« PreviousContinue »
Amusements of the Month.
lish concert frequenters; a new tenor, Mr. maidens to their masters' house is a charmReeves, and a baritone, Mr. Whitworth. Of ing scene; and two songs therein, by Mr. these, Madame Dorus-Gras merits the pas. Her Reeves and Miss Birch, were the gems of the trial was the severest. Very few singers dare opera. The plot goes on rapidly. Of course venture to take part in a foreign opera-witness the noble servants vanish; the lovers are in Jenny Lind, Alboni, and Miss Birch; to all despair. Lyonel becomes a soldier, gains rank, three of whom the French language was an in- and in a passing glimpse of the court, fancies he surmountable impediment. But Dorus-Gras discovers in Lady Henriette a likeness to his has fearlessly dared the ordeal, and succeeded. mysterious love; a scene wherein he hides, and She sang her English libretto with but a slight listens to her wild, careless-hearted singing, is foreign accent, which practice will soon make one of the best. Miss Birch's voice was delistill less. Her acting was tender and touching, cious: she seemed to play with the melody in though rather wanting power; but her singing very idleness, returning to it again and again was exquisite. Her clear flexible voice seemed with a bird-like warble, perfectly enchanting. To perfectly to revel in its own beauty. Mr. Reeves, return, Lyonel woos her; she spurns him, and as Edgar, achieved a veritable triumph. This he goes mad. Then Henriette finds out how well artiste is a specimen of what perseverance can she loves the lowly yeoman. The Queen too, do. He came out in London as a singer in whose life he has saved, is ready to heap favours 1842, and signally failed. He went to Italy, has upon him. At last he is taken to his old home. studied ever since in that nursery of song, and Henriette re-appears in her maid-servant's dishas now appeared, a finished vocalist, able to guise, and he is restored to reason. Such is a rival the best English tenors. His style is faint outline of the plot. Where all is so good it essentially Italian, as might be expected; even is difficult to particularize. Numberless melodies his voice has caught that liquid softness of of a pleasing character gem the opera, and the tone which seems peculiar to the "sweet arrangement of the choruses is throughout ex.south." His acting is full of taste and feeling; cellent. Many of the airs will doubtless take and in the glorious death-scene, that master- the popular ear: one in particular, which Lyonel piece of Donizetti's operatic power, he was in- sings when the two damsels visit his yeoman's imitable. Four recalls during the opera, and a tor-home, was marvellously beautiful; and a chorus rent of applause at its conclusion, marked Mr. of villagers-a light allegro movement-took Reeves's perfect success. Mr. Whitworth was amazingly. Of all the opera, the portion where not less well received: his part of Henry was no the music rises to most original and poetic easy task, for he had to tread on the footsteps of feeling, is in the masque of "Orpheus and Tamburini and Ronconi-both great actors, as Eurydice," performed before Queen Elizabeth. well as singers; but he took courage, and did Here Orpheus (Miss Miran) has a charming exceedingly well. His voice is naturally fine in song; and there is a chorus of the infernal quality, and carefully cultivated; and his acting powers, to which Cerberus barks a refrain, which is good, though rather too schooled and formal. is a curious specimen of the bizarre in music. When practice gives him ease and freedom on There is also, in the early part of the opera, a the stage, he will be a real acquisition. capital laughing chorus. Altogether, the “Maid of Honour" will much raise Balfe's fame, as a fine, intellectual composer. We must now speak of the artistes engaged in its performance. It was Miss Birch's début on the stage; she is undoubtedly a most exquisite singer, but she has yet much to learn as an actress; she looks unaccustomed to the stage, and her acting, though careful and lady-like, wants that earnest enthusiasm which marks genius. One longs for a little abandon, a natural force to make one forget Miss Birch, and feel only the character impersonated. Her best points were the birdlike ditty already alluded to, and one in which she strives to recall her lover's senses. Her vocalization was perfect, simple, thrilling, and free from those undue fioriture which are the bane of the Italian school. Yet some of her ornaments were very charming and brilliant, particularly one passage, where she descended from a high and long-sustained note, by semitones of charming purity, to a low pianissimo shake. Miss Miran is a mezzo-soprano singer of considerable merit, and her acting is easy and agreeable. Mr. Whitworth, as Walter, seconded her well. But the most finished actor, the most exquisite singer was Mr. Reeves. He is worthy to stand but one step lower than Mario; nay,
