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somewhat beneath the dignity of the subject. Otherwise, and if Mr. Linley in his music of the past had any ambition to rival Herr Wagner in his music of the future, he might have made.the melodies and harmonies which the particular events of each reign would naturally have suggested to him, as instructive as a course of historical philosophy. Modern teachers of history aim above all at showinghowone great event naturally and inevitably led to another, and how certain centuries are characterised by certain important intellectual, religious, and political movements. Could not this connection, and above all, this characterisation, be admirably shown in music? The invention of printing would be a difficult thing, perhaps, to suggest by musical means; but let it once be understood that a certain air stands for it (or " typifies" it, as we might say in such a case as this), and by introducing this air again in combination with another intended to indicate the Reformation, the composer would be able to show not only that the one event preceded the other, but that there was intimate connection between the two. The Reformation and the civil wars might be treated in a similar fashion.
Foreign history, or the history of England's relation with foreign powers, could be -musically illustrated in a still more striking manner, by the appropriate introduction of the national airs of our enemies and of our allies, and the system might even be extended to great political questions. There is the celebrated Eastern Question, for instance, which a skilful composer might certainly expound in music ; and, as it is now being brought forward again, it would be quite a relief to hear it sung after it has been made the pretext of so much fatiguing talk. The cantata of the "Eastern Question" might be prefaced by an overture, which should depict the contentions between English, French, Russian, and Austrians, to which it has given rise. Then the cantata proper should open with a Turkish march, symbolising (and at the same time "cymbalising," as H. M. would remark), the irruption of the Turks into Europe, in the loth century, unless indeed the composer liked to go further back, and commence with the first attack of the Russians upon Byzantium, under Vladimir the Great, grandson of Ruric the Norman.* The battle of Lepanto, the great victory of Sobieski under the walls of Vienna, the successful campaigns of Potemkin and Souvaroff in the Crimea, and in Turkey itself, might be just hinted at in the instrumentation, but the general progress of Russia, coincident with the decline of Turkey, should be made the subject of a grand dramatic air. How the cantata should end is a question it would be rather difficult to answer; indeed,'neither more nor less difficult than to arrive at a solution of the Eastern Question itself. Perhaps, however, the most interesting and satisfactory termination for musicians would be the appointment cf Joseph Donizetti to the post of band-master to the Sultan.
WHENCE is derived the power of music to delight mankind? whence proceeds the magie spell through which it works such wonders on the soul?
To answer somewhat mystically: music represents an inward sense and inward expression of the symmetry and rhythmical force that reign in the creations of genius. "We cannot explain what we mean, and would not if we could. v
• Composers who wish to treat the subject, ab initio, should consult a little book published by Messrs. Parker, entitled "Vladimir, or the Conversion of the Russians to Christianity."
May the charm of music be traced to the pure enjoyment experienced by the ear in the concord and harmony of sweet sounds? In a measure, undoubtedly, it may—or must it be attributed to the pleasure attending the perception of dissonances unfolded and resolved, and to the faculty of divining by anticipation the ideas and intentions of a composer? In part, "assurement" as Thdophile Gautier answered Victor Hugo, not wishing to discuss his theories. At least this has much to do with the gratification of a connoisseur.
But the chief effect of music is magnetic. We are woven out of fibres quiveringly alive to the sense of what is exquisite, and therefore are affected to the heart's depths by the influence of dulcet tones, of long-drawn melodies, of rich and various harmony. These vibrate diversely, according to the characters and temperaments of individuals. Hence the same music does not touch all alike, for the degree of pleasure must be in proportion to the susceptibility of nerve.
Music is the art of youth. It is also the art of love and poetry. "Musicam docet amor et poesin," says the wise Erasmus, whose discordant theological controversies failed to untune him altogether. Music is the art of youth, because it is the spontaneous growth of the soul—because it perishes if forced to put forth its blossoms in an uncongenial atmosphere. In manhood, however, as in youth, it holds its sway, notwithstanding that the fibres become less susceptible ; the sensibility is blunted, and that, with certain square-cut natures, ardent enthusiasm gives place to calculating analysis, criticism usurping the throne of feeling. Beethoven, for example, was never a more thorough-paced enthusiast than when imagining his ninth symphony and his last sonatas. Look at the unfathomable C minor, Op. Ill, and his last quartets ; instance the uncontrollable A minor. Love may gradually evaporate as the blood begins to circulate less freely; but music is a consolation to age, as it is a spur and stimulus to youth. Let the man of many sorrows seek comfort in the fugues of John Sebastian Bach. Every fugue, entirely mastered by intellect and finger, will surely quench a sorrow.
