The close of the Royal Italian Opera this evening combines with the prorogation of Parliament to bring the "London season" to an end. The season, as regards public entertainments, has been neither brilliant nor profitable to the artists ; all of whom, even the most eminent, have com- plained of insufficient employment and diminished remuneration. Whe- ther this has been owing to the state of public affairs, the war and its im- pending burdens, the straitened means and growing habits of economy among the wealthy classes, or to a diminution of intrinsic interest in the entertainments themselves, we are not prepared to say. Each of these causes may have contributed- to the effect. It is certain that, to the somewhat sated frequenters of the opera and the concert-room, the quick- ening sest of interesting novelty has been altogether wanting. We have had the same-pieces and the same performers—the same oratorios and operas, symphonies and concertos—that we have had for years, without a single new work of genius, or a single star appearing on the horizon, to awaken curiosity or rouse expectation. In regard to the opera season this has been peculiarly the case. There
las indeed been one point of deep interest; but that has been connected of with the appearance of a new favourite but the departure of an old. his will be recorded as the season in which Grisi took her last farewell 'the English stage.
with this exception, a retrospect of the opera season presents almost a bkk. Little was promised at the outset, and still less has been done. It wlannounced in the prospectus, that, in addition to the principal operas to the repertoire of the theatre, Spontini's Vestale, Rossini's dada di Shabran Auber's Domino Noir, and Weber's Oberon, were to. " gen. One only of these pieces has been produced; and, perversely ences, it was the only one not worth giving—Matilda di Shabran ; a Pieter no merit or reputation, silly as a drama, and as music a mere bunfllof reminiscences. Of course it failed egregiously. The only other nevelt. if it may be so called, has been one not promised—Rossini's m.te ; a slight and trivial piece, of which the greater part of the 81c s taken from a mere piece de circonstance, hastily got up for a tempera, purpose at Paris. It never could have been attractive ; and its productil, only last Tuesday, seems to have been merely for the sake of " rubbinou " for the two or three nights that remained after the de- parture oGrisi. The notproduction of the other pieces promised has been a real disap- pointment. La restate, Spontini'a masterpiece, has long been a work of European .me, and it keeps possession of the stage both in France and 'er11)1,a1131. a grand tragic drama, with music in which there is richness of de energy of Gluck, united to melody more Italian, and the 'uneso of iodern instrumentation. " I shall never cease to regret," says Mr. Cheley in his recent work, "that this fine opera was not given 1;n England bfore Mademoiselle Lind left the stage; since abe might have broken the curious spell of indifference in which our public has dways remehed regarding it, and have kept off the menaced exhaustion Our repertry by the present of one masterpiece more." The cha- Ilteter of Julic was one of Jenny Lind's grandest achievements before she came to Eigland. Grisi, on the eve of her retirement, could not be expected to appear in a new part ; but here was Viardot, a great tra- gedian, to whom the whole classical drama is familiar. Oberon would have been a most interesting revival. For Sir linen and Reins we had Tamberlik and Bosio ; the other parts could easily have been fitted ; and with the magnificent orchestra, the chorus, and scenic resources of Co- vent Garden, the ensemble might have been gorgeous beyond precedent. As to the Domino Noir, it is a chef d'oeuvre in its way ; and, with Bosio'a brilliant singing, it would have furnished an agreeable variety. With respect to performers—Cruvelli was the attraction of the early part of the season ; her principal parts being Norma and Leonora in Fide- lio. She showed great vocal power, and many flashes of genius, with that tendency to exaggeration and extravagance which has always injured her in public opinion. Viardot, who came afterwards, has not held the prominent position due to her rank and talents ; a circumstance owing to Grisi's " farewell performances," which, during the later portion of the season, have almost wholly engrossed public attention. In several fine parts, however—especially in Donna Anna, in Fides, and in Desdemona—Madame Viardot-Garcia has maintained the honours of her celebrated name. La- blache graced the first appearance of Grisi by performing his old character of Ororeso ; but it was afterwards given to Tagliafico. Lablache, how- ever, has done his duty well ; his appearances in Leporello, Dr. Bartok, and Don Pasquale, having been among the pleasantest things of the sea- son. Mario has been unequal and uncertain ; sometimes betraying great feebleness, but often bursting forth in all the power and splendour of his earlier days. Tamberlik and Mademoiselle Bosio have admirably sus- tained the weight of the regular business during the season. Made- moiselle Marai and Mademoiselle Didiee, as a second soprano and a con- tralto, have proved valuable additions to the company. The subordinate performers, in general, have been those of previous years.
It was on Monday the 7th of August that Grisi took her last farewell of the English public. The management, unwisely wishing to make profit by the occasion, raised the prices of admission so inordi- nately, that the theatre, instead of being overflowing as otherwise it would certainly have been, was not even full. But the scene was of the highest interest, and will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it. The performances were the first act of Norma and three acts of the Huguenots, ending with the great scene between Raoul and Valentina. Grisi was magnificent : in her lofty beauty, her impassioned energy, her pure and mellow voice, there was no perceptible vestige of decay. It seemed as if she wished to heighten the regret of the audience by showing them the extent of their loss. When the final moment arrived, and she came forward thrice in succession, the whole audience rose, and she made her parting obeisances amid shouts and acclamations, hats and handker- chiefs waving, and showers of bouquets which literally covered the stage. She was moved to tears; and, though she struggled with her feelings while in sight of the public, it is stated that she fell into fits of hysterical weeping, from which she did not recover for hours.
The removal of Grisi is the greatest loss the Italian stage has suffered in our day. Her absence will create a blank which we do not expect to see filled up. As a singer, no one has ever supplied more completely every requirement of taste and judgment. Nature and art combined to make her what she is. Her rich, mellow voice, was cultivated in the best Italian school ; and, though she never became a florid singer or indulged in vocal tours de force, her clear and facile execution was equal to every legitimate demand upon it. Plainness, indeed, was a feature of her style; her cadenzas were few and simple, but always graceful and appropnate. She never astonished by display, but charmed by beauty and moved by expression. As an actress her range was singularly extensive—in the arch and lively soubrette, the simple peasant girl, the tragic heroine, she was equally captivating, equally pathetic, equally grand and terrible. As in her singing, so in her acting, broad and easy plainness was her characteristic. She did not seek to dazzle by flashes of genius or novel- ties of interpretation. Her pictures always formed a clear and consistent whole; and thus she satisfied the judgment more fully, and moved the feeling more deeply, than performers who in particular passages displayed gr. eater brilliancy and perhaps higher genius. To return for a moment to the past opera season : it has tended to strengthen the growing disappointment to which the proceedings of this theatre have given rise. The high-sounding promises of wonderful benefits to art have never been realized, and are now farther from being realized than ever. Take the repertoire of this season—the quality of the pieces, as well as the manner of their performance—and it may well be asked, where is the advancement since the disruption which led to the ruin of the old house ? The effect of that disruption was to cripple that theatre before destroying it : but, take its previous condition, while its resources were unimpaired—recall its constellations of stars and its splendid exhibitions—and we shall find small reason to exalt the new regime above the old.