The next event at Drury-lane was the bringing out of Balfe's new opera, the " Maid of Honour." This is, take it all in all, one of the finest works that has emanated from the composer's pen. The libretto is dramatic, with a due alternation between the tragic and the comic. This is quite necessary to what may be termed the second class of operas-the musical equivalent to "domestic dramas ;" and perhaps this style is more generally popular. There are many who vastly prefer "Il Barbière" to "Anna Bolena," or "Norma." The "Maid of Honour" opens at the court of Queen Elizabeth, with a chorus of female voices, led by the Lady Alison (Miss Miran). Then we have a scene between the Queen's chamberlain, Sir Tristram (Mr. Weiss), and the maid of honour, the Lady Henriette (Miss Birch); but the gentleman appears to sue in vain. The next is a charming scene-a statute-fair; to which the two ladies of the court come, in disguise, attended by their unwilling servitor, Sir Tristram. For a frolic, they have appeared as servant maids, and, unable to evade the consequence, are hired by two yeomen Walter (Mr. Whitworth), and Lyonel (Mr. Reeves), who are, of course, the lovers of the opera. The entrance of the disguised hand
his acting at times rivals that of the great tenor, who is often content merely to sing mechanically. It is impossible to describe how completely Mr. Reeves carried away the audience with him from first to last. In the scene where in his madness Lyonel is brought to his old home, his acting as well as singing was surpassingly beautiful. Mr. Reeves is evidently full of genius: it breathes in every tone of his voice, every look, every gesture; he will be our English Mario, or one still greater. All good fortune to him!
The revival of "As you like it" at the beginning of the month has proved eminently successful. As an artistic embodiment of Shakspere's dream of the Forest of Arden, it may rank with Phelps's edition of the "Tempest." The scenery throughout is most beautiful: three views in the forest we may particularize as being one's very ideal of this Arcadia of the bard. Shakspere's plays are no slight trial to modern stage-machinists, as he changes the scenes so very often, and with such wayward transitionas in this drama-from the court to the forest, and back again to the court. This was doubtless a matter of slight consequence to those old Thespians who probably never troubled themselves about uniformity of scenery, or there being no scenery at all. Miss Cooper, not Miss Addison, was the Rosalind; so our last month's prognostications failed: but Miss Cooper left no cause for regret; she seized the points of this difficult part with a skill and penetration that showed her to possess talents much beyond her usual line of 'walking ladies" in after-pieces. She delivered all Rosalind's caustic, acute, yet lady-like satire, with true discrimination. We never saw more completely the difference between Shakspere's woman of intellect, who plays with her wit as with polished arrows, and the "lively young lady" of some modern dramatists, whose tongue is more like an unwieldy battle-axe, wherewith to knock people on the head. Miss Cooper made marvellous pretty youth," and her acting as Ganymede, while she kept up the deception of the part, was neither ultra-boisterous nor unfeminine. Mr. Phelps, as Jacques, made a whole length portrait of Shakspere's charming miniature, filling out all the lights and shades admirably; he personated to the life the moody, satirical philosopher. Scharf's Touchstone was also thoroughly Shaksperian-a capital bit of comedy. Mr. Johnson did not either look or act half enough of the villain in Oliver. The numerous small parts were well filled, especially the very little one of William; nor must we omit the pleasing singing of Mr. Binge, as Amiens; indeed the whole scene wherein is the song, Blow, blow, thou winter's wind," was first-rate; and the chorus, "What shall he have that killed the deer?" was also "excellently well done." Miss St. George, whose name we see among the Drury-lane chorus, improves much in her voice and style of singing; she sustained the upper treble in this glee capitally. It only
remains for us to speak of Marston in Orlando; here his physique is strongly against him, no one can imagine such an Orlando! But his acting was better than usual; not too solemn, but_light_and pleasing. And this leads us to speak of him in a part which he delineated admirably-Milman's Fazio, which has been acted once or twice during the month; he seemed to throw himself into the character, and painted to the life the vacillating husband; his tragic scenes were free from rant, and his quiet ones less formal than we have ever before seen; and his acting in the prison, where Fazio for the last time kisses Bianca's cheek, and leaves her standing in stony despair, was most touching. It gives us sincere pleasure to be able to speak thus well of Mr. Marston. Criticising Laura Addison is always a labour of love; her Bianca it is impossible to review dispassionately; it remains on the mind like a dream of agony-fear, sorrow, with a thread of womanly love running through all. Truly this young creature will be, must be a great actress one day. Other revivals have filled up the time until the Christmas holidays, but we have not space to particularize. At Sadler's Wells few things are decidedly ill done, and many things-thanks to Mr. Phelps's good taste-are done excellently.
