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.I LOCAL INTELLIGENCE

SHARPS AND FLATS.I

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SHARPS AND FLATS. I fBy '"Crowder."] Again speaking of the increasing complexity of one modern school of operatic writers, things now are ripe for a return to more directne3s and simplicity. There are signs of this already. For some years past, a great conductor, Mahler, has been reviving Mozart's operas at Vienna. These have been received with marked success in the Austrian capital, which has, probably, the most artistic audience in Europe. in Italy, Puccini's operas, full of individuality, have taken the public by storm, and have also gone the round of the civilised world. These operas betray the influence of Wagner, the great genius of modern opera, but they are not servile imitations of his style, but have great originality. To a musician who loves his art, nothing is more exasperating than the attempt to copy Wagner- by tyros who know little of tne orchestra, of stage effect, or of literature, on all of which subjects Wagner was a master. It is well to remember that only Jove can wield the thunder. I had the pleasure of hearing a rehearsal of "Judas Alt-ecabseus" last week, and anticipate all excellent performance of the choruses. It was pleasant to see so many of the old choris- ters once more under the baton of the veteran Mr. Dan Davies, who has been so long in the competitive vena. The so'oists are, I l-eam: Soprano, Miss May John, who is known to all; contralto. Madame Hambly-Spry, winner at the London National,' and said to be a fine oratorio singer: tenor, Mr. Todd Jones, who has often sung How Vain is Ian" and "Sound an Alarm," with great effect; while the bass is Mr. R. H. Humphreys, of North Wales, a brother to the late Mr. Maid wyn Humphreys, the well-known tenor, whose performance is, therefore, awaited with interest. Despite the 'I stagnation I lamented last week, I am glad to learn that not only musically, but financially, "Jud" promises to be a great success, as a very large number of seats have already been booked. The Band of Hope Choirs of Tabernacle and Bethesda. Chapels have both given perform- ances of cantatas, which were very enjoyable, and exhibited signs of careful preparation. At the Bethesda concert, special mention must be made of the promise ehown by a lad named Llewellyn, who sang well, and acted with graat intelligence. In both performances, the one objectionable feature was the employment of two pianoforte* in place of piano and organ, or piano and small orchestra. When two pianos are playing the same notes simultaneous- 1y, the effect is always bad. Firstly, the pianos are rarely dead in tune together; secondly, the tones do not blend; and, thirdly, the piano, being a non-sustaining instrument, the players appear never to strike the notes exactly to- gether. In both concerts, the players were good, but the effect was very bad. Let any conductor try the effect of two pianos, and af berwards piano and organ, and he will soon find out which is best.. Dumas, of "Three Musketeers" and ''Monte Chrieto"'fame, was a man of exuberant vital- ity, and absolutely free from, affectation. Call- ing on Wagner when the latter was writing his "Mei-stersingers," the novelist, to his surprise, found the composer in the costume of the Middle Ages—doublet and hose, fiat cap, all complete. Dumas naturally enquired the mean- ing of so strange a "get up." Wagner, who was always a poseur, replied that he was writ- ing an opera of mediaeval times, and wished to feel in the atmosphere of the period. Dumas made no comment, but when Wagner returned his call, he found the romancer clad in an enor- mous pair of jackboots, with huge spurs, a large helmet and viser, breastplate, and steel gaunt- lets. It was Wagner's turn to be surprised and to enquire. LOh," said Dumas, "I am writing a tale of chivalry, and I also wished to feel in the atmosphere of the period."

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