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AST Monday I enjoyed a performance of THE FOUNDER OF MINSTRELSY.
"Miss Esmeralda." What a nimbus of grace and loveliness when in the last act Letty Lind dances La Pirouette! There is a bewitching naturalness in the acting of this young woman that is notable most when she is in repose that placidity which never behaves like a porcupine when you approach it. The French critic uses the word "abandon" to define concretely. Miss Lind is vibrant with it to her extremities. Every movement is a bar of music; every smile a witchery; every note a
The duet between Misses Farron and Lind is especially charming. The melody itself savors of pot-pourri while the dance was meant for Ariel and Miranda.
Herr Meyer Lutz must be praised for the originality of his music, which is completely scintillant with catchy melody and song; his due: in the second act being indeed excellent above the numberless compositions of serious treatment.
Frederick Leslie has the happy faculty of growing into confidence; never at any time reminding you of his importance in the cast; and ever on the alert for morsels of artistic comedy. His imitation of a violin is superior to Mansfield's Cello. He is a thorough artist.
To Sylvia Grey we must not hesitate to give a share of honor. Had she tripped for Theocritus he would have crowned her with myrtle and olive. Queen Mab on a star-beam! Nellie Farron is an ideal jeune première.
FRED LESLIE will be banquetted at Del
monico's on Sunday evening by a number of prominent actors, the managing committee consisting of Henry E. Dixey, Francis Wilson, Stuart Robson, William H. Crane, De Wolf Hopper and Nat Goodwin.
ALL of the costumes, wearing apparel, diamonds and Jewelry of the late Mlle. Aimée are to be sold at auction next Wednesday afternoon at No. 43 Liberty Street.
HOMAS D. RICE is generally conceded to have been the founder of Ethiopian minstrelsy. Although, as bas been seen, it did not originate with him, he made it popular on both
sides of the Atlantic, and his
image deserves an honored niche in its cathedral. The history of "Jim Crow Rice," as he was affectionately called for many years, has been written by many scribes and in many different ways, the most complete and most truthful account, perhaps, being that of Mr. Edmund S. Conner, who described in the columns of the New York Times, June 5, 1881, what he saw and remembered of its conception. Mr. Conner was a member of the company at the Columbia Street Theatre, Cincinnati, in 1828-9, when he first met Rice, "doing little negro bits" between the acts at that house, notably one sketch he had studied from life in Louisville Back of the Louisville the preceding summer. theatre was a livery-stable kept by a man named Crow. The actors could look into the stableyard from the windows of their dressing-rooms, and were very fond of watching the movements of an old and decrepit slave who was employed by the proprietor to do all sorts of odd jobs. As was the custom among the negroes, he had assumed his master's name, and called himself Jim Crow. He was very much deformed-the right shoulder was drawn up high, and the left leg was stiff and crooked at the knee, which gave him a painful, but at the same time ludicrous, limp. He was in the habit of crooning a queer old tune, to which he had applied words of his own. At the end of each verse he gave a peculiar step, "rocking the heel" in the manner since so general among the long generation
ZELLIE DE LUSSAN and Bolossy Kiralfy of his delineators; and these were the words of
were among the passengers for Europe on
the Etruria last Saturday. Sadie Martinot and Mrs. Shaw, the whistler, are among those who sailed Wednesday. Herr Alvary sails on the Fulda to-day.
"Wheel about, turn about,
Do jis so,
An' ebery time I wheel about I jump Jim Crow."
Rice closely watched this unconscious performer, and recognized in him a character entirely new to the stage. He wrote a number of verses, quickened and slightly changed the air. made up exactly like the original, and appeared before a Louisville audience, which, as Mr. Conner says, went mad with delight, recalling him on the first night at least twenty times. And so Jim Crow jumped into fame, and something that looks almost like immortality. Sol" Smith says that the character was first seen in a piece by Solon Robinson, called The Rifle, and that he, Smith, "helped Rice a little in fixing the tune."
CURRENT COMIC OPERA.