Mrs. Warner's cheval de bataille this month has been the "Scornful Lady" of Beaumont and Fletcher. Whatever may be said of the old dramatists, this play is certainly innocent of the grand requisite of the stage-a plot. It may all be summed up in this trite sentence: the lady abuses her lover, her lover abuses her; they mutually abuse one another, make it up and are married. It is all talkee-talkee from beginning to end-a battle of words. But this is only in reference to the play as a play, without impugning Mrs. Warner's style of bringing it on the stage; this she did in a manner tasteful and liberal in the extreme. The comedy, as to scenery, dresses, and appointments, was a perfect realization of domestic manners in the time of James I., even to the minutia of household adornments: it was truly all antiquarian study, and reflected the utmost praise on the management. Mrs. Warner's part of the Lady showed her versatile powers, inasmuch as it is highly comic--a second edition of Katherine, the shrew
but she sustained it with nice feeling, and fully entered into the dramatist's conception. The grand features of the "Scornful Lady" are its point and raciness of dialogue, and its natural truthfulness: these Mrs. Warner exhibited in their best light. Mr. Graham impersonated the elder Loveless with spirit and judgment, but he has not quite learned that quiet style of acting which is worth all the ranting in the world. Mr. G. Vining is gradually acquiring this subdued manner, and therefore becomes every week more pleasant to see; he will make a good actor in time. Among Mrs. Warner's revivals of a less important character has been the time-honoured
musical piece of the "Poor Soldier," Miss Huddart appearing as the Soldier: it sounded strange to hear from her the old ditties, the "Rose-tree in full bearing" and "My Friend and Pitcher," memorials of the long past days when Incledon and Braham charmed the public. Miss Huddart shewed another excellent qualification besides her pleasing looks and quiet, lady-like acting, viz., a fine deep contralto voice, which she manages well, and will still better, with time and practice. By the time this notice appears, the pantomimes will have begun their day. Mrs. Warner has secured the best clown on the stage, so that hers promises well for the young playgoers, who delight in such things.
We shall be in type when the Christmas novelties are produced; but, with this reservation, there is little to chronicle in the past month. “Family Pride” ran its day, no very lengthened one; but, considering the eternal craving for novelty, which in the public seems to increase yearly, a piece which runs a dozen nights can scarcely be considered a failure. However, Mr. Webster has thought it best to go back to the old standard drama, and accordingly we have
had the "Rivals," one of the everlastings of the stage. Mrs. Malaprop and Sir Anthony Absolute are the especial property of Mrs. Glover and Farren. Mrs. Nisbett, as Lydia Languish, was, as she always is, charming. The Roused Lion still carries all before it, as certainly he deserves to do, for Webster-the most versatile actor on the stage-has made the part his own. One of the latest revivals has been "Much ado about nothing," in which Mrs. Nisbett and Mr. Webster have shone forth as Beatrice and Benedick. We know no greater theatrical treat than to see this pair in characters to which they fitthough for that matter their great talent, and which in fact raises them above their fellow actors, is their power of identification with the ideal personages represented. Too many of the actors of the present day owe their popularity to some personal peculiarity at which the audience laugh, and to illustrate which hack authors write: but Webster belongs to the class of Garrick and Kean, in whom we individually believe-though we are dreadful heretics about some other histrionic idols--and we often regret that he is a manager, instead of devoting himself entirely to the stage; for we believe him to be one of the greatest of living actors.
FASHIONS FOR JANUARY.
