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It is stated in several well-informed quarters that Fanny Ellsler will return to the Opera at Paris this month (March), and that she has refused the liberal offer of Laporte, to perform in the new ballet of Jupiter et Danae.
The Drama. At the Theatre du Vaudeville, M. Deforge's new two-act vaudeville, entitled Une Nuit au Serail, has been the chief attraction. The piece is founded upon the travels of Lady Montague and her imbecile Lord; the chief incident is an intrigue at the harem, where the lady discovers and deceives her husband, the whole concluding in the triumph of conjugal honour. The decorations and mise en scène in the second act, are described as truly superb. Malle. Brohan, the accomplished actress, sustained the part of Lady Montague. Le Neveu du Mercier, a serious comedy, has also been a successful production.
The Theatre Port St. Martin has been crowded every evening to witness the new drama of Pauline, founded on Sir E. L. Bulwer's play of The Lady of Lyons.
The only novelties produced at the Theatre de Renaissance have been Frédérick Lemaitre and La Fille du Tapissier. Liszt is performing in this city, and is attracting great attention; yet he does not succeed so well as in London, where he will return early in May.
The present month closes the theatrical career of Malle Mars, who retires on the 31st March.
AMIENS.-M. Paul Formany has invented a new instrument, which he calls the chromatic kettle-drum; it contains fifteen skins, producing full and half tones. M. Hiller, director of the orchestra of this city, has composed a Funeral March and several other pieces for this instrument.
Doehler, the celebrated pianist of Italy, competitor of Liszt and Thalberg, has just received the Order of San Lodovico. He received this distinction after a concert given at Florence for the benefit of an unfortunate family, in which he introduced pieces of his own composition, and a new fantasia on the melodies of Giovanni da Procida, by Prince Poniatowski.
A new tragedy by G. B. Niccolini is, indeed, a treat for the literati of Italy. Rosmonda d'Inghilierra is founded on the well known story of Fair Rosomond. The author has so successfully wrought up his subject, that it has become an established favourite both at Rome and Florence.
Mercadante received the appointment of professor to the Musical Academy of Bologna from Rossini's recommendation; but he declined it, in order to accept the pressing invitation of the King of Naples to that court.
The Opera and Ballet in Italy. Most of the operas produced at the great Theatre of La Scala, at Milan, are in two acts, each being divided into several tableaur. After the first act the ballet is performed; and, as it takes up at least an hour and a half, the singers have time to rest, and prepare for the second act. If it be considered that the Italian artistes sing five or six times a week, it will be easily conceived that such exertions must require the repose thus contrived for them in the course of every representation. In the winter season, or what is called the Carnival, which is the most important of the three seasons, the opera is followed by a second ballet, in the comic style, which protracts the performance to at least midnight.
The scenery appeared to us somewhat less splendid than we anticipated, from the great fame it enjoys in Lombardy; and we must pronounce the Académie Royale of Paris superior in that respect. But the costumes, and particularly the ballets, are extremely rich, though we can scarcely bestow upon them the epithet of fine, for we are not such enthusiastic admirers as most people seem
to be in that part of Italy of the éclat of spangles, and a profusion of gold and silver gauze, jewels, &c. An actor representing a person of rank would not venture on the stage without a variety of embroidery and feathers, which are often but ill adapted to severe historical tradition. The prime donne all look as if they had dipped their velvet dresses into a stream of gold, and the humblest confidante glitters like the heavens in an Italian night. There is a wide difference between these habits and the chaster ones of the Académie Royale, where poor Nourrit, with his wonted tact, ornamented with silk lace only the cloak and doublet of Raoul de Nangis, in Meyerbeer's Huguenots. At Milan, Fernando Cortez, on his way to the conquest of Mexico and Peru, would be covered with gold. At Naples, the fishermen in Auber's Muette de Portici, which opera is played both in that capital and at Milan under the title of Fenella, wore gold lace on their caps and cloaks.
