excerpt from 'A View of Society and Manners in Italy. Volume 1' pp. 189-191 (487 words)

excerpt from 'A View of Society and Manners in Italy. Volume 1' pp. 189-191 (487 words)

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A View of Society and Manners in Italy. Volume 1

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At the comic opera I have sometimes seen action alone excite the highest applause, independent of either the poetry or the music. I saw a Duo performed by an old man and a young woman, supposed to be his daughter, in such an humorous manner, as drew an universal encora from the spectators. The merit of the musical part of the composition, I was told, was but very moderate, and as for the sentiment, you shall judge.

The father informs his daughter, in a song, that he has found an excellent match for her ; who, besides being rich, and very prudent, and not too young, was over and above a particular friend of his own, and, in person and disposition, much such a man as himself; he concludes, by telling her, that the ceremony will be performed next day. She thanks him, in the gayest air possible, for his obliging intentions, adding, that she should have been glad to have shewn her implicit obedience to his commands, provided there had been any chance of the man's being to her taste; but as from the account he had given, there could be none, she declares she will not marry him next day, and adds, with a very long quaver, that if she were to live to eternity she should continue of the fame opinion. The father, in a violent rage, tells her, that instead of to-morrow, the marriage should take place that very day; to which she replies, Non: he rejoins, Si; she, Non, non; he, Si, si; the daughter, Non, non, non; the father, Si, si, si; and so the singing continues for five or six minutes. You perceive there is nothing marvelously witty in this; and for a daughter to be of a different opinion from her father in the choice of a husband, is not a very new dramatic incident. Well, I told you the Duo was encored—they immediately performed it a second time, and with more humour than the first.. The whole house vociferated for it again; and it was sung a third time in a manner equally pleasant, and yet perfectly different from any of the former two.


I thought the house would have been brought down about our ears, so extravagant were the testimonies of approbation.

The two actors were obliged to appear again, and sing this Duo a fourth time; which they executed in a style so new, so natural, and so exquisitely droll, that the audience now thought there had been something deficient in all their former [opera] performances, and that they had hit on the true comic only this last time.

 Some people began to call for it again; but the old man, now quite exhausted, begged for mercy; on which the point was given up. I never before had any idea that such strong comic powers could have been displayed in the singing of a song.

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excerpt from 'A View of Society and Manners in Italy. Volume 1' pp. 189-191 (487 words)


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