Paris once more begins to look like itself; for the near approach of New Year's Day has brought back the beau monde both of the aristocracy and commerce; and despite the general distress among the trading part of our population, the season promises to be a brilliant one. The forms and materials of out-door dress were last month in a great degree decided; the number of pardessus is, however, increased, by the introduction of some velvet ones, of a form between the mantelet and the mantle: they are made rather more than a half-length behind, long, and sloping almost to a point in front, and closed from the throat to the bottom by a row of buttons of a new form: they are wadded, lined with satin, and trimmed in general with fur; indeed, notwithstanding the number of other trimmings, both of passementerie, black lace, velvet, and ribbon, furs predominate; and though the weather is still mild for the time of year, several fur mantelets have appeared. I have selected the two most fashionable forms for our plates: they are made not only in ermine and sable, but in a variety of inferior furs. I need hardly observe that the latter, though to a certain degree fashionable, are not adopted by belles of the haut ton.
The materials for chapeaux and capotes remain the same: the forms, as my fair readers will see by the plates, have suffered a slight modification. Capotes are still adopted exclusively for complete déshabille: in that case they are
trimmed in a very plain style, but are also in favour both for public promenade and halfdress. Velours épinglé is in very great vogue both for capotes and chapeaux: a mixture of satin with it is very much seen in the former; black lace is frequently added. Some of the most novel capotes are composed of satin, and trimmed with narrow rouleaux of velours épinglé alternately with rows of narrow black blonde lace. The satin is gathered in small close bouillons, with a rouleau or lace on each row. As these capotes are made close, some have no trimming in the interior of the brim; others are decorated with a narrow blonde ruche at each side, lightly intermixed with narrow velours épinglé. The satin is usually pink groseille, or bishop's violet: the velours épinglé may either be of the same colour or black; but the lace is always black. Passementerie is sometimes employed to decorate capotes: it is a kind of net, entirely covering the crown: a new and pretty kind of ornament descends from it on each side of the brim. These capotes are either satin or velours épinglé, of a dark hue; the passementerie corresponds: the interior of the brim is trimmed with citron or cherry-coloured coques and brides of ribbon. Some capotes, of a more dressy kind, are composed of yellow satin: it is a new and very bright shade of the colour: two falls of blonde of the same hue partially cover the brim, and a small blonde point, thrown over the crown, is retained at each side by a tuft of bal
sams, of a deeper shade than the satin: they are encircled with dark green foliage: tufts of very small balsams, without foliage, decorate the interior of the brim. An attempt is making, and I think it will be successful, to bring in the capotes douillettes (wadded bonnets), that were greatly in vogue some seasons ago: as yet they are adopted only for early morning négligée, and have no other trimming than a black lace veil, or one of coloured tulle, thrown carelessly over the crown. I have seen some, both in pink and blue satin, intended for the afternoon promenade; they were quilted in the style of embroidery, and trimmed either with a bouquet of short shaded têtes des plumes, attached on one side by a butterfly knot of ribbon with floating ends, or else a rouleau of velours épinglé was placed at the bottom of the crown in front: it is attached on each side by a single half-blown rose; the ends descend in sharp points upon the brim.
colour of the patterns. The sleeves are very wide and long; they are looped to the elbow by a cord and tassels: there is also a rich cordelière at the waist, but no other garniture. Plain silks and plain poplins are also employed for robes de chambre; some are made with corsages en revers, the revers descending in robings down the front of the skirt: it is frequently bordered with several rows of narrow velvet ribbon; silk ones are quilted all round in very pretty patterns. Cashmere still retains its vogue as the most decidedly elegant material for robes de chambre, but now it is always plain, either grey or feutre, and trimmed with very rich ornaments in passementerie.
Such of my fair readers as amuse themselves with embroidery, may like to know what sort of slippers are worn with these elegant robes de chambre: some are of velvet embroidered in silk and gold thread; others are in tapestry au petit point on cloth, in satin quadrilled au crochet in five different colours; they are lined with fur, and fastened with fancy silk buttons.
