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national theatre. The new comedy by a young author under the assumed name of Mr. Lee Morton, was most decidedly triumphant; for we never beheld an audience more completely carried away by the mirthmoving merriment of the scene. It is really one of the richest and raciest comedies which this charming lessee has ever presented to us. The situations are funny beyond description, the incidents ludicrous, and the dialogue full of point and humour. Sir Harcourt Courtley, Bart. (Farren), a gentleman of the school of fashion, exhibiting some of its worst vices in his character, is about to marry Grace Harkaway (Madame Vestris), a young lady of nineteen summers, who has 15,000l. per annum, and does not care whom she marries; but the dowry on her marrying any one without Sir Harcourt's consent is bequeathed to his heir apparent. The baronet has a son Charles (Anderson), of whose pursuits he knows nothing, and whom he imagined to be a simple youth. Squire Harkaway (Bartley) visits the baronet, and encounters Dazzle (Mr. Charles Mathews), a person Charles Courtley had picked up in the streets, and who is invited by the squire to his seat in Gloucestershire. On arrival at the squire's, they are introduced to Lady Gay Spanker (Mrs. Nisbett) and Mr. Adolphus Spanker (Keeley), a quiet husband, who plays second fiddle to his wife. Charles Courtley falls in love with Grace Harkaway, the affianced of his father, and the passion is returned. The baronet recognises his son, but Charles denies the relationship, and declares his name to be Hamilton, at Dazzle's suggestion; and the baronet confesses himself deceived this is the greatest absurdity of the piece. Lady Gay Spanker, the fox-hunting beauty, in order to assist the lovers, lays siege to the old baronet; and so far succeeds that an elopement is planned, the failure of which leads to the exposure of Sir Harcourt's weakness, and he finally relinquishes all claim to the hand of the fair Grace, in favour of his son. Harley plays an eccentric attorney, and Brindal has a good part in Cool, the valet. . The triumphant suceess of this play may be fairly attributed to the very perfect manner in which the chief characters are sustained. Madame is always charming; but Mrs. Nesbitt has seldom a character so capable of displaying her abilities as Lady Gay Spanker; it has been evidently drawn for her; and her neighbour Constance, in the Love Chuce, has been in the author's remembrance when he compiled this comedy. The dialogue is lively, full of puns, and exhibits great farcical extravagance. It is altogether a production of great promise from a young author; and is likely to become a lasting favourite, while the characters are sustained by the present chosen few of Covent Garden : it will not bear transplanting. The scenic illusions and the stage arrangements are brilliant and effective in the extreme.
The Captain of the Watch is an attractive and bustling farce, full of intrigue and equivoke; the situations are humorsome, and Charles Mathews is quite at home as the Captain.
The Embassy, a new three-act drama from the French, is the latest novelty. Miss Ellen Tree re-appeared at this theatre, in the part of the Baroness du Pont, one of the ladies of the Queen of Navarre, who loves and is beloved by Viscount Réné de Rohan, a young nobleman, whose life is forfeited. Rohan is believed to be dead ; and she is about bestowing her hand on the Duke de Nevers (Moore), when Rohan (Anderson) arrives, bearing a despatch he had forcibly taken from a courier; the despatch contains a warrant for his own execution. His presence prevents the marriage, but he is condemned. The Duke acts with dignity and generosity; suppressing his own passion, he pardons de Rohan, and the lovers are united. Madame has a gay and lively part, in which she assists materially in keeping the drama from condemnation. It is impossible to speak too highly of the mise en scéne; and the stage arrangements are most beautiful and elegant.
A very elegant ring, opal, surrounded by diamonds, has been presented to Mr. R. Hughes, the leader, by the members of the orchestra of Covent Garden Theatre, as a testimony of friendship and esteem for his courteous and gentleman-like conduct in that responsible situation.
HAYMARKET THEATRE.-Mr. Webster, the able lessee, has closed this elegant theatre, for the needful purpose of repairing and beautifying; but he has promised the public, in his parting address, to open his doors on the 12th of April with the re-appearance of our old favourites Power and Buckstone, to whom is to be added Celeste. New dramas by Sheridan Knowles, Douglas Jerrold, Poole, and Bernard, are also to be produced; but we fear we shall have occasion to regret the absence of the great tragedian Macready;-Charles Kean's stage trickery will be a poor recompense.
