« PreviousContinue »
ters. The letter explained the particulars of my story, and the Marquis invited me the next evening to a concert at his house. Of course I accepted the invitation. I found an elegant assemblage of the first people of Verona. In the course of the evening, I sang two songs, and accompanied myself on the piano-forte, and the company seemed pleased
The story of my escape from Brescia, and its half-romantic cause, had created no small share of interest for me; and when I waited on the Marquis the next morning, I found that he and the Marchioness had planned a public concert for me under their patronage. I was introduced by them to Signor Barbella, the first piano-fortist and composer in Verona, who was directed by the Marquis to engage the concert-room and performers for me; all which he did with economy and punctuality.
The Marquis told me he was an enthusiastic admirer of Shakspeare, particularly of Romeo and Juliet, and took me to see the tomb of Juliet. Indeed, the people of Verona are very proud of recounting the history of those ill-fated lovers, and taking foreigners to see their resting place. I felt great delight in visiting the spot. Juliet's tomb was in the church of St. Permo Magiani; its sides were a good deal mutilated, as strangers who visit it are in the habit of breaking off pieces to keep as relics.
Verona, though not very large, is a very handsome city; the streets are wide, and generally well built. Sacchi and his company of comedians were performing at the amphitheatre, said to have been erected by Vitruvius. The arena of Verona is a stupendous fabric; forty-five rows of marble steps surround it; they will hold twenty thousand people, commodiously seated: in the centre of this place, in the summer, there are plays which are acted by day-light; a temporary theatre is erected, which is taken down every winter; there are no boxes; the enclosed space forms an immense pit, with chairs, where the fashionable and better sort of the audience are seated, the second best places are on the steps, twelve or fourteen deep, railed off from the rest of the steps; the seats are all of naked marble, and the whole is in the open air. This immense building, and the Coliseum at Rome, are the two most stupendous fabrics I ever beheld.
There was no city in Italy of its size, at the time I visited it, which could boast of so many good musical amateurs, vocal and instrumental, as Verona. Signor Barbella promised to take me to a concert, performed by one family only; to my very great surprise he took me to gaol, and introduced me to the gaoler. We were shewn into an apartment elegantly furnished, and after we had taken our coffee and chasse, had really an excellent concert; the performers were, the gaoler, who played the double bass; his two eldest sons, first and second violin ; a third the violoncello; his youngest son, the viola; one of his daughters presided at the harpsichord, and his two youngest daughters executed some airs and duets extremely well. They had good voices, and sang like true artists: the whole of this gifted family were amateurs; the young men were in different trades, but had they been obliged to live by music, they could in my opinion have successfully adopted it as a profession in any part of Italy. They were all enthusiasts and excellent performers, and extremely courteous in their behaviour; and I returned to my hotel, after having supped with them, much gratified by the pleasant evening I had passed, though it was in prison.
The Sunday following this exhibition was appointed for my concert, and the room, owing to the popularity and interest of the Marquis and Marchioness, was crowded; Signor Barbella conducted the performance; Signor Salinbeni was first violin ; and, luckily, Signora Chiavaci, a very good singer, was passing through Verona on her way to the theatre at Bergamo at the time, and being an inti. mate friend of Signor Barbella, at his request, she agreed to stop a day and sing at my concert, which she did gratuitously, and was much and deservedly applauded.
The nett receipts of this concert were 71 zecchinos (about 301. British ); in addition to which, the Marquis made me a special present for his own ticket. I was now high in spirits, and not low in cash; and, as good fortune never comes alone, on the morning after my concert, I received a letter, forwarded from Brescia to me, from Signor Giani, the manager of Treviso, offering me an engagement for six weeks, at 50 zecchinos, which I accepted, and promised to be in Treviso in three days after the date of
my I waited upon my worthy friends, the Marquis and Marchioness of Bevi Acqua, to take my leave of them, and parted from them with grateful regret; they were all affability and condescension : indeed, I liked every thing about them, except their name, to which, Bevi Acqua, (in English, Drinkwater,) at no period of my life could I bring myself to be partial, although there are several very
estimable persons so called in England at this present moment, The Marquis gave me a letter to Signora Marcello, a Venetian lady of consideration, who resided at Treviso, whose husband was a noble Venetian, and a descendant of the celebrated composer of sacred music,' Benedetto Marcello. Before I set off, I went and took leave of the musical gaoler, and his harmonious family; and having made all due preparation for my departure, hired a valet, and
started for Vicenza, where I supped and slept. In the morning, I walked about the city, which I found extremely neat and pretty, and the country about it very beautiful. After breakfast, I set off for Treviso, and was delighted by the appearance of the elegant villas which surround it, belonging to noble Venetians, who, during the theatrical season, pass their vendemmias there, and have what they call their cuganas (i. e. revelries).
Treviso itself, during this period, is crowded with people of less exalted rank from Venice, which is within a few miles; and, as the canals at Venice are at certain periods very offensive, every one who can, quits it for Padua or Treviso.
I found engaged, as prima donna at Treviso, the celebrated Clementina Bagliona (to whom I had been introduced at Pisa by Signor Viganoni); and for the first buffo, her sister's husband, Signor Pozzi, who, when at Rome, met with the kind treatment from his patron and friend, the Roman Abbé, which I have already endeavoured to de'scribe.
The theatre was crowded every night, and the opera, as well as the ballets, gave great satisfaction. I waited upon her Excellency La Signora Marcello, and delivered my letter of introduction given me by the Marquis Bevi Acqua. She gave me an invitation to her morning concerts, where I met