15 JUNE 1850, Page 11

Chtatum nut aiusir.

The manager of Her Majesty's Theatre has now accomplished his de- sign of producing a great lyrical piece founded upon The Tempest of Shakspore ; a -design which he announced soon after the memorable secession, which deprived him at one fell swoop of his bright con- stellation of stars and his splendid orchestra, and left him, seemingly without resouece, to struggle -with immense difficulties. It was in those circumstances, we now see, -that he conceived the idea of engaging the talents of Scribe and Mendelssohn in the composition of such a work; and, from a letter printed in the libretto before us, we find that M. Scribe had completed the opera, which Mr. Lumley commissioned him to write, in December 1846. The manager intended to produce it in the following season with Mendelasohn's music, and the libretto was in the composer's hands for that purpose ; but the accumulated en- gagements in which he had got involved, which seem to have harassed his life and hastened his death, prevented Mendelssohn from fulfilling the task. M-r. Ltunley, however, did not abandon his purpose, bat confided the musical portion of the work to Halevy; who, excepting only Meyerbeer, (for Spolir must be regarded as belonging to the past,) is the most eminent dramatic composer in Europe. Halevy, moreover, had been Scribe's collaborateur in previous works ; and, from his education under Chernbini and subsequent studies, he was thoroughly conversant witlithe Italian school. la Tempesta, their jdint production, was performed for the first time on Saturday last; and it promises to be the chief object

of attraction during the rest of the season. • •

In the construction of an opera founded on Shalcspere's play, Scribe has shown the skill, judgment, and inventive power, which have gained for him a hundred triumphs in the bold of the musical drama. He says in his letter to Mr. Lumley, that he "has respected the inspirations of the immortal author, and that all the musical situations he has created are suggestions taken from Shakspore's ideas," And he is entitled to say so, for„ although he has invented incidents and situations caleidated for the exigencies of the opera stage, there is no incongruity between them and the original matter. In speaking, therefore, of the subject of the opera, we need only notice what Scribe has superinduced upon Shakspere. The chief novelty—which indeed leads to all the ethers—mthe introduc- tion of the witch Sycorax as a living character. Prospers), on arriving in the island, has, in self-defence against her mischievous power, by his own greater power confined her in the heart of a rock; bringing up her son Caliban as his servant. Caliban, brooding over his condition in a soli- tary' place, hears 'a *ice call his name. He listens in surprise. It 10 his mother; who tells him that he may free her, possess Miranda, and destroy .Prospero, by gathering from the rook three flowers, which have the virtue of egebling their possessor to obtain three wishes,—a kind of talisman sanctioned byinnumerable precedents in tales of diablerie and magic. He gathers the flowers, and his mother calls upon him to release her; but he tells her to wait—he has a more pressing object. At this moment Arid appears ; and Caliban, by his first wish, imprisons his enemy in the hollow of a tree. He next encoimters Miranda ; whom he accosts with unwonted insolence, avowing his brutish passion. While she is struck with surprise, indignation, and terror, a second wish throws her into a trance, and he carries her off in his arras. Presently he falls in with Stephan°, Trinculo, and the crew of the shipwrecked vessel, who are enjoying themselves after their escape. Caliban tells them he is king of the isle, and the girl is his slave ; and promises, if they will do him no harm and let her alone he will show them where there are fruits and fresh springs. They give him liquor till he gets drunk; and while he is staggering about and roaring a bacchanalian ditty, Miranda snatches the flowers, with a wish renders the whole party 'motionless, and makes her escape. Proepero, meanwhile, desirinis -to employ his servant Arid, calls him, in vain; but soon discovers his tenthiement, and, having set him free, learns the danger which involves Miranda. She, hastening home- ward, passes the rock of Symms. Musing upon the state of her feelings since she has seen Ferdinand, and blaming herself for the selfish excess of a passion which has placed this stranger in her heart before her father, "0 Heaven!" she at length exclaims, "who can appease my torments ?" "I," utters the unseen; and the witch, pretending to be a good spirit sent by her father, tells her that Ferdinand is a betrayer, who has bound her in a magic spell, which ehe• mn.st break by his death—such is her father's command. Miranda, conscious of the existence of the spell in her own heart, believes the rest, and hastens to obey. Entering the cave, she finds Ferdinand asleep, and is about to stab him, when he utters her name in a dream, and awakes. Her resolution is shaken, and vanishes amid her lover's endearments. This last is the most questionable of Scribe's inventions ; for it places Miranda in a position apparently inconsistent with the gentleness of her nature. But it will be observed that it is care- fully and skilfully managed : Miranda's bewildered feelings prepare her for the witch's communication ; she is surrounded by an atmosphere of magic ; and, accustomed to the invisible Agents by whom her father works his will, she doubtless conceives this supernatural warsios and command to proceed from one of them. All these new incidents are happily blended with those of the well-known play ; and the denouement, as in ShaL•spere, Consists of Prospero's forgiveness of his former enemies, .his usurping brother and the King of Naples, and the embarkation of the whole com- pany, leaving Calibtui in solitary possession of the island.

