« PreviousContinue »
kept for them, covered with the best viands and choicest wines. I paid my respects to the Burgundy, which, to be sure, was delicious.
In the evening there was a concert, which Her Royal Highness, attended by several Ladies of the Court, honoured with her presence. She was perfectly affable to all the professors in the orchestra, and presided herself at the piano-forte; the whole band was worthy of its reputation. If there were any superiority amongst them, in my opinion, it was in the French horns, played by two brothers (whose names I have forgotten); such tones I never heard from the instrument as those which they produced, in a duet they played.
I sang Sarti's rondo of “ Teco resti, anima mia," and accompanied myself on the piano-forte. Her Royal Highness did me the honour to approve, and asked me who was my instructor; when I mentioned Aprile, she said that I certainly had had the advantage of the best of singing-masters.
At ten o'clock the concert finished, and I retired to supper
with the rest of the professors; and in the morning, two gentlemen of the band took me in a court carriage to see some of the beauties of the neighbourhood. At twelve o'clock we attended Her Royal Highness at the billiard table; where she appeared in a morning dress, with a large apron before her, with pockets, in which she kept a quantity of silver coin; she always played for some trifling stake, and was very anxious to be the winner. She asked me if I was fond of billiards, and if I played; I said I had always been partial to it. “ Come," said she, “ you shall try a game with me:" I had the honour of doing so, but Her Royal Highness beat me hollow. She 'possessed a very fine person, very tall, and
a rather large; her features were masculine, but still there was a likeness between her and her sisters, the Queens of France and Naples. But I was told by Count Palavacini, that she was much more like her mother, the Empress Maria Theresa, than either of them. The Arch-duke of Parma, her husband, and herself, were upon good terms, but seldom together; either of them had pursuits diametrically opposite to the other's taste: she, a clever acute woman, was fond of pleasure ;-on the contrary, he was esteemed very weak, a great bigot, and half a madman ; his chief amusement and delight was, at different periods of the year, accompanied by some of the favourite noblemen of his court, to go every step of the way on foot, to the different cities and towns of his dukedom; to visit the different churches, and hang up tapestry; and this too, let the distance be what it would from his capital. He was said never to be happy but in a church, mounted on a ladder, with a hammer in his hand. This mania was spoken of in all parts of Italy, insomuch, that he was nick-named the Royal Upholsterer ; but, with the exception of this strange propensity, he was thought harmless and good-natured.
I stopped a week at Colorno, where there was music every night, and had great pleasure in hearing the Arch-duchess's performance. On my taking leave of Her Royal Highness, she gave me a rouleau of fifty zecchinos, and a beautiful little enamelled watch, set round with small diamonds, and a gold chain; on my kissing her hand for her liberality and condescending kindness, she was pleased to compliment me, and wished me every success. I took my dutiful leave of her, and bade adieu to the gentlemen of the orchestra, whose kindness and attention were so marked during my delightful stay at Colorno.
I returned to Parma, and the Grand Theatre not being open for representations, I got permission the next morning to see it. I was much pleased at having an opportunity of viewing so fine an edifice, it being much larger than the theatre of St. Carlo at Naples; or, indeed, than any other in Europe. There was a small theatre open at the time, where plays were representing. I went one evening to see Goldoni's Comedy of " Il Padre di Famiglia.” The celebrated Petronio's acting of the Father, was a fine performance. The house was
crowded, and some very beautiful women graced the boxes. The next day, at the cathedral (one of the finest in Europe), I heard a mass of Jomelli's chaunted; the singers and band were numerous and excellent. I remained two days longer there, seeing what was worth viewing, and then, without delay on the road, posted to Bologna, and took up my abode at my old friend Passerini's, who was as kind as ever to me.
While at Bologna, Signor Tambourini, the great theatrical broker, offered me two engagements for the autumn and carnival; one for Barcelona in Spain, and the other for Warsaw; both of which I was obliged to decline on account of my engagement at Venice, to which place I shortly proceeded; and, in a few days, the Count Vidiman, and La Signora de Petris, returned thither from Udina. It was then the month of October, all the theatres open, and the Piazza St. Marc in all its revelry, crowded with masks, &c. &c. I paid my respects to the Count and the Lady; the Count desired I should quit my Hotel, and, for the term of my stay at Venice, reside at the house of La Signora de Petris, where he said it would be more comfortable and economical for me. I had an excellent apart
I ment there ; she kept a table which would have gratified Apicius himself. Count Vidiman had an elegant Casino in the Piazza St. Marc, where, every
night, he saw a number of friends ; after they came from the theatres, there was always a little music, at which the Lady presided; and afterwards a supper. La Signora de Petris had boxes at all the theatres, whither I used to accompany her whenever she went to them.
At the Theatre of St. Marc, I used to sit at the piano-forte as an amateur, and accompany the comic operas;-it was amusement, as well as improvement,
At the Theatre of St. Samuel there was a powerful comic opera ;--at the head of it was my old friend Madame Storace; her success was great indeed. Signor Vicenzo Martini, the celebrated Spanish composer, composed the opera ; his was a
a soul of melody, and melody is the rarest gift a composer can possess, and one which few attain to. I may with safety aver, from my own knowledge, that I have met with ninety-nine good theorists to one melodist; nature makes the one, study the other. Two of the greatest theorists I ever met with were, Friar Padre Martini of Bologna, and Sala, the master of the Conservatorio della Pietà, Naples; yet neither of these ever produced a remarkable melody that I recollect; I mean, not such a one as our justly celebrated composer, Dr. Arne, used to say,
“ would grind about the streets upon the organ."
I cannot omit here quoting what the immortal