and I should really fear to of words was a child that left its father and mother to make its compromise other interests than my own, if I added to my fatigues. way alone in the world. As objects, and their relations to his You will believe the deep regret I feel in not venturing to promise what feelings increased before the eyes of growing man, the words you ask of me, when I tell you that I loved to sing the Marseillaise as and combinations of words constituting language were, also, | I loved to play my best part in Corneille. Accept, &c., augmented, in order to correspond to the increased objects
"RACHEL." and relations. As long as man, in this process, kept Nature in “Malle. Rachel,” says the New York Herald, “is not only a his eye, and endeavoured to grasp her with his feelings, so long, great artist ; she has already, on several occasions since her also, did he discover roots of language, corresponding charac- | arrival among us, given proofs that she possesses a great heart. teristically to the objects and their relations. But when, in the The following letter has just been addressed to the President of pressure of life, he at length turned his back upon this fructi- the Committee organised to receive subscriptions in favour of fying source of his power of language, his inventive faculty like- victims of the yellow fever: wise dried up, and he was obliged to content himself in such a «MONSIEUR THE PRESIDENT.-I have read in the morning papers manner with the stock, now left him as an inheritance, but no an account of the terrible calamity which is afflicting Norfolk and longer a possession continually to be gained afresh, that he com- Portsmouth, and am anxious to contribute something to alleviate so bined doubly and trebly, for supernatural objects, according to great a misfortune. To this end I transmit herewith the sum of 1000 his requirements, the roots that he had inherited, and for the dollars, which I beg you will add to the subscription. Accept, &c. sake of this combination, again shortened and distorted them,
"RACIEL." especially by volatizing the euphony of their sounding vowels So that, after all, whatever Herr Richard Wagner may think into a hasty sound of language, and sensibly drying up the living proper to insinuate, the “Jews" are not altogether “purely flesh of the language by heaping together the mute sounds egotistical.” necessary for the connection of roots not allied to one another. When language thus lost the involuntary understanding of its GIFTS TO THE FRENCH ARMY IN THE CRIMEA.-The house of own roots, which was only to be rendered possible by the feel- Pleyel in Paris has presented to Prince Napoleon, for the benefit ings, it could naturally no longer correspond in them to the of the French army in Sebastopol, a grand pianoforte in roseintonations of the nourishing mother melody. It either con- wood richly ornamented. Mad. Erard, widow of the late emitented itself, where-as in the times of Grecian antiquity n ent manufacturer, has forwarded to his Imperial Highness, for dancing was an indispensable part of lyrics, with clinging as the same object, the splendid grand pianoforte, style Louis XV., tenaciously as possible to the rhythm of the melody, or where- value 25,000 francs (£1,000), which is now exhibiting in the nave as is the case in modern nations-dancing was separated more of the Palace of Industry, in the Champs Elysées.
REVIEW OF THE HISTORY OF MUSIC have been principally employed in the service of the church;
the only direct application of music in which the two significa
tions and the two-fold values, between which we have been (Continued from page 624).
labouring to point out the distinction, have met and become What then is a fugue? It is a musical proposition, which is identical. What musician has not felt the everlasting harmony unfolded simply or contradictorily, according as it has one or of the sublime church music with the sublime act which it more subjects, together with the arguments, which are deduced accompanies ? Hear those voices, rising one after the other solely from the relations of the harmony and of the counter- in slow and sustained tones ; they intertwine and separate like point ; a music, which plays in an ingenious and (so to say) the spiral wreaths of incense rising from the censer, while, dow abstract manner with its elements. The end of the game is the higher and now lower, they continually echo the same comgame itself, and the fugue signifies, above all, just what it must plaining words. That is not the expression of a passionate grief, signify in its peculiarity as fugue. If it is good, it will be found one of those torturing agonies of flesh and blood : but it is good ; require no more : you have already the sense of the work. the holy and poetic sorrow, which announces itself in the old This sense never lies in the text of the vocal fugue. The words cathedrals ; it is the utterance of our common misery at the attached to it, are too few to help us to this sense, nor can the foot of the cross, ever repeated and evermore the same. The fugue itself derive much profit from them. They merely serve allegro of a jubilant fugue follows upon the andante. Is this to furnish syllables to the singers. Kyrie Eleison, Hosanna in the reverberation of a worldly festival, the martial sound of Excelsis, these are all the words, which the longest and most triumph, or the announcement through thousands of the people's thoroughly developed fugue requires.
