Oldalképek
PDF

On the contrary, I do not find in Spontini'a works any trace of this influence which, in a purely musical point of view, the German masters, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, might have exercised over him. The latter was hardly known by name in France, when Spontini arrived there ; and the Vestale and Cortez were already achieving brilliant triumphs at the Grand Opera of Paris, when their author visited Germany for the first time. No, instinct alone in Spontini guided him, and suddenly revealed to him in the use of vocal and instrumental masses, and in the enchainement of modulations, so much wealth unknown, or at least less resorted to in theatrical compositions by his predecessors. We will soon see what was the result of his innovations, and how they drew down upon him the hatred of his compatriots, as well as that of the French musicians.

Besuming the thread of my biographical sketch, I must confess my ignorance with regard to the actions of young Spontini after he had produced at Venice his third opera. I am no better informed as to the theatre at which he brought forward those operas which followed his third. Without doubt they were as little productive of money a3 of glory, since he resolved to seek his fortune in France, without being called thither by the public voice, or by its powerful protection.

We know the titles of some thirteen or fourteen Italian scores composed by Spontini during the seven years which followed his first and ephemeral success at Borne. These are—VAmor Secreto; L'Isola Disabitata; L'Eroismo Ridicolo; Teseo Reconosciuto; La Finta Filosofa; La Fuga in Maschera; I Quadri Parlanti; M Finto Pittore; Gli Elisi Delwsi; 11 Gcloso e VAudace; Le Metamorfosi di Pasquale; Chi piU, Ouarda non vede; La Principessa (TAmalfi; Berenice.

He preserved in his library the manuscripts, and even the printed libretti of all these pale compositions, which he sometimes Bhowed to his friends, with a disdainful smile, as the playthings of his musical infancy.

On his arrival in Paris, Spontini, I believe, suffered much. He contrived to eke out an existence by giving music-lessons, and obtained the representation at the Theatre Italien of his Finta Filosofa, which was favourably received. Notwithstanding what most of his biographers say upon the subject, I believe that the opera of Milton of M. Jouy, was the first attempt of Spontini to French words, and that it immediately preceded the insignificant work entitled, Julie, ou le Pot ae Fleurs.

On the engraved title pages of these two scores we find, indeed, that Milton was represented at the Opera Comique on the 37th of November, 1804, and that Julie appeared March 12th, 1805. Milton was pretty well received. Julie, on the contrary, broke down beneath the weight of the public indifference, like a thousand other productions of the same stamp, which are daily born, and die, without attracting the notice of anyone. One air alone has been preserved by the vaudeville theatres; that is the air: II a done fattu pour la gloire. The celebrated actor Elleiron became quite attached to Spontini, and wishing to furnish him with an opportunity for a revanche, he procured for him a libretto for a comic opera, in three acts: La Petite Maison, which the imprudent musician had the weakness to accept. La Petite Maison was so completely damned, that not a trace of it remains. The representation was not even finished. Elleiron played an important part, and, indignant at one or two isolated hisses, he forgot himself so far as to make a contemptuous gesture to the audience. A most frightful tumult was the result; the enraged pit rushed upon the orchestra, drove away the musicians, and destroyed everything that came to hand.

After this double failure of the young composer, every door would necessarily be closed against him. But still he had a high protection, that of the Empress Josephine. She was good to her word; and it is certainly to her alone that the genius of Spontini, about to be extinguished even before its rising, owed its power two years later to make its wondrous ascension into the heaven of Art. For a long time M. Jouy had preserved in his portfolio a poem for a grand opera, La Vestale, refused by M6hul and Cherubini; Spontini solicited it so eagerly that the author at last decided to give it up to him.

Poor, cried down by the throng of musicians of Paris, Spontini forgot everything, and descended with eagle swoop upon his rich prey. He shut himself up in a wretched garret, neglecting his pupils, and regardless of the first necessities of life, ho applied himself to his work with that feverish ardour, that trembling passion, sure indications of the eruption of his musical volcano.

(To he continued.)

FOREIGN.