The Italian libretto, though a translation from Scribe's French, hest all the spirit of an original ; and the English paraphrase on the opposite page is scarcely inferior to the Italian. The poem unites every requisite of a musical drama ; giving the composer ample scope for his powers of imagination, as well as of true and pathetic expression. Of the means thus placed at his disposal, lIalevy has availed himself with felicity and success. We cannot go into the details of particular criticism, but may convey in a general way the impression made upon us by the music.' e Meyerbeer, Halevy produces his greatest effects by means of com- bination. His treatment of the orchestra is masterly in the highest de- gree; he knows how to turn the powers of every instrument to the best account, and his score is free and unembarrassed in the midst of the ut- most complications of harmony. The same qualities • arc apparent in the richness, freedom, and variety of his choral and concerted pieces. In the very outset, the attention is enchained by the solemn unearthly sounds which precede the rising of the curtain; and the distant voices of the in- visible spirits, the confused cries of the despairing people on shipboard, and the crashing burets from the orchestra as the ship is dashed to pieces before our eyes, render the " prologue " a most striking piece of musical painting, Equal to this in power, though totally different in character, is the finale to the second set—the "tipsy mirth and revelry" of the sailors and their new associate Caliban ; a scene of wonderful force and spirit. In those scenes, likewise, of concerted dialogue, Which contain the simultaneous expression of different feelings, the composer is especially happy,—as in 'the fine trio•in the first act be- tween Prospero, Miranda, and Caliban ; in which the Stern severity of the magician, the rebellions fierceness of his slave, and the terror of his daughter, though each is 'strongly expressed, blend together in richest harmony. The choruses of the aerial spirits are fanciful and charming ; and the melodramatic music which accompanies the movements of Arid and his fellow sprites is exceedingly light and graceful. By a happy thought, Halevy has introduced into this music Arne's beautiful air "Where the bee sucks," and also again in the last finale ; thus producing a pleasing association in the minds of an English audience.

The airs are few in number, and not very remarkable. Those belong- ing to Miranda are elegant and highly ornamented, but lack the touching simplicity of the character : it is evident that, in writing them, Haien, was thinking more about Madame Sontag than about Miranda. An air in the part of Ferdinand, and a couple of duets for Ferdinand and Mi-• sande, are good things in their way, but entirely in the modern Italian style. The recitatives are uniformly excellent ; characteristic, emphatic, varied, and rapid. This is a branch of the art in which the Frenchi school has been preeminent from the earliest days of their opera. Sontag, as Miranda, looked and sang charmingly, and, iii the principal scenes, acted with energy and feeling. The part of.Ariet gave occasion for the introduction of Carlotta Grisi ; whose performance consisted of elegant and expressive pantomime. It has been objected that she danced too much, and that the movements of Arid and his fellow sprites were too much in the formal ballet style. But a modern opera is a combination of delights for the eye and -the ear, and the ima- ginative and beautiful dancing of the fair Carlotta is not one of the least attractions of the piece. But the great feature -of the representa- tion is Lablache's Caliban ; one of the most wonderful achievements of this great actor. He is the very Caliban of Shakspere ; savage and scarcely human, raging with animal passions, and yet not without a oar- tam n rade grandeur, and feelings which make him in some degree an object. of sympathy. All these features are expressed in Lablache's masterly delineation ; and his vocal performance is magnificent. Collett sustaina the grave dignity of Prospero becomingly ; Baucarde sings with much sweetness in the part of Ferdinanel ; Parodi, as Stephan°, wins an encore by a burst of brilliant and expressive execution in a drinking song ; and the accents of the unseen Sycoraz are well suited to the contralto tones of Ida Bertrand.

In its ensemble the performance was excellent even on the first night, and still better on the second. The reception of the opera has been en- thusiastic, and the "ovation" at the close of the first performance was a scene of uncommon excitement. Not only the leading artistes of the stage, but Scribe, Halevy, Belle, and Lumley, were loudly called for, and warmly congratulated, one by one.