Yet music is the cherished art of youth. The true musician must, as a boy, have charmed the public and obtained applause. If his genius has not declared itself in his early days, if it is only in riper years that he enters upon the paths of science, he can never attain real greatness in music. If he begins to learn late in life, his very acquaintance with those whose works have already enchanted the world, will prevent his feeling any keen relish for the produce of his own labours, or entertaining the necessary confidence in his own ability. He will know too well how to estimate the plaudits of the crowd to covet such distinction over greedily. He will experience the want of that vigorous ambition, of that instinctive yearning, so to say, which excites the youthful aspirant to his boldest essays, and impels his spirit towards the highest flights of imaginative art. He may coin money; he may write as cleverly as any of those who have merely studied hard; but he will never be A Masteh. Did Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Cherubini, Mendelssohn begin music when adults? No; they were musicians from the cradle.
In spite of all this, maturity, nay, even old age, &c.
"Genius may sometimes gloriously offend,
But let us pause at the threshold of the subject. To pass the door would induce too long and tedious a homily.
BOTH Italy and France are about to pay a just tribute to the memory of one of the most illustrious musicians of modern times. The first stone of a monument to Cherubini was laid at the church of Santa Croce, in his native city of Florence, on the 14th of September, the centenary of his birth, the great composer having been ushered into life on the same day and month, 1760. The site of the monument has been chosen close to the tombs of Michael Angelo and Galileo, which figure conspicuously in the church. The idea of the memorial erection originated with the Florentines, and a commission of the most eminent men of the city was formed to receive subscriptions. At the head of the list of subscribers appeared the names of King Victor Emmanuel and the Prince of Savoy-Carignan, while the city contributed a large sum. The commission of Florence appealed to France. Should France have waited for the appeal? "We think not. Cherubini was born in Italy; in Italy certainly his genius was fostered, and there it bloomed and blossomed. The fruits, however, were destined for a foreign land. In France the great master composed nearly all his chefs ■ (Tceuvre; in France he founded a school, the influence of which is now universally felt and acknowledged; and in France, after a protracted career of honour and renown, his bones repose. France, then, should not have waited for the summons; should not have permitted even Italy to teach her how to offer proper homage and respect. The debt France owes to Cherubini no time and no gratitude can repay. It will remain undischarged while music lives, and will be felt as long as art takes cognizance of its benefactors. If France, nevertheless, did not lead the initiative in paying a last tribute to the memory of him who constituted one of the glories of her capital, she did the next best thing; she nobly and immediately answered the call, and attested that she only required to be told what to do, to do it in the best manner. No sooner was it announced in Paris that a monument was about to be erected at Florence to the memory of Cherubini, and that contributions were wanted for this purpose, than a committee was instituted, the members of which included, among others, the illustrious names of Prince Poniatowski, Rossini, Auber, and Meyerbeer, and a subscription list was opened at the Conservatoire, at the office of M. Rety. That Paris will surpass Florence in its contributions towards the completion of a fitting monument to the renowned composer, cannot be doubted. Nothing less, indeed, could be expected from the "metropolis of civilisation and the fine arts."
