18 MARCH 1843, Page 10


TRE Italian Opera commenced its season less auspiciously than might have been augured from the exertions of the manager and the brilliant appearance of the house on the first night : Signor CONTI, the new tenor, laboured under a cold ; and M. PERROT, unfortunately, met with a serious hurt, that disabled him in the middle of the divertissement.

The interior of the house is thoroughly cleansed and furbished ; the fronts of the boxes are painted white, the ornaments regilt, and the red curtains and cushions renewed ; and the whole aspect of the beautiful theatre is bright and cheerful. On Saturday, when every corner was filled, the Royal box being the only one vacant, the coup d'ceil was exhilarating, and seemed to give practical refutation to the rumour of a great falling-off in the subscriptions.

First in order on this occasion came Adelia, a new opera by DONT- 2Erri. Having had success on the Continent, its production here has followed as a matter of course ; for, much as we regret that the pieces of a shallow pretender should engross the musical stage to the exclu- sion of sterling works, it were idle to expect that he manager of a par- ticular theatre is to set up for an Opera Don Quixote, and wage war against the giants, frivolity and bad taste, which prevail at present over Europe. As long as DONIZETTI is the rage at Milan, Naples, Paris- ay. and at Vienna and Berlin-so long will he be the rage in London ; among those classes of society, that is to say, who especially patronize this species of entertainment. But nothing is more changeful than musical fashion ; and the next change, peradventure, may be for the better. The appearance of one man of genius might give a new turn to the course of the Opera.

There is really nothing to be said about this Adelia in the way of description or criticism. As a drama, and as music, it is thoroughly commonplace. The time and country are the period and dominions of Charles the Bold ; and, among the mail-clad warriors and fair damsels of that chivalrous age, we have the usual elements of musical tragedy, including gorgeous costumes and decorations. In regard to the music, when we have heard one or two of DoNizErrt's operas we have heard them all. He has got a small stock of phrases, chords, and modulations, on which he has rung the changes till all their varieties are exhausted ; so that his newest production has all the familiarity of an old acquaint- ance,-one cause, by the way, of his popularity among unmusical people. When his score is finished, his airs are committed to the finest singers in the world, who like them because they can do what they will with them : and as to the choruses and orchestral accompaniments, all the care is that they be sufficiently loud. Let the drums and trumpets and trombones make enough of noise, and nobody complains of the want of harmony.

PERSIANI was the heroine. This delightful artist seems to have ac- quired a new stock of health and vigour ; and so exquisite was her sing- ing that we gave ourselves up to all the fascination of the music, with- out considering, at the moment, how much or how little of its charms belonged to the composer. In singing music of this sort, PERSIANI is very often more of a composer than the nominal author ; whose share of the work consists in furnishing a bare and meagre outline to be clothed by the singer with all the strength and richness of chiaroscuro and colouring.

Signor CONTI, the new tenor-singer, made a favourable impression. He is not a performer of first-rate power, but he is very far above mediocrity. He laboured under hoarseness; but, even with that disadvantage, it was evident that his voice is of fine quality, and highly cultivated. His style is simple and pure, and be has intelligence and feeling. Menlo, we understand, is to be the principal tenor during the season ; but it will require the improvement which he is reported to have made, to enable him greatly to eclipse CONTI. The principal bass part was per- formed by PANZINI; a tall, handsome man, and a respectable singer and actor. The orchestra is full and complete ; exhibiting all the old familiar faces. Of the merits of the chorus this opera did not enable us to judge.

