22 JUNE 1833, Page 15


AT length a new opera has made its appearance ; PASTA having produced BELLINI'S Norma for her benefit on Thursday night. We were not prepared to expect a composition of much musical power, and therefore were not disappointed. The characteristic of BELLINI is dulness—sheer dulness. His melodies are insipid, his score meagre, his combinations puerile. To real grandeur of style he can lay no claim: he is noisy, but it is noise as a substi- tute for power— a din of drums, and not a lofty swell of harmony. Norma, the heroine of the piece, is a Welch prophetess—a sort of Cambrian Medea; her Jason being a Roman Proconsul—Polio. The scene is laid in Wales, during the period when Britain was " Non sai to cite ai figli in core Questo ferro- Pollio. 0 Diu! the intendo!

Norma. Si sore essi alzai la punta- Vedi—vedi —a else son giunta! Non ferii—ma tosto—adesso- Consuinar puss' io eccesso! Hu istantc—e esser madre Mi puss' io dimenticar ! Ah, erudele ! in sen del padre Il pupal to lei vibrar. A me rl porgi- Norma. Ah to !

Pollio. Che spento cads io solo! Norma. Solo ?—Tutti !

I Romani a cento a cento Fin mietuti, Sin distrutti !"

They will also conceive the tone, the look, the gesture, with which she disclosed to the chief of the Druids her crime and her shame. No description can convey her utterance of the words "Son madre " Regarded as a piece of acting, therefore, PASTA'S Norma may rank with her proudest efforts ; and especially as it evinced the creative power of her genius. The character was made by herself, and not by her author : where site was bound by his fetters, she failed—where site could cast them off and give way to the suggestions of her own fancy, she triumphed. Her singing was bad—her declamation splendid.

We have often had occasion to speak of PASTA'S very faulty in- tonation; but we never heard from her, nor from any public singer of eminence, this grievous defect so prominent and pervad- ing as on Thursday night. It is no exaggeration to say, that not a single phrase was given in correct tune throughout the opera.. In the Preghiera in the first act, she had wandered so far from the pitch, that we were trembling on the verge of a change of key ; and in the Terzetto with which it concludes, the stringed instruments were compelled to accommodate themselves to her faulty intonation, while the flutes and clarinets were obliged to- leave off. Fortunately, De MERIC had to repeat the same pas- sage ; and her correct ear restored the true pitch. But all the con- certed pieces (the opera has no songs) in which PASTA was engaged, suffered from the same cause ; and nothing but the power of her acting could have saved it from destruction. But the public are better judges of what is addressed to the eye than the ear : thus Norma, with all its poverty as a musical composition,. and all the defects incident to its performance, will probably succeed in drawing some good houses. subjeot to the power of Rome. In an early period of his procon- sulate, Pollio had gained the affections of Norma, had induced her to violate her vows of celibacy, and hat secretly married her. She became the mother of two children, whose birth was known only to Wu: confidante Clotildu. Pollio afterwards becomes enamoured. of Adalgisa, a young Druidical priestess, and endeavours to per- suade her into an elopement to Rome. She reveals her husband's infidelity to Norma ; whose first impulse is todestrov her children : she relents, and determines on making herself the sacrifice to appease the wrath of the gods. She summons the priests and warriors of her country to the temple of Ir minsul, proclaims her violated vows, and is led forth to death.

It will be obvious, from this outline of the story, that the opera was written for PASTA, and that, like its prototype Medea, it rests entirely upon her. In estimating her performance, we are com- pelled to regard her in two different characters—as an actress, and and as a singer: in the former she was supremely great, in the latter extremely faulty. Those who have seen her Medea (and who has not ?) will conceive the dignity, the energy, the grandeur of her personification of Norma : they will imagine the effect which she gave to the following passage, in her last scene with Pollio: after calling upon him to swear that he will abandon Adalgisa-