Cherubini was one of the most voluminous of composers. He wrote in all styles, and has bequeathed to posterity imperishable worth in every department of the art. As an abstract writer of Church music he surpassed, both in the quantity and quality of his contributions, all his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors. Cherubini was also one of the profoundest of musicians. Even the giant Beethoven regarded him with admiration and respect for the depth of his learning and the subtlety and penetrative quality of his mind. That he was never a popular composer, in the common acceptation of the term, must be conceded ; but this, in our opinion, is to be attributed to that peculiar mental bias which led him to muse alone and apart, rather than to any want of capacity, or even desire, to accommodate his thoughts to general appreciation. Although his music, for the most part, is of grave and serious character, his operas show that he could unbend his loftiness on occasions, and write with the utmost ease, and aim at nothing beyond simplicity. Elisa, Ali Baba, and Les Deux Journees abound in beauties calculated to strike the popular ear, and have
recommended Cherubini's operas perhaps more than the deep meaning and elaborations of his grand, serious cogitations. But the wonder is that the dramatic compositions grave or comic, of so profound a thinker and so great a master—in an age like the present, when, from the dearth of writers, revivals have all the force of novelties—should be overlooked or ignored altogether. We allude more immediately to Franco and England, where Cherubini's operas are seldom or never heard, since in Germany the great master figures prominently among popular composers. England may perhaps stand exculpated for her neglect, although Cherubini bequeathed her no mean memorial in the grand symphony he wrote expressly for the Philharmonic Socipty; but France, where the genius of Cherubini was fostered and matured, and where he laid down his life and found a gme, can find no excuse or palliation. Would it not be worth the while of our managers to turn their attention to the neglected works of the illustrious composer, who was the glory and wonder of his time? Les Deux Journees has been affirmed by those well capable of pronouncing a correct opinion, asthe perfection of a comic opera, and Medea has elicited admiration and excited enthusiasm wherever it has been performed. Let us then recommend both these masterpieces to the consideration of Mr. Gye and Mr. E. T. Smith. It is time that some one would "say a word for poor" Cherubini. The Monday Popular Concerts gave him a powerful lift in the musical world last season. The frequenters t>f St. James's Hall were in ecstasies with one of his quartets. The Philharmonic Societies and the Musical Society of London make us acquainted with sundry of his overtures. It only remains to hear one of his operas. For this we must look to the manager of Her Majesty's Theatre or the manager of the Royal Italian Opera. We shall then have something more to say about Cherubini.
A Step Upwards In Life. — The Gray's Inn stall was exchanged for handsome chambers, and by the time that these looked as delightfully as possible, that the pictures were finally and tasteful!; hung, that the pianoforte was in admirable tune, and that the oik and velvet furniture left nothing to bo desired, except the upholsterer's receipt, the susceptible Archibald discovered that to lire as a gentleman meant to live with a lady, who, being his wife, could not be expected to live in chambers. So the pictures, pianuforte, oak and velvet, and Mrs. Vernon, were established in a charming house, riot much too large at Craven Hill. All went delightfully for Emmeline Vernon was an accomplished musician, ami Aralbald was just of the calibre of mind that dotes on music, and itwss the plea;antest occupation in the world to sit with his pretty wife till two or three in the d;iy singing duets, or hearing that dinne thing of Mozart's. Vernon with his feet in slippers, elegantly worked by his bride, and in a velvet coat that gave the refinedlooking man an appearance between that of an artist and of an Italian nobleman, as beheld in ancient portraits. The children came with their usual celerity, and it was not until Emmeline grew rather cross and cold about playing Mozart after disagreeable interviews with traders, that Archibald Vernon once more begin to think that he really must buckle to work. — Shirley Brooks,* Once a Week.
M. Rubinstein's opera, Les Evfants des Landes, has been put in rehearsal at the Viennese Opera.
The Privilege of building a new theatre in Vienna has just been granted to Baroness Pasqualeet. It is to bear her name.
Spohr's Stradivarius is to be sold by auction for the benefit o! his heirs. The great master is said to have used it for half» century. One might have thought such a relic would be tfpt in the family as an heir-loom. Probably they prefer gold tc notes.
Hee Majestt's Theatre. — On Tuesday night Mr. Sims Reeves made his first appearance in public since the loss of his father dpprived the theatre of his invaluable services. We constantly hear reflections made on the capriciousness of artists, and as in most cases these observations are totally unfounded, wo are always glad of an opportunity to give full credit to those who do their very utmost to keep faith with the public. It ought to be made known that Mr. Sims Reeves has throughout the season strained every nerve in order to avoid disappointing his audience. During the run of Robin Hood he has contracted no other engagement; indeed, he has never once sung nt the concerts at which he usually appears — as he was expected to do on the off-nights of Macfarren's opera — fearing lest the additional exertion might possibly prevent his doinir full justice to the part he had undertaken to perform. Mr. Reeves has thus made real and tangible sacrifices for the sake of aiding the success of national opera, and this proof of self-denying devotion to his art will be fully appreciated by all. Certainly the warmth of the reception accorded to him last night seemed to express sympathy with the man as much as admiration of the artist. Mr. Sims Reeves was in splendid voice, the enforced rest having exerted an evidently beneficial influence, and he never sang with more expression and effect. "Thou art my own, my guiding star," was deliriously rendered and vehemently applauded, while the spirited drinking-song was given with immense vigour; it was, however, in the long and arduous scena in the prison that the exquisite taste and consummate skill in vocalisation of the great tenor were both most remarkably displayed. But we have dwelt at such length on Robin Hood that we need not recur to it; suffice it to say that Madame Lemmens-Sherrington sang so charmingly — although she was suffering from a severe attack of influenza — that the preparatory apology seemed needless; and that Madame Leinaire was as artistie, Mr. Santley as full-voiced and admirable, and Mr. Honey as comic as ever. Of the orchestra the praiso must still be as restricted and qualified as usual; and of the chorus the less said the better.—Daily Telegraph.