voices of some happy national event? Nothing of all that. It may be said that the contrapuntal style, by means of This chorus expresses the solemnity of the Lord's day; it analogy, re-enacts the faculties and laws of the understanding celebrates an altogether mystical feast ; it sings in unison with on the domain of feeling. And indeed the arangement and all Christian souls, who, weary of the bustle of the world, have studied (motivirte) sequence of musical thoughts, the beauty of come to hear the hymns of the king of prophets and the concerts the thematic development, corresponds to the deductions, proofs, of the heavenly Jerusalem.. and conclusions which a skilful logician knows how to draw
which a skilful logician knows how to draw It may have been remarked, that the stumbling blocks. from some fruitful proposition. The combination of two or commonly placed between works in the contrapuntal style and more themes, contrasted in their melodic plan and in their the majority of hearers, frequently seem not to exist in the rhythmical movement, gives a type of the approximation of church music ; the ignorant appear to understand it about as two thoughts, which seem at first to have nothing in common well as the initiated. We have already given one of the reasons with each other, but out of whose unforeseen contact a design of this exception ; but there is another, far more universal, suddenly becomes perceptible, which charms by its novelty and since it operates without distinction upon hearers of all countries surprises by its clearness. In short, is not the unity of subject and communions. There is an acoustic reason at the bottom
strictly adhered to and wisely connected with all the incidental of it. i * and episodical details, alike a merit in the rhetorician and the. The remarkable resonance, in buildings devoted to public
contrapuntist ? Arrangement, method, clearness, strength, and worship, swells the volume of tone, rendering a multitude of just combination, natural limits of the object, logic, in short, all details imperceptible ; it in a manner simplifies the music and such expressions may with equal propriety be used concerning lends to the material effect a force, which is enough to shake works of music and works of the written or the spoken word. the hearer, and that entirely without any assistance of the comDoes not the identity of the designations here prove the com position, supposing it to be well executed. Scarcely has the piece plete accuracy of the correspondence.
begun, when you surrender yourself with a shudder to that And yet, how strange! the more a composition through irresistible power of the accords produced by a hundred select analogy approaches that kind of eloquence which is called voices, strengthened by a crowd of symphonists, through which is deliberative or demonstrative, the less does the sense of the heard the harmonic storm of the organ roaring, making the work admit of verbal commentaries. Whence comes this? It whole sonorous building tremble. And you will say " It is follows from the fact, that between verbal and musical logic God's voice." Yes, it is the voice of God, making itself heard there always lies the difference between thinking and feeling. through one of the most adorable laws of his creation, The better a truth of abstract feeling has been analyzed and | While the harmonic effects are thus rounded off and consolipresented in the language of feeling, the less will the language dated in great masses, the ear ceases to be much perplexed by of reason, or spoken words, affect this series of corollaries in details, which would have been quite bewildering, had they notes, which prove nothing, unless they be resolved into an been niore distinctly heard. So far is this the case, that a Mass emotion of the heart or an enjoyment for the ears. Just so it is when reduced to the simplest possible mode of execution and in another sphere, that of the pure mathematics, in which heard as a quartet or quintet in a chamber, is frequently no truths in the same way elude verbal logic, and can only be longer recognized by the very hearer who had been transported given through algebraical and numerical formulas.
