The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, February 05, 1898, Page 2, Image 3

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    -f -;'
The Passing Show.
Some excitement prevailed in the
town when it was announced that
Melba and Campanari and Salignac
would appear in opera at the Carnegie
hall. The Carnegie is a sumptuous
enough place, but the stage is merely
a concert stage, and the drop curtain,
Bcenery, wings and stage settings had
tone improvised on the spur of the
moment, and they certainly were queer
enough. But all the theatres were
engaged and it was the Carnegie or
nothing. The drop curtain was a
wonderful affair. The ceiling of the
hall is high and vaulted so the cur
tain had to be swung from the dome
by ropes. When it ascended it wob
bled sideways quite as rapidly as it
wobbled upward, and it required the
BHtst tender And prolonged-wooing on
the part of .the stage manager to in
duce it to descend at all. The ropes
with which it was hung were con
cealed with laurel garlands, and as the
curtain was comiug down the laurel
leaves literally rained down upon the
singers, who were grouped smiling at
the front of the proscenium! The
stage settings were even more amus
ing. The opera was Rossini's "Bar
ber of Seville,'' but you would never
have known it had anything to do
with Spain by glancing at the stage.
Bartolo's home was furnished like a
modern flat, and he sat down in a re
volving desk chair to be shaved. Of
course all these things gave a hope
lessly amateurish, parlor-theatrical ef
fect to the whole performance and I.
was unable to take anything or any
body very seriously.
As in H Trovatore the Barber of
Seville begins with a cercnade, ''Ecco
Kidente in Cielo," the most beautiful
aria in the opera. AndM.-Salignac
sang it well, though he has an incli
nation toward inopportune falsetto.
He is such a very conventional tenor,
that Salighac There is not one-of
Xhe charming old grand opera Pianner
jsms which he lacks: the stilted walk,
the florid gestures, the elaborate atti
tudes, he has them all.
r'-tTi!?M - ' J "
Of course the feature of dominant
interest was the appearance of Mme.
Melba in opera buffa. Her reception
was really very funny. Her appear
ance on tins balcony in the first act
was cut because of the exceedingly
unstable nature of the balcony. The
balcony in the Chicago Auditorium
fell down with Melba several years
ago and almost precipitated her Into
Romeo's arms, so it behooves her to
beware of them. She did not appear,
until the fifth scene, where you re
member she enters alone to begin the
famous chamber solo, dear unto the
fceartsofallcoloratura sopranos. Well,
it seems that the audience had not
read the librettos carefully enough,for
when she stepped upon the stage not a
sound of applause or recognition was
heard. She was made up like a Calve
brunette which disguised her effect
ually, and I fancy most people thought
she was only a maid who had come in
to dast the furniture and incidentally
to,throw a little light upon her mis
tress' love affairs. Many a time and
off have I heard Melba, but 1 never
before saw her get a reception like
that. It must have been an experi
ence for her, roust have reminded her
of the days that are long forgot, when
they wsed to give her the "chilly band '
out in Sidney, Australia, before the
era -of Paris and Marcbesi -and tri-
umpli and ail the rest of it. Of course
assoo.i as she began, singing the fa
miliar "Un Voca Poeo IV the audi
ence realized that she must tie the
lady whose name figured in large type
at the top of the programme, and did
its Christian duty. The papers next
morning apologized by saying that
'the great diva 'entered so quietly
that she was not at first recognized.'
Pray did they expect the "great diva"
to enter uttering war-whoops or turn
ing handsprings?
But to return to "Un Voca." What
a song it is, that brilliant, showy,
glittering melody, with its wonderful
opportunities for vocal display, its en
tire lack of anj' emotional quality
deeper than the prima donna's de
light in her own powers. And it was
sung as just one voice in all this world
can sing it. One upon another they
came, each sweeter than the last,
those round, full, unclouded tones,
those notes of silver, shaken from her
throat as lightly as the water drops
from a sea gull's wing when it flies
sunward"in the golden dawn. O, the
flawless perfection of her method, the
magnificent certainty of her execu
tion! One could travel the earth over
without finding another organ of such
exquisite mechanism: it is a thing
apart and unique. Perhaps were one
even to search among the celestial
choirs one would not find such an
other. Nature so seldom exerts her
self to do her best.
To hear Melba as Rosina is not al
together sitisfactory. It does net
sufficiently test all the wonderful re
sources of that voice, does not call out
all those transcendent miracles of
tone that delight, dazzle, exalt, and
finally exhaust one. Yet in some re
spects the part is better adapted to
her than almost any other. She can
do in a light ssmi-comedy part what
she never does in a heavy one satisfy.