Oltmpic Theatre.—The revival of Mr. Palgravc Simpson's Daddy Hardacre at this house, after its performance at Windsor, enables the public once more to appreciate! to its full extent ibe genius of Mr. Robson, which for some time was confined to the delineation of merely farcical personages. This is the first great part of what is called "domestic interest" in which he ever appeared, and his acting in it is still pre-eminent as one of the most remarkable instances of characteristic impersonation ever witnessed on the stage. In the mis.r Daddy Hardacre, who is perhaps a more legitimate descendant of the Euclid of Plantus than of the Grnndct of De Balzac, the most diverse peculiarities are brought together, and Mr. Robson not only grapples with them all, but brings them into the most perfect hnrmony. Daddy Hardacre is facetious, in his rough way, when he has the best of a bargain; his love for his daughter imparts an exceptional tenderness to his nature; his grief when ho is robbed rises to a tragical demonstration of intenso agony. Every one of these peculiarities is pursuod to the minutest detail, and the chuckle which accompanies his dealings with his less astute neighbour, Jobling. is ns effective in its way as the frenzy of rage with which he assails his too charitable daughter. But, although Air. Robson's representation of Daddy Hardacre stands alone among tbo theatrical phenomena of the day, the general excellence with which the entire piece is played is too remarkable to pass observation. As the miser's daughter, devoted to her lather, and only sinning from excess of kindliness. Miss Hughes acts with that appearance of gentleness and goodness which renders her one of the most valuable performers in domestic drama. Mr. George Cooke is, of course, at home as the village lawyer, one degree less sharp than the overreaching Daddy; and his nephew, the rustic beau, is endowed with all that eccentricity which Mr. H. Wigan knows so well how to bestow when he has to deal with a sketch of decided character. Mrs. Stevens thoroughly renders the hearty qualities of the old servant, and Mr. Walter Gordon is a satisfactory representative of the interesting cousin, who is doprived of the unamiable
attributes with which he has been invested by De Balzac. There is not
a defective place in the entire drama.
Princess's Theatre.—Although, in representing those sympathetic twins who have been famous in London ever since Mr. Charles Kcan presented the public with a version of Les Frtres Corses, Mr. Fechter lias not the same scope for his genius as when he delineated the enthusiastic and impassioned Ruy Bias, he makes us aquaintcd with a new form of his artistic skill. To define his conception of the characters, apart from his talent in producing those melodramatic ctlects which ara so essential to the piece, we would say that it is based on a combination of the qualities proper to a rude state of society with those of a nature eminently susceptible of conventional polish. His Corsican is a Corsican heart and soul, with a love for the wild condition of his fatherland, but he is not without a feeling for a higher state of civilisation, and this is eminently shown when he reconciles the quarrelsome peasants, and appears as a true gentleman amid a fraternity of ruffians. Still his cultivation has not penetrated much below the surface, and when his passions arc roused they speak out with a native fra'nkness that distinguishes him from those who have been trained in great cities. Fancy a country gentleman of the old school placed in a metropolis, and you havo an approximation to Mr. Fechter's idea of the Dei Franchi. The piece has been remodelled from the shape which it originally wore in Paris, and also in London, the incidents of the masked ball being transferred to the commencement, so as to introduce all the other events, both of the natural and supernatural classes. This arrangement, at the first glance, has in its favour the law of cause and effect, for the logical mind will be more easily satisfied by seeing a gentleman's ghost follow his decease than by seeing the ghost come first and the death afterwords. But then, on the other hand, it will be recollected that, contrary to dramatic precedent, the incidents in two acts of the Corsican Brothers are supposed to be not consecutive, but simultaneous, the spectre being less a posthumous ghost than a "wraith," and we may add that the oldfashioned plan had this advantage, that it interrupted the sequence of supernatural gloom with the fun and brilliancy of the Parisian carmval. The piece is generally well acted, and capitally put upon the stage, a new and effective dance being introduced in the masquerade scene; but we must regret that Mr. W. Lacy did not play his old part of Chateau Renaud. Mr. A. Harris is a lively and agreeable actor, but there is an obvious good-humour about him which recoils from the impersonation of the cold-blooded duellist.