Velvet chapeaux are much in favour for the public promenade; the majority are of dark colours, black, bleu de Roi, and chocolate brown: The English need no longer accuse us, when they are generally lined either with velvet or they are speaking of comfort, of having neither velours épinglé, of bright hues, and tastefully the word nor the thing; for, thanks to our intrimmed either with flowers or an intermixture tercourse with them, we have both; and I beof blonde and ribbon in the interior of the brim: lieve few English ladies study the comfortable the exterior is decorated with a bouquet com- in their toilettes so much as we do. I may posed of three short feathers: they are of dif- mention, as a proof of my assertion, the revival ferent lengths, and the longest droops low upon of douillettes (wadded pelisses), and the vogue the brim. I observed that one of these chapeaux which the pretty little coins de feu still continue had several rows of narrow velvet ribbon placed in to enjoy. The douillette was formerly never lozenges upon the lining; the effect is novel, but adopted but in complete déshabille, or as a firenot by any means pretty. Feathers are almost side wrap: it is true it was very unbecoming to invariably adopted for black velvet chapeaux; the shape, because it was so thickly wadded in the casouard plume is very much in request: the corsage and sleeves; they are now wadded it is adopted also for velvet chapeaux of the in a much lighter style, and being made close casouard colour. Aigrettes are also fashion- fitting, are really advantageous to the figure. able, and so are small bouquets of the tops of They are composed of plain gros de Naples, or ostrich feathers: they are placed near the ear. levantines, and usually quilted round the border Some of the prettiest of the velours épinglé cha-in very pretty patterns. I have seen also several peaux are of pale rose colour, trimmed with trimmed with stamped velvet, or a narrow band broad blonde of the same hue; it forms a large of fur, which is so disposed on the tight corsage knot on each side; the ends fall over the brides: as to form a sort of polonaise. These robes are the interior of the brim is very full trimmed expected to be introduced for social parties. I with ribbons, intermingled with tulle; or if the have already seen some of pink and maizehair is worn in bands, the interior is decorated coloured satin; they are encircled with ermine, with large roses without foliage. and have a petit mantelet to correspond.
The coin de feu has recently received several new names, the Albanaise, the Cameo, the Chez soi, and I believe some other aliases; all mean the same--petit surtout, made quite high, and closed at the top, instead of the lappels of last season; the skirt is something longer, and the sleeves very wide. These petit pardessus are composed of velvet, velours épinglé, different kinds of silk, and cashmere. Some are trimmed with application of guipure, others with an imitation of it in Cashmere wool or silk. The effect
Promenade robes are of the same materials as last month, but black velvet and cloth are in a majority; deep blue, and vin de Bordeaux, are the colours preferred for the latter: they are embroidered in soutache, intermingled with embroidery in relief: they are frequently worn with mantelets of the same, embroidered to correspond. This is the most fashionable style of trimming, but several are bordered with a broad galon velonté, or four rows of narrow galons divided by buttons. Velvet robes are decorated with passementerie: they may be worn with man-is telets similarly trimmed, or, what is a better style, a fur mantelet, and the border of the robe trimmed with a band of fur to correspond.
Very fine flannel, printed in Cashmere patterns, is coming much into vogue for robes de chambre; they are lined with taffeta of the predominant
novel and pretty. Though the weather is not yet very cold, they are now generally wadded; and several are trimmed with swansdown, accompanied by olives and brandebourgs.
The materials for morning robes are those that I have already cited, but I think black velvet and cloth are more in request, particularly
drap cachemire; the redingote form retains its vogue both for morning and half-dress; it is not so much seen in the former, as the douillette frequently succeeds the robe de chambre till the hour of dinner. Coloured velvets, satins, velours épinglé, cashmere, and several of the new silks, are all in favour for half-dress robes. Several of those of cashmere are decorated with applications guipuriennes, or the imitations of it which I have spoken of above. These dresses are very much admired. Another style of trimming for cashmere robes, that is very much in request, is composed of buttons and brandebourgs, both velonté. Never, indeed, were the garnitures of passementerie so numerous or so beautiful; velvet, plain, stamped, and of the fancy kind, is also very much in request; so is ribbon disposed in various ways, and black lace. In some instances the trimming of the redingote is no longer confined to the front of the skirt, but is also brought round the bottom of the border. I have given in the first plate, No. 3, a model of this style for a robe-redingote. Flounces are the prevalent garniture for dresses made in the robe form; they are either of black lace, fringe, or the material of the dress; when of the latter, they are lightly festooned round the edge, and either made with a braiding of the same, or one of ribbon à la vielle.