Berlin.—The most important event at the Boyal Operahouse during the last week has been the production of Guillaume Tell. This opera had not been performed here for a considerable time. Herr Badwaner made his debut as Tell, with very fair success. His voice, although not very strong, is agreeable, and his appearance prepossessing.—Mdlle. Johanna Wagner has appeared as Borneo in / Capuletti e Monteccki, and was as much applauded as ever. Mad. KSster will shortly appear, for the first time since her return from her provincial tour, as Fidelio in Beethoven's chef-d'oeuvre.—Herr Dorn has just completed a comic opera, in two acts, entitled Fin Tag in Russland.

Breslau.—Mad. Maximilien has produced a highly favourable impression, and, after having played in five different operas, been engaged as prima donna for next season, in the place of Madame Nimbs.

Matence.Les Huguenots has been produced with great splendour, and proved extremely successful.

Hanover.—Donizetti's Linda di Chamouni has been revived. The next operas on the list are Herr Bichard Wagner's Tannhiiuser, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Die Zauberflote.

Brazil.—Mdlle. Emmy Lagrua, from Paris and Vienna, has made her debut at the theatre of Bio Janeiro, as Desdemona, in Otello, with great success.

Hamburgh.Robert le Diable has been revived at the Stadttheater.

Naples—On the fifth of September, a lease of three years for the San Carlos theatre was conceded to Signor Luigi Alberti, who represents a company of fifty shareholders, of the royal theatres. The repertory will consist of the following operas. The theatre will open on the 4th October, with Verdi's Violetta, sustained by Mad. Beltramelli, Signori Stefani and Colletti. The next opera will be LioneUo, with Mesdames Medori and Paganini, and Signori Colletti and Stefani. The Trovatore will then be played, subsequently II Pirata, to be followed by Bossini's Assedio di Corinto and Bellini's La Slraniera—though old operas, are novelties in the repertory. Three new operas are also announced. One by Signor Pacini, who has sold his copyright for 2500 ducats, to the management; GabrieUa di Vergy, a posthumous work by Donizetti, and II Camma, by Sig Tonimasi. Two ballets, composed by Sig. Taglioni, and a third by Sig. Izzo, will also be produced.

Florence.Lucrezia Borgia has been successful at the Pagliano. Signor Sebastiano Bonconi is spoken of as a superior actor and a good singer. He appears to have given great satisfaction in the part of Alfonso. Mesdames Gori and Conrani were much applauded in the part of Lucrezia and Maffeo Ansini.

Milan.—On the 15th September the Canobbiana opened with the Favorita, which was coldly received by the public, although the new company seems to be much superior to their predeces^ sors. The tenor, Sig. Giuglini, is young and possessed of a strong, firm, extensive, sweet, and sonorous organ; he phrases well, and has moreover a perfect command over his voice—and what is hardly less than all as a recommendation in a tenor—he is good* looking and elegant in appearance. Signor Zacchi, the new baritone, was also much liked. As regards the women, the less said about them the better. Their names will suffice—Mesdames Bocherini and Llorenz. The orchestra was tolerable, the chorus detestable, the decorations pitiful, and the dresses disgraceful.

M. Hector Berlioz is about to leave Paris for Vienna, where he intends to give several performances of his own music. One of the principal features will be his latest work—the " trilogy," called L'Enfance du Christ.

THE MUSICAL WORLD.

- LONDON, SATURDAY, October 6th, 1855.

We are going to plead guilty to the accusation of being false prophets. We are pleased that our fears and surmises have proved unfounded. No later than last week -we told our readers—and with somewhat of a confident air—that there was no talk of an English Opera, and no prospect. We are glad to be made so soon to swallow our own words. There is now both talk and prospect. A prospectus has just been sent to us, headed "National Opera Company (Limited.)" An English National Opera is about to be established by a company of shareholders. The complete scheme is now announced, and is, or will shortly be, before the public. What private enterprize could not effect from want of means, or public spirit would not undertake through fear, the wisdom of the legislature has placed within the bounds of accomplishment. The late enactment for the Limitation of the Liability of Shareholders—under the provisions of the Act, 18 and 19 Victoria, cap. 133—has opened a new road to speculation. Men may now venture and see the way clearly before them. A few pounds may be hazarded without a chance of ruin. Formerly he who purchased a single share in a company was made liable for any amount of loss sustained. The new Bill has removed this clog. At present, as the prospectus of the National Opera indicates, "No Shareholder is liable beyond the amount of the Share or Shares for which he may subscribe." If John Nokes buy his ten pound share, he is made liable for ten pounds. Each holder is bound to meet his exact subscription—no mora Every man to.his own share is a good law. The. lawyers were late in apprehending it; it was too plain and natural for their subtleties. Better late than never. The law, as it stands, is a good law. Let it be honoured—which is more than can be prayed for all laws.