| by it during divine service. Among the works in the contrapuntal style there are doubt- These remarks explain many things in the past and in the less many, of which the general character may be defined. | present of music. We now know why the fugued counterpoint, There are gloomy and mournful fugues, and again there are which grew always more and more offensive and was gradually others that ring out in jubilant and cheerful tones. But neither excluded from all profane compositions, after Bach and Händel this mournfulness nor this joy have the positive, dramatic, and found its last place of refuge in the temples ; why it pleased in passionate expression, which they would necessarily have, if the church and displeased elsewhere ; and why, since its rethey were called forth by one of those external incitements, introduction, the mass of the dilettanti have yet been able to which occasion revolutions in the soul. You feel nothing casual perceive no gusto in it in the chamber music. If in our day in the psychological state expressed by the fugue ; you easily we see many voluntary martyrs to the contrapuntal style, who perceive the soaring up of passion to its object. It is a disposi- impose upon themselves the penance of hearing a quartet worked tion of the soul, which is either customary or voluntary, and off, it is because the title of dilettanti has become a sort of which, in the want of outward nourishment, turns back upon standing in the world, a card of introduction, opening many itself and works through itself; a mixture of feeling and reflec- doors to one, which but for that would have remained shut tion, of dreams and inspiration; a state therefore, whose modifi against him. We are obliged to be kind and patient hearers of cations, shades, and phases do not admit of analysis.
musicians who play gratis. One checks himself, when the When we reflect upon all these properties of music, some of tendency to gape comes over him too heavily, and utters ever which penetrate so far down into those deptbs of the soul that are and anon the exclamations : exquisite ! wonderful! divine ! like most inaccessible to the understanding and to words, we see the sentinels : Who's there! to show that he is awake. before all things, how much they approach the nature of the How much easier living it is, on the contrary, in the Opera, in religious sentiment, and why the contrapuntal and fugued styles the land of musical freedom, where the listeners recover their
full natural independence! Every one is there for his money's in their decline follow the opposite progression from that indiworth ; every one is sovereign judge of the satisfaction that he cated by their growing favour; the melancholy progress from buys; and if the great multitude does not find this satisfaction indifference to satiety, and from satiety to loathing. They were there, then woe to the composer or the players! We have loved more and more, because they were well kuown ; and they a right to abuse those who rob us. Here the public reigns de- ceased to be loved, because they were known too well. And spotic, and the taste of the many from of old has been the then the music is no more than a dried up flower, which supreme law. In the theatre there is no appeal from the decision has outlived its colours and its fragrance ; a noble wine, which of the public ; the sentence is executed the moment it is passed, has lost its fine aroma. and the condemned always have the worst of it.
This mournful type, and yet too true, of our enjoyments, gives What should we think of a composer, who should be fool the true measure for both styles of music, viewed from their enough to multiply in his works the thoughts and forms of a opposition and their equipoise, since they both have a for and an style, which, he knows from positive experience, would be the against. The enjoyments, which melody creates, are incompaBurest means of utterly displeasing his supreme judges ? Yet rably more lively; those of counterpoint, on the contrary, far such a fool, whom we should suppose utterly impossible, has more enduring. The former are had gratis, the latter must be once existed. His name was MOZART.
purchased by labour and study; like the pleasures of the mind, I have enlarged a good deal on the contrapuntal style ; I have which they represent in music, so far as it is possible to repreperhaps said too much about it. But I have done so for the sent them in that. In the analogies of the melodic style we find reason, that celebrated writers seem to me to have spoken again all the expression and emotional power of speech, the neither sufficiently, nor as they should have done, about it. But passions, with their joys and sorrows. Counterpoint occupies inasmuch as this branch of music is the most difficult, the least the opposite psychological domain ; its serious expressions do understood, the least explained and, more than that, the one of not harmonize much with sensuality; they touch the infinite which I felt the most concerned to give a correct idea, I trust on all sides; they address ineffable words to the soul ; they talk that my diffusiveness will be pardoned.