The ENGLISH OPERA has at length been opened under favourable auspices. It is conducted by a clever manager, who has carefully studied the history of the English Opera, and who has had more experience in the management of musical theatres abroad than any other of our composers. The theatre has opened with an excellent orchestra, including among others G. Cooke and Lazarus, and ably led by the veteran Loder. The chorus has been most carefully trained and well selected ; and the company contains some of our most able singers— Wilson, who has been warmly greeted on his first and subsequent appearances ; H. Phillips, Stretton, Allen, and Barker; Madame Balfe, as prima donna, Miss Gould, and Miss Howard. The house opened with Keolanthe, or the Unearthly Bride, a new opera, by Mr. Balfe. The opera opens with a chorus of students, congratulating Andrea (Wilson), on his approaching marriage with Pavina (Miss Gould). Andrea has copied from the lid of a sarcophagus the portrait of Keolanthe, an Egyptian princess, whose beauty occupies his wakeful hours. When he retires for the nigliat, Ombrastro (Phillips) appears, and offers to teach him a spell to re-animate the princess, who has been dead a thousand years. Andrea accedes, and they are transported to the great Pyramid of Egypt, where the resuscitation takes place. The Princess (Madame Balfe) beholds in Andrea the image of her former love, and they are united : this terminates the first act. The second opens with a fête at the palace of the prince and princess, which is interrupted by the application of Filippo (Stretton) for shelter for his sister Pavina, who has fainted. Upon her admission, she sees Andrea the husband of another, and dies. Her brother Filippo challenges Andrea, but is killed, and when the Inquisition are about to drag the survivor (Andrea) to torture, Keolanthe appears, and is informed by Ombrastro of Andrea's perfidy; she then consigns him to despair, and disappears. The surrounding scene changes to the student's own apartment, where he is awoke from his strange wild dream by Filippo and his friends leading in his bride Pavina.
Keolanthe as a musical composition is unquestionably a great acquisition to the English stage, and exhibits a most favourable specimen of this talented composer's abilities. It is full of beauty and melody. The concerted pieces are effective, and the beautiful trio of “ Sweetly sleep till rosy dawn” possesses great originality. To appreciate the music of this opera fully, it must be seen more than once. Madame Balfe has a fine rich voice of considerable sweetness, and possesses an animated and pleasing countenance.
The dialogue and twaddling rhymes are decidedly inferior to the musical composition; yet we cannot but admit the libretto as a whole is a great improvement upon what we have had from the hands of Mr. Haines and others. This remark reminds us of what Hogarth has justly observed, which we will take the liberty of quoting:
“ The English Opera has fallen into contempt, not because the public are unable to appreciate its merits, but because its merits are far below what is required by the taste and intelligence of the public. In the earlier periods of the musical drama, music performed the part not of a principal, but of an accessory. It was used to give an additional charm to the beauties of poetry, and additional force and expression to the language of passion and feeling; and in proportion as the musical part of this entertainment has acquired an ascendency, the poetical and dramatic part has declined. "Whenever,' says Metastasio, music aspires to the pre-eminence over poetry in a drama, she destroys both that and herself.' 'Modern music,' he adds, has rebelled against poetry; and neglecting true expression, and regarding all attention to words as downright slavery, has indulged herself, in spite of common sense, in every sort of caprice and extravagance; making the theatre no longer resound with any other applause than that which is given to displays of execution, with the vain inundation of which she has hastened her own disgrace, after having first occasioned that of the mangled, disfigured, and ruined draina. Pleasures which are unable to gratify the mind, or touch the heart, are of short duration; for, though men may suffer themselves to be easily captivated by unexpected physical sensations, they do not for ever renounce the use of their reasoning faculties. These remarks of the greatest lyric poet of Italy are not less applicable to England than to his country. The times were, when the greatest poets of Eng. land did not disdain to look upon music as the sister of their own art, and employed its charms as a powerful auxiliary to the dramatic muse. Even before the opera in this country assumed a separate form as a branch of the entertainments of the stage, music was largely employed to heighten the pleasure and effect of theatrical representation. Shakspeare not only takes every opportutunity of expressing his passionate love of music, and of describing its effects, but, in the greater number of his plays, makes use of it in many forms, both vocal and instrumental.”
