Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

establishment, which had commenced so prosperously, fast lost its interest and its certainty, when, to crown the ruin, Madame Dorus Gras refused longer to sing, because the manager bad, by the non-payment of her salary, broken his contract. Letters pro and con. appeared in the public journals, the result of which was to cast fresh discredit on the theatre. Various reports were soon in circulation, casting doubts on the solvency of the manager; so many accidents and offences were sufficient to sink an argosy. The public yet owe M. Jullien gratitude for the engagement of Mr. Sims Reeves, cortainly the most accomplished tenor the English stage has ever produced. To a voice of power, richness, and extension, he unites musical knowledge, dramatic experience, and passionate feeling. We had sanguinely hoped that with such a tenor as Reeves, with a contralto like Miss Miran, and with the ultimate chance of securing the celebrated soprano, Miss Hayes, who is delighting the dilettanti of Italy, that a national opera was within our grasp.

Are these hopes all to fade into thin air ? Will no other attempt be made ? That the public is anxious for a national opera-house is certain ; the elements for its success are experience, prudence, and a well-considered liberality. One of the prominent features of the season was the engagement of the distinguished feuilletoniste and composer, M. Hector Berlioz. This gentleman is one of the most learned musical critics of the age; his essays on the art are signalised by profound knowledge and a piquancy of manner and style sui generis. The opinions are conflicting of his genius as a composer, though few, if any, have questioned the advances he has made in orchestral effect, and his knowledge of the constitution and peculiar powers of the various instruments. At his grand concert, specimens of his best works were given, but from their novelty of construction and style it would be hazardous to pronounce upon a single hearing an opinion of their innate value. They are principally distinguished by an absence of rhythm, and the seeking to express, by musical means, the loftiest aspirations of the poet, and the representation by sounds of metaphysical thoughts. “Harold in Italy," a symphony, is somewhat vague and unseizable, though many novel combinations are happily carried out, and a march of pilgrims singing the evening hymn to the Madonna has unquestionably high merit. An Hungarian March, founded on a national melody, is instrumented with great skill. A lyrical drama, entitled Faust, is more within the usual method of musical composition. The intellectual qualities, and the deep seeking into the secrets of nature, and the yearning and discontented spirit of Faust are embodied in dramatic recitative; while an original air of diablerie is imparted to Mephistopheles totally unlike the develries of Weber or Meyerbeer. A chorus and dance of sylphs are exquisite. But we must hear more of the music of Hector Berlioz ere we are enabled to pronounce judgment upon his claims to take his position amongst the masters of the art.

HAYMARKET THEATRE.

An unbroken stream of success has set in since the production of Mr. Lovell's play, The Wife's Secret. No other proof need be adduced in corroboration that dramas of merit, interpreted by good artistes, never fail to secure the patronage of the public. It has become a sort of fashion to insist on the decadence of the general taste for theatrical amusements—to indulge in rhetorical quasi-despondency, upon the want of due illustrators, and numberless other complaints, the tendencies of which serve but to cast a doubt upon the healthfulness of this most delightful art. Let us rather seek for proofs of its vitality, of its power for good, of its directness in stimulating to virtuous action, and of its corrective moral agency. If the play be honest in its purpose, if the sentiments be elevated by poetical figures, if the characters be naturally drawn, and the interest comes home to the “ business and feelings" of man, there is but little cause ever to fear a failure. The Wife's Secret, although not of the loftiest order of the poetical drama, is free from common-place, and is peculiarly distinguished by the natural flow of its incidents, and the clearness and smoothness of its versification. The ruling characters stand out in bold relief, and the lesser agents, though unobtrusive, are vital to the thorough perfection of the story. The character delineated by Mr. Charles Kean is admirably adapted to his peculiar powers--the somewhat rugged and spasmodic starts of passion, the quickly-recurring faith and doubt, the bursts of passionate agony, and the succeeding calm, are just the means suited to his style. There is also a perfect appreciation of the poetical bearings, the result of a careful scholarship, and sufficient physical energy for the more palpable points of the character. Sir Walter Amyott is one of his completest illustrations. Mrs. Charles Kean may be justly considered as the Miss O'Neil of the actual stage; there is the same melting tenderness, the same pathetic voice, a similar gentleness

of demeanour, the same moral dignity, the same deep intensity. Like her great predecessor, she is never tempted into turgidity or exaggeration. There is always the assurance to the auditor that his caste will not be outraged, nor his sense of the natural offended. Indeed, the play, in all its bearings, is admirably delineated. The wily steward, with his Puritanical cant and fell hypocrisy, is graphically exhibited by Mr. Webster; as is the quaint assumption and hearty goodness of the chamber-woman by clever Mrs. Keeley. The applause increases in fervency upon each representation ; and thus the satisfaction is mutually shared between author, manager, actors, and the public.

