« ZurückWeiter »
No. 45. Landscape. S. Rosa. This is a very beautiful landscape, skilfully painted, but certainly no Salvator Rosa.
We will here leave the Catalogue until our next number, and notice some small pictures which are not to be found in it. And first, the opening of the three first Seals, by Dunlap. This, as well as the “ Death on the Pale Horse,” is evidently suggested by Mr. West's great composition ; but in this picture the artist has placed the Saviour on the White Horse, and made him the principal figure, the light of the picture falling on his horse. The colouring of this piece is brilliant and harmonious, and the whole effect extremely pleasing. We leave Mr. Dunlap's two pictures from the Spy, and turn to the fine portrait by Leslie, which hangs on the chimney opposite. The fame of the young painter will make this an object of curiosity, and the curious will be pleased the connoisseur delighted.
A picture by Jansen, likewise without number, is a specimen of the labour and skill of the Flemish school. It represents a Flemish Ball, every part of the room, as well as the figures, so exquisitely finished as to defy the most microscopic scrutiny.
Apparently exaggerated encomiums on some landscapes by Mr. T. Cole, have led us to examine them carefully. One is a distant view of Fort Putnam, in which the sun, shining through broken clouds, illuminates the distant hill and the foreground, while the middle ground is shadowed. Parts of this picture are skilfully managed, and the whole shows taste and study of nature. But it is too much chequered, and evidently shows a mind and a hand less formed than does its companion—A Lake scene on the Kaatskill Mountain. Here Mr. Cole has exhibited talent and skill which entitle him to all the praise which he has received. The groupe of girdled trees in the foreground, the still transparent green water, the sloping hill thickly covered with forest, the distant mountain tipt with the beams of the sun, make, with a sky perfectly in unison, a mass of perfection in two thirds of the composition. The remaining third has great beauties, but is not so perfect. Two deer, apparently startled by some intruder's approach to this scene of solitude, might have been omitted; but nothing in the picture is truer to nature, than the distant shore of the lake, and the dead-wood here and there distributed in the water, and amidst the foliage of the truly American forest.
We close our remarks for this number, by adding the pleasing information given to us by an artist, that an association of artists and students, under the surveillance of the President of the Academy, and under the direction of Mr. Morse as their immediate President, regularly attend to drawing from the An
tique, three evenings in each week : thus making this institution more than ever a school for the fine arts, and an object for the encouragement and support of our citizens.
Wheaton's Address before the Atheneum.—The second edition of this able performance has just been issued from the press of J. W. Palmer & Co., and we cannot better express our opinion of its typographical execution, than by pronouncing it altogether worthy of the Address. The widely extended reputation of the author, as well as the testimony borne in the last number of our Review, to the eloquent manner in which Mr. Wheaton discharged the duties assigned to him by the associates of the Atheneum, render superfluous any effort of ours to give circulation to a literary work from his pen. We would merely observe, that the new edition contains some additional paragraphs and notes, and that the classical taste of the author has been directed to a revision of the whole discourse.
We trust that the friends of learning, and the supporters of the Atheneum, in particular, will not fail to possess themselves of a work, which, though prepared for a special occasion, may be regarded as a permanent contribution to American literature.
Atlantic Souvenir for 1826. Messrs. H. C. Carey & I. Lea have just published a work with this title. It is made up ticles in prose and poetry, by American authors, written expressly for the work, accompanied with designs by different artists in Europe and America.
THE ITALIAN OPERA IN NEW-YORK.
The twenty-ninth of November, 1825, will constitute a very interesting era in the history of Music. On the evening of that day was presented at the Park Theatre, New-York, for
the first time in the New World, a legitimate Italian Opera, composed by the first of living masters, and sustained by a company (we speak advisedly) not to be surpassed by any corps at this moment collectively engaged at any other theatre in existence. We do not say, that Europe cannot furnish a more finished Soprano voice than Signorina Garcia’s, or a more astonishing Tenore than her father's, or a more extraordinary bass than Signor Angrisani's; but we do say, and that without fear of
contradiction, that if their superiors can any where be found, they must be sought for singly and separately at such places as the perpetual struggle of European competition may have made it their interest to visit. We alone enjoy the rare advantage of hearing the opera of Italy in all the wonderful perfection to which modern art has brought it, without suffering from the vexatious interruptions of unequal or inferior performance.
Signor Garcia has shewn great judgment in the selection of the first opera. The music of Il Barbiere di Siviglia has always been extremely popular; and the graceful simplicity of the recitativo, the spirited vivacity of the arie, together with the varied brilliancy of the pezzi concertati, make ample amends for the want of that display of learned melody which Rossini has reserved for his more serious works. The music of the present piece is of the sort which is almost immediately appreciated by the most unpractised ear, (provided it be naturally a good one,) and fixes itself firmly in the least retentive memory. The motives are all as simple as they are striking, and the accompaniments are, throughout, the most appropriate imaginable." The flow of the leading melody of Rossini's comic operas is so easy, so natural, and so unaffected, that until we have learned to know the curious resources and dexterous contri. vances of genius, we cannot help wondering how effects so admirable should come of means and materials apparently so simple. But this is neither the place nor time for a dissertation on the nature of the art; our business is, at present, merely to offer a few remarks on the musical execution of the opera during the three first evenings of its performance.
