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The moment that Handel flung so graceful, and had such a perfectly down his cumbrous sceptre it was beautiful face and figure, that he eagerly snatched up by the Earl of commenced his career by impersoMiddlesex. Very little is extant re- nating female characters, women not garding this nobleman, beyond the being permitted to go on the stage fact that he was manager of the in Rome. His voice was clear, soft, Opera from the autumn of 1741 to and free from defects of any kind. the spring of 1748, and that he had He never hazarded a difficulty which not, apparently, been endowed, either he was not certain of being able to by nature or education, with the execute. He was an excellent actor; qualities requisite to form an able and had he not come while the redirector.
membrance of the magnificent taHis lordship engaged the theatre lents of Farinelli, the exquisite voice in the Haymarket, and an almost and majestic grace of Senesino, and entirely new band of singers from the brilliant performance and stathe Continent. He enlisted also the tuesque beauty of Nicolini were services of Galuppi, then a very fresh in the public mind, he would young man. Galuppi was more fre- have made a profound impression. quently called Il Buranello, from The Visconti had a shrill flexible the little Venetian island where he voice, and was more admired in was born. When eighteen, he had rapid songs than in those requiring produced, at Venice, an opera which pathos or intensity of expression. had failed; but in nowise discou- Her excessive fat afforded ample raged, he studied hard, and went on opportunity for sarcasm and joking undauntedly until he turned the to the wits of the day. Lord Chestide of fortune in his favour.
terfield was with a group of friends After the fashion of the time, the on one occasion when they were singers chose their own songs, from speaking of this prima donna; they the popular compositions of the day, were guessing her age, and one genby Leo, Hasse, Areno, Pescetti, tleman, supposing her to be much Lampugnani, Domenico Scarlatti; younger than any other singer at and these were interwoven' by the Opera, said he thought she was Galuppi in a pasticcio called · Ales- not more than two-and-twenty. You sandro in Persia.' This piece had mean stone, sir, not years ? interbeen originally written for Lucca, rupted Lord Chesterfield. some three years previously, by Galuppi was enabled to give a the Abate Francesco Vaneschi, when more satisfactory idea of his capacity it was set by Paradies. The nephew as an original composer in an opera of the priestly poet being in London called 'Penelope,' written expressly at the time that the Earl of Middle- for our stage by Paolo Rolli, who sex's operatic reign began, was em- had written a great deal in conjuncployed by him first as poet, and tion with Handel, and who was an subsequently as assistant manager. admired librettist. This work was Twelve years later, ' upon his lord- dedicated to the noble impresario, ship’s abdication he assumed the Lord Middlesex. At this time, being sovereignty of the opera state,' to young, Galuppi's genius was not use Burney's pithy words.
matured, and he copied the hasty, The Opera opened October 31, light, and flimsy style which was 1741, with 'Alessandro in Persia,' the fashion in Italy, and' which the which was represented twelve nights. solidity and science of Handel bad The singers were Monticelli, Andre- taught the English to despise. This oni, Amorevoli, Signora Visconti, opera was performed only five times, Signora Panichi, and Signora Te- and in examining the pieces that deschi. They were all good, but were printed by Walsh,' says Dr. not sufficiently so to insure a great Burney, it seems not to have been success for the opera season. Angelo unjustly treated.' Maria Monticelli, the most remark- In the following March (1742), able of the men, appeared first on another new opera was produced, the stage at Rome, just ten years entitled Scipione in Carthagina.' before he came to London. He was The greater number of operas in the eighteenth century were founded on taste, peculiarly novel in their day, classical or mythological subjects; but lacking grandeur and richness Didone, Phaëton, Nero, Antigone, of harmony. Semiramide, Artaserse, Zenobia, Per- Veracini then led the band. He seus, were the personages round had taken the place of conductor whom the plots of the operatic pieces alternately with Festing, from the were linked; and these personages
