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tion à la merveille, and the scenery, Happily for the interest and the mounting, dresses, and properties welfare of art at and about this being beautiful, poetical, and as period, operatic singers were not hideously grotesque as required, 'done to death' by having to tended to produce the utmost relish sing in opera, concerts, and private in an audience as attentive as it was parties, not to their own pecuniary overflowing. The breaking up the advantage, but exclusively for the ground for 1850 thus promised benefit of the entrepreneurs by whom largely for the artistic success, at their services are hired; rehearsals least, of the season.
were by no means difficult to be obThe next eventful circumstance tained, and on this account everyof the season was the idébut of Sig. thing that was put upon the stage nor Tamberlik, a Roman tenore row of the Royal Italian Opéra had busto of sterling quality, in Masa- every attention given to it that niello, Mario, who never liked the could render the ensemble, not merepart, having given it up to his future ly satisfactory, as it is now always companion in (musical) arms for under Mr. Costa's direction, but many seasons to come. The first also perfect. When, therefore, Rosphrase which this singer delivered sini's Moïse—under the title of Zora, proved that he was of the truest to conceal its scriptural l¡bretto as type, his only fault being that of a much as possible from the obsersomewhat too constant resort to the vation of the British public—was vibrato, a fault he never overcame. given on Saturday, April 20th, the His acting was also spirited and advantage of such unwearied previgorous, and although wanting in paration was abundantly apparent. the grace which Mario now began The Moïse indeed was proved to to show in increasing excellence, be one of the grandest of Rossini's was more suited to the personation works, and made an impression of the enthusiastic and revolution that is not likely to be easily efary Neapolitan fisherman.
faced. M. Zelger—whom I had Tuesday, April 7, witnessed the previously heard in the same opera return of Grisi, Mario, and Tam at Brussels, in the autumn of 1844 burini in Lucrezia Borgia, and the --was by no means so successful first appearance of the new con- as had been expected. Although tralto, Malle. d'Okolski, the per his voice remained sufficiently reformance of which was perfect in sonant and tunable to accomplish every particular except as concern the demands of his part, he was ing the new-comer, who unfortun- beginning to decline, and showed ately turned out to be one of those unmistakably that he was so by singers whom increase of confi- the evident difficulty with which he dence could only render increas- rendered Rossini's fioriture, which ingly objectionable. On the follow- certainly was more suited to the ing Thursday the Norma was given, flexibility of an Italian, than of a with Tamberlik as the best Pollione Belgian artiste. He became, howsince the days of Donzelli, Mdlle. ever, an eminently useful addition Vera proving herself to be a com- to the company, with which he repetent Adelgisa, and Herr Formes mained till his death. Tamberlik anything but a satisfactory Oroveso, greatly improved the impression he since he did not sing, but shouted had made in Masaniello, and sang the music of the part, and was with an intensity of feeling and totally deficient in that massive brilliancy of tone, which carried dignity which Lablache imparted his audience by storm, and espeto that important character. cially in the finale, ‘Dal tuo stellato soglio'— the well-known Pre- all hands: he sang in tune, which ghiere, which Rossini wrote and his predecessor very often failed to scored in a few hours, to get rid of do. the absurdity of the original con- The indefatigable characteristics clusion — also with a blaze of of the season at the Royal Italian passion without caricature, and of Opera were again manifested by power distinguished from brute one of the most perfect representaforce, which insured a unanimous tions of Meyerbeer's Roberto that re-demand. In the presentation of had ever been witnessed since its this great work Tamburini, in com- original production in Paris, on bination with Mdme. Castellan Thursday, May 23rd, 1831.* This and Mdlle. Vera, lent his aid to will be clearly enough perceived, render it complete. As heretofore, when it is stated that it had the no expense was spared in putting advantage of the following remarkthis opera upon the stage; but it able combination of talent: Grisi did not sufficiently take' with the (Alice); Castellan (Isabella); Tampublic to become a prominent fea- berlik (Roberto); Mario (Raimture of a répertoire that was con- baldo); and Formes (Bertram). tinually being enlarged. The next Aided by a magnificent mise en
event was a return to another of scène, and by every vocal, instruRossini's chefs-d'æuvre, La Donna mental, and mechanical appliance del Lago—revived at the close of that could insure success, it was the last season*-in which Tam not surprising that so remarkable berlik replaced Bettini as Roderick, a representation should have been and made another palpable hit.' called “the event, par excellence, of Mdlle. de Meric, who was substi- the season. The score had to be tuted for Alboni, in the rôle of considerably curtailed to bring the Malcom, was not, however, simi- curtain down by midnight, but this larly successful—a result, by com- was so carefully done by Mr. Costa, parison, not at all to be marvelled that it met with the composer's enat, since nothing could ever give tire approbation on its being subher voice the rich sweetness of her mitted to him. The pity was that much greater rival. She did not he could not have himself witnessed improve either in any respect by an interpretation that, to all intents her assumption of the part of Ur- and purposes, was as effective as, bano, the page in Les Huguenots, and in some respects even more so which was produced with Grisi as than, that which had been given in Valentine, and Mario as Raoul, on Paris under his own immediate diThursday, May 2nd, when Herr rection, and by the artistes of his Formes took up the part of Marcel, own peculiar choice. Grisi's Alice that had been vacated by the de- was by no means one of her best parture of Marini, and gave a to- personations, but, having had the tally different version, entirely from advantage of seeing Jenny Lind in the German point of view, of the what was termed her 'crack part,' sturdy, unbending, and faithful she managed, as well as by means Puritan soldier, which, although of the advice of Mr. Costa, which not very favourably accepted at the she was generally wise enough imtime, became, when he had been plicitly to follow, to give a truly well drilled, one of his most ac- acceptable version, whether in its ceptable personations. There was vocal force and finish, or in its one advantage, however, in his ver- simple and spirited acting. The sion that could but be admitted on Isabella of Mdme. Castellan, to * See vol. x. pp. 634-5.