The prospectus of the "National Opera Company" is in our hands. We have examined it carefully, and weighed it in the balance of our judgment. We have been so often deceived in matters connected with English opera, and have so often been deluded by false hopes, that we are naturally distrustful, and feel inclined to place but little confidence in any scheme or speculation on the subject. The document before us, however, appears so straightforward and, to a certain extent, so satisfactory, that it at once enlists our sympathies, and has given rise to the most vivid anticipations for the establishment of a National Lyric Theatre. The following are the main features of the new speculation:—

The National Opera Company is proposed to be carried on by a capital of £10,000, in one thousand shares of £10 each. The object is to establish a "permanent English Opera" for the performance of works of British composers, and of such foreign operas as may seem most appropriate for the English stage. This last clause, which we have italicisedj is excellent, and proves, so far, the absence of all cliquedom. The Grand Opera and Opera Comique of Paris, although so-called "National Theatres," both act on the same principle. The nationality is sustained in the language alone. Michael William Balfe wrote an opera for the Opera Comique; why not Daniel Francois Esprit Auber for our National theatre.

"One of the great objects sought to be obtained," says the prospectus, "is the employment of native talent; and the

promoters feel that the progress of musical taste and education in this country warrants the belief that the time has now arrived for commencing so desirable and important an undertaking." Tt is good to support native talent; certainly that should be the primal object of a national institution; but we trust it does not imply the exclusion altogether of foreign artists, vocal and instrumental. Of the " progress of musical taste and education in this country," there is hardly a doubt; and that there is plenty of material for the constitution of an opera we have always considered and made known. We must not, however, be led to suppose that there is more vocal talent at the present time in England than on any former occasion. A glance at the bills of Covent Garden and Drury Lane some twenty or thirty years ago will convince the most sceptical of the contrary. There is, nevertheless, talent sufficient for all purposes, and some of the most sterling kind.

The Lyceum theatre has been secured for a term of years. We should have preferred Drury Lane; but the Lyceum will do to begin with. It was there that English National Opera first made a stand; and it would not be contrary to poetical justice if there it should be resuscitated. The situation, moreover, is centrical and good, and Fashion does not turn its head therefrom. Despite, therefore, of some drawbacks, the Lyceum, we repeat, will do to begin with.

In clause six, we find it stated that the "operatic department will comprise the best vocal and instrumental talent." This is indispensable to success, and will alone ensure a permanent foundation to the establishment. Such an object should never be lost sight of; at the same time, economy should be borne in mind, and exorbitant terms to artists carefully eschewed. To keep a theatre open for no other purpose than that singers might display their idjosyncracies, live like kings, and drive in their chariots round'-Hyde-pajiK, would be as little politic as remunerative.

Let artists be honoured and awarded in just proportion to their value,—but not beyond. At the same time there should be no want of liberality. The mean between profuseness and parsimony should be observed. These are truisms, but cannot be too frequently inculcated.