time that Pietro Castrucci was disalways appeared in all the radiance missed. Castrucci had come to of hoops, powdered wigs, red heels, England with Lord Burlington in silk stockings, paste buckles, and 1715, and was one of the most patches. Signor Amiconi, an Ita- eccentric men that ever lived: he lian artist of considerable talent, was was, in truth, regarded as little less the scene-painter at the King's The- than mad, although he was a brilatre at this time. His scenes were liant performer on the violin. He greatly admired, and it was acknow- had succeeded Corbett as first violin ledged that nothing so splendid had at the Opera, about 1718, and led been seen in England before his ad- the orchestra for many years. When vent. Music, singing, and painting he grew old, Handel wished to diswere what Lord Middlesex depended place him for a younger man, John on for success, as he had no dancers. Clegg. Castrucci, who was in needy The opera of Scipione' was fol- circumstances, and not in the least lowed by several pieces, the compo- conscious of any failure in his hand, sition of Pergolese, Hesse, and other was unwilling to relinquish his post, musicians, none of which pleased, when Handel, in order to convince and which were generally performed
him of his inability to occupy it, only three or four times. One of composed a concerto in which the Porpora's operas, “Temistocle,' was second concertino was so arranged produced in the February of 1743, as to demand an equal degree of for the first time in England. It skill with the first; the second conwas full of shakes, for which the certino he gave to Clegg, who, when maestro had an extraordinary fancy; the piece was being performed, afand one of the airs ('Contrasto as- forded such proofs of his superiority, sai') suggests the idea of having that poor Castrucci was forced to been composed in a shivering fit. yield up his place, not to Clegg, The singers were the same as in the however, but to Festing, another two preceding seasons, with the ex- member of the orchestra. Castrucci ception of some inferior performers, detested the very name of Festing the most noticeable of whom was from that time; he would grow Giulia Frasi. This singer was then nearly insane on hearing it. A genyoung, and interesting in person, tleman, for fun, used to address with a sweet, clear voice, and a cold, him in conversation by the name smooth style, which was just good of his rival, “Mr. Festing-I beg enough to enable her to escape cen- your pardon, Mr. Castrucci, I mean;' sure.
when Castrucci would fall into a At the close of 1743, Galuppi re- perfect paroxysm of rage. Old, poor, turned to Italy. He was succeeded and half silly, Castrucci immediby Lampugnani, a new composer, ately sank into oblivion, and at the and a very young man. Lampu- age of eighty was obliged to supgnani was an agreeable composer, plicate the public for a benefit, on and wrote in a gay, lively style. the score of his past services. Soon Critics have .expressed various opi- after this he died. It is Castrucci nions of his merits, agreeing only in who is immortalized by Hogarth in condemning his works as flimsy. his celebrated picture of the 'EnHe imitated the style of Hasse in his raged Musician.' Hogarth, previous airs and choruses. The first piece to making his drawing, was cruel which he brought out in London enough to collect all the noisiest was 'Roxana,' which was followed in street musicians and hawkers he January by Alfonso.' Both these could find, and beset the house of operas had a graceful gaiety of ima- the poor Italian, bringing him to gination, and evidenced an elegant the window in a state of distraction at the clamour and discord. While at Florence about the close of the he was gesticulating in a perfect seventeenth century. He and his agony, the caricaturist made his contemporary, Tartini,were regarded sketch. Clegg's fate was a very ter- as the greatest masters of the violin rible one. Through intense applica- that had ever been known. They tion and incessant practice, his mind were equally skilful and scientific became so deranged that he was as executants and as composers ; confined in Bedlam. During his but whatever parallel might have stay there, he was at intervals per- been drawn between their genius, it mitted to play on the violin, and would have been impossible to find attracted crowds to hear him.