Mr. Baue's Bianca.—Mr. Balfe's new opera is an unquestionable success. On Saturday night, at the third representation, a very crowded audience confirmed the favourable verdict which had been unanimously awarded on the Thursday previous, and the composer was again loudly summoned at the fall of the curtain. Having already glanced at the general merits of the performance, our remarks at present must be confined to a brief examination of the work itself.
The old German drama, by Zschokke, entitled Aballino, the origin of Monk Lewis's romance of The Bravo of Venice, and of Monk Lewis's play of Rugantino — both at one epoch the delight of our forefathers — is also the origin of Bianca, the Bravo's Bride. In how much Mr. Palgrave Simpson is indebted to the German original, in how much to the English adaptation, and in how much to his own invention, would take too long to examine, and indeed would scarcely repay the pains. Enough that he hag manufactured an effective operatic libretto out of a subject once universally familiar, now almost universally forgotten. Mr. Simpson's Bravo (Mr. Harrison) is a gentleman of sufficient ingenuity to pass muster creditably for a considerable period as three different personages. His object is to win the heart of Bianca (Miss Louisa Pyne), daughter of the Duke of Milan (Mr. Alberto Lawrence)—the scene, for some not evident reason, being changed from Venice to Milan — and to accomplish that object he undergoes two successive formations. The bona-fide Duke of Ferrara, he has been selected by the Duke of Milan — against the wish of Bianca, who has a leaning towards some one else — as a son-in-law; but, anxious to obtain the goodwill of the young lady, who has never seen him, on the strength of his own personal merits rather than by the weight attaching to his rank and dignity, he appears at the Court of Milan as a young soldier, under the name of Odoardo, winning at one and the same time distinction in the Duke's armies and a place in the affections of Bianca. At the head of an expedition organised against the renowned brigand Fortespada (Aballino—Rugantino)—whose name, in consequence of many daring and successful escapades, inspires a kind of supernatural terror — he traces that worthy to his lair, and from Fortespada's dying words gleans information of a conspiracy, in which the bravo himself was to have taken part against the life of the Duke of Milan, who, together with his daughter, his ministers, and others connected with the Court, is to be assassinated at a certain place on a certain day. But, though Fortespada's aid was reckoned on as an important element of the plot, with the easy indifference to probability belonging to a particular class of romance, we are given to understand that his person is unknown to the heads and promoters of the conspiracy. Informed of this, Odoardo, passing himself off for the bravo, penetrates into the counsels of the conspirators, and prevails on them by threats of discovery to acknowledge him as leader, eventually frustrating their plans and handing them over to justice. The various and startling manoeuvres by which the catastrophe is brought about, the lives of Bianca and her father saved, the heart of the lady won not merely for the soldier but for the bravo, and ultimately even for the dreaded Duke of Ferrara — much to the satisfaction of the highminded ruler of Milan, whose objection to Odoardo is founded on scruples about birth and extraction — had best be witnessed. To recount them, step by step, would be a thankless task, while to view them, one after the other, through the attractive medium of Mr. Balfe's music, which scarcely for an instant allows the interest to sleep, is quite another matter. Suffice it, the audience, perfectly satisfied at the end that Odoardo, Fortespada, and the Duke of Ferrara are one and the same person, experience no surprise that the designing conspirators, the unsuspecting Duke of Milan, and the enamoured Bianca herself, should have been throughout so consistently deceived. In the last scene Mr. Harrison has only to perform a «eries of evolutions with the assistance of an accommodating cloak, which, according as it is assumed or laid aside, is allowed to stand for his credentials, and everybody accepts him for just what he pleases to declare himself,— Odoardo, Fortespada, or the Duke of Ferrara — which of the three he may find it convenient for the moment to impersonate. He has, however, subdued a bravo, baffled a conspiracy, rescued the state, won the hand of a princess, and afforded a popular composer a great many excellent opportunities of display; what more need be demanded of the hero of a romantic " libretto?"
