Benjamin Lumley.

Reminiscences of the opera online

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placed and influential friends both in this country and
on the continent, I was enabled to support this heavy
and unexpected blow of fortune with courage and calm
resignation. The cares of management were not
wholly removed from my shoulders, certainly, since
T had for some time to provide for the distinguished

* I find a remarkable note of these circumstances in my diary :
" I had seen B " (Lord Ward's solicitor) " on the Friday pre-
viously, at his request ; and he seemed somewhat surprised and dis-
appointed at my readiness to give up possession of the opera, and ap-
peared to wish some arrangement could be brought about by which I
could continue — urged me to see Lord Ward again — said that he would
do so, &c. &c. But Lord Ward had gone to Scotland, to be out of the
way (as he said himself) when possession was given up. It is difficult
to account for all that has passed ; indeed, no ordinary reasoning can
explain it. I have been actuated by nothing but good feeling, and have
endeavoured to do my utmost, as I thought, to realize his wishes. In-
deed, I have acted towards him as I would have wished (had our relative
positions been reversed) that he should have acted towards mc. I have
paid every artist to the last shilling, and kept up the prestige of the
theaire, and its consequent value. I had a right, therefore, to calculate
on something beyond a mere rigid commei'cial feeling on his part. The
sudden change in him is without any apparent reason or motive. At
least, it is impossible for me to fathom them. I can but think he must
have been played upon by some enemy. However, time alone can clear
up the obscurity which darkens all this."


artists whose engagements were still upon my hands.*
Eventful, and fraught with considerable interest, was
still the existence that for some time lay before me
after the severance of my career from the fortunes of
Her Majesty's Theatre. But with that severance must
terminate the history of my management, with all
its trials, all its glories, all its vicissitudes, and all its
many triumphs.

That management had comprised, perhaps, the most
brilliant period of the history of Italian Opera in the
British Isles ; and thus, even under the poignant disap-
pointments which led to my final resignation of the
direction of Her Majesty's Theatre, I was sustained by
the absence of all self-reproach in retracing the memory
of the past, as well as by the consciousness of the great
things I had been able to achieve as director of the
first theatre in the kingdom — may it not be added the
first in Europe ?f

* "When, in after years, I readily consented to allow my artists
to give their valuable services to the Turin Opera, it was the earnest
wish of the king and his minister, the lamented Count Cavour, that
the opening of the first Italian Parliament should be accompanied
by the mounting of a well-appointed opera, instead of the inferior one
which had been on foot in previous years. In January, 1861, but a
few months before his death, this eminent statesman thus addressed
a letter tome: " Jb vous assure que je considere cet acte comme une
preuve de la sympathie que, comme tout Anglais genereux, vous avez
toujours professee pour la Cause d'ltalie."

t Among many other distinguished artists, I had the pride of
reflecting that I had produced for the first time in England upon
my boards, Madame Sontag (after her long retirement), Jenny Lind,
Tadolini, Frezzolini, Sophie Cruvelli, Parodi, Moltini, Castellan,
Caroline Duproz, Barbieri-Nini, Spezia, Ortolani, Johanna Wagner,
De la Grange, Albertini, Piccolomini, and Tietjens. Again, Gardoui,
Moriani, Calzolari, Baucarde, Fraschini, Guasco, Ronconi, Beletti, For-
nasari, Staudigl, De Bassini, Aldighieri, Coletti, Beneventano, Bdlarfc,
and Giuglini. Nor must Arditi be forgotten, than whom, taking


all qualities into account, a more atle " conductor " never reigned in
tins country. Among dancers, Eosati, Cerito, Ferraris, Lucille Gralin,
Marie Taglioni, Adele Dumilatre, Guy Stephan, Poccliini, Monti, the
danseuses Viennoises, and the great Taglioni (on her return) ; besides
Perrot, St. L

Online LibraryBenjamin LumleyReminiscences of the opera → online text (page 34 of 35)