January 3, 1886
If Fräulein Abel must be given an opportunity to play a leading role once a year, why not La Muette de Portici? Is it, then, so difficult, as between two objects, to choose the better? Or are there really those who could prefer this miserable farce, Yelva, to Auber's masterpiece? Must our Court Opera be reduced to the status of a sanctuary for the most worthless junk? How can one in all seriousness set about staging so silly a subject? I would not have the heart to recommend this piece for a booth in the Prater. 1 So, Fräulein Abel created the role of Yelva. That is no reason to mount the work. The Court Opera is not there for the convenience of singers and dancers. It's the other way around. The Scribe potboiler was boring despite its tension-inducing devices, and despite Fräulein Abel's industrious efforts to sustain our interest in the Russian orphan. Fräulein Abel was, indeed, only too industrious. Her movements surpassed in agility those of a weasel. Repose is also movement. The most powerful emotions find expression in utter stillness. If the crescendo of passion were to be reflected in the movements of the actors, when even the slightest suggestion of emotion sets off a cyclone in their limbs, would they not, at the dénouement, have to be carried from the stage with shattered bones?
Adieu à Vienne! Ten years ago, this sentimental heading to the announcement of a concert by Patti would have left the heart of fashionable society unmoved. One would have smiled incredulously, ambiguously or, indeed, even maliciously. One would have smelled "Europe-fatigue," and expressed surprise that such a celebrity as Patti should so soon be paying homage to the American concert ticket system. One could have asserted, and with some justice, that here in our country, German and Italian nightingales (whether