64 THE OOLAH" AT THE BROADWAY.
Other cities besides Louisville claim Jim ON the programme of an orchestral concert Crow. Francis Courtney Wemyss, in his Autobiography, says he was a native of Pittsburgh, whose name was Jim Cuff; while Mr. Robert P. Nevin, in the Atlantic Monthly for November, 1867, declares that the original was a negro stage-driver of Cincinnati, and that Pittsburgh was the scene of Rice's first appearance in the part, a local negro there, whose professional career was confined to holding his mouth open for pennies thrown to him on the docks and the streets, furnishing the wardrobe for the initial performance.
in a Western city, which I conducted some time since, I caused to be placed the names of all the performers alphabetically arranged. This innovation, would, I thought, please all concerned, as no partiality could thus be shown. The result, however, was not altogether satisfactory, for the first clarionetist, on finding his name came after that of the second clarionetist, refused to be pacified, and summarily withdrew. Thus some time, which should have been spent otherwise, was devoted to finding a substitute. In the present emergency I trust a similar misunderstanding will not arise, but that the respective managers will see that merit has nothing to do with the order in which their attractions are named.
Rice was born in the Seventh Ward of New York in 1808. He was a supernumerary at the Park Theatre, where Sam" Cowell remembered him in Bombastes Furioso, attracting so much attention by his eccentricities that Hilson and Barnes, the leading characters in the cast, made a formal complaint, and had him dismissed from the company, Cowell adding that this man, whose name did not even appear in the bills, was the only actor on the stage whom the audience seemed to notice. Cowell also describes him in Cincinnati in 1829 as a very unassuming, modest young man, who wore “a very queer hat, very much pointed down before and behind, and very much cocked on one side." He went to England in 1836, where he met with great success, laid the foundation of a very comfortable fortune, and personally and professionally he was the Buffalo Bill of the London of half a century ago. Mr. Ireland, speaking of his popularity in this country, says that he drew more money to the Bowery Theatre than any other performer in the same period of time.
Mummy, and he was the veritable originator of the genus known to the stage as the "dandy darkey," represented particularly in his creations of "Dandy Jim of Caroline" and "Spruce Pink." He died in 1860, never having forfeited the respect of the public or the good-will of his fellow-men.-LAURENCE HUTTON, in Harper's Magazine for June.
Rice was the author of many of his own farces, notably Bone Squash and The Virginia
Libretto by W. S. Gilbert, Music by Jacques
Before the curtain rises we are put in a good humor, for the music is mirthful and of that healthy, robust character which reminds one of Auber. Whether it be that the nature of the plot, together with the scene, are responsible or not-the music has an atmosphere similar to that of "Fra Diavolo," although it is by no means reminiscent. The "tarantella" and "bolero" movements which are appropriately introduced at times, lend a character to the music which is highly agreeable and blends well with the scenery.
The latter has afforded Mr. Hoyt excellent opportunity to show his skill. The landscape in the first act, the exterior of the wayside inn in the second, and the beautiful salon in the third, are worthy of close inspection. Miss Lillian Russell as Fiorella, the brigand's daughter, is as attractive as ever, and, judging from ap
pearances, will hold her own for a long time to
Frageoletto, the innocent young farmer who of course falls in love with Fiorella, is charmingly played by Miss Fanny Rice. To see these favorite stars make love to each other is really quite touching, and one cannot help wishing that it is not too difficult with the ladies to simulate the affection which they so freely manifest.
Mr. Edwin Stevens (Fallsacappa, the Brigand Chief), is the bloody villain of the piece-only as this is opera comique, we know that he will not carry out his dire threats; so all will ultimately end well. That a comedian should be gifted with a voice of such fine quality is truly unusual. Mr. Stevens uses it to good advantage too, showing excellent schooling in delivering phrases in a high or low register with
Mr. Fred. Solomon, as Pietro, was often very funny, although it strikes me that the plot affords far less opportunity for the humorous side of an artist's nature to show itself than the lyric or romantic.
The chorus of pilgrims (or rather brigand's disguised as such), with its monotonous organpoint and absurd repetition of the same melodic figure, is most amusing, and is a good example of truly comic music.
Equally characteristic in its humor is the topical song "I've got it," sung by Mr. Solomon. The truthful declamation of the title is so suggestive that the orchestra seems to repeat it over and over again, and at last it sticks in one's ears.
Mr. Henry Hallan as the Duke of Mantua is very acceptable vocally and otherwise. Mr. Henry Walton (Antonio), and Mr. Richard Carroll (Captain of Carbineers), introduces some funny business, which serves to amuse, even though it is a trifle overdone at times.
Miss Isabelle Urquhart, as princess, is obliged to wear her hair in a manner that scarcely becomes her style of beauty. I beg pardon. I suppose this is out of my line and I should confine myself to her vocal work.