Her imitations of Calve are painfully
perceptible, yet she does, after a man
ner, act the part, and it is the only
one I ever saw her act. As Juliette,
as Desdcnicna, as Talentine, as Mar
guerite, it was always the same expe
rience; always that perfect, soulless
voice, always that futile colorless stage
emotion which does not even deceive
the singer herself, aiwa3's the bitter
disappointment of seeing her catcli at
the stars and miss them, and always
the recurring question as to "what
shall it profit a man if he gain the
whole world and lose, etc." It is the
old story; she has the voice for grand
opera and the temperament for opera
buffa, one of God's sublime misfits.
It is no wonder that when her old
teacher out in Melbourne went over to
Paris to hear her in one of her great
triumphs, he bowed his head and said,
Ali, my poor child, if I could but have
given you a soul;" How strange that
one who has so much should yet lack
that thing holier than all, that thing
which alone gives art a right to be.
Aiterthetumultuousapplause which
followed her solo in the lesson scene
it was Massenet's "La Sevellina," by
the way she sat down at the piano
that was on the stage quite informally
and sang that tender little "Romance'
of Tosti's, playing her own accompani
ment. She was ill that night, and
desperately tired, and as she played
the interlude she seemed for a mo
ment to forget that the audience was
before tier and that she was Mme.
Melba; she drew a long, tired sigh and
BEisrc rwk
If this is what you want come and see us. If you
want a cheap piano we have them cheaper than anybody.
But we dont't push them simply because we are after the
best class of trade. See!
Notice Our Superb Line.
No Cheap Pianos Here.
Western Representatives, 130 So 13th st.
closed her e3-es. It was the most beau
tiful, the most unconscious, the most
effective thing 1 ever saw her do on
the stage. Ah, if she would but some
times let the heart go out with that
all-conquering voice, if she would but
sometimes be a woman! It lasted but
a moment. The applause recalled her
to herself and to herlimitations: she
came down to the footlights, the gra
cious, smiling "diva," satisfied with
herself and the world, one of the sad
dest anomalies of our time.
What revolution in thought and art
lie between the music of Rossini and
Mascagni. Rossini with his brilliant,
florid manner, liis substitution of court
etiquette for passion ard gallantry
for intensity. Melba and Rossini,
t'jero is something fitting and deeply
suggestive in the combination!
The one man of that performance
who kept within the picture, whose
talent and temperament are well
mated, who was always and wholly an
artist, "as Signor Campanari as Fi
garo. I have heard him sing the cel
ebrated buffo air, 'Largo Al Facto
tum," in concert, but in concert he is
but the shadow of himself. He sang
it magnificently, the sparkling, -effervescent
comedy of it seemed alive.
What a joyous, self-important Figaro,
dector, barber, hair-dresser, watch
maker, general factotum of Seville.
Only a Rossini reared in the perni
cious atmosphere of grand opera could
have found anything attractive in the
moony, attudinizing tenor with such
a lusty fellow as that Figaro about.
He literally carried that opera through
on his sturdy shoulders.
. A few months ago a second volume
of verse by Yonc Noguchi made its
appearance. For sometime this young
WE DON'T push cheap
pianos, but sell you the
for less, money, than you can
buy the same grade any
where else.
Japanese has been living in a cabin on
the mountain-side out in Joaquin
Millers country, "where the flowers
are like trees, and the trees touch with
heaven.' andthisisthesecond volume
of poetry he has sent into the world
from his solitude. While Koguchi is
by no means a great poet in the large,
complicated modern sensc-of the word,
he has more true inspiration, more
melody from within than many a
greater man. He is one of the fervid
singers, who sang when poetry was a
passion merely, tint an art. There is a
long stretch of time between such,
verses as are written in the Occident
today and such simple, spontaneous,
unstudied songs as Yone Xoguchi's.
These verses are so naive, so fragile,
so entirely the children of an hour and
a mood, like the songs of the unknown
Hebrew poet who wrote the so-called
books of Soloman. They arc conspic
uously Oriental. The hurrying of the
clouds toward the western horizon, he
descripes as
"A glorious troop
Oftheunsuttcriagsoukof god.
Marching on with battk-saund
Against the unknown Castle of HeU."
.Could anything be more suggestive
of a simple, joyous indulgence of the
imagination, such as we find in Japan
ese carving or painting? We nave
over-elaborated everything in the
west; we have made whist so difficult
that few of us can play it, wine so
good that few of us can affora to drink
it, poetry so difficult that few of s
can read it. We must make a science
even of recreation and kill all the joy
of it. But here is a poet who has not
tried to be profound. He sings be
cause the sun shines, because the roses
b'oom, because there is love and
laughter in the world. He has the
full measure of oriental melancholy
and that warm languor or the spirit
found in lands of perpetual bigh noon
"Come," says tticyoung poet, "buy
my tears, for I have sucked them from ,
the breasts of Truth."
Pittsbubo, Pa.
u .-