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up the whole of last season, throughout fraught with nothing scarcely worth seeing, the manager has thought fit to reduce his admission charges to about the same scale as Covent Garden, As usual, he has secured a powerful operatic company; but of the beginning of the season there was not a single novelty worthy of notice, without we mention a long five act piece of the greatest absurdities, dubbed Caractatus, and a kind of ballet called The Daughter of the Danube, which, as well as The Devil on Two Sticks, was merely allowed to exist from the inimitable and laughable acting of Wieland; without which they would have shared the fate of all such miserable performances on the English stage.
Of the musical novelties at this establishment, Mr. Balfe's Joan of Arc was the first; and, were we to pay attention to what the bills announced about the “ extraordinary enthusiasm" with which it was received, we should be led to consider it was successful. But seeing is believing, and the less we say of the music the better.
Mozart's splendid opera, Die Zauberflote, was the next, produced under the title of The Magic Flute, in a very superior The music of this opera
was never popular, even when performed at the Italian Opera House; and its non-success at Drury Lane is sufficient to prove it never will become so. It was well cast, including H. Phillips as Sarastro, Balfe as Papageno, Templeton as the Prince, Giubelei as Monostatos, Mrs. E. Seguin as the Queen of Night, and Miss Romer as her daughter. They all did justice to the music in their respective characters. The opera was exceedingly well got up, but did not give satisfaction.
Benedict's Gipsy's Warning was the next opera brought out here; and being a favourite pupil of Weber we were prepared for a composition combining both melody and science, which would differ a little from the Balferiana that the lessee has forced down our throats of late. Having said thus much, it is not surprising that the opera has answered our expectations; but it is not music that the public will like ;-science predominates too much, and the ballad-loving world will call it dull and heavy, whilst to the professor and classical amateur it will be as an oasis in the desert.
It is quite unnecessary for us to attempt a description of the variety of unintelligible horrors with which the plot of this opera abounds. The gems of the opera are The Student's Glee, which received a double encore; an air, Rage thou Angry Storm, sung with great effect by H. Phillips; a ballad, 'Tis Sad to Fall, and a characteristic brigand song, by Seguin, Bold Brigand, which he sang admirably. The scenery was good, and the piece altogether
well got up.
A new opera buffa, (as it is called in the bills), composed by Mr. Balfe, was the last musical novelty, and may certainly rank amongst his most successful works. Originality it has not; but it has what is of much more consequence—the power
of pleasing during the time of performance. The title of it is Diadeste, the name of a Venetian game; the humour of which consists in each party offering his adversary some gift, which he must not accept without uttering the word diadeste, or he loses his stake. Amongst the most beautiful pieces, we may mention a duet between H. Phillips and Templeton, Life is but a Summer's Day; à song, by H. Phillips, In the Winter of one's Age, and a serenade, by Phillips, Oh listen dearest Lady, which bids fair to rival The Light of other Days, and an aria, by Miss Romer. In addition to the singers before mentioned, Giubelei, Miss Poole, and Miss Fanny Healey, contributed their assistance. The concerted pieces and chorusses are very lively and well instrumentated, except that the drum is introduced too frequently. At the fall of the curtain the applause was very general.
Previous, however, to the production of these operas, Mr. Bunn, after passing the first part of the season in the most wretched manner, determined to bring forward something legitimate; and though not the greatest novelty, certainly the one that has proved the greatest attraction. Having entered into an engagement with Mr. Charles Kean, that gentleman appeared in Hamlet—and well-chosen was the character--the performance must have realized the most ardent expectations even of his friends. The scene with his father's ghost was marked with true feeling; and the sudden thought and change to madness spoke him at once as a first-rate tragedian. Also the scene in which the flute was introduced, was a master-piece; and again, the intensity with which he watched the countenance of the king in the play scene, and the wonderful workings of passion, showed his powers as an actor. But his master-piece was in the scene with his mother, in which he truly realized the conception of Shakspeare. The whole was a first-rate performance, and was received with the greatest applause, by a crowded audience.
Mr. Charles Kean has, by some writers, been accused of imitating his father : that there is a similarity in many parts, acts, deeds, and tonation, we do not deny; for it is but natural, and we constantly see, in this respect, sons and daughters like unto their parents; but that he takes his father as a guide for his acting we do not believe. His father was an old favourite of ours; and so constantly were we the witnesses of his beautiful acting, that we should certainly recognize any direct imitation in the performance of his son.
Mr. Charles Kean has since appeared in Richard the Third, and with much success; after which he treated the public with a beautiful representation of Sir Giles Overreach, in the play of A New Way to Pay Old Debts; and on Mr. Bunn's "night” he appeared in that most beautiful and favourite part of his father's, Shylock, in The Merchant of Venice, and acquitted himself with his usual talent. The last novelty was his appearance in Othello; and he represented the noble Moor in a striking and powerful manner; but the beautiful delineation of this character by his father is still fresh in our memories, and we will not say more for fear of drawing comparisons between them.