Mr. Balfe has written more ambitiously in Bianca than usual, and, it must be added, with a proportionate degree of success. His first act is a closer approach to what is termed " grand opera" than anything from his pen with which we were previously acquainted. After a brilliant, if not very coherent, overture, the curtain rises upon an introduction admirably designed and full of genuine beauties. This comprises, among other things, a prayer— "To Thee above our hearts we raise" (with organ accompaniment)—remarkable for melody and grace, and an air with chorus —"The demon of darkness"—for Ueppo (Air. St. Albyn), the comic personage of the drama, who narrates the legend of Fortespada's diabolical birth in music alike vigorous and characteristic. Not less remarkable is the scene which ensues—the conference of the conspirators, the chiefs of whom, Count Malespina (Mr. H. Wharton), a thorough-paced villain, and Memmino, a bit of a coward (Mr. H. Corri), are effectively contrasted in the musical treatment This scene, which emulates the declamatory breadth of Meyerbeer, contains an air of considerable merit for Malespina, the first and best part of which, "When cruel scorn and cold disdain," was omitted at the third performance, the quick movement only, "The vengeance cloud," being retained. The action of the first finale further developes the conspiracy, and introduces Fortespada, whose individuality here, as throughout the opera, is indicated and preserved with consummate skill. This finale is conducted in a masterly manner. Besides being thoroughly well knit, it includes one or two passages that stand out with vivid distinctness, and are remembered for themselves, independently of the framework that surrounds them. Instance the concerted piece where the conspirators swear never to rest, until Milan is freed from its tyrant; and the drinking song, "Glorious wine," with chorus, with which Fortcspnda enlivens the ceremony —one of the most sparkling and exhilarating bacchanalians that modern opera has produced. The musical passage, too, which, whether the bravo is on the stage or not, illustrates, with more or
less prominence, every hint at his personality, is here presented in extenso, and cannot fail to impress by its originality. Mr. Balfe has, perhaps, laid himself open to the charge of excess in bis employment of this peculiar means of individualising his principal character (invented, if we arc not mistaken, by Weber, who thus everywhere identifies Zamiel in his Dcr FreUchiitz); but the intention is good, and we are not disposed to criticise what, at the worst, may be arraigned as a stretch of consistency. At all events, in the first finale, often as it is alluded to, the Fortespada passage is never out of place.
The second act is shorter than the first, but hardly less interesting from a musical point of view. It opens with a delicious chorus for women's voices—"As slowly fades the light of day"— sung at the door of the cathedrals by the ladies of Bianca, who is about to perform her orisons in the interior of the sacred building. A duet for Bianca and Malespina—"Although with cold disdain" —contains several fine passages, the last movement being none the less agreeable on account of its slightly approximating to the manner of Verdi. The accompaniments to this offer some new and striking combinations; and it may be remarked en passant that in almost everv scene of Bianca Mr. Balfe has zealously endeavoured to distinguish his orchestral arrangements by bold and suggestive colouring. If occasionally, as now and then with, the stringed instruments, he may be accused of transgressing the conventional limits of experiment, in the majority of instances he is eminently successful. This onward tendency in a composer so unreservedly acknowledged that it is unnecessary for him, in order to insure continued acceptance, to deviate from the path he has hitherto been accustomed to tread, merits honourable acknowledgment. Another very happy example is revealed at the commencement of the second finale, when Fortespada, disguised as a beggar, solicits the aid of Bianca, whose life he subsequently preserves from the dagger of Michele, a hired assassin of Malespina. Here the combination of the tenor voice with the bass clarionet in the orchestra recals the scene of the pretended miracle in Meyerbeer's Prophite, of which, nevertheless, it is in no sense a plagiarism. The second finale includes other good things, among the rest a graceful phrase addressed by Fortespada to Bianca, alter the death of Michele, by the hand of the assumed beggar, and the chorus of the "Gratias Agimus" from the chapel of the cathedral. "Look up, look up, my dearest," indeed, if it occupied a more isolated position, might aim at becoming a popular ballad. The whole finale is cleverly built, and although the Verdi-like coda is scarcely up to the mark of its more original precursor, at the end of Act I, it is always animated and dramatically effective.
