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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 103, October 29, 1892   By:

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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI

VOL. 103

OCTOBER 29, 1892

IMPRESSIONS OF "IL TROVATORE."

( BY A MATTER OF FACT PHILISTINE AT COVENT GARDEN. )

ACT I. SCENE 2. Leonora's confidant evidently alive to the responsibilities of her position. Watch her, for example, when her Mistress is about to confide to her ear the dawn of her passion for Manrico . She walks Leonora gently down to the footlights, launches her into her solo, like a boat, and stands aside on the left, a little behind, with an air of apprehension, lest she should come to grief over the next high note, and a hand in readiness to support her elbow in case she should suddenly collapse. Then, feeling partially reassured, she goes round to inspect her from the right, where she remains until her superior has completed her confidences, and it is time to lead her away. Operatic confidant sympathetic but a more modern heroine might find one "get on her nerves," perhaps. Manrico a very robust type of Troubadour but oughtn't a Troubadour to carry about a guitar, or a lute, or something? If Manrico has one, he invariably leaves it outside. Probably doesn't see why, with so many competent musicians in the orchestra, he should take the trouble of playing his own accompaniments. And why does the Curtain invariably come down as soon as swords are drawn? Tantalising to have all the duels and fighting done during the entr'actes.

[Illustration: Manrico, a rather full blown "Ghost in Hamlet."]

ACT II. SCENE 1. Azucena insists on telling Manrico a long and rather improbable story of how, in a fit of absorption, she once burnt her own son in mistake for the Conte di Luna's, Manrico listens, as a matter of filial duty because, after all, she is his mother but he is clearly of opinion that these painful family reminiscences are far better forgotten. Perhaps he suspects that her anguish may be due to a severe fit of indigestion the symptoms of which are almost indistinguishable from those of operatic remorse. At all events, he does not find his parent a cheerful companion, and, as soon as he finds a decent excuse for escape, takes it.

SCENE 2. The Cloisters of a Convent. Enter the Conte di Luna , with followers, to abduct Leonora . The followers range themselves against a wall in the background, until the Count has finished " Il Balen ." If their opinion was asked, they would probably be in favour of his making rather less noise about it, if he really means business but of course it is not their place to interfere. Leonora enters to take the veil, with procession of nuns, preceded by four female acolytes or are they pages? in white tights, carrying tapers. The Count and his followers are evidently a little taken aback an abduction not quite so simple an affair as they expected. While they are working themselves up to it, Manrico appears, as the stage direction says, "like a phantom." In a helmet, with a horsehair tail, and a large white cloak, he does look extremely like the Ghost in Hamlet , and which is, perhaps, why the Count, under the impression that he is an apparition from some other Opera, allows him to Walk off with Leonora under his very nose. Swords are drawn with the usual result of bringing down the Curtain.

[Illustration: "Azucena," or, "My pretty Chain!"]

ACT III. SCENE 1. Soldiers discovered carousing, as wildly as is possible on four gilded cruets, and a dozen goblets. Azucena is brought before the Count, and manacled. Operatic handcuffs a most humane contrivance with long links, to permit of the freest facilities for entreaty and imprecation. Soldiers, who have been called to arms, but stayed, from a natural curiosity to hear what the Conte di Luna had to say to the Gipsy, go off, as she is led away to prison, with a sense that they have seen all there is to be seen, and a vague recollection that there is some fighting to be done somewhere.

SCENE 2. Leonora , and Manrico are about to be married; everything prepared four apathetic bridesmaids, and the four acolytes in tights who have possibly been kindly lent by the Convent for the occasion in a vacuous row at the back of the scene... Continue reading book >>


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