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[236]

Next dined at one of the restaurants at the Palais Royal, for two francs. Then went to the Theatre Vaudeville in the street running from the Palais Royal to the Place du Carrousel; heard two short pieces, of which I understood very little. They were unpublished, and of course I could not procure a copy; so I was left to my ear, which served me quite badly. Indeed, I despair of ever following the rapid and idiomatic expressions of French conversation.

Jan. 14 (Sunday). This morning M. Foelix called upon me before breakfast,—that is, before eleven o'clock; kindly inquired about my situation, and invited me to go with him to-morrow evening to a soiree at the Baron de Gerando's.1

Notwithstanding it was Sunday, I went with some friends to the Italian Opera. The opera for the night was Don Giovanni, one of the most famous, if not the most so, of the productions of Mozart. The performers were the famous Italians, who now stand the highest in the musical world,—Signori Rubini2 (Don Ottavio); Tamburini3 (Don Giovanni); Lablache4 (Leporello), the latter with the most powerful bass voice I ever heard; Madame Grisi5 (Donna Anna); and Madame Persiani6 (Zerlina), the latter a debutante of the season, and to my taste equal to Grisi herself in many points, though not in fierceness and power. I have no knowledge of music, and but little, scarcely any, ear for it; but I felt the singular power of these performers.7 Their voices, attuned to such various and subtle harmonies, entered the chambers of my heart. At times the notes were soft and delicate, touching gently on the sense as a linnet's feather; and then again they would rise, and, borne by the powerful music of the orchestra, thunder in the ear with the voice of one who was taking a city. In one of the back boxes, sitting out of the range of the light, so that, like Xerxes at his feasts, they could see well themselves but not be seen by others, were two of the younger sons of the King; with light hair, and looking not unlike other boys of their age, say from fourteen to seventeen. They are dukes or princes of something, but I do not know of what. The house was crowded with a brilliant audience; and it was a sensation different from what I had yet experienced, to find myself, as it were, between two foreign languages,—Italian on the stage, and French sounding from every voice about me. As we left the theatre, we

1 He declined the invitation because of his inability as yet to speak French.

2 Giovanni Battista Rubini, 1795-1854; reputed the first Italian tenor of his time.

3 Antonio Tamburini, 1800-1876. After singing in Italian theatres, he appeared first in Paris in 1832. He retired from the stage in 1854.

4 Luigi Lablache, 1794-1858; the celebrated basso. He succeeded both in the serious and the comic opera. He came to Paris in 1830, and performed there and in London. He is said to have given music lessons to Queen Victoria.

5 Giulia Grisi, 1808-1869. Her first appearance in Paris was on Oct. 16, 1832, at the Theatre Italien in Semiramide. She performed in the principal cities of Europe, and in 1854 in the United States.

6 Madame Persiani (nee Fanny Tacchinardi), 1818-1867. Her first appearance was at Leghorn, in 1832. She appeared in Paris, in 1837, in Francesca da Rimini.

7 Grisi, Malibran, Tamburini, Lablache, Rubini, and Ivanhoff were united in a concert at Stafford House, in 1835. Greville's ‘Memoirs,’ ch. XXVIII.; July 15, 1835.

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