two men of more totally dissimilar Francesco Maria Veracini was born personal character. Tartini was so
humble and timid that he was never honour occupied by Padre Girolamo happy save in obscurity; whereas Laurentii of Bologna, who, not knowVeracini could not be content unless ing him, as Veracini had been absent he was in the full glow of public some years in Poland, asked him homage. A story is told of him, 'where he was going ? To the which gives such a happy illustra- place of first violin,' answered Veration of his character, that, although cini, haughtily. Laurentii then said the incident did not occur in Eng- that he had always been engaged to land, it may be mentioned. It was fill that post, but that if Veracini the custom at Lucca, during the wished to play a concerto, either at Festa della Croce (held every year vespers or during high mass, he on the 14th of September), for the should have a place assigned him. leading professionals of Italy, vocal Veracini, without condescending to and instrumental, to meet. Veracini reply, wrathfully turned his back, put down his name for a solo con- and went to the lowest seat in the certo; but when he entered the orchestra. In that part of the serchurch where the performance was vice in which Laurentii performed to take place, he found the post of his concerto, Veracini did not play a note, though he listened with pro- miniani. His works are little known, found attention; and being called having been originally sold by priupon, would not play a concerto, vate subscription. To Festing bebut asked the old father permission longs the principal merit of estato play a solo at the bottom of the blishing the fund for the support of choir, desiring Lanzelli, the violon- decayed musicians and their families. cellist of Turin, to accompany him: This society was founded in 1738, when he played it in such a manner and took its rise from an affecting as to excite the most extraordinary incident. Festing was seated one enthusiasm and cries of 'E viva!' day at the window of the Orange in the public church. Whenever coffee-house, situate at the corner of he was about to make a close, he the Haymarket, when he noticed a turned to Laurentii, with an ironi- very intelligent-looking boy, driving cal smile, and called out, “Cosi si an ass and selling brickdust. The suona per fare il primo violini !'— child was in rags, a miserable object : * This is the way to play the first Festing made inquiries, and discofiddle! Many absurd stories of a vered that he was the son of an similar nature are related concern- unfortunate musician. Filled with ing the arrogance of this eminent the deepest grief that the child of violinist, who was usually compli- a brother professional could be remented with the titleCapo pazzo' duced to such destitution, Festing (Crack-brain). He had travelled all determined to spare no effort to over Europe, and gained a perfectly rescue the unhappy little vagrant. original style. The peculiarities in He consulted his friend Dr. Morice his
performance were his bow-hand, Green; and these worthy men soon his learned arpeggios, and a tone so succeeded in establishing & fund loud and clear that it could be dis- towards the support of decayed tinguished through the most nume- musicians and their families. Hanrous band in a church or theatre. del took a great interest in the soHe had been for some years in the ciety: he gave a benefit for it in service of the King of Poland, and 1739, when 'Alexander's Feast' was was for a considerable time at dif- performed, and he not only gave ferent courts of Germany. He had the house gratis, but composed and visited England when Farinelli was played a new concerto. Heidegger here, when he had composed several made a present of twenty pounds to operas. Burney heard him lead the defray incidental expenses on this band at a concert in Hickford's occasion. Room, in a style he had never be- Handel, finding the theatre in the fore witnessed.
