excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 219-221 (466 words)

excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 219-221 (466 words)

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Reminiscences of Michael Kelly

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Upon my return, my servant informed me that a lady and gentleman had called upon me, who said they came from England, and requested to see me at their hotel. I called the next morning, and saw the gentleman, who said his name was Botterelli, that he was the Italian poet of the King's Theatre in the Haymarket, and that his wife was an English woman, and a principal singer at Vauxhall, Ranelagh, the Pantheon, &c. Her object in visiting Vienna was to give a concert, to be heard by the Emperor ; and if she gave that satisfaction, (which she had no doubt she would), to accept of an engagement at the Royal Theatre ; and he added, that she had letters for the first nobility in Vienna...Every thing was done for her ; the orchestra and singers were engaged ; the concert began to a crowded house, but, I must premise, we had no rehearsal. At the end of the first act, the beauteous Syren, led into the orchestra by her caro sposo, placed herself just under the Emperor's box, the orchestra being on the stage. She requested me to accompany her song on the piano-forte. I of course consented. Her air and manner spoke " dignity and love." The audience sat in mute and breathless expectation. The doubt was, whether she would melt into their ears in a fine cantabile, or burst upon them with a brilliant bravura. I struck the chords of the symphony silence reigned when, to the dismay and astonishment of the brilliant audience, she bawled out, without feeling or remorse, voice or time, or indeed one note in tune, the hunting song of " Tally ho !" in all its pure originality. She continued shrieking out Tally ho ! tally ho ! in a manner and tone so loud and dissonant, that they were enough to blow off the roof of the house. The audience jumped up terrified; some shrieked with alarm, some hissed, others hooted, and many joined in the unknown yell, in order to propitiate her. The Emperor called me to him, and asked me in Italian (what tally ho ! meant?) I replied, I did not know ; and literally, at that time, I did not. His Majesty, the Emperor, finding that even I a native of Great Britain, either could not, or would not, explain the purport of the mysterious words, retired with great indignation from the theatre ; and the major part of the audience, convinced by His Majesty's sudden retreat that they contained some horrible meaning, followed the Royal example. The ladies hid their faces with their fans, and mothers were heard in the lobbies cautioning their daughters on the way out, never to repeat the dreadful expression of " tally ho," nor venture to ask any of their friends for a translation of it.

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excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 219-221 (466 words)


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