excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 284-287 (584 words)

excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 284-287 (584 words)

part of

Reminiscences of Michael Kelly

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urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

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284-287

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My object, while in Paris, was to see all the theatres, and I therefore visited one or other of them every evening. I went, first, to the grand opera, and was delighted with the magnificence of the scenery, decorations, and dresses, and, above all, with their choruses ; in that department they decidedly bear away the palm from every other country the orchestra was most minutely attended to, and more numerous than even that of San Carlo at Naples : but the principal singers (God save them) made a shriek louder than I thought any human beings capable of producing. The opera was Gluck's Iphigenia, which we had performed at Vienna ; but for decorations and effect, Paris beat us out of the field. The chorus and procession, where Pylades and Orestes in chains, were dragged on by Gardel, Vestris, and a host of first-rate dancers, were beyond any thing I could have conceived. I went the next night to the same theatre, and saw the first representation of the grand serious opera of "Oedipe a Colon ;" the music by Sacchini, was delightful and enchanting. I there heard, for the first time, the celebrated bass singer, Cheron, who played the part of Oedipe, and sang in a delightful style ; it was quite different from the performance of the night before, indeed I could scarcely imagine myself in the same theatre. I saw, too, the opera of Phedra, and had great pleasure in seeing Madame St. Auberti perform the part of Phedra ; she was a great actress, and when she sang in a demi voice, was quite charming. This unfortunate lady and accomplished actress subsequently married, and with her husband, the Count d'Entraigues, was robbed and murdered by their servant when in England. In this opera I felt much gratified by hearing Monsieur Lais, possessing a fine baritone voice, with much taste and expression ; but his greatest praise, in my opinion, was, that he was very unlike a French singer. The next theatre I visited, was the Francais. Their great tragedians, at the time, were on leave of absence in the provinces ; I had not, therefore, an opportunity of seeing a tragedy, but I was amply compensated by their excellent comedians ; their comic acting is always natural. I saw Mole act the part of Duretete, in Farquhar's Inconstant, admirably. Fleury was inimitable in Le Pupile (the guardian) ; and Madame Contare in Susan, Beaumarchais' Marriage of Figaro, exquisite. Dugazzon was a fine low comedian ; indeed, I thought all the actors good ; but my favourite theatre of all was the Theatre Italien, in the Rue Favart, where French comic operas were performed ; the orchestra was very good, and the actors and singers equally so, a Mademoiselle Renard had a most delightful voice, and was a sweet singer. I saw there " Richard Coeur de Lion," and enjoyed its charming music. I thought it always Gretry's masterpiece. Clairval, the original Blondel, gave the air of " O Richard ! O mon Roi !" with great expression. His acting in the scene when he heard the voice of Richard from the prison, was electrifying : his joy, his surprise, at having found his king, the trembling of his voice, his scrambling up the tree to let Richard hear his voice, and the expression altogether, made an impression on me that never can be effaced ; and while I remained at Paris, I never missed going to see him. Monsieur Philippe played Richard remarkably well, and gave the bravura air, " L'univers que j'ai perdu," with great skill and animation.

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excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 284-287 (584 words)

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