Mr. Ternan, a gentleman who some time since appeared in Shylock, performed Iago with great taste and judgment. Mr. Cooper did Cassio; and we are surprised he is not ashamed of the nightly “murders” he perpetrates. Miss Allison (late first tragic lady at the St. James's theatre) enacted the part of Desdemona, and with her pleasing face gave us more the idea of a petite comedian than the beautiful, but simple, confiding Desdemona. The other characters it is useless to name; but, in passing, we must not fail to allude to the disgraceful manner in which most of the plays performed at this house are cast. With the exception of Charles Kean, the parts are placed in the hands of performers that would disgrace a minor; and we trust that, if the present lessee should continue the management another season, he will secure at least a respect
The limited space that a magazine, conducted on the novel principle that we have adopted, necessarily allows us for each department of our work coming within the pale of criticism, will prevent us from entering into the merits or demerits of the different performances so fully as we could wish; but although we shall be, to a certain extent, confined for space, we shall endeavour to deliver even-banded justice to all parties. Thoroughly convinced of the necessity of strictly adhering to the grand principle of truth, we shall not indulge in any coarse invectives on any body; nor, on the other hand, shall we heap more praises upon their successful rivals, than their talent and abilities deserve. To go one step further-we shall not (as a great number of our contemporaries do) devote so much space in praise of foreigners, whilst our native professors, however talented they may be, are driven into a corner, not being considered worthy of notice. The British musicians never were less patronized than at the present time; and we very much fear that as long as Her Majesty continues to visit the performance of Italian operas every night that the theatre is open, and does not condescend to extend a fostering hand on her subjects, the attempt which they are makiug by hard labour and arduous study to place their native country on a level with its neighbours will prove to be vain and fruitless. Whenever a complaint is made that English professors do not receive
their deserts, we are asked, are our native professors equal to Grisi, Rubini, Tamburini, Lablache, &c. ? We say directly no, they are not; but we contend, and we consider ourselves justified in so doing that our native professors are equal—nay more they are superior to those foreigners who have visited us this season. We take, for example, the flutist that His Majesty of Hanover was so kind as to send over to astonish us, Why we could name a dozen Englishmen who are his superiors: and the violoncello player, who induced the Directors of the Philharmonic to allow him to show his total incapacity at their fourth concert. But we will not say any more upon this subject, at present; we have merely noticed it here, to prove that we have no ridiculous prejudices respecting foreigners. We now enter upon our task with the full conviction of the necessity of strict impartiality; and, if some of our contemporaries were to think more of truth, and less of interest, we are convinced that the criticisms of the press would be read with pleasure, instead of being laughed at and despised.
Fourth Philharmonic Concert, April 23. Ist. Part. Beethoven's 9th Symphony, terminating with Schiller's Ode to Joy.
The choral parts by Mrs. H. R. Bishop, Miss Maria B. Hawes, Mr.
Horncastle, and Mr. Balfe. The chef d'æuvre of Beethoven was performed, for the first time this season, at the above concert, in a manner which reflects the highest credit on the members of the band, under the able direction of Messrs. Moscheles and Loder. Although this symphony is almost unknown to a great portion of the musical public, yet the attention which the audience paid to it, and the delight which it seemed to afford them, proved that they were not insensible to the beauties contained in it. But we fear that, from its very great length, it will never become so popular as some of his former symphonies—such as his symphony in C. minor, the Eroica, or even the Pastoral symphony. Mrs. H. R. Bishop, Miss Maria B. Hawes, Mr. Horncastle, and Mr. Balfe, did ample justice to the Ode to Joy, with which the symphony terminates.
The second part commenced with the Överture to Der Freischutz, which was delightfully played, and received with a degree of enthusiasm rarely equalled—it was universally encored, particularly by the occupants of the royal box. Two foreigners made their debût at this concert. The former, M. Haussman, played a solo on the violoncello, which certainly was, both as to composition and execution, the worst performance we ever heard at the Philharmonic. M. Heinemeyer (flutist to the King of Hanover) was more successful, as far as the applause was concerned, but not as to performance. We confess that we are ignorant of the reasons the audience had for applauding so vehemently Ernest's
piper, unless they were that every thing connected with foreigners pleases our fastidious public, whilst native talent, both vocal and instrumental, goes unrewarded. In addition to the vocalists before mentioned, Herr Kroff, and Mr. Bennett, contributed their assistance. The concert terminated with a selection from Guillaume Tell.
Concert for the New Musical Fund. The annual concert for the benefit of this admirable institution took place in Her Majesty's Theatre, on Friday evening, May 4, and we regret to say, was but poorly attended. Indeed the audience was so scanty, that we do not think the concert-room would have been full; and when we take into consideration that every subscriber to the fund is allowed two tickets, the attendance on the part of non-subscribers must have been poor indeed. Grisi sang The Bright Seraphim, accompanied on the trumpet by Harper; but we confess that the accompaniment pleased us more than the fair lady's demi-Italian, demi-English pronunciation. In the comic duet, Guardate che figura, with Lablache, she was more successful. Sterndale Bennett's new Overture to the Naiades was performed for the first time; but we must defer a notice of it, until we have heard it repeated.
Mr. Eliason's Morning Concert. The first grand Morning Concert of the Season took place at the Hanover Square Rooms, on the 9th ultimo; and we rejoice to say, for the sake of the bénéficiaire, was both numerously and fashionably attended. A very good programme had been provided, including both English and foreign talent; but the chief attraction was M. Doehler, the extraordinary pianist, as he was called in the bills, who appeared for the first time in this country. M. Doehler fully deserves to be called an extraordinary-nay, we go further -- we call him a wonderful player. He is a young man, about three-and-twenty; possesses confidence, but he does not appear to have any self-conceit, which renders his performance much more agreeable. He introduced in the course of his performance, some brilliant variations on Vivi tu, which pleased us exceedingly, although the air has been hacked so much, it reminded us of Thalberg; the manner in which he ran down difficult passages of double notes with the same apparent ease as the pianists that we have been in the habit hearing play the same passages for single notes, created universal astonishment and delight: he well deserved the applause which was bestowed on him when his performance was concluded. Another debutant in the person of a M. Muller, appeared also. His instrument is