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LOVE IN A VILLAGE:

A COMIC OPERA,

En Three Acts.

BY ISAAC BICKERSTAFF.

PRINTED FROM THE ACTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL, BY D-G.

To which are added,

A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME,-CAST OF THE CHARACTERS, ENTRANCES AND EXITS,-RELATIVE POSITION OF THE PERFORMERS ON THE STAGE, AND THE WHOLE OF THE STAGE BUSINESS.

As now performed at the

THEATRES ROYAL, LONDON.

EMBELLISHED WITH A FINE WOOD ENGRAVING,

By Mr. WHITE, from a Drawing taken in the Theatre, by
Mr. R. CRUIKSHANK.

LONDON:

JOHN CUMBERLAND, 19, LUDGATE HILL.

REMARKS.

Lobe in a Village.

LOVE IN A VILLAGE is the most popular rural opera in the English language. The plot is simple, the incidents are pleasing, and the characters sprightly and natural. The dialogue is humorous, and the lyrical portion breathes an air of gaiety that may well account for its extraordinary popularity; for, on its first appearance, the Beggar's Opera had scarcely a longer, or more successful run. What country lad and lass, who are at all acquainted with life, have not seen Love in a Village? This piece, however, is any thing but original. It is little more than a compilation from Charles Johnson's "Village Opera," Wycherley's "Gentleman Dancing Master," and Marivaux's "Jeu de l'Amour et du Hazard." Yet the author has availed himself of the labours of others so ingeniously, that we shall not quarrel with his plagiarisms. In theatrical phrase, he has revived them with entire new scenery, dresses, and decorations, and vamped them up to make an agreeable figure in the opera before us.

The characters are such as may be found in every village. A wrong-headed, good-humoured, amorous old justice, learned in the law; a prim antiquated maiden lady; a bumpkin, who treats his quondam mistress with as much rudeness and indifference as the best lord in the land; and a country lass, who resolves to wring the bosom of her lover-not by dying, according to Goldsmith's pathetic song, but by taking a trip to London, and bettering her fortune," as other girls do." Then we have a jolly, light-hearted sportsman; a

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baronet's son in the disguise of a gardener; and two young ladies, one of which has already eloped, and the other is making haste to follow the example of her friend. This hopeful group is productive of considerable amusement. Justice Woodcock, Hodge, and his sweetheart, are particularly well drawn. The scene between the Justice and Rosetta is perhaps a little too warmly coloured; while the brutal coarseness of Hodge, though a correct picture of life, is too true to be agreeable. The redeeming qualities of this opera are in the music, which is beautiful and lively. Many of the airs continue favourites to this day, and must ever continue to be so, from their simplicity and tenderness. We may instance more particularly, “ There was a Jolly Miller”—“ Cupid, God of soft Persuasion," and "Young I am." Every song, whether of sentiment or humour, fairly arises out of the dialogue. They are not stuck on, merely to apologize for an actor's inability to speak half a dozen sentences with propriety, by showing that he can sing. He who shall attempt Hawthorn, with no other qualification but a fine voice, will find himself in an awkward predicament. Mr. Braham gave us great satisfaction in this part. He acted well, and sang admirably. Nothing could be better than his arch look and manner, when he discovers the Justice playing at romps with Rosetta -while his lively song, "We all love a pretty girl under the Rose," was a fine specimen of comic singing, with the advantage of an exquisite voice. Those who assert that Brabam can only give effect to highly ornamented and scientific music, have but to see him play Hawthorn, to be convinced of their error. He can rival the most celebrated Italian vocalist in his way; while, as an English singer, he is incomparable. He possesses the rare power of exhibiting the passion of music, both in its grandeur and its simplicity.

Munden's Justice Woodcock was a luscious piece of acting. His action in the statute scene was admirably characteristic. The gout and he were fairly at odds when the tabors struck up the merry village dance : one leg kept going all the time, and the other was fain to shake in sympathetic capers. Dowton's performance is of a coarser texture. It is libidinous enough in all conscience, but it wants that skilful shading with which a true artist knows how to relieve his warmest conceptions. We have seen Harley, for a benefit frolic, play Mrs. Deborah Woodcock; and no performance excited more laughter-but it was Harley's cap and gown (which ought to have been included among the dramatis personæ) that did the business. These especial freaks are allowable upon certain occasions. Witness Charles Bannister and Edwin metamorphosed into Polly and Lucy, Mrs. Abington into Scrub, and Liston into Ophelia. The novelty of the attempt, independent of Harley's talent for fun, was quite sufficient to amuse; but Deborah Woodcock never found a more truly whimsical representative than Mrs. Davenport.

D--G.

STAGE DIRECTIONS.

The conductors of this work print no Plays but those which they have seen acted. The Stage Directions are given from their own personal observations, during the most recent performances.

EXITS and ENTRANCES.

R. means Right; L. Left; D. F. Door in Flat; R. D. Right Door; L. D. Left Door; S. E. Second Entrance; U. E. Upper Entrance; M. D. Middle Door.

RELATIVE POSITIONS.

R. means Right; L. Left; C. Centre; R. C. Right of Centre; L. C. Left of Centre.

R.

RC.

C.

LC.

L.

The Reader is supposed to be on the Stage, facing the Audience.

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