21 NOVEMBER 1840, Page 7


nt Garden, where it stave be- , i-ed that , if fairies, Mt: mrd-seed, ' their !ming tiny ,tent with them, I for by many ; o carry into 1:1 this as

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,T.o;•-e THE ..Ifidsammer Night's Dream, as Hwy r.•

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the corps de ballet H convey a-1 nor that the infitutii.e rcitreseat3;;,'es of My.

Cobweb, and Peas-tdossont, delude us into .t r I sprites ; but as we cannot have any other, we inns: or not have the play at Ali. This alternative is C' who only tolerate, undue protest, the attempt of effect the intention of the author : the that well as his other yllys to be acted, and at a tie.:e resources of the stage were of a very le•inti,ive don'l,t, In that age, howeYer, IL

monly exercised ; the ignord .

the'-fancy lively. It his ever furnished. I ik-

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Mrs. NISBETT, as Hermia, has enough to do to seem serious. Mrs. Baoroaraas, who passes as Hyppolyta the bouncing Amazon, shines resplendent in a kirtle of cloth of gold, but has little to say ; and COOPER, who wears the purple as Theseus, is too didactic and formal a declaimer for the fluent phrase of poetry : the " master of the revels," Mr. MAI- MING, is much the better speaker. The lovers Lysander and Demetrius are mere "walking gentlemen," and did little honour to their elegant costume : Mr. BRINDAL, the Demetrius, whose zeal outran discretion, elicited laughter by his excessive vehemence of speech. The clowns are well played Bully Bottom excepted, who is Mr. HARLEY, and not Bottom the Weaver : instead of the overweening dullard, inflated with fussy self-importance, we see a lively buffoon making fun of the character. KEELEY'S personation of Flute the Bellows-mender, on the contrary, is a perfect assumption of the clod- pated loon, whose dense faculties with difficulty admit the gleam of un- derstanding necessary for speaking the part : he is evidently anxious to distinguish himself, and appears quite unconscious of the ridiculous figure he makes as Thisbe. BARTLEY, as Quince, is perhaps too know- ing; but then he is manager. Mnanows, PAYNE, and F. MATTHEWS, are highly diverting as Wall, Moonshine, and the Lion : and this satiri- cal burlesque cf the fustian tragedy that prevailed in SHAKSPERE'S time, is almost as amusing as if the absurdities it ridicules were in existence. SFIAKSPERE in introducing these burlesques, manifests, as in the play-scene of Hamlet, a desire to uphold the dignity of the drama and the intel- lectuality of the histrionic art ; for while he makes sport of the ab- surdities of bad acting, he excuses the defects of the stage and the players. lie makes Theseus thus rebuke the disparaging remark of Hippolyta—" The best in this kind are but shadows, and the worst are no worse if imagination amend them." People should take this with them to the theatre.

Music iu this, as in most of SHAKSPERE'S comedies, is occasionally introduced; and some of the speeches are so admirably fitted for musical expression, that they have invited the attention of composers as -well as the original songs. Every revival of The Midsummer Night's Dream has been attended with new music ; for, unlike The Tempest, no composer has kept sole possession of the words. No one has adventured to enter the lists with PuRCELL ; but SMITH, Musa", and now T. Cowen, have all composed music fur this play. The most musical revival of it was made by GARRICK ; who cut out the characters of Bottom and his friends, and gave the piece a decidedly operatic character, under the title of The Fairies. Many songs were added,—some from other plays of SIIAKSP ' ERE • some were selected front lected fro MiLg n

ost, WassE, and

DRYDEN ; and The Fairies thus embodies more fine lyric poetry than any drama in our language. Smartt was employed to set these to music ; in which his success was so unequal, that we can hardly help suspecting he was occasionally assisted by his master HA NDEL. Among the most beautiful of the songs in The Fairies, are " O'er the smooth enamed green," sung by Titania, and " Flower of this purple dye," which was revived last season by humus with complete success. The Midsummer Night's 'Dream was also brought out at Covent Garden during the KEMBLE dynasty, with music new and selected by limits's,. But the labours of former composers have been overlooked or rejected in the present revival ; and not wills uniform advantage to the piece. MENntmssousds Overture precedes it, and furnishes melodramatic and choral music during its progress. So far nothing could be better—ex- cept that in the chorus arranged from part of the overture the voices were almost inaudible. The first air," Over hill, over dale," is graceful and animated ; but much of the other new music was deficient in interest, and seemed to have been hastily, produced. The words selected for music, too, were not always skilfully chosen— as, for example, the compliment to Queen Eiozanterst ; and the text of GARRICK, regarded with reference to this point, might have been ad- vantageously followed. STEVENS'S charming glee, " Ye spotted snakes," was unfortunately retained : we never heard it so murdered. A better fate awaited Hoax's pretty duet, " I know a bank ;" which was admi- rably sung by Miss RA INFORTH and Madame Vggrais. "Flower of this purple dye" is adapted to the first part of the allegretto in Bige- moVEN'S Seventh Sinfonia ; but, bereft of the lovely majore, its effect was monotonous and heavy. here again the departure front GARRICK'S opera was any thing but an improvement. Dr. Coodes animated chorus, " Hand in hand," one of the best and most effective introduc- tions, is retained with Bisuoe's introduction and arrangement. Altogether, however, the Midsummer Night's Dream of the present management may vie in splendour and taste with the Tempest as pro- duced by Mat:a:Emil. ; and its reception by the public was equally en- thusiastic : it promises to be a long-lasting attraction.