excerpt from 'Reminiscences of the Opera' pp. 35-6 (257 words)

excerpt from 'Reminiscences of the Opera' pp. 35-6 (257 words)

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Reminiscences of the Opera

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At this period it was the custom to give a preliminary opera season before Easter, during which the great "stars," who were then ordinarily engaged in Paris, Seldom appeared; inferior, or, at all events, less well-known artists, being usually engaged. This was a sort of foretaste of the richer banquet to be given when the Lenten season was over, and was generally supposed to be less relished than the post-Easter entertainment. The season of 1842, in obedience to this custom, opened on Saturday, the 12th April, with the "Gemma di Vergy" of Donizetti, Madame Moltini appearing for the first time as the prima donna, and Guasco as leading tenor. The choice of the opera, given rather to meet the views of the singers than those of the manager, was by no means felicitous. "Gemma di Vergy," although abounding in melody and effects, both dramatic and musical, was not esteemed one of Donizetti's finer compositions, albeit a favourite opera in many parts of Italy. Donizetti, likewise, had found, up to this time, but slight favour with the English public, or, at all events, with the English press. He occupied, then, in this country, a position similar to that which afterwards fell to the lot of his successor, Verdi; and even among a great portion of the numerous critics, amateurs as well as "professionals," he was pronounced, by many arbiters of taste, "flimsy," "meretricious," "noisy," "unsound," "plagiarist," and so on. "Gemma" was unquestionably a failure; as, indeed, it would have proved under these prejudices with even stronger claims to approbation.

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excerpt from 'Reminiscences of the Opera' pp. 35-6 (257 words)


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