Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 103, October 29, 1892 by Various


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Page 1

[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. Fancy _Manrico_
has forgotten to give them the usual initial brooches, and they feel
the wedding is a poky affair, and take no interest in it. _Leonora_
herself is in low spirits--seems to miss the confidant, and to be
oppressed with a misgiving that the wedding is not destined to come
off. Misgivings on the stage are never thrown away--the wedding _is_
interrupted immediately by a crowd of men, in small sugar-loaf caps,
who carry the bridegroom off to fight--whereupon, of course, the
Curtain falls.

[Illustration: Luna and the Star of the Evening.]

ACT IV. SCENE 1.--_Leonora_ listening outside the tower in which
_Manrico_ is being tortured, after having been taken prisoner in a
combat during the _entr'acte_. Here a confidant might have comforted
her considerably by representing that they couldn't be torturing the
poor Troubadour so _very_ seriously so long as he is able to take part
in a duet--but unfortunately _Leonora_ seems to have discharged the
confidant after the Second Act--an error of judgment on her part, for
she is certainly incapable of taking care of herself. A cool-headed,
sensible confidant, for instance, would have taken care that the
bargain with the _Conte di Luna_ was conceived and carried out in a
more business-like spirit.

"Now _do_ be careful," she would have said. "Make sure that the Count
keeps _his_ word before you break _yours_. Don't go and see _Manrico_
yourself--it _can_ do no good, and will only harrow you! If you
really _must_ go, don't take a quick poison first--or you'll die
in his dungeon, and spoil the whole thing!" Which is just what
_Leonora_--like the impulsive operatic heroine she is--proceeds to
do, and is cruelly misunderstood by _Manrico_, in consequence, besides
hastening his doom by disappointing the Count, whose irritation was
only natural, and pardonable, under the circumstances.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Tue 23rd Jul 2024, 1:31