SURREY THEATRE. Bunn, like Louis Philippe, has abdicated, but we are happy to add, unlike the late King of the Barricado, with the regret of his subjects. His reign was prosperous, his ministers respected, and the budget satisfactory. He has vacated his throne with all honour, accompanied by the thanks of the house. Was the realm too confined for his capacious mind, and does he now but repose to gain renewed vigour for future victories ? The mind of Bunn a prey to inaction would suffer from repletion; the sword would eat away the scabbard. His indomitable energy and managerial tact must ere long find ample verge and scope for exertion. Mrs. Davidge is now the manager, for fortunately the Salique law prevails not here. The new bills display an array of new names and new dramas, which may perhaps create a new impetus, for good novelty is the only trump card in the theatrical pack. The theatre has been doing well, and promises even to increase in attraction.

<

MARYLEBONE THEATRE. The novelty of the month at this admirably-conducted theatre has been Sheridan Knowles's play of The Wrecker's Daughter, originally produced at Drury Lane. The incidents are purely melo-dramatic, though the author has sought to elevate them by the introduction of poetical embroidery. This, however, but tends to produce a mixed feeling which sensibly detracts from the interest of the drama. Mrs. Warner enacts the character which she originally sustained with the same power and refinement that sig. nalised her earlier effort. Nothing can exceed the admirable style in which the piece has been placed upon the stage. The church-scene has infinite propriety; and the view of the ocean, with the foaming breakers, is artistically managed. À quaint farce called Invisible Green, from the successful pen of John Oxenford, has been acted. The principal character, which gives the title, is never seen, and the humour grows out of the anger of an old gentleman being excited by never being able to encounter the desired personage. It is smartly written, and has abundance of epigrammatic salt.

EXETER HALL.

Mr. Hullah and his pupils are rivalling in attraction the Sacred Harmonic Society. If the truth must be spoken, the execution is much more perfect, and the ensemble more satisfactory in every respect. Want of the necessary rehearsals in the choral masses, the mixed nature of the orchestra, and the want of decision in the conductor has tended to keep the old institution in its normal state of half-doing. Mr. Hullah has the advantage of a full command over his people, and hence results an almost perfect combination. The last work performed was Handel's glorious heroic musical poem, " Judas Maccabeus," one of the greatest works of the immortal composer. The beauty of the melodies, the in. dividuality of the personages, the dramatic power of the recitatives, and the mixture of sublimity, martial feeling, and jubilancy of the chorus, places it next in rank to the “ Israel in Egypt.” Independently, however, of its innate excellence, the announcement that Mr. Sims Reeves was to appear for the first time as an exponent of Handel attracted an immense audience. Great as was the reputation achieved by this vocalist as a dramatic singer, however unanimous was the opinion of his fine voice, and purity of style as an interpreter of the operatic schools, many persons doubted his qualification to fill the void which had for half a century been so magnificently occupied by Braham. Every attempt since the abdication of the Nestor of Song was listened to with a sort of respectful patience.

His followers lacked voice and power, and were utterly ignorant of the Handelian traditions. There was no hope that a new prophet would arise in Israel. The various qualifications necessary for a perfect fulfilment of the task were so numerous and varied that the most sanguine despaired. correspondent interest and anxiety was the result; and the aim, though full of a worthy ambition, was reached triumphantly. The effect was simul. taneous as it was profound; upon the first enunciation of the recitative « 'Tis well, my friends," there was at once apparent a thorough appreciation, not alone of the style of the music, but of the biblical character, and when his clear tones pealed through the hall like the pipes of an organ in the air " Call forth thy powers,' every breath of the multitude was hushed in awed stillness, that no vibration might be lost; but at its close, the delight broke forth in sounds of rapture. There was no longer fear, doubt, or hesitation, for added to the splendour of voice was the true devotional feeling and the lofty heroism. The recitative in the second act, " Thanks to my brethren," and the accompanying air, “How vain is man,' was exquisitely rendered; but the crowning triumph, which obliterated from the memory all former efforts, was the famous “Sound an alarm,” the full, resonant voice rushed forth like a cataract, filling every echo, reverberating in its might and stirring the very souls of the auditory to deeds of martial fame. The effect was overwhelming; the public seemed for the moment transfixed-the excitement was fearful, for never before was there so perfect a transfusion of the poetry, the music, and the martial energy. The Jewish hero stood forth in his holy might and martial potency, ready to deal ruin and devastation on the Roman foe. The scene was vividly brought before us, as if we had been living spectators, and some time elapsed ere we cooled down to a calm sobriety of feeling. Loud and continuous demonstrations of enthusiastic delight followed this splendid interpretation of one of the finest inspirations of Handel. In the third act of this great work occurs the recitative “Sweet flow the strains," full of the happy feeling of a duty well done, and the fine air, with trumpet obligato, “ With honour.” These were given with no abatement of the beauty and power of the former essays. Mr. Sims Reeves has now gained the topmost round of vocal eminence--the true and fervid interpretation of Handel was alone required to place him as the greatest and the most conscientious tenor now living. His vocal means, his musical knowledge, deep feeling, clear conception, and natural development of the sensuous as well as the very highest school of music, bear us out in our well-weighed and carefully-considered opinion. The choruses were admirably executed, and the various points attacked with firmness and precision.

