Page:Men of the Time, eleventh edition.djvu/119

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Fondo, at Naples. In 1827 his first dramatic attempt, an opera in two acts, called "Giacinta ed Ernesto," was produced at the Fondo; but, being essentially German in style and colour, it did not please the Neapolitan public; nor was he more successful with a grand opera afterwards performed at the San Carlo. In 1830 he returned to Stuttgart, where this work, "I Portoghesi in Goa," which had been coldly received at Naples, found a more congenial audience. After a visit to Paris, and a second residence of several years at Naples, Benedict came to London for the first time in 1835, chiefly at the instance of his friend, Madame Malibran. In 1836 he undertook the direction of the Opera Buffa at the Lyceum, under the management of the late Mr. Mitchell. Here his operetta, "Un Anno ed un Giorno," originally produced at Naples in 1836, was well received; and after this Benedict turned his attention to the English musical stage. His first English opera, "The Gipsy's Warning," was produced in 1838 with remarkable success. His subsequent operas, "The Brides of Venice," and "The Crusaders," had a long run at Drury Lane, of which theatre, when under Mr. Bunn's management, he was the musical director. He has written many pieces for the pianoforte, of which instrument he is a great master, besides orchestral and vocal compositions of excellence. The musical festivals at Norwich, the London Monday Popular, and Liverpool Philharmonic concerts were for a considerable time under his direction. In 1850 he accompanied Jenny Lind as conductor and pianist to the United States and Havannah, and shared in her unexampled success in a series of 122 concerts. After his return to England, he formed a choral society, "The Vocal Association," and conducted the Italian operas at Drury Lane and Her Majesty's Theatre during the seasons of 1859 and 1860, when he brought out an Italian version of Weber's "Oberon," with recitatives and additions chiefly from his master's works, which was much approved. At the Norwich Festival in Sept., 1860, he produced a cantata, "Undine," which obtained very great success. The first performance of this work in London, towards the end of the same year, derived an additional interest from the circumstance that on that occasion Clara Novello took her farewell of the English public in the part of "Undine." In 1862 his most popular opera, "The Lily of Killarney," was produced at Covent Garden, and subsequently at the principal theatres in Germany. A cantata, "Richard Cœur de Lion," composed for the Norwich Festival of 1863, and afterwards performed in London, met with general approbation. Benedict's operetta, "The Bride of Song," for the Royal English Opera, Covent Garden, in 1864, was followed by a cantata, entitled "St. Cecilia," written for the Norwich Festival of 1866, which was received most favourably, and has since been produced successfully in the metropolis and the principal towns of the United Kingdom. His last choral work,—the oratorio "St. Peter," written expressly for the Birmingham Musical Festival, 1870, achieved an extraordinary success, and is considered by far his best composition. He has since composed incidental music to "Romeo and Juliet" (1882), produced at the Lyceum Theatre; and "Graziella," a cantata, performed at the Birmingham Festival of 1882. His first symphony, composed in 1873, met with great favour at its performance by the Crystal Palace Band. He conducted the Liverpool Festival in September, 1874, and has been appointed, for the twelfth time, conductor of the Norwich Festival, in 1878. The honour of knighthood was conferred on him by the Queen, March 24, 1871. He is a corresponding member of the