Haymarket unoccupied in NovemVeracini composed an opera, ber, 1744, engaged it for the per' Roselinda,' which Lord Middlesex formance of oratorios, which he produced after the eighth perform- began November 3, and continued, ance of ' Alfonso.' The music, wild, with heavy loss, till the 23rd of awkward, and unpleasant as it was, April, 1745. carried this work through twelve Soon after this, Veracini quitted nights. As & composer, he had a England. He was shipwrecked, and certain degree of whim and caprice; lost all his effects, including his two but his freaks were built on a good Steiners, esteemed the best in the foundation. He then composed an- world. In his usual light way, he other opera — 'L'Errore di Solo- called one of these instruments St. mone'-which was represented only Peter and the other St. Paul. twice; and Aristodemo,' a pas- The rebellion in 1745 caused the ticcio. This was succeeded by an- Opera-house to be shut up. A other opera ('Alceste') by Lampu- popular prejudice existed against gnani, which concluded the season. the performers, who, being foreign
Festing, who led the orchestra al- ers, were chiefly Roman Catholics. ternately
with Veracini during Lord An Opera was opened, April 7th, at Middlesex's management, was a Ger- the Little Theatre in the Haymarket, man violinist, and composed for his under the direction of Francesco instrument. He was a pupil.of Ge- Geminiani. Prince Lobkowitz, who was at this time in London, and who King. He mentioned Geminiani to was passionately fond of music, at- his Majesty, as an exquisite pertended all the rehearsals, with the former, and the author of a work, celebrated and mysterious Count which he placed before the King, Germain. Pasquali led; 'and I re- who looked over it, and was so member,' says Dr. Burney, 'at a pleased with the music that he exrehearsal, Geminiani taking the violin pressed a wish to hear some of the out of his hands, to give him the pieces performed by the composer. style and expression of the symphony The Baron immediately communito a song, which had been" mis- cated the King's pleasure to Gemitaken when first led off. And this niani. The eminent violinist, though was the first time I ever saw or glad to obey such a command, told heard Geminiani.' The opera was a the Baron that he should like to be pasticcio, called 'L'Incostanza De- accompanied on the harpsichord by susa.' Signora Frasi, and Signora Mr. Handel, as no one else could Galli - a bold, masculine-looking play to satisfy him. Baron Kilmanwoman, who performed the first male segge, anxious to give his protégé part—were the principal singers. every advantage, respectfully intiCount St. Germain composed several mated this wish to the King, who new songs for the piece, one of ordered that both masters should which, ‘Per pietà bell'idol mio, attend at St. James's. The Baron sung by Signora Frasi, was encored was very much pleased by this, for every night.
he had been watching for an opporGeminiani —a little man, about tunity to reinstate Handel in the sixty-five, with a pleasing face, sal- King's good graces ever since the low complexion, black eyebrows, and performance of the celebrated Water always dressed in blue velvet richly Music, when his Majesty had slightly embroidered with gold — was per- relented towards his former fahaps one of the most singular per- vourite. The two musicians atsonages ever heard of in musical tended at the palace, when Gemihistory. He was a native of Lucca, niani justified the praises which had and had come to England in 1714; been lavished on him by his kindin & short time he had become hearted friend, and Handel sucknown to a large circle of amateurs, ceeded so far in allaying the anger who were captivated by his exqui- of King George that he obtained a site performance, remarkable more pension of two hundred a year, in particularly for tenderness and addition to one for the same amount pathos. Many noblemen desired to which had been settled on him by have the honour of being his patron; Queen Anne. Geminiani was obliged but he seemed to attach himself to rely for his income on the bounmost closely to the Baron Kilman- tiful patronage of his friends among segge, who had been chamberlain to the nobility, and the presents and George the First when Elector of the profits which he gained by Hanover. In 1716 Geminiani pub- teaching, being, fortunately for himlished and dedicated to the Baron self, held in such esteem that he twelve solos for the violin. His always fixed his own terms. He patrons and pupils were so delighted was seldom heard in public during with this work, that they averred it his long residence in England. He was impossible to decide whether was never engaged to conduct at the Geminiani was more to be admired as Opera, because, from some curious a skilful performer or a fine com- lack of steadiness, and from being so poser. With
due attention to wild and careless a timist, he threw himself,' observes Hawkins, there a band into the utmost confusion is no saying to what degree he whenever he attempted to direct. might have availed himself of that The absorbing passion of his life favour which his merits had found in was painting. To indulge his enthis country.' Baron Kilmansegge thusiastic love for pictures, he negwas so impressed with respect for lected his proper studies and the his abilities, that he endeavoured to exercise of his talents, involving obtain for him the patronage of the himself in straits and difficulties