Caps are very much in favour in home demitoilette, and particularly for social dinner parties, for which the robes are generally of the half-dress kind. Some of white blonde, of a round open form, are trimmed on each side with a bouquet of velvet flowers and foliage in full colours; others are composed of point d'Angleterre, trimmed with orange-satin ribbons, intermingled with black velvet. Those of pink blonde, decorated with cherry-coloured velvet, are a good deal seen. The last novelty is the petit bonnet à la Clarisse, made both in Brussels lace and point d'Angleterre; there are two or three falls, gathered full, put carelessly on the head; they droop over the hair, and mingle with the flowers with which it is decorated.
Half-dress chapeaux are also in favour for these parties, and for the theatres. Some of the most elegant are of emerald-green velours épinglé; the interior is lined with white satin, drawn full in the capote style, each drawing formed by very narrow velvet tufts composed of the same velvet, and blonde, adorn each side; the exterior is trimmed with a willow marabout, shaded in all the lighter tints of green. Capotes of crêpe lisse are also much in vogue. Some of the prettiest are pink, intermingled with velours épinglé of the same hue; it is disposed in three biais on the brim; the bavolet is formed of a crepe biais, and one of the other material: a marabout willow plume of the lightest description decorates the exterior; the interior is trimmed on each side with three crêpe lisse roses, with velours épinglé hearts.
The most novel bijoux are those called artistique; they are an apparent mixture of gold and steel: the prettiest bijoux are composed of it.
Enamelled trinkets are also much in vogue. I may cite among the most novel, a row of pins of an oblong form, and rather large, intended to adorn the corsages of low dresses that are made with deep points; the head of the pin is enamelled with a very small bouquet in seed pearls or diamonds; an enamelled chain, so slight as to be almost imperceptible, attaches them one to another, and the last link supports an enamelled medallion, or an elegant smellingbottle.
Although it is yet early in the season to speak of rich evening dresses, some very splendid ones. have already appeared at the Italian Opera. In general, however, they were remarkable only for their richness, not for any alteration in their forms. They were composed of brocades and coloured velvets, superbly trimmed with lace. Whatever novelty evening robes may possess, will undoubtedly be in the trimmings and the manner of arranging them, for no change is expected in the forms. Lace will be more in request than any other kind of garniture; but I find that ornaments in bijoux will be adopted to trim the corsages and sleeves of evening robes. Sleeves will not be worn so short as last year; some are looped on one side in a novel and very tasteful style.
I shall cite, in addition to the various headdresses for grande parure which I have given in my preceding letters, the coiffure Cleopatre, premising, however, that it should be adopted only by tall ladies; it is composed of ruban pierreries, broché in gold, and bordered with dentelle d'or ; two ends of equal length descend on each side from the temple to the shoulders.
The materials for ball robes are now decided; they are satin, taffeta, crape, crêpe lisse, lace; and for grand balls, gauze lamée, with gold or silver. Robes of light materials are made with two or three skirts, satin with one only, and taffeta with one or two. The corsages are deeply pointed, and cut very low, the skirts and sleeves shorter than those of evening dress. There is considerable variety in ball trimmings: several of the new ones are of passementerie, of excessive lightness; the effilés ondés, and the effilé crêpé are the most novel. Ribbon is also employed in a great variety of ways; one of the prettiest is a trimming à la vielle, or else in puffs, composed of gauze ribbon, either pink, blue, or very light green, lightly shot with gold or silver. Lace is very much employed for satin and taffeta robes; it is disposed in deep flounces; they are looped in the drapery style with flowers, or with orna ments of passementerie. Flowers are still more in favour this year for ball-robes than I have ever seen them; or rather I should say they will be more, judging by the robes now in preparation. They are not only employed as garnitures alone, but they mingle with most other trimmings. Some taffeta robes, made with two skirts, have the lower one descending to the knee, and the bottom of each edged with a lace flounce, to which a narrow cordon of flowers or foliage forms a heading. Others, similarly made, have the skirts trimmed with effilé ondé,