It is proposed that " the season consist of forty weeks,'' and that "there be six representations each week" The first proposition involves a difficulty; the second is open to objection. A season of forty weeks—supposing it to commence with November—would bring the series of perfomances to the end of August, and consequently include the whole period of the Italian opera. Now, it is avouched in the prospectus, that the best vocal and instrumental talent will be secured; but, as there are to be representations every night in the week, and as we may with certainty conclude that "the best performers" will be demanded and obtained for the Italian Opera, or Operas, "we know not by what means the proprietors can keep their pledge. Mr. Henry Blagrove may officiate at the Lyceum on the non-Italian nights, but how for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, to say nothing of the sometime Monday and Friday Extras? Will Mr. Henry Blagrove forego Covent Garden and take his stand by the Lyceum? This difficulty we should like to see solved. With regard to performances every night in the week, that is a subject for the gravest consideration. We have always been opposed to these successive representations, and have lifted up our voices against them upon every occasion. There is one thing certain; although tried often they have never succeeded. The operatic performances last year at the Hay market Theatre—a nonoperatic establishment-—were mainly indebted for their success, we believe, to their limitation to three nights in the •week. We are aware that the Opera Comique in Paris— the theatre with which the National Opera might be best compared—is open every night, and that the system is found to pay well; but that theatre is an old-established one, the orchestra has gained an European reputation, and the general management has become a model. Moreover, at the Opera Comique the singers are numerous, and the indisposition of a soprano or tenor, unless in rare instances, does not necessarily involve the withdrawal of the opera. If Madlle. Caroline Duprez be indisposed, Mad. Ugaldo is ready to take her place in L'Etoile du Nord or Haydie; or, if not Mad. Ugalde, Madlle. Miolan, Madlle. Dussy, or some other prima donna. There are four or five distinct companies at the Opera Comique, and by this means alone is the theatre enabled to give representations six times in the week. Now, is it possible to muster even a regular double company at the Lyceum 1 We are not much versed in these matters; but, we think, adhering to native talent, it would be rather difficult. How then give six representations in six successive nights! Will your tenor Cry content, or your soprano not be induced to try the very natural expedient of a cold, or a medical certificate, as easily obtainable? Do not believe it. If the theatre were once established, if singers were cheap, choice and plentiful, if the subscription list showed a goodly array of names, if the public were coming round, then we should say, give performances as often as you please. By the way, with regard to the subscription, not one word is mentioned in the prospectus, although the prices of admission to all parts of the house are given. We do not even know whether there is to be a subscription. The performances of opera every night at the English houses have always proved inimical to the subscription list.

We do not deem it necessary to offer any observations Upon the statement, that "after a most careful and elaborate comparison between the estimated expenses and the average receipts of the Lyceum Theatre during previous years, it is confidently believed that a remunerative dividend will result to the shareholders." We may remark, however, that chamber estimates are not invariably to be depended on.

The validity and soundness of the speculation of the "National Opera Company" is betokened in the names attached to the prospectus, to which we would invite especial attention. The trustees are, the Duke of Leinster, John Benjamin Heath, Esq., and Augustus Walter Arnold, Esq. The auditors are Messrs. Thomas Oliphant and J. Duff. The Committee of Management is composed of Mr. Alfred Mellon, (conductor of the orchestra), Mr. Henry Blagrove (leader), Mr. George Alexander Macfarren, Mr. J. Palgrave Simpson, and Mr. Andrew B. Vyse.

The fact, that Mr. Alfred Mellon—the most experienced and accomplished of British conductors—has accepted the bdton of chef-cTorchestre is even more significant than that his Grace of Leinster—the only Irish Duke—should be installed as premier trustee. It is no less a good sign that Mr. Henry Blagrovo, the eminent violinist, should take his place at the had of the fiddles. These two facts speak volumes in favour of the band. We are, glad, too, to see the name of Mr. Palgrave Simpson on the Committee of management. It is a tacit acknowledgment that some other elements beside the "absolute musical"—as Herr Richard Wagner would say—are requisite to the constitution of an operatic establishment and to its administration.

We shall touch no farther upon the "National Opera Company" at present, but content ourselves with calling the most serious attention to the prospectus, which, we doubt not, from the names attached and the statements set forth, will not fail to enlist the sympathies of the entire musical public, and tend once more to awaken a hope, long dormant, for the revival of English opera in this country.

PARIS.

(From our own Correspondent.)

A Perfect deluge of novelties has succeeded the musical drought under which Paris has so long been suffering. As the attractions of the Exposition begin to wane, aud the foreign and provincial invasion under which we have suffered commences its retreat, each opera and theatre lays aside stock pieces, worn threadbare for Parisians, and prepares a new and choicer bill of fare for the inhabitants of this fair city, who are now returning in shoals from all parts of the country.

The Grand-Op6ra has opened the ball with SaitUe-Claire, the composition of Prince Albert's brother, the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha; and the Duke has achieved a triumphant and deserved success. For this he is indebted to the intrinsic value of his opera, apart from his position in society. Indeed, the latter was of some disadvantage to him, for a large portion of the audience evidently determined to pass a severer criticism on the performance of the Prince, than they would have accorded to an aspirant, of lower rank, for musical honours. The Duke, however, successfully passed through the ordeal, and had, in company with the Emperor, the pleasure of witnessing in person the success of his work.

