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Handel, Arne, and others, to the melliAuous and enchanting
Native wood-notes wild
There is a wide difference, however, between setting a few
In infancy our hopes and fears, &c.
Having been thus diffuse in our observations on operas in general, we shall detain our Readers the less by what we have to offer concerning Almena in particular. Had the music been published, indeed, we should have endeavoured to illustrate the foregoing remarks by some comparative extracts; although this might have been thought foreign, perhaps, to our province as literary Reviewerş. At present we can only take upon us to review the performance of the Writer. And this, considered as a piece intended for music, is almost as defective in point of language, as the plot and conduct of it is absurd, when viewed in the light of a dramatic composition.
We shall not trouble the Reader with the story or business of the piece, as the former is but indifferently chofen, and the latter very triling, and as indifferently transacted. It is on the whole, indeed, one of the most unequal performances we remember to have seen; the poetic merit of same few airs being equal to that of most in our language; while the composition in several others, is altogether contemptible. There appears also as much difference in the propriety with which they are in. troduced; the purport of many of them being entirely foreign to the buliness of the scene, and totally unconnected with the dialogue; while others again are more remarkably applicable ánd pertinent than is usual in works of this kind. The first song in the piece is of the former kind, and very improperly introduced, being neither adapted to the fituation of the character, nor giving any kind of information whatever to the audience s the fame may be said of several others. One would hardly think the Writer of the first, fifth, fixth, and ninth airs in the second act, could be guilty of such unmeaning, flimsy stanzas as we meet with, particularly near the end of the performance. We tall quote two or three from different parts of the piece, and leave our Readers to judge for themselves of the strange inequadity of this production.
The three following are bold, nervous, and significant. Air 1. A& II. A Soliloquy by Mirza, the Hero of the poem,
who is defeated, taken prisoner, and confined in a dungeon, where a lamp hangs glimmering above his head:
Uncimely setting at the dawn,
In absence of excluded day. Air 9: Act II. A moral rçfection by Abudah, a resolutę and prudent General, with which the act ends.
Poiz'd in Heaven's eternal scale,
Justice will triumph in the end.
enraged against the Tyrant and Usurper.
May, in vengeance from on high,
The swiftest lightnings fly,
On thy devoted head to burft!
Shall I turn with scorn away.
the destruction of her rival.
When sway'd by love alone,
The heart is turn'd to stone.
My heart is still distress'd;
When plunder'd of her nest;.
She pines in solitude away. To these may be added, the second and fifth airs in the first act, and the ninth air in the third act: in all which the sentiments are characteristical and pertinent, and the versification chaste and correct. The following are of a different ffamp. Air 6. A&t. I. Soliloquy of a Princess in love,
Sure I feel the dart of love
But if Reason quits the rein,
If he proves to Zara kind. It is not uncommon to hear of a Lady's bolom being pierced by Cupid's dart; of his darts being transfixed deeply or lodged there: but for her to feel it move about there, is very extraordinary. On the whole, there is a strange jumble of metaphors in this air, which render the sense vague and obfcure, while the versification is mean and puerile. · The like.censure may be pafled on the following: Air 2: Aa III. Sung by Almena fupposed to be blind.
Where is Pity's melting eye,
Pining in the shady grove ? How a melting eye should beam like a widow'd dove, or what the Author means by it, we cannot devise : this fimile of the dove, however, is brought in very unluckily here, as it immediately succeeds that of the dove plundered of her nest in Aspatia's song above-quoted. Air 2. A& II. An invitation from Zara, a virgin Princess, to
a captive Prince.
Love and Zara set thee free. That Pity should have a melting eye, as in the preceding air, is not at all amiss : but that Pity should be supposed to dart rays to kindle love, is as much as to compare it to the sun, a dull comparison truly! and yet we cannot light our pipes by his rays, without the interposition of a burning-glass.' As to the melting, thrilling, glowing heart-adopting woes, we can form no conception of the matter. Duet in the last Act. On the joyful meeting of Almena
In silver mazes down the hill ;
That in each other's foliage twine,
Asp, So streams from the maternal heart,
What tender nature can impart :
And to my heart Almena hold,
And to my heart Afpatia hold.
Hail! Victor, hail! with choral lay
Freedom is ours, and glory thine.
God rest you, merry Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay, &c.
Fortune with a wanton joy,
Freedom fall our labours crown.
Now the crown of Persia's won,
And our opera is done. As to the Recitative, it is written in a kind of prosaic blank verse, and therefore not in fo Aowing a style as, for the reasons above given, is requisite for music. It is otherwise, for the most part, correct and nervous, except where the Writer hath too much affected metaphor and allegory. Thus Almena desires Abudah not