We have now hopes that the lyrical drama of this country will revive; but the public must not withhold their support of the native opera, because idle fashion would lead them to other establishments. While speaking of native opera, we would suggest to the manager the propriety of reviving such established favourites as the Padlock, Duenna, No Song no Supper, Cabinet, Comus, Love in a Village, Quaker, Siege of Belgrade, and a host of English comic operas, rather than resort to Donizetti or M. Ambrose Thomas. The Matrimonial Ladder is a very amusing comic operatta. A new opera by Macfarren, the composer of the Devil's Opera, is in preparation.
Her Majesty's THEATRE.-The Italian Opera commenced this season some weeks later than usual, with Cimarosa's beautiful opera of Orazi e Curiazj, but it was very indifferently performed, owing to the non-arrival of the chosen stars of this theatre. The leading characters were filled by Madame Viardot and Mario, both very excellent performers, but unfitted for this beautiful specimen of the old lyrical tragedy of Italy. It has been followed by Rossini's celebrated opera of Tancredi, reproduced after a lapse of some years. M. Pauline Garcia added another wreath to her already verdant crown, by her beautiful performance of Tancredi. Persiani, in the part of Amenaide, exhibited her wonted skill and delicacy. Yet the great theatre does not fill from two causes; first, the superiority of the German company in the choruses and concerted pieces, and, secondly, the paucity of talent now on the boards of her Majesty's theatre.
DRURY LANE.--The German company, under the direction of M. Schumann, commenced their season of fifty nights with a numerous company of well-selected performers, including Madame Stöckl Heinefetter, Madame Schumann, M. Haitzinger, and Sesselmann. To these the bills have announced the engagement of the celebrated Madame Schroeder Devrient, and Meyerbeer : neither of these stars, however, are likely to appear in London; from which the public will perceive the English manager has not left off his puffing propen
sity. The operas of Der Freischutz, Jessonda and Fridolin have been most effectively produced, and the choruses have excited the greatest enthusiasm; they are really magnificent.
DRURY LANE THEATRICAL FUND,—The Anniversary Festival will be held on the 31st, when Mr. Harley's speech, respecting the management of the theatre, is looked forward to with interest.
On Wednesday the company performed Massaniello in German, for the first time in this country; and the public had then an opportunity of witnessing how fully these artists are out of their element in either a French or an Italian opera. Madame Schumann was entirely lost as the Dumb Girl. Haitzinger's music was perfect; but in manner and gesture it was evident there was something wanting. Mozart's Titus is to be performed on the 31st inst.
PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY.-The season commenced with the following selection. -Sinfonies No. 4, Haydn, and in A No. 7, Beethoven; Concerto pianoforte, Madame Dulcken, Weber; Overture, Ulysses and Circe, Romberg ; Concerto violin, M. Deloffre, Mayseder; Overture, Joseph, Mehul; Scena, Miss Masson ; “ Sommo Ciel," and scena, Miss Birch.- Ah perfido. The whole of the performances were loudly applauded, particularly Madame Dulcken and Miss Masson's. At the second Concert, Weber's Mermaid music, from Oberon, and Mendelssohn's Lobgesang, were performed in brilliant style. Belioz's overture to Benvenuto Cellini met with a very indifferent reception.
SACRED HARMONIC SOCIETY.- Mr. George Perry, the leader of the orchestra of this very excellent society, reproduced his oratorio of The Death of Abel, a few days since at Exeter Hall. The oratorio is unquestionably a work of merit, and reflects great honour on the composer. The music bears all the peculiarities which distinguish the style of Handel, and we have no doubt it will become a standard oratorio, although it has not yet been repeated. The solos were effectively sung by Miss Birch, Mr. Phillips, Leffler and Hobbs.
THE OLYMPIC THEATRE has been taken by Mr. George Wild, from whose experience in stage management the public may confidently anticipate a good selection of novelties. He is one of the best low comedians on the boards, and he deserves every success.
THE PRINCESS's. It is rumored, our old favourite Mr. Willy intends reopening this theatre shortly, with Promenade Concerts; we know no one more capable of conducting a promenade concert than this celebrated violinist.