with it the exalted language of Poesy, which flashes from the The other style hardly requires the same amount of explana- vaulted firmament in characters of fire ; and the thought readily tions. Melody is ground for everybody's feet. Whoever loves | suggests itself, that, had the stars an audible as they have a music loves melody, and for the human race en masse melody visible voice, the mathematical laws, having become euphonious, makes up the whole of music. Besides, I have already in a would spread abroad the combinations of the fugue ; and that certain manier sought to enumerate its negative properties, in the harmony of the spheres would then be a song of innumerable endeavouring to indicate the sphere and limits of the fugued themes, as many as there are separate, and yet united worlds, to style. All that this latter cannot do, melody, with the aid of sing the praise of the Father of all worlds. harmony, reduced to mere accompaniment, can do. In this
[To be continued.] simplified form, if melody can move freely, she lends expression to all positive emotions, even' to images of visible, imitated, or
OPERA AT DRURY LANE. poetically felt phenomena ; she interprets words and lends them thereby an unwonted power ; in the theatre she kindles up
.... (From the Sunday Times.) within us all the passions, which she knows how to portray and . Ir the opera season, now terminated at Drury Lane, be meexcite; she furnishes the executive talents with the means of morable for nothing else, it will, at least, have proved that the their triumphs; she pours out streams of rapture through the performance of English opera may be made a successful specuorgan of a euphonious voice, or through the vibrations of an lation. Success, however, in such matters as this may be of instrument, and transports a whole public into that enthusiasm, three kindg-pecuniary and artistic combined ; artistic, and not which is openly manifested on the arrival of a virtuoso of the pecuniary; and pecuniary, and not artistic. The first of these, first rank. Is it not melody again that conjures up the dearest the Drury Lane success certainly is not; the second was, unshadows of the past, and with a few magic notes carries you back doubtedly, never aimed at by the management; and the third, into the times of a bliss' long vanished, or spans long distances failing the other two, is precisely what has been achieved. There and leads the sorrowing soul into his home? Is it not she, has been an almost undeviating succession of good houses, to an that sustains the courage of the warrior and inspires him in the equally unvarying series of indifferent, or bad, performances. hour of battle ? She, that lends fervor to our most cheerful | Now, as this fact goes somewhat against the grain of received festivals ? She that leads straightway to the fountain, where- opinion, it may be worth while to spend a few words upon it. at poor humanity most commonly drinks oblivion and conso- | The English public is generally said to be a clumsy judge of lation for its sorrows ? that speaks to us so gracefully of love, music in the abstract, but a veritable connoisseur in the matter and makes us more susceptible thereof? It is still always of performance; and this we believe to be, in the main, correct. melody. And if I cannot give myself up to love, says some one, Thus, we find an audience accurately critical on the merits or I at least make music; and this at least marks excellently well defects of a singer, and yet quite contented to prefer Verdi's the correspondence of these two occupations. This is what the Trovatore to Beethoven's Fidelio. To an offence against this rhetoricians call the sublime in thought.