LINDSAY SLOPER'S PIANOFORTE SOIREE. If we may form an opinion of the extending appreciation of this accomplished musician from the attendance at his first ré-union, we may place him foremost in the rank of the popular performers of the day. In these days of exaggerated pianism, when digital difficulties would seem to supersede musical feeling; when the instrument which was wont to interpret the beautiful thoughts of the poet-musician, is now made too often the medium to give forth the crude and wild sounds of a sort of musical orgie -when sense is sacrificed to noise, and the eyes to be astonished rather than the harmonic sense, it was delightful and reposeful to listen to the legitimate productions selected for the entertainment and the instruction of his patrons by Mr. Lindsay Sloper. Discarding the “ tight-rope school” of performance, so much the vogue amongst the tasteless and the ill instructed, eschewing the Leopold Meyerisms, and the pseudomarvels of the Hungarian professors, Lindsay Sloper is content to make the piano serve its legitimate purpose; the greatest difficulties are achieved, unerringly and gracefully—the touch is round and limpid, and the adagios and movements of pathos are sustained with “ a lengthened sweetness long drawn out," which at once appeals to the true feelings, and lingers sweetly on the musical ear. His playing is distinguished by exceeding delicacy of shading, refinement of sentiment, mechanical dexterity, equality of tone, and unfailing execution. The performance consisted of examples from Mendelssohn, Bach, Chopin, and introduced for the first time in this country a gigue and passacaglia in D minor, by Couperin, the organist of Louis XV.; which was deservedly encored. Lindsay Sloper was assisted by Messrs. Willy, Hill, and Hausmann, in Bach's sonata in C minor, and Mendelssohn's quartet in E minor. The ensemble was perfect. Miss Dolby sang songs by Mendelssohn and Lindsay Sloper, which were given with charming effect. These soirées are delightful from their intrinsic merits, and keep the true music lover au courant with the best writers of the best schools.

HANOVER-SQUARE ROOMS.

The juvenile Harpists, Adolphus, Ernest, and Fanny Lockwood, gave their first concert on the 17th of February. There are but few instances within our memory of such wonderful musical precocity as was exhibited on this occasion. These interesting children not only possess an extraordinary musical organisation, but execute with facility passages of great difficulty; the tone elicited is at once round and brilliant, and their power over the use of the pedal is marvellous when we perceive that the action is produced by such tiny feet. No symptom is visible that the talent has been ripened by forcing or undue practice; it would rather seen a simultaneous volition, and like the famous poet “they lisp iu numbers, for the numbers come.” Their feeling for rhythm is natural; and what is unusual, even with adult performers, these remarkable children are strict timeists. There is not the slightest hesitancy, and they play with a unity of purpose and accomplishment that removes at once from the ear, if not from the sight, that they are mere infants. The talent is as delightful as it is singular and unapproachable. Their execution of a trio entitled “Tribute to Scotland," introducing popular Scottish melodies, is ingeniously constructed, and was executed with great sweetness and brilliancy. Their second performance was a grand trio, the theme of which was the admired melody “Pestal,” with variations; but the chief tour de force was a grand finale quartet on four harps, in which were woven together with remarkable taste and skill, the most inspiring dance-music, the ruling theme being given by the celebrated harpist Gerhard Taylor, under whose tuition these gifted children are receiving their instruction. The juvenile artists were greatly and deservedly applauded. Many of our best vocal artistes assisted.

COLOSSEUM. There is no city of Europe that can boast of such a congerie of attractions, for no other city of Europe could command the enormous outlay induced by such a mighty establishment; its Hall of Statues is a perfect pantheon of all the beautiful statuary created by the antique Greek or the modern sculptor. Scarcely is the eye regaled by this phalanx of art, and the heart bettered by the contemplation of the lofty ideal, than the wildness and sublimity, and the pastoral rudeness of untutored nature, is present to us in the mountain scenery of Switzerland. Then there are the floral exotics, burthening the very atmosphere with their delicious aroma; and last, though assuredly not least, the marvellous pictorial illusion of London by Night. This is a master-piece, unapproachable in its vastness and its truthfulness.

ADELAIDE GALLERY.