* See vol. ix. pp. 381 et sqq.
Musical Recollections of the last Half Century.
maly Century. 31 whom the public had given no at- and not even the characteristics of tention whatever, when she as- the actor could save it from so cold sumed the part at Her Majesty's a reception that its repetition was Theatre, under the greater attrac- scarcely possible ; an event to be tion of the more especial étoile du regretted, because it was almost the nord, proved to be an excellent only specimen the operatic stage rendering, indicating rapid im- has of late years furnished of a provement combined with confi- true ideal of the tragic drama. dence, in which she was generally, Upon the repetition of Il Don from the innate modesty of her Giovanni, soon after Ronconi's rennature, deficient. Tamberlik, al trée, nothing remarkable occurred though anything but well and in beyond the personation of Leporelgood voice, showed more than his lo by Formes—a character in which usual competency as the hero; and he was known to have been conFormes, in spite of being un- sidered highly successful at Vienna, equal to Staudigl, was a far better and other German opera-houses. Bertram than any one that has as With the exception of a few hyperyet succeeded him therein. The critical habitués, who persisted in gem of the opera, however, was pronouncing everything this clever Mario's Raimbaldo, the music of artiste undertook to be rough and which part can never be sung bet- uncultivated, if not positively vulter by any one else, and never had gar, the most ardent supporters been before, or has been since, and best instructed amateurs corequalled. To have heard the de- dially welcomed the German basso, scriptive song of Roberto in the as giving idealisation to the chafirst act, and the duet with Bertram racter, and especially to the latter in the second, is little else than scenes, which had truthfulness enpriceless. The requirements of the tirely on its side. Instead of making season alone induced Mario to the libertine's familiar serving man undertake this comparatively trif- act as a mere buffoon in the terrible ling rôle, but as he laid it aside very scene between the statue and the speedily, the beauty it added to the murderer of the hidalgo, whom it general effect of the opera was so represented, Formes imbued his transient, that it can be remem personation with an amount of bered now by very few; but by terror which was infinitely more those few, who amongst them will natural than the rollicking humour, ever cease to say, that so genuine which even so great an artiste as and felicitous a circumstance must Lablache was but too prone to always be referred to with unmea- adopt. He seemed to be wholly sured pleasure and pain--pleasure paralysed by the scene, and so beat its having been witnessed-pain wildered that reason had all but on account of the utter impossi left him; so that, in its way, it was bility of its repetition ?
fully equal to the powers Ronconi On Thursday, May 31st, Ronco evinced, whenever he represented ni—now rendered more 'practica such characters as Chevreux,* Iable than he had ever been before, go, Nabucco, &c. Notwithstanding on account of his separation from Formes' ability in the part of Lehis wife—put in appearance as the porello, he persisted to the last in insane king in Verdi's Nabucco, in asserting the Don, she's my best which the display of his dramatic part.' But as an opportunity, forgenius was manifested with all its tunately, was never given him in wonted force. The opera itself, England of proving what he said however, pleased less than ever,
* See vol. x. p. 635.
to be true, the generality of his that Maralti had sung and played admirers were quite content to take the part in Belgium ; so, when the his own assertion, without desiring news was imparted to her, her only to undergo an infliction that could reply was, “Very well! I am exbut have been intolerable.