tendency of the public mind, all the failures of English operatic By the side of these attributes of the harmonico-melodic style, attempts have been, more or less, ascribed. The mistake has the delights of counterpoint seem very weak and very insignifibeen committed of angling for a delicate stomach with a coarse cent. But all things have their compensation in this world. If bait ; in other words, of expecting people to pay for an entermelody is an eternal principle for the rejuvenescence of music, tainment of a kind altogether beneath that which they were so too it is an ever present cause of its corruption and its death. willing to accept. At Drury Lane, however, we have not By the ease with which it assumes all colours and accommo observed this attributed delicacy of perception to interfere dates itself to all forms, by its subserviency to the most moody with public patronage. All sorts of operas have been played, and transient influences, melody makes any given system of in every possible way except the right, and yet the audiences composition to appear, so far as the hearers are concerned, as have been abundant, and what is more, seemingly well coneither national or foreign, autiquated or new. It founds the tented with their fare. Night after night, the admirer of English momentary taste and it destroys it. The instability peculiar tot opera has had a physical difficulty in procuring a seat in the this element of music became still greater with a superficial and theatre, and, if of tender ears must, we suspect, have exalmost primitive harmony, like that in the majority of the perienced an equal moral difficulty in retaining it half an Italian operas of the eigteenth contury, At first, when it held | hour after the ascent of the curtain. The fact is, that a sole sway, the power of the ruling melody was so much the new element in operatic success has been discovered. The greater ; but it soon lost its attractive energy, since it had management has found out that there is a pounds, shillings, and surrendered itself with too little reserve to the wishes of the pence direction, in which the public mind may be turned to ear. Works in this style, called homophonic (one-voiced), that such profitable account as to render any other consideration is to say purely melodic, generally soon wear out; we see them superfluous. The present musical venture at Drury Lane is,
in fact, the degenerate descendant of that rather hardy enter
SPONTINI. prise-to use a mild term—the Royal'Opera. On the extinction
. (From the French of Hector Berlioz.) of the latter becoming imminent, the lessee of the theatre was induced to risk its continuance, with the novel attraction of a
On the 14th of November, 1779, was born at Marjolati, in the scale of prices for which opera had certainly never previously Marche d'Ancone, a child named Gaspard Spontini. All that I been heard-at least on this side of the Thames. With this know concerning the earlier years of Spontini, and which I mypecuniary temptation, the public flocked in crowds to hear operas self heard him relate, are confined to a few facts, which I will given by a more than respectable company of Italian artists, reproduce, without, however, attaching to them more importance supported by a band and chorus at least large, if not excellent ; than they deserve. When he was between twelve and thirteen and the attraction was well sustained by Madame Gassier and years of age, he went to Naples to enter the Conservatorio della the clever troupe which surrounded her. But, in this case,
Pietà. Was it at the desire of the child that his parents opened crowded houses failed to do their usual work.' The receipts | to him the gates of this celebrated school of music? or did his did not and could not balance the expenditure. Wherefore, father, doubtless reduced in circumstances, think, by entering since raising the prices would have been an abandonment of him there, to open to him an easy as well as a modest career, the “cheap" principle at first so vaunted, the somewhat intending, perhaps, to make him chapel-master to some convent equivocal expedient of reducing the quality of the en
or church of second rank? Which of these motives might have tertainment was substituted. The Italian singers gave actuated him I know not. I somehow, incline, however, to the place to such native talent as was procurable at the mo second hypothesis, having in view the disposition for a religious ment; the orchestral regiment, commanded by Mr. Tully, I life manifested by the other members of the Spontini family. dwindled to a mere company, and the choral force suffered a One of the brothers was the curé of a Roman village ; the other, similar reduction. Yet, with all this, the fact of “cheap Anselmo Spontini,died a few years since in a Venetian monastery, opera” was established. The public still came in undiminished
if I recollect aright, and his sister also finished her days in a numbers, and a practical demonstration was afforded of the much- | convent, where she had taken the veil. denied possibility of good houses co-existing with bad perform
Be it as it may, Gaspard Spontini's studies were sufficiently ances. But this must by no means be taken to prove that fruitful at La Pietà to enable him to write, as many did, one of operatic success is independent of artistic merit. It proves
those follies, decorated in Italy, as elsewhere, with the pompous nothing of the kind. It simply proves that there are two classes name of opera, which had for its title, I Puntiglie delle Donne of opera-going people available to a theatrical treasury—the