The introduction to Act III. is a masterpiece of tuneful, light, and sparkling music. Zelfirina (Miss Thirlwall), Bianca's principal attendant, is preparing for a masque about to be held in the palace, and instructing groups of dancers in the parts they are destined to play. A comic vein is elicited by the co-operation of Beppo (Mr. St. Albyn), an emissary of the Duke of Ferrara (Fortespada), whose mission is to sound Zeffirina about the state of her mistress' affections, and who is compelled to ferret out the desired information while being drilled severely in a pas de deux set down for him to execute at the masque with Zeffirina herself. The stage effect is as ludicrous as the music is irresistible, and, coming immediately after so much that is serious and even gloomy, nothing can be more happy or to the purpose. The occasional interpolation here and elsewhere, however, of snatches from the chorus, "As slowly fades the light of day" (Act II.), has no evident meaning, and may be justly stigmatised as a musical non setpatsr, —unlike a similar expedient already defended, which stamps the individuality of Fortespada. In the same scene Bianca sings a ballad—"'Twashe, my only thought "—for its catching melody and expressive character to be compared with the "Power of Love," which made the fortune of Satanella, and upon the orchestral accompaniments to which the composer has bestowed equal pains. The Duke of Milan's song, " Oh crown of power," bears a faint resemblance to one of the only real lanes in Herr Wagner's Tannhiiuser; but we are loth to charge the composer of The Bohemian Girl with any intention of emulating so eccentric a model and must put the resemblance down for an unanticipated " coincidence." "From my childhood "—a somewhat laboured and spun out, though undoubtedly clever, duet, in which the Duke emieavours to mould the heart of Bianca to his wishes with respect to the Ferrara alliance—commences with a very original declamatory phrase; contains further on a passage unquestionably suggested by Verdi, in his Trovalore; includes another and even finer phrase of declamation, where Bianca pleads the cause of Odoardo—" His manly form, his beaming eye," &c.—and winds up with a quick movement, which, but for one or two somewhat uncouth transitions near the end would be unexceptionable. The third finale, embodying Fortespada's unexpected apparition before the Duke of Milan, his recognition by Bianca, and his sudden flight when just within the grasp of his baffled pursuers (described in the book as "tableau of confusion and consternation"), is ingeniously contrived, ably written, and full of animation. The response of Fortespada, however, to the contemptuous reproaches of the Duke —" 'Tis not purple and gold that ennoble the man "—is so like "The fair land of Poland" (Bohemian Girl), both in sentiment and melodic outline, that the least practised ear can hardly fail to detect the plagiarism. Mr. Balfe may, of course, plead that he only repeats himself; and, as many will in all probability prefer the new version to the old (if only because it is now), the energetic outburst which reveals the patriotism of Thaddeus may have to give place, at least for a time, to a successor.
The fourth act opens with a grand scena for Bianca, the last movement of which—" A torrent roaming "—as florid, brilliant, and difficult to execute as the first—" Yes, I shall see him once again"—is unaffectedly expressive. A piece of very unequal merit comes next, comprising a duet for Bianca and Fortespada— "One only boon on earth I prized ;" a ballad for the last named —"Once more upon the path of life," and a trio in which the Duke of Milan makes up the complement of singers. The duet is extremely pretty, and charmingly instrumented ; the ballad opens promisingly, but does not fulfil its promise; the trio is dramatic and effective. As a whole, however, the undue length of this miniature trialogue is scarcely atoned for by the amount of musical interest it presents. The next scene has been considerably abridged since the first representation. This was, perhaps, inevitable, in order to bring the duration of the performance as nearly as possible within the limits of four hours; but some very fresh and charming music of the Auber cast has thus been necessarily relinquished, the pretty chorus, "While twinkling stars," and the not very lively ballad of Malespina, " Chiefs on might relying "—only the last verse of that, by the way—being all that remains of the original structure—with which, if we do not greatly err, the composer himself must have been well pleased. The last finale opens with some capital ballet music, including a galop (the lively and picturesque arrangement of which, by M. Pettit, has been noticed) set to a tune once heard not easily forgotten. It was said of Auber's Oustave III.