The curtain rises on the court of Peter the Great. The Czarewitsch Alexis (Merly)—whose tragic end is matter of history— gives a grand fete in honour of his wife, the Princess Charlotte (Mad. Lafon). An animated chorus opens this ffite. The Palace of the Kremlin is a blaze of light, and the guests throng those vast galleries, where all is melody, gaiety, and mirth. Victor de Baiut-Auban (Roger), a French officer in the service of the Czar, is smitten with a young girl he has met with in Germany, but of whose name he is ignorant. He breathes forth his passion in a charming romance, "Nod, dans ton sein j'upancherai mon cceur," which is one of the most graceful compositions of the opera. The Princess recognises the voice of the young officer whose love she reciprocates, though in fear and trembling; she suddenly enters the ball-room, pale, agitated, and wan. Victor rushes to throw himself at her feet, but is restrained by his friend and fellow-soldier, AlphonsedeLaborde (Belval), who whispers in his ear, " Forbear, she is the wife of the Czarewitsch!" This situation is expressed in a quatuor, without accompaniment, well constructed and effective, in which the voices are grouped with much skill. The Princess, left alone with her maid of honour Berthe (Madlle. Dussy)—who is beloved by De Laborde—pours into her sympathetic ear a history of the insults and humiliations she endures from her husband. This duet is rapid, energetic, and passionate. She has no hope but in flight. Trusty friends have secretly sped to the court of her father, the Emperor of Austria; but they return discouraged and disheartened. The Emperor has commanded his daughter to submit and suffer in silence. The Czarewitsch now enters, gloomy and agitated; he suspects a traitor in every apparent friend, and commands his wife to dismiss all her attendants, not excepting Berthe, her tenderest and dearest friend. This last outrage draws from the princess a cry of surprise and grief, and Alexis, seeing her misery, offers to withdraw his commands if she will receive among her maids of honour, his mistress, Euphrosine. The princess indignantly refuses, and her husband then resolves on ridding himself of her according to the approved Russian fashion. In the middle of supper he drinks to his wife, and requires her to pledge him in return. She suspects that her cap is poisoned, but regarding death as a happy release she drains it to the dregs, and falls senseless on the floor. Thus concluded the first act, the finale to which is admirable, from the quintette which follows the entry of Alexis, to the final air for the Princess.

The second act is entirely consecrated to her funeral rites. The ceremony is, according to custom, celebrated in the old Basilisk of Michael the Archangel. A sarcophagus is raised in the midst of the chapel, where her corpse is laid in state. Charlotte, her head uncovered, reposes on a bier of satin fringed with silver, from the sides of which hangs draped her imperial mantle of purple and gold. Hundreds of torches and funeral lamps cast a dim unearthly light upon the scene. The act opens with a funeral chorus, and presently Berthe pours forth her grief in an air which leads up to the great situation of the opera. Victor de Saint Auban, left alone with the corpse, exhales his woes in an air replete with passion and feeling, and in the madness of his despair addresses the apparent corpse in language which he had never dared to utter to the living princess. Charlotte— whose life has been saved by the Doctor Aurelius (Mari6) refusing to obey the Czarewitsch's commands, and who suffers from the narcotic which the doctor has mingled in her cup, instead of poison—hears her lover's voice, but is unable to reply, and cannot even raise her eyelid. Alphonse comes in search of his friend, and here occurs the most successful morceau of the opera, a quatuor, "Les foudres du ciel que j'offense." It was much applauded. Alphonse removes his friend, whose reason is beginning to fail, and they depart just in time. The whole court, in state mourning, the archimandrite, the popes, and the Czarwitsch himself, pale as a spectre, advance to the sarcophagus. At the moment when the murderer with sacrilegious hand is about to place a crown of pure white roses on the forehead of the seeming corpse, the murdered wife raises her baud and stretches it forth to her husband, who starts back in horror. This movement is seen by Alexis alone, who, appalled and terror-stricken by the avenging phantom, falls prostrate on the ground. Midnight sounds, the organ is heard, accompanying the prayers which all present offer up for the departed. Suddenly the princess rouses from her lethargy, and casts a bewildered glance on the last of the lugubrious train who are quitting the chapel, and the Doctor who is watching by her side confides her to trusty friends.