On the other hand, in compliance with a tradition very detrimental to illusion and to the coup d'æil harmony, the choristers, and all the inferior members of the personnel, are dressed in the same manner. Thus, in a group of lords, all resembled one another as regards the colour of the doublet, cloak, and accessories of the costume, so that one fancies one always sees a company of soldiers of some unknown corps. The women have all of them the same dresses, either with or without a train, the only variety admitted being that of their faces. This sameness of costume must be very repulsive to the fair wearers, for the blonde is clad in yellow, if yellow be the order of the day, and the brunette is not at liberty to choose such colour as may suit either her complexion or taste. The worst of this usage is, certainly, that it impairs the variety of the picture which the stage presents, especially in the finales, where this uniformity of costume is detrimental to the illusion of the dramatic situation, and to the effect of the details of the mise en scène.
Nothing, however, is omitted, so far as this system of mise en scène will admit, to render everything as rich as possible. In the course of this season alone, in which the pit has proved very severe, we have seen three or four ballets produced, got up with a splendour at least equal to what the Grand Opera of Paris displays once or twice a year, and makes the whole press praise and puff for months together. Velvet, satins, spangles, gold cloth, pearls, helmets, and plumes, are lavished with extraordinary profusion upon the immense dancing, capering, and pirouetting personnel of La Scala; and if perchance, the prying public recognise in a new maneuvre, anything that has been used before, they hiss it; the ballet is damned, and in this fiasco all the splendid costumes, in short the whole magnificent mise en scène, is condemned to vanish along with the ballet master's composition. In the last season of La Scala, the pit hissed four ballets successively, which have not ventured to figure again on the play-bills. As many operas had the same woful fate, whence we may conclude that the Milanese are determined to assert the superiority of their lyric stage at any cost.
Notwithstanding its vast dimensions, the house is a very sonorous one. This must be partly owing to the absence of the rows of galleries and open boxes, which absorb a large proportion of sound at the French theatres. When the public condescend to listen, which is not always the case, the slightest emission of sound reaches the remotest parts of the theatre. We have heard at La Scala singers gifted with no great voice, who were, nevertheless, perfectly heard. The tenor Salvi, who sang Roberto Devereux, in the autumn of 1839, and whom we heard several times at Milan at that period, is an admirable singer, but his voice is not one of a powerful description; yet, as he is liked by the public, he was listened to, and that was as it were to give him more voice. The celebrated Moriani, whom we had later an opportunity of hearing during the carnival season, did not give rise to such regret, for his voice is so fine, so pure, and
so powerful, that it soared above the buzzing of the boxes and chat of the pit. We do not mean to say that Moriani sang amidst downright noise; but it may be pretty generally observed in Italy, that the principal morceaux only are listened to, and that such attention is even more real in the pit than in the boxes.
Most travellers who only pass through the cities of Italy carry away with them superficial and false opinions, which a little conscience would prevent their expressing. Thus it is alleged, that the same opera is always performed several months together at the great theatres; and yet nothing is at more variance with the truth. For our part, within the lapse of scarcely three months, we saw at La Scala seven operas, four of which were entirely new to the public, and three revivals of works which had been forgotten. Of the four novelties, three were expressly written for the Scala carnival. This is an ensemble of labour and exertions, that reduces to a very little those of other great theatres, which exhaust all their personnel when they succeed in getting up two or three new operas in a year. But on the other hand, what a profession is that of Italian singers! To sing every night before the public, rehearse every morning the opera which is to be produced next, learn all the novelties written expressly for the theatres they are at, and pay no attention to indispositions often more annoying than real illness-such is their task. To stand it, they must have a bronze chest and iron courage. Add to this, that male singers must sing with full chest, head and mixed voices not being admissible in the theatres of Italy.
Rossini's Faculty of Composition. The air “ Di tanti palpiti,” is termed in Italy the aria de rizi, which originated in the following manner: Rossini had .composed for the entry of Tancredi a grand air, which the prima donna Malanotti rejected. The cantatrice having declared her dislike to it only two days before the first performance, the young composer returned to his hotel in despair, and sat down to table. As most dinners in Lombardy commence with a dish of rice, which is liked but little done, four minutes before it is served up the cook is in the habit of putting the important question, Bisogna mettere i rizi? The question was put to Rossini, the rice put on the fire, and before it was ready he had written the celebrated “ Di tanti palpiti.”