Laurent's Casino remains, in spite of all attempts at rivalry, the nucleus of the art saltatory. Here nightly assemble the votaries of polka, mazourka, cellarius, and quadrille-here is the true shrine at which the young of both sexes seek a rational, a pleasurable, and a healthful excitement. Let not the cynic raise his brow with contempt, nor the Puritan snuffle forth his pious indignation at the merry dance, and the exhilirating sounds of the orchestra. The wisest, and therefore the greatest, men in ancient and modern annals have affected the pleasures of the dance. David danced before the ark; and according to Plato the planets dance to the music of the spheres. Sir Christopher Hatton, a minister of good Queen Bess, was the prime dancer of the court, and Lord Brougham and Vaux is ever dancing about the floor of the House, to the great delectation of his brother peers. To the middle classes the Casino is a real boon, and in our murky climate, where out-of-door amusements cannot be indulged, no more delightful spot can be found than Laurent's Casino. The etiquette is stringent, the refreshments good and cheap, the orchestra brilliant, and the selection of the music denotes a refined taste.

THE PEASANT AND HIS LANDLORD. By the Baroness Knorring. Translated by Mary

Howitt. In two volumes. London: Bentley. There are in these volumes many passages of infinite beauty, and throughout a powerful moral is intended to be conveyed to the heart of the reader. It exemplifies how a man naturally disposed to good may resist evil, and be led to the performance of many noble actions. His passions are powerful, and he is thus at last in a heated moment betrayed into a crime, which his life must be the penalty of. Yet we do not despise the murderer, we look back upon the long train of evils which has led him to the commission of the crime. His fallen wife forced upon him by the Squire, who afterwards meets with death at his hands; the happy prospect of what he might have been continually before his eyes; the child which bears his name, and yet is not his own,all these circumstances we say conspire to move our pity for the unfortunate man, who suffers throughout the novel, with only distant glimpses of happiness.

Elin, the young heroine, is a very beautiful character, who throughout maintains her spotless innocence and purity of feeling, though she turns aside in her heart by nourishing a love for the married Gunnar. He does not seek to tempt her; they both see and understand each other's feelings—each knows that the other is beloved, but each re. spects the other; and thus throughout, in the wildest moments of passion, in the agony of an eternal separation, they remain pure. To love another when once married is never excusable; but if ever it was excusable, it was so in the present instance. Lena, though prudent and thrifty, and to a certain extènt attached to her husband, could never be looked upon by him as the pure and spotless partner of his home. He could not regard her otherwise than as a guilty thing forced upon him by circumstances, bound to him against his own will. His character, however, is even in respect to her admirably worked out. He is never harsh, but treats her gently, if not tenderly; never speaks unkindly, but looks on her more as a good honest housekeeper than as his cherished wife. To understand the whole beauties of the book it must be read; we therefore recommend it strongly to our readers' perusal. The PARLOUR LIBRARY, VOL. XII.-"Gertrude and Rosa,” and “ My Uncle's Library."

There are in this volume two very remarkable tales, from the pen of a writer of the name of Topffer, who was in every respect an extraordinary man, remarkable for the versatility of his talents. He was the son of a painter, and fully intended to have pursued his father's profession, for which his abilities pre-eminently fitted him; but a misfortune which dimmed his eye-sight took away all hopes of success in this art. He, therefore, turned himself to the pursuit of literature, though as a source of pleasure he still continued to have recourse to painting. In the latest hours of his life, he appears to have sought rea lief from suffering and pain in this delightful occupation; and he has left behind him many essays and pictures which display his intimate acquaintance with the rules which regulate the art. The work before us displays great ability, and much respect for the highest range of morality. The style is peculiar; we are insensibly reminded while we read of Sterne's “Sentimental Journey." The narrative is related in the first person throughout. The heroines are two young girls who have eloped from their families the one deluded by a false marriage by a heartless villain; the other accompanying her in her flight as her friend and adviser, though nearly the same age as herself. Arrived at the town where the principal scenes of the tale are enacted, the false count abandons them to their fate, without money or any resource but selling their jewellery. To protect them from insult and injury now devolves upon the minister of the town, by whom the narrative is related. Their position excites the greatest curiosity; the young girl waits long in expectation of her supposed liusband-time flies, and still he comes not. Her spirits droop day after day. She is pursued by the importunities of a villain ; and at last, after numerous incidents, she is compelled, with her friend, to take refuge in the house of the minister. There she is safe, but all applications to her family for forgiveness are vain; and at length a child is born, who lives not a moment, and soon after the mother hourly pines away and dies. The events are simple, but are narrated with touching pathos, and produce a powerful effect upon the mind of the reader, who alternately becomes elated and depressed by hopes and fears. Gertrude, her friend, is more fortunate. She is beloved by the son of the clergyman, and is afterwards married to him with the consent of her parents. As a whole, “ Rosa and Gertrude” is one of the sweetest tales of the kind we ever remember to have read.

« AnteriorContinuar »