The new divertissement, L'Aurore, opened with the descent of Aurora in a floating veil of transparent clouds ; and her advent was fol- lowed by a rapid dawn. The scene, a flowery grove by the sea-shore, was soon filled by a bevy of nymphs, with wasp-like waists and pink calves protruding from beneath voluminous folds of white muslin ; who ushered in the goddess Aurora, a creature of the same race, but in face, stature, and action preeminent above them all. The goddess soon showed that she was of mortal mould, by the astonishing feats of agi- lity and grace which she performed : after stretching her limbs- cram ped, perchance, in her airy flight-in a manner that excited some doubt of dislocation, she traversed the scene in every direction with bounds of an amplitude that would seem to defy the stretch of human legs to achieve, performing gyrations that made one giddy to look upon. When she and her train had amused themselves with these exercises, they retired, and were succeeded by a troop of hunters, with leopard-skin kirtles and pink legs, rather stiff at the knees : their leader, a compact little fellow, all muscle, came bounding in like a stag ; and he too must needs perform his morning exercises; twiddling his calves, twirling round like a top on one leg, and jumping round twice successively on -two, like a man trying to turn his back upon himself. The goddess reenters, and some graceful coquetting ensues: she is everywhere but in the direction the hunter looks for her, and close at his elbow, yet he cannot get sight of her : at last he plucke posy-flowers grow in bouquets on this enchanted soil; she becoineS visible in the attempt to snatch it, and he in turn tantalizes her : they then cease flirting, and commence an amicable pas de deux. But here the scene was abruptly closed by a sad disaster : in striving to vie with the divinity, the mortal over-exerted himself; a loud snap was heard, and the agile hunter, disabled from putting one leg to the ground, limped off, supported by the attendant nymphs. Poor PERROT ! we fear that his mishap is of a very serious nature: the surgeons, it seems, say the tendon Achilles is not broken ; but some other is, and it cannot but be a long while before be may venture to use the limb as before. The termination of the divertissement thus prematurely cut short the display of skill by Mademoiselle DIIMILATRE ; but enough had been shown by her in the character of Aurora to satisfy the audience that the new danseuse-a girl of nineteen-is one of no common powers. The absence of Pzazor.has occasioned a change in the divertrsse- ment, and the goddess and her nymphs had the .scene to themselves

on Tuesday. The final tableau, which was necessarily omitted on the first night, is a splendid piece of scenic effect : the chariot of the God of Day ascends in a blaze of roseate light, preceded by Aurora, as in Gurno's picture,—though the " Hours " are more like hour- glasses.

In the popular ballet La Tarantule, FANNY ELMER appeared, and by her dazzling execution and expressive pantomime eclipsed all that bad gone before. The greeting she met with proved she had not been forgotten while sojourning beyond the great ocean ; and her appearance and performance showed that her personal charms and the graces of her art have suffered no diminution. The eloquence of her looks and gestures would have softened a savage, much more induced a Docteur Gmeopatico to cure her lover, who has been bitten by a tarantula: the possession of such a sylph would be too rich a fee even for such a sudden cure as Omeopatico effects ; so the old fellow resigns the pro- mise of her hand, and the lovers enter on a pas de deux of felicity. To describe the feats of foot that FANNY ELSSLER performs with apparent ease and enjoyment, would convey but an imperfect idea even of their difficulty, and none whatever of the inimitable grace with which she executes them : when she trips across the stage on the very points of her toes, it is not so much the impossibility of the feat as her playful manner that fascinates : it seems to be merely a freak of the moment, not a studied effort. In her performance the pantomimic action is predominant; and such is its significance of meaning and delicacy of ex- pression, that it affects the sympathies like impa-sioned and lively utterance : the dancing, with its caprices of art, being a fanciful accom- paniment—the fioriture of the ballet ; forming part of the business of the scene, not delaying it. Her extraordinary achievements being thus introduced incidentally, not only surprise and delight by their unexpectedness, but give variety and relief to the monotony of gesti- culation. Those who are sceptical as to the witchery of ballet-panto- mime should go and see FANNY ELSSLER in La Tarantule, and resist its influence if they can. M. Sn.vmst, the lover, is an accomplished dancer ; and especial praise is due to M. CormoN, who took PERROT'S part of Le Docteur Omeopatico at a moment's notice, and played so adroitly and pleasantly that no one could have supposed but that he had carefully studied and rehearsed it beforehand.