The Overture, which well deserves the attention it receives, begins with a beautiful andante movement in E major, which soon changes to a spirited allegro, in the minor of that key. In the course of this, a fine crescendo is introduced with Rossini's usual success. The piece then returns to the major, and after an abrupt and temporary modulation into C, terminates by one of the composer's ordinary closes. The opera then opens with a chorus of musicians led on by Fiorello, Count Almaviva's servant. This chorus is extremely well imagined; and the clamorous forte of the grateful band stands out in fine relief with the introductory pianissimo. The beautiful serenade which is here introduced, “ Ecco ridente il cielo," was given, on the second' night particularly, with very great effect, by Signor Garcia, who, as well as every other member of the company, was welcomed, at his first entrance, by tumults of enthusiastic applause. This gentleman's voice is a tenor of extraordinary excellence, capable of mastering the most difficult divisions with a facility that
sometimes betrays him into exuberant and rather inappropriate embellishments. His action and expression, although generally unexceptionable, are occasionally exaggerated, and now and then constrained; but this, we believe, arose, on the first Saturday, froin a natural ambition to put forth all his powers on the night of his début. His voice too, (whether it arose from the 80licitude of a first appearance, or some other cause, we do not know,) was decidedly more effective on the second night, and still more so on the third. His recitative is easy and full of taste, and his part in the pezzi concertati and finales, is always executed with surprising spirit and effect. The personation of the drunken soldier in the beginning of the first finale, although, perhaps, slightly overwrought in gesture, was, in every respect, admirably acted, to say nothing of the inimitable style in which it was sung. The same remark, without any qualification, will apply to Garcia's parts in the fine duetto in the beginning of the second Act, and in the exquisite terzetto in F, beginning “ Ah qual colpo inaspettato,” which, by the way, is, in our humble opinion, one of the best pieces in the opera. It would be unjust not to take notice of the powerful effect produced by the expressive manner in which Garcia gives the disclosure of his real name and station. The words
Mirami, oh mio tesoro,
Almaviva son io, non son Lindoro, were uttered in a tone of such impassioned feeling as to call down, on the first night, thunders of applause from every part of the house. Rossini must have well understood the powers of this extraordinary vocalist, and seems to have studiously accommodated the character of Almaviva to the high capacity of his representative.
But how or in what language shall we speak of Maria Garcia. How can our feeble pen pourtray the loveliness of this admirable creature's face and figure, or give to our distant readers any conception of the witching wonders of her almost unequalled voice. Compass, sweetness, taste, truth, tenderness, flexibility, rapidity, and force, do not make up even half the sum of her vocal powers, and her voice is only one of the rare qualities with which Nature has endowed her. She possesses in as high a degree as any comic actress we remember to have seen, that exquisite perception of propriety in action, that delicate appreciation and graceful execution of the duties of her part, which constitute requisites so indispensable in the practice of her difficult profession. The audience had assembled to witness an extraordinary singer; their surprise can scarcely be imagined when she showed herself the accomplished actress as
well as the enchanting vocalist. Such a combination of extraordinary musical and histrionic powers, (it is as safe to assert as it is curious to consider,) can only now be found where, six months ago, the most sanguine did not expect to listen to an Italian opera for half a century to come. Among the many evidences of our rapid progress in taste, opulence, and public spirit, we seriously think that this single fact, that we have been enabled to see and hear, without crossing the Atlantic, the future rival of Pasta and Fodor, is by far the most curious and conclusive. As instances of uncommonly fine acting, we may mention, among a thousand, the first recitative with Figaro, the two letter-scenes, particularly the first, the first finale, the goodnight-scene in the quintetto, the quartetto, and the discoveryscene. In a word, in every part of the opera, the acting of this charming creature was the very perfection of the art, full of tenderness, archness, simplicity, and irresistible grace, without a single feature of that unpleasant exaggeration which sometimes mars the beauty of the performance of the best of foreign artists.
Signorina Garcia's voice is one of the finest possible Sopranos, taking in, from its extent, no small portion of contralto; with natural upper notes remarkably clear, strong, flexible, and true, and with lower notes of unrivalled fullness, richness, mellowness, and force. She sings without the smallest effort, and with the utmost propriety of accompanying gesture. Her embellishments are sparingly introduced, and never where they are not wanted. On such occasions, however, as call for an exhibition of her skill, she pours forth a rich stream of overflowing and almost overpowering melody, the more astonishing as it is evidently the mere effect of a relaxation of the restraint which her good taste has imposed upon her own powers of execution. Her shake is good, her appoggiaturas beautiful, and her roulades, whenever introduced, are thrown off with wonderful rapidity and ease. As might be naturally expected from such extraordinary talent, the much admired Cavatina, Una voce poco fa, which she sings at her first entrance, was received with the most unbounded applause; and nothịng but a very commendable, though in our opinion, a very aukward and misplaced timidity on the part of the audience, prevented them from calling enthusiastically for a repetition of the air. These fears of making an ungenerous demand upon the powers of a female, are certainly very creditable to the feelings of our audiences, and if properly appreciated, cannot but be flattering to the pride of a performer; but we can assure our readers, on competent authority, that nothing, after all, is more gratifying Vol. II.