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The Barber of Seville. Much unmeaning abuse has been thrown out against Italiarr operas. John Bull has been accused of running after Italian signors and signoras, to the total discouragement of native talent. The truth is, talent is of no particular country-it is public property; and we hope never to see the day, when a fine voice shall be subject to cus
or excise. The only way to get rid of Italian operas, is to produce something better. The Beggars' Opera fairly turned the taste of the town in this respect- Let an attempt of equal ingenuity be made, and we will be answerable for the result. But, as long as we continue to import Italian music by wholesale-as long as our most popular airs are but centos of these foreign sounds, it is ridiculous to abuse, and steal, at the same time. The public are the best judges of what they pay for. What connoisseur will put up with gooseberry. wine, that can afford to drink Champaigne ? Where is the patriot that will poison himself with “ home-made,” when nectar is to be purchased, even from an enemy? And, if an Italian singer can get a hundred pounds per night, we see no reason in the world why he should take only fifty. It is an old axiom, that an article is worth what it will produce—why, therefore, should an exception be made to the disparagement of genius, even though it should come from France or Italy?
Every nation has its different mode of expressing passion. A Frenchman, whether jocund or sad, angry or pleased, overwhelms you with his volubility, shrugs, and grimaces-He is eternally ca. priccio. And why may may not an Italian laugh, and cry, in can. tata? Shall it be any impeachment of his taste if he make love, affettuso-if he be angry, agitato-and if he be comical, allegressimo ? Because an Englishman be andantino, he shall not presome to be animato! Away with these arbitrary rules. One advantage that the Italian possesses over the English opera, is, that the principal characters are adequately filled, the recitative and airs being considered of equal importance, whereas our first-rate English vocalists are, with very few exceptions, the worst actors and actresses imaginable; the dialogue is, therefore, slurred over, and the whole opera reduced to some half-dozen popular airs, that are introduced at the caprice of the singer, without any regard to their relevancy. An Italian opera loses half its effect in an English dress; and is, at best, but a clumsy adaptation for the sake of the music: nor does the music itself bear its original charm, when trans. planted from its native soil- it is like“ Water parted from the Sea,” There is a peculiarity entirely arioso about Italian singing, that seconds the composer's skill, and snatches a grace beyond the reach of art or imitation.
The Barber of Seville is an alteration from the “ Barbier de Se. ville," of Mons Beaumarchais; and the Italian opera of “ Il Barbier de Siviglia.” George Colman, the elder, had before dramatised this subject in his “ Spanish Barber," a musical comedy, acted at the Haymarket Theatre, in 1777. In the present piece, iwo dramatists
have set their wits against us: Mr. Fawcett baving supplied the prose, and Mr. Terry the poetry-the songs we mean. "Talking of side, pats me in mind of myself,” says Caleb Quotem ; and, talking of one dramatic co-partnership, puts us in mind of another-pot that of Beaumont and Fletcher, but of Messrs. Pye and Arnold, in their joint-production of the" Prior Claim.” The plot of this opera is dexterously laid, and ingeniously unravelled; the incidents are in the true style of Spanish contrivance and intrigue; and the characters are lively and whimsical, Figaro, the barber (in the original), is exquisitely humorous : his various schemes to cheat Dr. Bartolo and bring the lovers together, have given many a lesson to young gentlemen and ladies similarly circumstanced. The count is gallant and gay--the doctor is one of those over-vigilant old Arguses that the juvenile part of the audience delight to see made a fool of and Rosina is just such a young lady to carry their wishes into effect by her ingenuity and wit.
The music is uncommonly beautiful. The serious airs breathe a mellifluous tenderness--the comic are so brisk and lively that the heart dances to them. The concerted pieces are highly brilliant, ornamented, and elaborate; running through all the labyrinths of science till they burst forth in strains of impassioned harmony. The opening scene of The Barber of Seville, where Figaro peeps out at his window, reminds us strongly of that in The Duenna, wliere Don Jerome reproves the serenaders.
Count Almaviva and Dr. Bartolo, by Mr. Jones and Mr. Fawcett, were good, Much of the effect is, however, lost, by the English representative of the count not being able to sing. Mr. Duruset was wbolly incompetent to give any idea of the intriguing barber-when shall we again see the like of the inimitable Naldi ? Liston is comi. cal, but wants vivacity and voice. Harley approaches nearer to what Figaro ought to be. Mr. Penson is an adroit imitator, but we canvot endure even excellence at second hand.
Miss M. Tree was the best Rosina on the stage she was one of those ladies that could act, as well as sing..
STAGE DIRECTIONS. The Conductors of this Work print no Plays but those which they have seen acted. The Stage Directions are given from their own personal observations, during the most recent performances.
EXITS and ENTRANCES. R. means Right; L. Left ; D. F. Door in Flat ; R. D. Right Door ; L. D. Lest Door; S. E. Second Entrance ; U. E. Upper Entrance ; M. D. Middle Door.
Miss ANNA MARIA TREE was born in August, 1803, in Norfolk Street, Fitzroy Square. At an early age, having evinced considerable taste for music, she was placed under the tuition of Mr. G. Lanza, and continued his pupil until the opera season of 1817, when, from the advantages of occasionally singing with Madame Fodor, she acquired that simple and pathetic style for which she is so much distinguished. Being introduced by Mr. Harley to Mr. T. Cooke, the latter gentleman discovered in her such promise of future excellence, that he received her as a pupil for the term of four years. Thus encouraged, she went to Bath, and appeared in several subordinate operatic characters; but, displaying great taste and skill in a more important part assigned to her, she was immediately announced for, Polly, which she performed, with complete success, on the 13th November, 1818. So unequivocal were the expressions of approbation, that the manager put her forward in several other prominent characters, in all of which she acquitted herself with equal success. Proposals were them made to Miss Tree by the Covent-Garden management; an engagement was mutually entered into for three years, and she made her first appearance at that theatre, as Rosina, in the Barber of Seville : and fully realized the
st favourable anticipations of her talent. Miss Tree has since retired from the stage, to the enjoyment of domestic happiness; which is the only thing that can reconcile us for the loss we have sus
COUNT ALMAVIVA.-Drab hat, with scarlet band and black plumes ; green yelyet and gold cloak; crime son and gold jacket, white waistcoat and breeches, white silk stockings ; shoes. Second dress, a military uniform. Third dress, disguised as Alonzo, black suit and white wig. Fourth dress, round black hat, with gold band and white plumes ; light blue and gold jacket; buff and gold pantaloons; russet boots.
DOCTOR BARTOLO.-Scarlet and black Spanishdress.
FIGARO.-Hair tied in a thick bunch behind ; light drab jacket and breeches ; pink satin sash; blue stock.. ings; russet shoes.
FIORELLO.-Brown Spanish jacket and breeches; white stockings and shoes.
BASIL.-Black velvet Spanish dress.
Cast of the Characters at the Theatre-Royal,
Covent Garden, 1824.
Miss M. Tree