21 AUGUST 1852, Page 10

igratrro anti Zugir.

Monsieur Jullien, after all, will never be anything more than a com- poser of quadrilles and waltzes and a conductor of promenade concerts. This is his proper vocation—his lad, and he must stick to it. He is a worthy companion of the Musards and Strausse ,s the Lanners and La- bitzkys, but he can never claim fellowship with Mozart, Rossini, Weber, or Meyetheer. In his own sphere, however, he is first among the first. He has made himself a musical power in England, and has done more, probably, than was ever done by a single individual, in refining and rais- ing the popular taste. Taking up the "Concerts it la hfusard," which had been set on foot shortly before his arrival, he gradually raised them, from petty performances of trivial dances, to really noble entertainments ; giving employment to a host of eminent performers, where vast assemblies, m which the most musical as well as fashionable people did not disdain to mingle, enjoyed the greatest orchestral works of the day—where, even to the amateur, a symphony of Mozart or Beethoven was agreeably relieved by a graceful waltz or a brilliant quadrille—and where the multitude, who came to hear their favourite music, acquired by degrees a relish for a higher order of art, of which they would otherwise to this hour have re- mained ignorant. Jullien has done so much beyond what might have been expected of him, that it seemed not unlikely he might do still more ; and when the Covent Garden management announced a grand opera from his pen, it seemed not very unlikely that the attempt, however ambitious, might be attended with success,—the more so as, from the principles on which this theatre professes to be conducted, it was to be presumed that any opera produced there would have some pretensions as a work of art. .Pietro id Grande therefore which, after much note of preparation, was produced on Tuesday, raised no small curiosity.

But any expectations which may have been entertained have been dis- appointed. The piece is a mere melodramatic spectacle, on a par in point of rationality with the things of the same kind which are the staple at Astky's ; while the music is a curious attempt to mix the sonorous pomp of Meyerbeer with the more familiar noises of the Promenade Con- certs. M. Jullien, indeed, seems to have had Meyerbeer chiefly in his mind.; as he has not only tried to adopt the general style of that com- poser, but has imitated many of his passages. But Meyerbeer, like Dr. *Anson in regard to style isa dangerous model. It may be said of the German musician, as it has been said of the English moralist, that his ponderous style is justified by the weight of his thoughts : but this can- not be said of M. Jullien.

The incidents are an amusing string ,of absurdities. Peter, while a shipwright at Saardam, meets with his future Empress in the character of a poor sutler-girl, who falls violently in love with him, and saves his life from the dagger of a jealous rival. Next—though it is many years after—we have Peter on the field of Pultawa ; where his army is in dan- ger of being surrounded by the Swedes and Turks, until Catherine ap- pears, in destitute plight, (where has she been all the while ?) warns him of his danger, and averts it by going alone to the Turkish camp, and getting the Vizier to sign a treaty of armistice and draw off his troops, leaving the Swedes to fight the battle single-handed. During the battle the Heiman of the Cossacks plays the traitor, but is detected, and banished to Siberia. Lastly—and again after many years—Peter is at Moscow, and there is a grand fete at the palace on the occasion of his consenting to choose a consort. He is again in danger ; for the traitor Hetman escaped from Siberia with a number of fellow-criminals, has laid a plot to murder him that night. Again Catherine drops from the clouds, but in a still more destitute plight than before ; over- hears the conspirators plotting in the open street, and rushes to the palace to discover the treason ; but sinks from hunger and fatigue, and is carried fainting into the presence of the Czar. Peter—who, to save appearances, is always represented as regretting his lost love, though it does not appear that he has taken any trouble to find her—is enraptured at the meeting ; and as the lady has appeared quite a-propos when he is about to make a matrimonial choice, he chooses her on the instant, has her arrayed in royal robes, and presents her, as Empress, to the assembly. The gayety of the scene receives a trifling interruption. The disguised traitor attempts to stab the Emperor, but is himself stabbed by the royal hand ; and after sprawling and imprecating for some minutes, while nobody minds him, gives up the ghost, and the ladies and gentlemen join in a joyous chorus. We say nothing of the total disregard of facts,—though the read history of this same Peter and this same Catherine would furnish matter for a drama of dark and striking interest,—but the incidents, in their childish commonplace, fall below the ordinary quality of melodramatic manufac- ture. Had the music been ever so good, it could not have given vitality to such a piece. But the music is of a kindred quality. Three-fourths of the whole consists of mere spectacle ; processions, pageants, ma- nceuvering of troops, horses, fighting, and dancing: Dazzling sights are accompanied by stunning sounds, M. Jullien bringing into violent action all the means of noise-making to which he is accustomed. In addition to the immense orchestra and the roar of a hundred voices, our ears were split by the clangour of four military bands, the rattling and squeaking of drums and fifes, mimic cannon, and vollies of fire-arms ; the whole form- ing such a charivari as was never before heard on a musical stage. Yet it was in this portion of the music that M. Jullien was most successful—it was the most in his way. Some of the choruses, both of a martial and a festive kind, were exceedingly effective; and all the music of the dances was

graceful and beautiful. A national Russian hymn, of a grand and simple character, was skilfully arranged, and felicitously introduced in several striking situations. But the dramatic music was altogether bad. Long, dreary scenes of dialogue in monotonous recitative, were mixed with airs destitute of form, melody, or expression, and so ill-constructed for the voice that Tamberlik, Anna Zerr, and Formes, (who, to do them justice, exerted themselves stoutly,) seemed exhausted with screaming and shout- ing, before the night was over. Everything was done to make the piece attractive, in the way of gor- geous scenic exhibition ; but the cost must be thrown away, as it is im- possible that this piece can have success. We must, indeed, say in one word, that we think its production discreditable to a theatre of so high pretensions.