Much needless wind has been wasted over the additions to the musical score by Mr. Kerker the conductor. I was curious to see how it compared with Offenbach, and with all due respect to the author of Barbe Bleu" I feel that the interpolations were fully justified. The
style is different, it is true, more like Strauss and the later day writers (they none of them seem to be able to avoid the use of the chord of the sixth in its prevalent form) but the instrumentation is more luxurious, and the finales to Acts I and II are especially good. Aside from these Mr. Kerker added Frageoletto's song in the first act-the duet by Frageoletto and Fiorella-a song by the Duke and the above mentioned topical
An interesting fact, known to few and appreciated by fewer, was related to me the other day: Mr. Chas. Puerner instrumentated the entire opera (the Offenbachian numbers), in nine days' time. The most remarkable feature is that he made no score but wrote out the parts separately. How he did it in that time is more then I can comprehend-for the work is excellent-unless he took a pen in each hand, like the ambidextrous scene painter in Darmstadt.
Libretto by Genee and Zappert, Music by Von
Another opera by Von Suppe was sure to attract attention. Several years ago, it was sadly announced that the author of " Boccaccio" had determined to retire from active life with the production of "A Trip to Africa" (I believe). But it seems that the composer finds it is difficult to keep from flitting around the seductive footlights as does the prima donna with her traditional annual farewell tour. Thus two years since we were given "Bellman," which showed probably greater art than any of Von Suppe's earlier operas, but it seemed to lack the sparkle (the divine sparkle) of his earlier works. We now have "Clover," (Die Jagd nach dem Glück), and to our surprise and delight, discover it to be one of his best efforts, while as far as intrinsic musical worth is concerned, it is without doubt the best opera of the lighter type which has been produced for many months. The weak spot is the plot, which like that of the "Brigands," furnishes no very thrillingly funny situations. However, we have Hopper, and although, at times the action lags, (as in the second act), still when he gives that queer little cackle, which has amused us so often before in other operas, we find ourselves laughing along with the rest, and what more do you want?
The plot is as simple and lucid as that of
Count Willfried (Mr. Dungan), a Bavarian, has a daughter Stella and an adopted son Rudolf who naturally fall in love with each other a state of affairs readily imagined when played by such pleasing personalities as Miss Manola and Mr. Oudin. Rudolf's servant Casimir (Mr. Hopper), is taken with the charms of Fanny (Miss Meyer), Stella's foster sister.
A though Rudolf is engaged to Stella when we first meet them in the prologue, for some reason or other he seems filled with the idea that he must seek his fortune and see the world before he is married. He accordingly starts out with Casimir, but before leaving Stella gives him a four-leafed clover, which he wears next his heart.
The adventurers visit Paris in the first act. They are followed by their sweethearts in disguise, who do not find them strictly true to their vows. From Paris they go to Sweden in the army, from thence to Venice, always followed by their faithful female guardians, who do not seem to do much good, however. At last after a jolly carnival in Venice in which a great variety of pretty dances, groupings, and an amusing scene with Hopper as clown,-the happy couples are united. In the meantime we feel grateful to the librettist for sending the hero through such a variety of countries, for it gives one a charming change of scenery and
It was gratifying to me to hear the very best musical numbers applauded by the public, for I have a pet theory which is this no matter how artistic the work may be which has been put upon a given musical number it will be appreciated if the theme is only pleasing-(catchy). This is especially noticeable in the beautiful solo sung by Mr. Oudin. The piece is worthy of grand opera, and reminds me, in fact, of the love duet in Tristan and Isolde," the tempo, instrumentation and general character being very similar.
Libretto (after the French), by Sydney Rosenfeld. Music by Charles Lecocq.
I called at the Broadway the second evening of the performance of The Oolah." I knew it, of course,-I had heard so for the past two years, how poor Mr. Wilson had been hoarding his hard-earned wages, so that he could put
on this piece which never could succeedbecause it had failed both in the French and English versions. Yes, undoubtedly it was settled-still I thought I would drop in ano.her evening later on and judge for myself; so I dropped.
As I took my seat I failed to see those evidences of disaster which I heard predicted and had anticipated-for the house was well filled and enthusiastic.
The play is not very difficult to understand. for the simple reason that the complications which might arise in Persia are quite obvious, when an Oolah-or matrimonial dummy, we may say-for a certain consideration marries a divorced woman for a limited time, in order that she may re-marry her first husband. It may seem-in fact it impresses itself on one-that a party who had already been divorced from one individual would not be likely to return to the same one again-but ah! such is the perversity of human nature, that we sometimes see matrimonial bliss only after the divorce and second marriage has taken place. In case the parties wish to imagine, then, that they are getting an entirely new partner-the little ceremony referred to doubtless facilitates the illusion. Be that as it may, Mr. Wilson has a very naïve way of putting things, and we can readily sympathize with him in his various emergencies.