ceedingly sorry to hear what you Nabucco having failed to attract, say about Mario ; but, as it cannot there was no help for it but that be helped, Maralti must take his Ronconi should fall back upon his place.' That artiste, being sent for, comic powers, and these he revel at first demurred; but upon being led in to the utmost of their irre. convinced that an opportunity of sistible influence in such characters letting the British public know what as Figaro (Il Barbiere), Dulcamara was in him might never again occur, (Elisir d'Amore), and the Podesta he consented, provided he might (La Gazza Ladra). Into the last not be required to sing anything of these three characters he im- else than the original of the French ported such a sneaking and venge- libretto. So reasonable a demand ful manner, as to cause it to be was, of course, immediately condoubted whether his evil doer or ceded. The consequence of this was Lablache's was the more villan a success, even greater than Roger ously comical, or the more comical- had already won ;* for, although ly villanous.' For my own part I Maralti could have no rehearsal, must confess to have preferred his he so threw his energies into the version to that of every other artiste character, that in the second act I have ever seen in the Podesta— he raised the house, and insured the truest conception of an unjust such an encore as must have as judge' that ever can be realised. positively mortified as it electrified
Madame Viardot, having return- Grisi, who had the bad taste to ed and gained new triumphs in the appear in a private box, in so proProphète, wherein several changes minent a position that every one for the better had been made, such could see her. Maralti was so as two of the Anabaptists being per- terribly frightened at first, that he sonated by Maralti and Formes, whispered to Madame Viardot, ‘I made a still greater sensation as shall faint !' to which she instantthe heroine of Halevy's La Juive, ly made answer, 'If the man faints, which, 'mounted regardless of ex- what is to become of the poor pense,' was played for the first time woman?' throwing such an intenseon Thursday, May 25th. Once more ly characteristic look of whimsithe jealousy of Grisi, to which Ma- cality into her intelligent although rio most contemptibly succumbed, by no means handsome face, that had well nigh marred the success Maralti was assured on the instant, of this important work. Mario had and sung with such intense force been cast for the character of La- and passion—the metallic nature zaro; but when the night came, of his voice being most suitable to urging illness as the cause, he the occasion—that a positive tripositively refused to appear. What umph instead of failure was the rewas to be done in such emergency sult. On leaving the house, a truly well nigh bewildered everybody, loyal habitué was heard to say, 'He except Madame Viardot, who, sus- will never sing that part again ! pecting another trick, similar to And he turned out to be a true that of the previous season, which prophet, for on the following Saturshe had cleverly defeated,* was day Mario was well enough to unready with a remedy. She knew dertake the character, which he * See vol. x. pp. 643-4.
* Id. ibid.
persistently kept henceforth to him- appropriate a piece of criticism self, although he was never at the concerning it as could possibly have pains either to make himself up so been written. “Madame Viardot's as to represent the aged Jew, to Rachel, seen after her Zerlina, her act the part, or to learn the music. Fides, her Desdemona, justifies As if, however, for the express pur- the most exigent critic in giving pose of annoying Madame Viardot her blank credit as an operatic whenever he appeared with her, artiste of all styles of music-as an he was guilty of the inexpressible actress whether of tragedy or commeanness of attempting to throw edy. The pure soprano music, of her off her guard by talking the which Rachel's part mainly conmost absurd nonsense he could sists, gives us occasion to hear think of, as if he were engaged in how much Madame Viardot's voice that by-play which the exigences has steadied, and become sweeter of the several situations required. and more flexible by practice. Her It is sufficient to say, that he was declamation was what hers always unsuccessful; for, as Madame Viar- has been. Her acting was incomdot afterwards told me, she so tho. parable. Though the part is full of roughly understood his motive, that such situations and effects as tempt she positively had no notion of the mediocre to commonplace, what he was whispering. And this and the superior to eccentricity, was the return he had to make to Madame Viardot contrived to go the woman who had alone caused through it without a single forehim to become an actor, and to seen burst or attitude—without the achieve the position he had then, slightest melo-dramatic violence afterwards won, and to obtain the repulsive to taste. The intense yet remuneration which he has not had girlish passion of a fervid nature, the good sense to save! It is dis- cherished by one of a proscribed tressing to hear that this once great race, is to be felt in the first two artiste, now aged and worn out, is acts; in the third, the reckless in absolute poverty; but such dis- vengeance of an outraged heart; tress is very much diminished by in the fourth, the recoil from this the remembrance of two such cir- upon the high thoughts, which must cumstances as are here related, and belong to deep and sincere love, may be thoroughly vouched for. and which make forgiveness its only
On the second night's perform- revenge; in the fifth the terror ance of La Juive, Formes was sud of death. The manner in which, denly taken ill, and Zelger had to while the dismal funereal psalm be his substitute as the Cardinal; was sung on the place of execution, but he too made so much more the victim moved across the stage of it, that he never appeared again to her father, paralysed by the real in it, the German basso being con- and near horror of her doomtent to drone out his ponderous her limbs scarce able to sustain music as if he would never bring it her—and the low hollow tone of to an end, without showing a hair her “Ho paura" as she nestled of the calm, high-bred, yet not close to him, were art of that highpassionless churchman.'* As her est order in which, with all that is appearance in the rôle of the Jewess most appalling, there was still minwas amongst the most remarkable gled an element of beauty. So that Madame Viardot had ever admirably youthful, so orientally made, it may be deemed to be not coloured, too, was the general deout of place to record as just and meanour of Madame Viardot's Ra* See Atheneum for 1850, p. 820.
chel, as to make it hard to conceive VOL. XI.