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ADVANTAGE OF DECENCY.
ferreting out houses of a lesser magnitude, the National theatre is permitted to continue on in its infamous career. Some one says the management has the police in his pay, and for fear that they may be deprived of the paltry pittance he pays them, they keep mum. It is, however, always the case in law,—the rich escape, no matter how guilty, and the poor, no matter how innocent, suffer. The rule is applicable to the National. The sovereigns—the people--are, however, becoming awakened to their great error in supporting a theatre whose only qualification lies m a desire to pander to vice and immorality, and are rapidly withdrawing their patronage from it. A case in point. Some six weeks since, the Italian Opera Troupe, under the management of M. De Fries, was, through motives which we do not propose here to discuss, induced to take the Lyceum theatre, an establishment which had been closed for some time on account of the disreputable character of the house, produced by a course of action similar to that being pursued by the management of the National. However, on that point our readers are perfectly conversant. Every lover of opera was pained to hear the announcement that the opera troupe were to play at the Lyceum, and the universal prediction was, their performances would be a failure. “No one who has any respect for themselves or family will go to the Lyceum!' was a common remark, and the poor artists, with misgivings of their success, commenced their season with a comparatively small house. Everything passed off orderly and quietly; no prostitutes were admitted to the house, nor was the ear of the virtuous female insulted by the coarse ribaldry of the wanton. The next day the words passed rapidly from mouth to mouth, "The opera troupe sing well, and deserve patronage. You can take your wife and daughter without fear of having their feelings shocked by indecencies.' What was the result? The
POWER OF TIIE PRESS ILLUSTRATED.
next evening the Lyceum was crowded, and numbers were turned away, unable to gain admission, and so the attendance continued. The troupe left our city for Louisville, where they also played a most successful engagement. On returning to this city, the management of the National effected an engagement with the troupe, thinking that as they had crowded the Lyceum, under all disadvantageous circumstances, they would certainly crowd to overflowing the great National. But here they reckoned without their host. The opera troupe came, but the people did not follow them. The edict had gone forth, We will not patronize an institution that insults our wives and daughters by making a portion of its edifice a common assignation house, no matter how great the attraction. The man who seeks to put money in his pocket by catering to the base passions of man, is no better than the most degraded cyprian.' The opera troupe, after playing to comparatively empty benches, left our city, we are informed, fully convinced of the unpopularity of the management of the National, and with the consciousness that the manager was one thousand dollars worse off in pocket than when they entered it. The people would not visit a house like the National after the exposition that had been made of the doings of its management by the Press of this city, no matter what the attraction. If the management of the National wish to make tbeir theatre such as it should be, let them close their third tier, and put a good company on its stage. Unless they do this, we assure them all their efforts to draw respectable houses will be futile, and the result will be that they will have again to close their doors, at a heavy loss. The people will not countenance an attempt to play on the baser passions of man to fill their theatre. It is an insult to their good sense to cater to their amusement in a theatre by placing apart a portion of the house as a place of assignation."
WORK ON PUBLIC OPINION.
It was such bold and outspoken expressions as this which, backed up and supported actively by the people, resulted in the complete extinction of the third tier, until to-day no vestige of it remains, so far as I know, in any theatre in the land.
When we reflect that no more than twenty years ago this thing was a common and usual attachment of all theatres, it is easy to see what tremendous power there is in public opinion, and in newspaper attacks on the abuses of the drama.
It is my unflinching faith in the power of public opinion to elevate and purify the theatre, which causes me to “keep up a good heart and labor on."
Reading an article from the pen of George William Curtis, two or three years ago, I seemed to find in it the inspiration to my subsequent course in writing and speaking of the theatre and the drama. “Work upon public opinion,” it said.
“Make that true, healthy, robust, and it will put forth noble, and purifying, and energetic laws. And each good law will mark the hightide point of the nation in that direction. It will not have been forced up by artificial means, and be sure to fall to-morrow; but it will be the calm level of general conviction. The presentation by the Grand Jury of the snares and pitfalls of Broadway is an influence brought to bear upon public opinion. In due season they may
be suppressed upon precisely the same grounds that certain books and pictures are seized, and their sale forbidden. Every honest citizen owes the Grand Jury thanks. Every scoundrel in the country will call them Puritans.”
This was apropos of an effort made to suppress certain disreputable and baleful places of amusement in Broadway.
Public opinion, its attention aroused by the press, demanded the suppression of these places.
They are suppressed !
PUBLIC OPINION'S WORK.
It was public opinion, moved to action by the press, which demanded the abolition of the vile third tiers in our theatres.
They are abolished !
It was public opinion, awakened and inflamed by the press, which recently demanded the return of the theatres of New York to the proper walks of the drama, and the banishment of the blonde jiggers.
They are banished !
Wherever and whenever public opinion has directed its tremendous force steadily against an evil, that evil has disappeared.
And the best proof that the theatre can be kept free from the orgies of leg-performers, and the degrading influences of foul and immoral plays, is afforded in the above instances of public opinion's work.
Opera Going.-Interesting Reminiscences.-Kellogg.-Susini.-Brignoli.
Old Times.—Truffi and Benedetti.-Bosio.-Steffanoni--Operatic Expenses.-Salaries of Singers.--A Curious History.-Palmo, the Operatic Manager.- French Opera in America. — Offenbach. - English Opera.—Mrs. Richings-Bernard and Madame Parepa-Rosa.—Behind the Scenes at the Opera.— The Singing Green-room.-An Operatie Rehearsal.--Rachel and La Marsellaise.- Music as a Medicine.-An Orchestra consisting of a Single Violin.
About everything pertaining to the opera, there is to me a special charm.
Music is a passion with me; and while I have no ability either as a vocalist or an instrumentalist, my technical and critical knowledge of music is very thorough.
I have no patience with musical mediocrity. It is so painful to my sense to hear false singing or playing-to listen to the bellowing of some coarse fellow with a voice like a bull, and no culture, or the frantic squallings of the average young lady singer who haunts the parlors of the period—that I would rather pass an equal length of time with a raging toothache, than bear the pangs these creatures inflict.
For many years I have never missed any favorable opportunity to attend the opera; and I have heard the finest singers of either sex, in this country and Europe, but especially those who adorned the Parisian operatic stage during my residence there.
In this country opera-going is far from being the matterof-course that it is in France.
The only operas that have ever been pecuniarily profitable in this country, I think, are the operas bouffes which were