I do not know whether this first attempt was even represented first, wealthy and critical, and the second neither one nor the or not. Nevertheless, it inspired its author with sufficient ambiother. The Drury Lane performances were established for a tion and confidence in his own talents to induce him to fly from special purpose, and they served it. The management played the Conservatory and repair to Rome, where he hoped to for, and won, the patronage of that section of the public which, | encounter less difficulty than at Naples in the production of his loving music heartily-perhaps greedily, and certainly roughly-| pieces on the stage. The fugitive was soon caught, however, is neither so thin-skinned as to be offended by an inferior per- and, under penalty of being re-conducted to Naples, was required formance, nor sufficiently long of purse to pay for a better. to justify his escapade and the pretensions which had caused it,
Far be it from our wish to interfere between any portion of by writing a carnival-piece. He had given him a libretto, enthe public and the possession of an entertainment suited to its titled Gli Amanti in Cimento, which he promptly set to music, taste, and within its pecuniary means; only we should prefer
and which was almost immediately after represented with that that taste be indulged in some less important locality success. The public behaved to the young maestro with than Drury Lane Theatre. Nor can we have the slightest wish the enthusiasm common to Romans on such occasions. Moreover, to deprive singers and orchestralists, as yet incomplete in their his age and the episode of his flight had disposed the dilettanti art, of the stage practice so essential to them; though we may in his favour. Spontini was applauded, recalled, carried in suggest the propriety of the continental custom, which limits triumph, and—forgotten in a fortnight. This brief success obthis necessary exercise to the provinces. We merely object to tained for him at least his liberty. He was dispensed with from these very indifferent performances as specimens of English returning to the Conservatorio, and received a very advantageoperatic capability, and more especially with the extra signifi- ous offer to go and write, as they say in Italy, at Venice. Here cance conferred by their taking place in one of our largest and he is, then, emancipated, left to himself, after a brief abode with finest theatres. By the foreign musician, they must, indeed, be the classes of the Neapolitan Conservatory. taken in evidence of the art-poverty of our land. If it be said Here I think it most fit to attempt to clear up the doubt that they alone now represent English opera, and, therefore, involved in the question which may naturally present itself : better those than none, we can merely reply, on the contrary,
“Who was his master ?” Some say Father Martini, who died better none than these. They can do no possible good. They before the entrance of Spontini into the Conservatorio, and, I cannot help the English musician a single step on his way. They believe myself, before he was born. Others, a certain Baroni, can only serve to estrange him still more from the sympathies of whom he may have known at Rome; others still ascribe the his educated and influential countrymen, who will assuredly honour of his musical education to Sala, to Traetta, and even to continue to regard English opera as an English disgrace, so long
Cimarosa. as it is only caricatured by performances which their experience
I had not the curiosity to question Spontini upon this subject, tells them would not be tolerated in the smallest towns of France
and he never appeared disposed to speak about it to me. But I and Germany.
have clearly recognised and received as an avowal in his converIn only one point of view can we have any satisfaction in sation, that the real masters of the author of La Vestale, Cortez, contemplating the present operatic season at Drury Lane. It and Olympio, were the masterpieces of Gluck, with which he has been the means of introducing to public acquaintance Miss
first became acquainted on his arrival in Paris in 1813, and which Lucy Estcott, a lady of whose talent we entertain a very high he studied with passion. As to the author of the numerous Italian opinion. She is not yet a finished singer ; yet, added to much operas, the list of which I shall presently give, I think it of physical and educational advantage, sho has a force of musical little importance to know what master taught him the manner organisation, and an amount of feeling, and intelligence, that, of composing them. The manners and customs of the Italian with anything like a due share of application, must ensure for
lyric theatres of that time are faithfully observed, and the firsther a brilliant future.
come of the musicastres of his country might easily have furnished him with a formula which already at that epoch was the
secret of comedy. But, to speak only of Spontini the Great, I THE REGISTRATION. The Conservative Land Society has, this believe that not only Gluck, but Méhul also, who had already year, been again successful in establishing the claims for the written his admirable Euphrosine, and Cherubini, by his first freehold franchise on behalf of their members both in Middlesex French operas, developed in him the latent germ of his dramatie and Hertfordshire.
functions, and hastened its magnificent development.