ADELPAI.—This theatre will shortly close, after a short but successful season. The only novelty has been Satanus, an adoption from Le Diable Amoreux, which has been so attractive at Paris, at her Majesty's theatre in London as a ballet, and at the Queen's. The plot details how his satanic majesty is represented to have entrusted to an inferior female demon the task of betraying the soul of a certain Italian Count; the feinale demon is exhibited tumbling headlong in love with her victim ; love is shown to be the great reformer even of devils; the bewildered little demoniacal female practises acts of devotion, in her earthly sojourn, that set all her confederates below fairly aghast; and when, at the conclusion, her infernal master wishes to pull her back to Tartarus, it is found that he has suddenly lost all further power over her. So potent is love. Mrs. Honey is the bewitching demon at this theatre.
The Queen's THEATRE.--This rising little theatre has been nightly filled to witness Satanus and other novelties, which the lessee has presented to the public. The scenery at this house is fully equal to that of any minor theatre in London.
The musical world has been a most indefatigable censurer of the Promenade Concerts; and it has repeatedly declared these concerts to be " a foe to the interests of music;" for our parts, we believe this species of entertainment to have been productive of great benefit to the musical profession: with all its defects at Drury Lane, from the introduction of cannon and red fire, it has tended very materially to make the English public acquainted with good music. The gratification of hearing the magnificent symphonies of Beethoven and Haydn, are sufficient to redeem all the follies that have been committed; and we are not disposed to forget the great services rendered to the public by Messrs. Arnold, Laurent, sen., Harper, Platt, Hatton, and G. Cooke, for introducing these delightful concerts to the British public.
Mr. John Hullah has afforded efficient aid in cultivating a taste for music, by opening a singing class for schoolmasters at Exeter Hall, on the system of M. Wilhelm of Paris. This method is clear and progressive; but it overcomes all the difficulties that present themselves to the uninitiated, as the system is gradual and sure; three classes have been already formed.
Two societies, having for their object the support and advancement of the legitimate drama, have created considerable sensation among the admirers of good acting.
The first of these, the SHAKSPERIANS, have done a great deal for the support of the legitimate drama, and have kept up a taste for the plays of our best authors, at a time when the regular theatre has been desecrated with the extravagance of melo-drama, outrageous farce, and pantomimic spectacle. This is extremely creditable to the Shaksperian Society, and the members of it deserve the unqualified thanks of the community for the attempt, and also for successfully withstanding the influx of a spurious dramatic literature, which has almost swept from the English stage the great, sterling, and standard plays of Shakspere and his followers. Their leading star (Mr. Barnard Gregory) has been effective as Rienzi, Shylock, Sir John Falstaff, and Othello; he is generally considered to resemble Edmund Kean; but in this opinion we cannot concur.
The THESPIANS rank second only to the Shaksperians. Messrs. Silver, Harcourt, Wightman, Cowper, Wilson, and Mrs. Fitzgerald, are each excellent in their several styles of acting, and fully prove that genuine acting cannot be taught; that a player must have genius to appreciate the poet's language, to enable him to enchant an audience by its recital.
The SOCIETY of British MUSICIANS recently gave a concert of vocal and instrumental music, consisting chiefly of the productions of the members, and affording the British public an opportunity for evincing its disposition towards promoting the interest of native talent. Mr. Willy led a very full band, in his usual able manner; and Sir George Smart, the ornament of the profession, conducted.
One of the five genuine signatures of Shakspeare in existence (three are affixed to his will), was recently sold for one hundred guineas; and the fifth is about to be offered by auction; the signature is “ WILLM. SHAKSPERE.”
“ The Free the German Rhine."-Mills.--A popular German Patriotic Song, founded on the recent exposition of the designs of France with respect to the Rhenish Provinces of Germany. The original poem by N. Becker, with the music as composed by Dr. Schumann, of Leipzig, is now singing with the utmost enthusiasm in all parts of Germany. The spirit of the original poem has been preserved in the present translation by J. W. Hudson, and the alterations have been carefully adapted to the English taste.
More than one hundred persons have composed music to this popular poem, but Dr. Schumann's is adinitted to be the most perfect in originality and expression.
Mr. Duncombe, M.P. has been presented with a beautifully chased silver cup, cover, and salver, with the Duncombe arms on one side, and the following inscription on the other, “ To Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, Esq. M.P. in gratitude for his parliamentary services in favour of those theatres which are under the jurisdiction of the Lord Chamberlain ; and which his labours have relieved from certain painful restrictions. This cup is presented, &c.”