The third act transports us to the sunny skies of Naples, where the princess has found an asylum. She is adored for her charities and goodness, and the people, grateful for her bounties, have named her Saint Claire. Prince Alexis escaping from his father's bonds has also sought refuge in Italy. A mysterious wanderer has been seen roaming about the environs of Naples, and the ever watchful police of that kingdom are at once on the track. Two officers of the Czar also arrive at the Court, bearing orders from Peter for the arrest of his son Alexis, charged with high treason. Victor Saint-Auban is one of these, and he, still believing the princess murdered, anxiously longs to avenge her death. Judge of his astonishment, his joy, his trouble, when he hears the voice of his adored Charlotte, and sees before him an angel, a celestial vision, the princess in short, who dares not raise her veil and assure him 01 her actuality— at the same moment Alexis appears, armed with dagger and sword; Victor calls on him to surrender, and in reply to the summonsthe Czarewitsch rushes at him likea tiger. Their swords are crossed, and the princess, clothed in white, phantom-like, pale, and inexorable, advances towards her murderer, and, with sepulchral voice, announces "Thou must die, Alexis." The prince, mad with terror, staggers back, his legs fail him, his hair stands erect, and he plunges a dagger deep into his heart.

Such is the opera of Sainte-Claire. Many of the situations are by no means new; Romeo and Juliet and Ginevra having evidently been constantly present to the mind of the author. The composer has well acquitted himself of his task, for the music, though devoid of any striking originality, is fresh, melodious, and graceful. The instrumentation is what it should be, elegant and effective, without noise or confusion. In short, though the author of Saint-Claire is neither a Mozart nor a Mendelssohn, a Rossini or a Meyerbeer, the opera is a remarkble work—for a Duke.

Boger has gained fresh laurels, and fairly surpassed himself in the part of Saint Auban. His acting was admirable, and

he gave an air of pensive melancholy to the part of the lover, so tender, faithful and discreet; so brave, chivalrous, and handsome, that the suffrages of the fair sex—ever the best judges in these matters—were unanimously in his favour. He did ample justice to the music, and was in excellent voice. That promising young singer, Mdlle. Dussy, sang the music of Berthe most admirably. She acted with ease and grace, and looked much more the princess 'than the lady who filled that part. Mad. Lafon was aught but happy in the part of Charlotte; she was wanting in dignity and distinction, looking the waitingwoman rather than a descendant of the Csesars. She was cold as ice in the air of the first act, where energy and passion were required, but fortunately acquitted herself better in her cavatina of the third act, which she vocalised with great skill. Merly was a good representative of the scoundrel Alexis, and Belval (the new bass) sang with intelligence and zeal as Alphonse de Laborde.

The mise-en-scenc and decorations are magnificent, and the dancing—of which there is much—wag among the greatest attractions. Rosati introduced the pas, with which, in the Muette de Portici, she electrified Paris last year. Mdlles. Plunkett, Forli, Beretta, Legrain, Nathan, and Conqui formed^ a graceful and charming bouquet of fair ones, whereof each came in for a fair share of applause.

Finally—ana this it is not given to every successful composer to perform—the Duke of Saxe-Coburg has dubbed M. Crosnier commander, and M. Girard (leader of the band) chevalier of the order of chivalry instituted in his extensive dominions. He has also given a splendid snuff-box to Boger, and less sparkling gifts to the male singers ; while bracelets and trinkets of greater or less value have been bestowed upon Mdmes. Lafon, Duasy, Bosati, Plunkett, &c.

Mad. Pleyel has at length broken the spell which hung over the whole of the concerts given during the season. Never was there such a season for concert-givers, for while the theatres have enjoyed a success without precedent, nothing could attract the public to the Salle Herz, the Salle Sainte-Cecile or the Hotel d'Osmond. Vieuxtemps and Servais, two great performers, announced a series of ten concerts, but, as the first Consisted 6* a Ute-a-Ute, they packed up their instruments and departed next day. A similar fate awaited all other adventurers until Mad. Pleyel broke the spell. She played the serenade from Don Pasquale, the Danse des Fees, and an andante of Rossini's as she alone can play them. She was applauded to the echo by a room crammed to suffocation, and compelled to repeat * each piece from the beginning to the end. She introduced, for the first time, to the public, her daughter, Madlle. Marie Pleyel, a young lady of considerable personal attractions; but on her qualifications for a singer, as I can say nought in praise, I shall be silent.