M. Schoberlechner, pianist and mustre de chapelle to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, gave a grand concert at La Scala recently, in which his daughter, Sophia Schoberlechner, made her début here, and caused a very splendid and crowded assembly on the occasion. She has acquired great repute at Bologna, Venice, and other cities; and it would appear she has strong claims to be considered second to no female singer at present in this country. She sang a cavatina from Belisario, and a magnificent rondo from Anna Bolena, and was most enthusiastically applauded. She is expected shortly to grace the boards of La Scala, as her dramatic acting is stated to equal her great vocal powers.
GERMANY. BERLIN.— The departure of Malle. S. Löwe for Paris and London has created a pause in musical affairs; indeed since the accession of the present monarch, the drama has been rising into greater attention. Malle. Fassmann from Munich, performed Agathe in the 200th representation of Weber's Der Freischutz, and in Mozart's Zuuberflöte. Beethoven's Egmont has also been received with favour by crowded houses, and Meyerbeer's Crociato has been attractive at the Königsstädter theatre. For dramatic representation, Schiller's William Tell, Picolomini, and the Robbers, are all on the eve of reproduction.
Dresden.-Madame Schroeder Devrient continues to be an unceasing attraction; her recent performance in Goethe's Tasso has, if possible, added to her
PRAGUE.—Halevy's comic opera of Le Sherif was adapted by Swohada, but
owing to the inefficient manner in which Sir James Turner performed his part it did not succeed. Bellini's Norma, in the Bohemian language, and Marschner's romantic opera of Hans Heiling, have been the recent attractions.
VIENNA.—The only musical novelty in this city was the successful production of Reuling's new grand opera of Alfred der Grosse; the opera is most beautifully and effectively got up, and has the advantage of a well-written libretto by Herr Müller."
The number of musical publications which have appeared in Germany during the year 1840 has exceeded that of 1839, by 168 publications; the total number in 1839 being 2483, and in the year just completed 2651. The latter are thus specified : 104 orchestral pieces, 134 for the violin, 43 for the violoncella, 76 Aute, 32 other wind instruments, 7 for the harp, 48 for the guitar, 1178 for the pianoforte, 39 for the organ, 101 hymns, 744 songs, duos, &c.; 57 complete operas, and 52 works on music, exclusive of newspapers, and 24 works of instruction.
FRANKFORT.-Neeb has a new grand opera in a forward state, entitled Domenico Baldi ; the music is very highly spoken of.
LEIPZIC.-Ole Bull, we regret to say, had reason to complain of his last reception in England, owing to some accidental circumstances by which the public attention was diverted from him to a far inferior artist. Ole Bull has expressed himself delighted with his debut in this city, having given three public concerts, all of which presented full audiences, well disposed to appreciate his wonderful power over “ the leading instrument.” In the Gewandhaus he played an Adagio of Mozart, wbich alone we considered one of the finest displays of the pathetic in music that we ever witnessed. This Adagio is the same which Ole Bull performed at Salzburg, the birth place of the divine composer, when his widow paid him the high compliment of declaring that he alone possessed the power to express exactly what "her Mozart” intended by his affecting music, most of the audience were in tears. In fact the main power of Ole Bull consists in the delicate lights and shadows of his playing.
HANOVER.Donizetti's opera of Lucia di Lammermuer has been performed with great success by an Italian company : but the most attractive production, of late, has been Gutzkow's tragedy of Werner. The forty singers from the Pyrenees, who last year visited London, are now performing in this city.
A subscription has been opened at Leipzig and Dresden, to remove the remains of Carl Maria von Weber from the Catholic chapel in Moorfields to Dresden.
Tue DRAMA IN GERMANY.-The Gelehrtgesellschaft of Hungary has offered a prize of 100 ducats for the best tragedy, and the like sum for the best comedy.
