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even to be discontinued in Italy, where they first had their rise.
And now I am upon the subject, our composers also should affect greater simplicity; let their bass cliff have all the variety they can give it; let the body of the music (if I may so express it) be as various as they please, but let them avoid ornamenting a barren ground-work; let them not attempt by flourishing to cheat us of solid harmony.
The works of Mr. Rameau are never heard without a surprising effect. I can attribute it only to this simplicity he every where observes, insomuch that some of his finest harmonies are often only octave and unison. This simple manner has greater powers than is generally imagined; and were not such a demonstration misplaced, I think from the principles of music it might be proved to be most agreeable.
But to leave general reflection. With the present set of performers, the operas, if the conductor thinks proper, may be carried on with some success, since they have all some merit; if not as actors, at least as singers. Signora Matei is at once both a perfect actress and a very fine singer. She is possessed of a fine sensibility in her manner, and seldom indulges those extravagant and unmusical flights of voice complained of before. Cornacini, on the other hand, is a very indifferent actor, has a most unmeaning face, seems not to feel his part, is infected with a passion of showing his compass; but to recompense all these defects, his voice is melodious, he has vast compass and great volubility, his swell and shake are perfectly fine, unless that he continues the latter too long. In short, whatever
the defects of his action may be, they are amply recompensed by his excellency as a singer; nor can I avoid fancying that he might make a much greater figure in an oratorio than upon the stage.
However, upon the whole, I know not whether ever operas can be kept up in England; they seem to be entirely exotic, and require the nicest management and care. Instead of this, the care of them is assigned to men unacquainted with the genius and disposition of the people they would amuse, and whose only motives are immediate gain. Whether a discontinuance of such entertainments would be more to the loss or the advantage of the nation, I will not take upon me to determine, since it is as much our interest to induce foreigners of taste among us on the one hand, as it is to discourage those trifling members of society who generally compose the operatical dramatis personæ on the other.
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