The Manner-Gesang-Verein of Cologne, engaged by M!r. Mitchell, have also commenced a series of concerts in the small room of the Conservatoire. Of their well-known merits it is idle to speak; suffice it to say that the unanimous judgment of those present at their first concert in Paris, was a full ratification of that passed on them in England and Germany. Great credit is due to Mr. Mitchell for introducing them to the Parisian public, but I hear the speculation is not likely to be very successful, as the room was by no means crowded.

The Thdatre Lyrique has changed hands, M. Emile Perrin being succeeded by M. Pellegrin, for many years director of the theatres of Marseilles. A curious dispute has, however, arisen, M. Perrin maintaining that by the terms of her engagement he has a right to the services of Madame Cabel, either at the Theatre Lyrique or the Opera Comique, and desiring to carry off the fair songstress to the latter theatre, of which he Btill remains director. This right M. Pellegrin stoutly repudiates!, declaring that Madame Cabel is attached to the Theatre Lyrique, and that he will not relinquish his prize. As Madame Cabel cannot be the subject of division by the judgment of a second Solomon, the Minister of State must decide the question. It is not, however, too much to say, that the success or failure of M. Pellegrin in retaining or losing the services of Madame Marie Cabel will entail the success or failure of the theatre, whose good fortune has been mainly owing to the exertions, talents, and acquirements of this most charming singer and delightful actress.

On Monday night L'Etoile du flora was performed for the one hundred and fiftieth time at the Op6ra Comique: and, as usual, the house was full to the roof. Meanwhile the management is busy with preparations for the new opera of Adolphe Adam, and other novelties.

I have just time to say that the Italiens opened on Tuesday with Bossini's Moti, of which more next week. I have sent you the names of the company. I shall only now add that Signor Bottesini is conductor and Signor Salvi director.

Leipsic.{From our own Correspondent.)—As was anticipated, the commencement of this month threw open the doors of the Stadttheater. The three long tedious months were over, and the temple of Thalia began again her usual routine of performances with Gothe's Egmont, music by Beethoven. The first opera was given on the 3rd inst, for which occasion Mozart's ever charming Zauberflbte was suitably selected. The new conductor, llerr Biccius, possesses all the abilities requisite for his important office. Some of the oldest and best of the singers have been retained, as Herrn Behr, Schneider, and Mad. G. Bachmann; and also the most able personages of the acting department. A great many new "abilities" have appeared on trial, the most successful of which have been engaged. I cannot just now remember the names of all the " new engagements," but may mention Mad. Bichter and Mdlle. Bartel as appropriate acquirements for our opera, and Herr Wenzel and Mad. Wohlstadt as ditto for tragedy. The choruses have been strengthened, and a few good voices added, which was really essential. However, on the whole the troupe is not much improved; our expectations are somewhat crushed, and in a fit of desperation we have totally given up the idea of ever seeing a good solid opera established at Leipsic. With such a force as this, you will no doubt be astonished to hear that L'Etoile du Nord has been in active preparation; some rehearsals have already taken place, and the day appointed, should nothing unforeseen occur, is Wednesday, the 3rd prox. The attempt will certainly be made, and, though the efforts are but feeble to give a due representation to Meyerbeer's chefcTceuvre, yet we wish it every success, of which—or the contrary—1 shall not fail to inform you.—The directors of the Gewandhaus concerts have again issued their prospectus for the approaching winter, and promise, as usual, music only of the best class, and artists of the first rank; together with some agreeable alterations concerning the management and appearance of the halL This will no doubt induce many to subscribe who have hitherto declined on reasonable grounds. The first concert will take place on Sunday next, the 30th inst., when the Pastoral Symphony of Beethoven and other interesting attractions will comprise the programme. The only thing wanting at these concerts is a good female bravura singer, which it is difficult to procure, as they are so rare in Germany. The young hopeful composer, Bubenstein, the Bussian, is here at present, ana intends to bring out a new Symphony and other works at these concerts, all of which we hope will be as promising as his last productions. On the 26th of September I set out from Leipsic to be present at an organ consecration in Merseburgh, as I had heard so much in favour of the instrument; and thought it would prove something interesting for the Musical World and its readers. After a pleasant journey through Halle, about twelve o'clock at noon we arrived at Merseburg, and no sooner had we stepped out of our coach than who should drive up to the hotel but that great disciple of the future, Franz Liszt. With flying long hair and animated countenance he handed the ladies from the carriage, very graciously took off his hat and returned our compliments, ordered dinner,and went (with the ladies) to a private room. We proceeded to the church to have a view at the organ. Herr Sehellenberg, from Leipsic, was trying its powers as we arrived. On examination, we found it to be a monstrous instrument, containing 81 stops, 4 manuals, and 1 row of pedals. It has a sweet, pleasant tone, the stops are judiciously combined, which, when judiciously used, pour forth forth a volume of sounds which lifts up the mind to grand and

