The two great musical theatres have commenced their " after
Easter' season, though neither with its fullest muster.
Rossini's opera buffs, L' Italiana in Algieri, revived at Her Majesty's on Tuesday, had not been performed there since the old days of Pisan= and Donzelli. It was produced at the Royal Italian Opera five years ago, for the purpose of bringing forward Alboni ; but without suc- cess, having had only two representations. Being one of the very few operas which have a contralto for the heroine, it may be occasionally used to bring out a singer of that class ; but it can never meet with favour here, as our " most thinking people" will not accept the prettiest music in the world when they find it a mere vehicle for what anywhere but in Italy would be regarded as childish buffoonery. The opera was now got up chiefly for the sake of Mademoiselle Angri, who appeared in the character of Isabella. It was excellently performed ; and the music, which is in Rossini's earliest style, blending the grace and simplicity of Cimarosa and Paesiello with his own youthful fire and bril- liancy, had so charming an effect that it was loudly applauded notwith- standing the poverty of the libretto. Angri surprised as well as pleased us. She appeared to have got rid of much of that masculine boldness, approaching to coarseness, which formerly was too apparent in her man- ner. Her vivacity was softened and toned down, and there was a corre- sponding improvement in her singing, which showed increase of finish and refinement. Her performance of the finest air in the opera, "reuse slla patris," was admirable. in every respect—in style, exe- cution, and expression. We have never heard Calzolari to greater advantage than in the part of Lindero. He is essentially an Italian singer, and comparatively unfitted for the efforts of vocal strength required in the pieces imported from the German and French stage. In the light and florid music of Rossini's earlier pieces he is peculiarly happy ; executing the roulades and divisions with flexibility and clear- ness, and singing the cantabile phrases, " a mezza voee," with grace and sweetness. In loud passages his voice becomes somewhat harsh and un- even, and he appears occasionally to lose his command over it,—showing that he has done much, though not everything, to cure by means of art the natural defects of his organ. Belletti, as the old Turk Mustapha, sang superbly. He too is essentially an Italian singer, and thoroughly at home in the florid music of that school, though his acquirements arc far from confined to it. The music of this part, like that of Figaro in the Barbiere, is of the most ornate kind, demanding of the baritone the light- ness and agility of a tenor. The animated duet, "Se inclinasse prender moglie," between Caizolari and Belletti, was on both sides a perfect spe- cimen of Italian singing; the smooth cantabile of the upper part being most piquantly contrasted with the crisply-executed roulades and " bat- teries " with which it was accompanied by the lower. Ferranti, as Taddeo, was too laboriously funny ; but his singing, especially in the con- certed pieces, wee very good indeed. In short, this opera, as a musical entertainment, was exceedingly agreeable; and we are glad we have had the opportunity of enjoying it, as it may rarely occur again.
The very pretty ballet-divertissement L'Aurere was performed between the acts ; Guy Stephan dancing surprisingly. A critic complains of this interposition as impairing the interest of the opera,—a groundless com- plaint when there was no interest to impair. It is just a piece like the Italian that can permit such an interruption without injury. The stir about the new Jenny Lind, Mademoiselle Wagner, still con- tinues. Both houses daily publish contradictory advertisements, each announcing her engagement to itself exclusively. Mr. Lumley, after stating for several days, that " the talent of Mademoiselle Wagner is secured exclusively to Her Majesty's Theatre, by an engagement dated the 9th of November lastand signed by this celebrated artiste," now inti- mates that it was signed "also by her father, Mr. Albert Wagner," and that " Mademoiselle Johanna Wagner is daily expected." On the other hand, the Royal Italian Opera reiterates its assertion that the directors "have entered into an engagement with Mademoiselle Johanna Wagner, prima donna of the Royal Theatre at Berlin, and the services of that eminent artiste are secured exclusively to the Royal Italian Opera." The fact is supposed to be, that the fair siren, after having made an en- gagement with Mr. Lumley, has thrown it up and taken service with Mr. Gyre ; and it remains to be seen whether she has taken care " to be off with the old love before being on with the new."
At Covent Garden, Donizetti's I Martiri was to have been produced on Thursday; but a sudden hoarseness which attacked Signor Tamber- la caused its postponement.