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reluctantly tore myself away, hurried back as soon as possible, and stayed till the ceremony concluded at about half past one. Finding that there would be a continuation in the evening, ordered dinner earlier, was there between five and six-and again delighted till seven. It proved to be La Festa dell' Angelo Custode.
As soon as concluded, we went to La Scala, the opera of Milan, second, it is said, only to St. Carlo of Naples, being a truly noble house in size, decorations, dresses, and orchestra, as well as a chef d'œuvre of architecture in grand, and chaste, magnificence. The pit, I should guess, would hold about as many as our London Opera-house. There are six tiers of forty-six boxes in each tier, hung alternately with blue, and yellow, silk drapery, The first striking variation from an English theatre is its darkness; only the stage, the orchestra, and the royal box, in the centre, which has a handsome chandelier, being lit up. Thus almost the entire house is in obscurity; none of that display of female dress, beauty, and pomp, so conspicuous in our theatres is here; yet, I believe, this practice prevails throughout Italy, by which means certainly all trouble of parade is saved; and a family may enter their box at the opera, listen only to the more favourite airs, and in the interval do as they will. Each box having a private room, work, chat, or cards, are common. Over the proscenium is a
clock with a revolving dial plate, which shows only the immediate hour, always at the top, and brightly illuminated. Every successive five minutes appears marked over the hour, then vanishes, giving place to the next, and so on. The architect of this admired building was Piermarini; the first representation took place in 1788; and it is further remarkable that the first regular theatre in Europe was built at Milan in 1490.
The Opera was new that evening, entitled Donna Aurora; the music by Signor Morlachi. Madame Bellochi was the Prima Donna, and warbled enchantingly; and Signora Margherita Schirra, a lovely, young creature of nineteen from the Conservatory of Music made her debut in the part of Giulia. Her exquisite voice, and her beauty; Madame Bellochi ; the playing of Rolla, the famous violinist, whom I had so much wished to hear, and who has led this orchestra for many years;—all these were combined, and infinitely pleased, at least, was I. Ballet of "Didone Abbandonata" was introduced, certainly very splendid, but I could not endure to witness the dignity of Æneas degraded by perpetually skipping about, and by all the contortions and attitudes of a dancing and posture master. Perhaps however he, like the rest, sank by comparison with the inimitable, the matchless, Pallerini, who played Dido. Her struggling passion for
the hero; her gradual yielding; her warmest love; her agonies and despair at his leaving her; and her ultimately ascending the funeral pile:-here was every variation of the intensest passion that can agitate a woman's bosom, shown and exhibited, to the life, without a word, without a sound; and only by the perfection of acting, and by the most exquisite, and heart-appealing, expression of features! In the Hunting scene about a dozen real horses, and dogs, are introduced, and strange to say, the beauteous Queen of Carthage without the least alteration, or change, of her splendid full dress, or plumes, was seen galloping upon her hunter, straddling like a man, and displaying her shapes almost as a man! My admission to the pit (the only place the public can go to, the boxes being almost universally engaged, and private property) cost me fifteen-pence English.
To this account of the Opera, I must add that the next day I observed by the bills of the plays that it was the festival of St. Francis. It is customary in Italy not to keep the actual day of our birth, but to keep it on the anniversary festival of the Saint after whom we are named.
It was therefore kept as the birth-day of the Emperor of Austria, Francis I, and for all the theatres there was this announcement "Questa sera, si recita, illuminato a giorno."
Wishing to see the difference, we all determined to go, and a great difference there was; the house being very brilliantly, and completely, lighted up. The Viceroy of Milan, brother of the Emperor of Austria with his Princess, and suite, were in the royal boxes, the full-dress military uniforms prevailed; while all the seats around were filled, making an unusual display of elegance and splendour. But, I am now tired, and sleepy.
The iron tongue of midnight hath toll'd twelve.
MILAN-SUMMARY OF ANCIENT HISTORY AND MODERN GOVERNMENT-CATHEDRAL, STATUES, &c. AND SUMPTUOUS SUBTERRANEAN CHAPEL OF ST. CARLO BORROMEO-CHURCH OF SAN CELSO, AND MIRACLES-ACADEMY OF ARTS-RAPHAEL -LEONARDO DA VINCI'S LAST SUPPER FULL-DRESSED VIRGIN STREETS OF MILAN THEATRES
MILAN was anciently Mediolanum, and the capital of Insubria, supposed also of Gallic origin. The Insubrians being ultimately conquered by the Romans, A. U. C. 531, a province was formed of their territories where now exist the modern towns
Pavia and Milan. This victory was achieved by Lucius Valerius Flaccus, associated with Cato the Censor; and according to Livy 10,000 Insubrians, and Boii were slain (34th Book, 46th Chap.) Under the Roman sway it flourished long and splendidly, but sank with the rest of that empire from the repeated attacks of the infuriated Goths, and Longobardi.
Milan gradually rose from its wreck, and was again blessed with tranquillity in the government of its native Dukes, the Visconti. Upon the extinction of this noble family, it was successively possessed by France, Spain, Austria, and latterly by Napoleon. At present, it is under the dominion of Austria, and is truly a jewel in the imperial