Mr. Lecocq in his later works labored under the disadvantage of having previously acquired a great reputation and plenty of cash, so all that he composed was evidently written to order. As a natural result the " Pearl of Pekin" was made to run chiefly on account of its propping up by Mr. Kerker (who did a similar service for the "Brigands"). In the same way Mr. Wilson and his director, Mr. Angelis, having noticed that the words and music were not happily wedded, have wisely divorced certain portions and remarried them to more pleasing strains.
An especially pretty number (original) is the song in the second act sung by Miss Laura Moore with great taste. The chorus which joins her in the refrain, and the orchestral accompaniment, with its imitations of oriental music, are very effective.
The piece is beautifully mounted, well cos tumed and well sung, as might be expected with such artists as Mr. Hubert Wilke, Misses Jansen, Moore and Delaro-but the great at
We Americans evidently do not care to have our comic operas straight. I say we, for the majority rules and the opinion of the minority, to which I at times attach myself, goes for nothing.
A judicious admixture of local allusions, slang-enough to give it an American colorimparts a piquancy which all enjoy more or less -i. e., in proportion to the extent of one's mingling with the world and getting into sympathy with its whims and caprices. Of course all disapprove of slang until we happen to feel the need of its use. All other countries have their dialects, so I suppose that is what we will ultimately drift into. At any rate whatever it is, it will be American.
Edgar S. Kelley.
THE THREE OPERAS.
FROM ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW.
THE three comic operas now running here
were extensively advertised by their respective managers as "the most magnificent production of comic opera ever given." The nearest to the truth of the announcement is "The Brigands" at the Casino, the further from it is "Clover" at Palmer's theatre. Aronson's production is the best thing he has done for us and there is but little room for improvement. The costumes, groupings and scenery of the first two acts are almost faultless, but the last act is a great mistake. When the curtain goes up there is a series of "ohs" and "ahs" and other expressions of delight, but only for a moment is the eye dazzled, then keen disappointment takes its place. The vivid colored scene with its brilliant calcium is inartistic, and the glaring color of the too bright costumes spoil it. Mr. Aronson seems to set great store in those palace scenes of his. In "Erminie' was a pink ballroom with side-lights, footlights, head-lights, bright lights everywhere; the stage was fairly a-blaze, but was it not too gaudy: did it not cheapen the effect? In the
Marquis" we had the same thing only in pale green, and now here is a third. But that sort of a thing is not "magnificent production." There is no perspective and the massive pillars look horribly papered. That last act spoils the other two and you go home with a feeling that the glaring razzle-dazzle of it all has "queered" the two scenes that deserve so much credit.
Mr. Aronson's chorus is well-drilled and their beautiful clothes fit them and do not give one the impression that they were cut out on the same pattern, and be the wearer thin or fat, short or tall, he, or she, must wear them just the same. While too much praise cannot be given Mr. Aronson for his increasing efforts to please the fastidious taste of the public a word of warning should be given to Col. McCaull, for his later productions are scarcely worthy of a barn storming one-night-stand company. Perhaps he labors under the delusion that the several good members of his company will carry any opera through regardless of surrounding. What could be more absurd than the scene of the soldiers in camp, in "Clover"! His chorus is very small and in this scene, which is supposed to be at a very cold time of the year, judging from the badly painted snow scene, they appear in white uniforms minus any appearance of warmth, with high-heeled black kid slippers on their feet. The chorus is very badly drilled, their costumes are ugly and those of the men simply hang on them like bags. I do not think I ever saw a more slovenly looking set of men and women, yet it is not their fault, but the fault of the designer of their clothes and the carlessness of the way they are made. It is in the small details that Col. McCaull is deficient, and it is the small details that make a new production pleasing. There is a strong evidence of cheapness and a too apparent desire to be economical. There is no excuse for the Colonel! He should employ some one with taste and discretion to produce his operas if he lacks those qualities himself, and give us something artistic and consistent. There are several beautiful airs in "Clover," and Marion Manola and Eugene Oudin, both fine singers, are deserving of better surroundings. It would be a good idea if McCaull would take a few lessons from Mr. E. E. Rice, who has, I think, beyond doubt the best ideas and taste for beautiful stage productions of any