Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/541

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OPERA.

but we cannot take him at second-hand. ' Wag- nerism,' nor gods nor men can tolerate. Yet there are signs of imitation already. Not only in the lower ranks there, it is a matter of no consequence at all, one way or the other but among men who have already made their mark and need no stepping-stones to public favour. Nor is it only at the Opera the place in which we should naturally have sought for its earliest manifestation but even in Instrumental Music : one whose name we all revere, and from whom we confidently expect great things, has been be- trayed into this imitation, in a marked degree, in the Finale of one of his most important orches- tral works. It is more than possible, that, in this case, the plagiarism of manner it does not, of course, extend to the notes was the result of an unconscious mental process, not unnaturally produced by too keen an interest in the con- troversies of the day. But, be the cause what it may, the fact remains ; and it warns us of serious danger. Danger that the free course of Art may be paralysed by a soulless mannerism, worthy only of the meanest copyist. Danger, on the other hand, of a reaction, which will be all the more violent and unreasonable in proportion to the amount of provocation needed to excite it. Should the cry of the revolutionary party be for Melody, it will not be for Melody of that heavenly form which true genius alone can pro- duce, but for the vulgar twang with which we have long been threatened, and of which we hare already endured far more than enough. Between these two perils, stagnation and reaction, which beset our path like ' a ditch on one side, and a quagmire on the other,' we shall, in all probability, come to some considerable amount of grief. Yet we must not lose heart on that account. Art is not now passing through her first dangerous crisis : and our history has been writ- ten in vain if we have not shown that her worst crises have always been succeeded by her bright- est triumphs. There may be such a triumph in store for her, even now. Before the new Period dawns, a Leader may arise, strong enough to remove all difficulties from her path ; a Teacher, who, profiting by the experience of the last half century, may be able to point out some road, as yet untried, which all may follow in safety. Let those who are young enough to look forward to the 20th century watch cheerfully for his ap- pearance : and, meanwhile, let them prepare for the difficult work of the Future, by earnest and unremitting study of the Past. [W. S. R.]

In the United States the Opera has always lived the life of an exotic. Finding congenial soil in some of the larger and wealthier cities, it has there flourished for a while, then suddenly drooped and withered. Large and elegant theatres, to which have been applied the digni- fied title of Academy of Music or Opera House, have been built, it having been, in some cases, the primary purpose of the owners to devote the establishment solely to representations of the lyric drama. But in no case has it been possible VOL. n. PT. n.

��OPERA.

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��to long adhere to this intention. With the single exception of New Orleans no city in the United States has proved itself capable of maintaining Opera through the months September to May, inclusive usually included in the theatrical season. At the close of the late Civil War New Orleans found a large part of its commerce diverted to other ports, and since the return of peace the French opera in that city, which before had borne a high reputation for enter- prise, has led a fitful life. The directors of operatic troupes in the United States have been obliged, after beginning as a rule their seasons in New York, to take their companies all over the Union from Augusta in the East to St. Louis in the West oftentimes extending their journeys as far South as New Orleans, and in some cases even to San Francisco and other cities on the Pacific slope. All dramatic enter- prises have been in the hands of private indi- viduals. The operatic managers who have won the most reputation have been Seguin, who conducted a party in New York as early as 1838; Max Maretzek, whose checkered career in America began in November 1848 ; the brothers Max and Maurice Strakosch ; Carl Rosa ; H. L. Bateman; Bernhard Ullmann; J. H. Hackett, under whose management Grisi and Mario made their successful American tour in 1854-55 Jacob Grau and his son Maurice ; C. D. Hess. Mme. Anna Bishop, Ole Bull, and Sigismund Thalberg have also been concerned in operatic specula- tions in the New World. Lorenzo da Ponte, in early life the friend and coadjutor of Mozart, was, in 1832, an active worker in the cause of Italian opera at New York. Ferdinand Palmo, an Italian, keeper of a famous cafe in New York, opened Feb. 3, 1844, with Bel- lini's 'Puritani,' Palme's Opera House, the first exclusively lyric theatre in the metropolis ; but it did not maintain its character more than a season or two. From researches made by Mr. Joseph N. Ireland, the author of ' Records of the New York Stage ' it appears that the theatre-goers of a century ago in New York were occasionally gratified with operas of the English ballad school, ' The Beggar's Opera ' having been sung in 1751, ' Love in a Village' in 1 768, ' Inkle and Yarico,' 'TheDuenna,' 'The Tempest' (Purcell's music), in 1791, and others, whose very names are unknown to the amateurs of to-day, in 1 800. ' The Archers, or The Mountaineers of Switzerland' on the story of William Tell brought out April 18, 1796, may lay claim to being the first American opera, though the music was by an Englishman, Benjamin Carr, a brother of Sir John Carr, who came to America in 1794. William Dunlop, of great repute in his day as an author, actor, and manager, furnished the text. ' Edwin and Ange- lina,' founded on Goldsmith's poem, words by Dr. E. H. Smith, of Connecticut, music by M. Pellesier, a French resident of New York, waa produced Dec. 19, 1798. M. Pellesier also set Dunlop' s 'Sterne's Maria,' brought out Jan. n, 1798. Bishop's 'Guy Mannering' (1816), and adaptations of Rossini's 'Barber' (1819) and of Mm

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