sublime thoughts. After listening for some time, we went to dinner, where we found Liszt, who was soon busy discussing the merits of saurkraut and bratwilrst—a favourite German dish to which we Englishmen have a decided antipathy—and drinking to the "good health" of the company.

The concert commenced at five o'clock p.m. in th'o Dom Cathedral, a splendid building with no less than seven steeples. The programme embraced music of the "Past," "Present," and "Future." Of the first was performed aria with violin obbligato, from Bach's Passion-musik, sung by Mdlle. Genast; violin solo by HeiT Concertmeister Singer, from Weimar; two songs of the seventeenth century, by J. W. Frank, sung by Mdlle. Genast; aria from Elijah, " It is enough" (which, by the way, belongs to the "Present"not the ''Past'^, sung by Herr von Milde, from Weimer; and a fugue by Sebastian Bach, performed by Herr D. H. Engel, organist of this place. Of the "Present," we had Fantaisie et Fugue by D. H. Engel, who himself executed the same, and a Fantaisie on the chorale "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott," composed and performed by Herr Sehellenberg from Leipsic.—The "Future was represented by a Fantaisie et Fugue by Dr. F. Liszt, performed by Herr Winterberger from Weimer. Madlle. Genast interpreted her songs and aria, though a little anxious, very creditably. Herr Singer played the violin very well. Herr von Milde sang the Elijah aria with eminent success, in spite of the indifferent manner with which it was accompanied. Herr Engel played his own composition much better than the Fugue of Bach, which was announced to be played by quite another person, the Music Director from Jena; but who for some cause did not attend. Herr Sehellenberg rendered his elaborate fantaisie, in a masterly, and able manner. He is organist at the Nicholai Kirche at Leipsic, and is well known there as a first rate musician. What shall 1 say of the composition of the dark mysterious "Future?" I cannot say much. It was a great, monstrous, lumbering, heavy fantaisie, without either form or substance, lasting three quarters of an hour, sometimes melting down to the softest P.P.P., then suddenly bursting forth, as if determined to overthrow the whole building with those heartrending F.F.F. diminished and superfluous chords of the seventh and ninth, enough to set every musician's feelings on the edge. In fact it was a composition that might have been played any where but in the house of God; for it had no merits either sacred or secular worthy of the instrument for which it was intended. The builder of "the organ is Herr Eadegast of this town. The church was well filled, and the " good folks" of Merseburg appeared quite delighted at the powers of their grand organ. There were present many artists from Leipsic, Weimer, and other places.—Sept. 27th.

Eossini has returned from the baths at Trouville to Paris, where he intends to pass the winter. The celebrated composer, consistent in his aversion to railroads, travelled all the way in a postchaise.

Surrey.—A new drama, entitled The Flower Oirl, was produced on Monday. The piece is of French origin, and the main incident highly dramatic. The acting was good. Mr. Bickards confirmed the favourable impression he had already made, and Miss Marriott was full of spirit and meaning. We would, however, suggest more ease ana variety in her delivery. Mr. Widdicomb and Miss Saunders had each a character, to which each did ample justice. The drama was followed by the American piece Emigration. Its only claim to consideration is the character of a rustic who becomes an object of contempt to his friends and neighbours on account of an impediment in his speech, a novelty so very distasteful to the audience, that Mr. McVickers, in spite of some excellent acting, was compelled, before the end of the first act, to beg to be allowed to finish his part without interruption. If such exhibitions are relished on the other side of the Atlantic, it is far from creditable to brother Jonathan's taste. The piece had better be withdrawn.

Bordeaux.—Madame Bistori, the Italian comedienne, made her first appearance here on the 26th ult. with the same success as in Paris.

« ElőzőTovább »