—" At least there is a galop in it;" and as much may be remarked of Mr. Balfe's Bianca—which, when it is remembered what a crowd of beautiful things, besides the famous galop, are contained in the masterpiece of the French musician, will not be misconstrued into a sneer. Another feature of this last finale— less solidly constructed, by the way, than the others (in accordance with a custom only disregarded as a general rule in the scores of Mozart, Beethoven, and Cherubini)—is the chorus, "Seize him! seize him !" occurring j ust after Mr. Harrison, as Fortespada, has accomplished his first metamorphosis with the cloak, a chorus marked undoubtedly by vigorous dramatic expression, but apparently modelled after (without plagiarising from) the " Guerra! Guerra!" of Bellini's Norma. The last concerted piece for the principal characters, immediately preceding the betrayal of the conspirators by Fortespada, is in keeping, if not startliugly new; the last two phrases of recitation put into the mouth of Fortespada, and the words of which, as affording a sort of bird'seye view of the imaginary bravo's self-imposed mission, we subjoin :—
"The bravo-band I crush'd. Fate led me then,
( pointing out the conspirators)
I sworo my fate te bind to her alone,
(when, after the final cloak-transformation, Fortespada, as Duke of Ferrara, claims the hand of Bianca),
are declamatory, if nothing more; while the last piece for Bianca, a so-called "rondo-finale,"—
"What sunshine bright,
is a tuneful, sparkling, and brillant display (prigitial to boot—something uncommon in a "rondo-finale ") for the heroine of the opera, enough to m;ike the fame and fortune of a "prima donna" capable, like Mis3 Louisa Pyne, of executing it to absolute perfection.
From the foregoing it will be concluded that in our opinion Mr. Balfe's reputation is likely to be increased rather than diminished by his Bianca. The recent example of honourable emulation has clearly not been lost upon him. The genuine reception accorded to Lurline and Robin Hood, and the revival of the Night Dancers, followed up with another success achieved by the most fertile of our dramatic composers, looks well for the future. National opera seems now to have a chance of being established on a firmer basis than it ever previously reposed on. The musical public will anticipate with interest Mr. Wallace's forthcoming Amber Witch, Mr. Macfarren's Sleeper Awakened (which was surely never originally intended for the concert-room), Mr. Frank Mori's Lambert Simnel, Mr. Benedict's Esmeralda, and last, not least, Mr. Howard Glover's Ruy Bias—all of which are promised, and from all of which great things are anticipated. Formerly an opera—by which is not intended a mere ballad opera,—from the pen of an English composer, was regarded in some sort as a phenomenon); but it would appear from what is now on hand that our musicians have progressed with the times.—Times.
A musical phenomenon has appeared in Brighton in the person of Mile. Carlottina Badia, aged four years, and—if we are to accept the verdict of the local authorities as-correct—with extraordinary success. This young sapling of the tree of art is daughter to Signor and Mad. Badia, whom we have heard playing and singing respectively at the Crystal Palace Concerts last season. Our readers are well aware that we put no faith whatsoever in the forcing system, which we have always found in the animal economy to be deleterious, if not entirely ruinous. We have followed the career of numerous phenomenons, and invariably found they never arrived at greatness, in most instances, indeed, sinking into utter incompetence. Morally and physically speaking, a child of four years old cannot escape the effects of rigid training, but must succumb either to toil or thought. The pity is that the parents will not wait for the young and promising bud to put forth its blossoms, but must have recourse to all kinds of didactic guanos to urge it into premature growth. The leaves look green, the flowers expand, the colours seem bright; but, alas! it is at the expense of life and health. Nature, just mother, frowns at those who despise her gentle and sure ordinances, and will not interfere to save the poor tortured ba be who has been kidnapped from her supervision. In speaking thus, we say nothing directly regarding Miss Carlottina Badia, but argue from example, that no amount of talent can justify the parents in bringing the child before the public. What the Brighton public thinks of the child may perhaps be gathered from the following notice taken from the Brighton Guardian:—
"The principal novelty of the soirie was the appearance of the child, Carlottina Badia, whose advent had exalted her into something approaching a 'phenomenon.' She is an interesting child, and perhaps may well lay claim to some extraordinary capabilities when sho stands beside a piano, to the key-board of which her head hardly reaches, for the purpose of performing operatic solos before a fashionable audience.