More than one attempt has been made to dramatize the life of Savage. However interesting his biography is, in the nervous style of Johnson, the subject is wanting in one of the chief requisites of the drama-unity; and it is therefore no wonder that M. Gutzkow's drama, notwithstanding single beauties and the injudicious efforts of his eulogists, have failed in making an impression on the stage. Ile has been far more successful in his Werner.
The Dramatic Annual, by Dr. Franck, contains Irrgänge des Lebens, a tragedy in five acts by Pannasch; Christine von Schweden, a drama in three acts by Vogel; Richard Savage, a tragedy in five acts by Gutzkow; Worcester oder Geist und Narrheit, a comedy in three acts by Dr. Franck, and an article on Dramatic Literature and the German Drama in the 19th century, by E. Reinhold. Another interesting work containing a good selection of new and original German dramas, &c. is the Berlin Theatre Almanack for 1841, containing Die Naturkinder, a comedy in three acts by Cosmar; Stiefmütter, a comedy in two acts, by Schmale; St. Peter, or the Poor Painter, and Frauenfreundschaft, each in one act.
SPAIN. The theatrical horizon of Spain, which has been clouded for a long period, is now assuming a brighter aspect. No new opera has been produced, or any revived worthy of notice. Quintana has produced two new classical tragedies, Pelayo and The Duke of Visco; the former proved the most successful. Burgos has written several new comedies; the most successful were Los tres Iguales, El baile de mascaras, El optimista y el pesimista, and Desenganos para todos. Martinez de la Rosa has also recently written Edipus, a fine play ; Nina en casa, a pretty comedy; and Conjuracion de Venecia, a drama, founded on modern habits and tastes. The Duke of Rivas, the author of Don Alvaro, has produced what he calls a philosophical spectacle, entitled Fuerza del sino, and it has become an established favourite with the people of Madrid. Gil y Zarate, the talented author of Carlos II., and Doña Blanca de Castilla, has produced a new drama, entitled Rosmunda. But the most celebrated Spanish dramatic writer of modern times is Breton de los Herreros; his comedies vie with those of Moliere, Moreto, and Goldoni, both for peculiar situations and witticisms. His five-act comedy, La Marcela, was actually performed twice over from the beginning to the end-such were the unreasonable demands and enthusiasm of the audience: we believe no parallel case can be found in the annals of any other European stage. He has also written a new tragedy, Merope, and a drama, Elena, both of which proved highly successful. A drama, by Eugenio Harzembusch, entitled Los Āinantes de Teruel, is also an established favourite. The most recent production is Los Polvos de la Madre Celestina.
TURKEY. The Sultan has conferred on Donizetti the decoration of Nitscham Ifcihar, in magnificent diamonds. The brother of this popular composer is the principal musical director to the Grand Seignior.
AMERICA. NATIONAL OPERA HOUSE.- Don Giovanni proves a great attraction still at the National, and so the managers are very wisely “ keeping it before the people." Each repetition is more successful than the last, and from present appearances, it bids fair to rival any other production upon the New York stage..
The Woods.-The Boston Post, speaking of the Woods in La Somnambula, says—" Mrs. Wood's opening recitative of Dearest Companions,' we have always considered as an unfavourable opening piece for the prima donna. With the exception of the latter part, it did not come up to our anticipations. The air, however, of - While this heart,' was most beautiful; we could almost go with the most enthusiastic admirers of the singer, in their verbose descriptions of its beauty. Mr. Wood, in " Take now this ring,' though good, was inferior to Wilson in the same passage. Wood's Still so gently, and his wife's 'Ah don't mingle,' were as good as ever. They altogether surpass every one else in these songs; and besides, have become so associated with them, that we cannot now relish the efforts of other performers. The only good acting on the stage was Mrs. Wood, Andrews, and Mrs. Smith.”
PARK THEATRE, New York.-Buckstone has written a new piece for Mrs. Fitzwilliam, entitled The Banished Star; and it has proved highly successful, and will, no doubt, be among the earliest novelties at the Haymarket Theatre in London.
LONDON. Covent Garden.-A long farce, under the ridiculous title of London Assurance, has been the chief novelty presented to the public at this great