OCR Interpretation

The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, June 01, 1902, Image 11

Image and text provided by University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1902-06-01/ed-1/seq-11/

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y-y IX hundred to 1000 people In the
\q. ballet— 170 boxes— an audience of
y"j oo'00-nll spellbound In the univr.r
k-X sal love of muslcf You find this
1 in Italy. $
The accompanying picture shows
the Interior of the Roynl Theater of San
Carlo, which was founded by Charles III
In 1737. The Interior, In 1816, was de
stroyed by flre, but It lifts been restored
In harmony with the original plan.
Outside, under the arches of San Carlo,
sit the public writers at their desks ready '
at a moment's notice to write a love son
net or a flowery expostulation warranted
to melt the heart of a too-persistent cred
itor. •:'
The Royal Theater was originally
lighted by candles; later gas was Intro
duced and now it Is lighted by electricity.
The candelabra and gas jets are still there,
marking the three eras of lighting, and
mutely calling attention to the antiquity
of the house.
This picture was taken on the occasion
of the gala night given to the Emperor of
Germany on his return rrom Jerusalem.
The royal box, which Is directly opposite
fromUhc stage, contains, beginning at tho
right: The deceaased King Humbert L of
Italy, the Queen of Italy, the Empress of
Germany,' the Emperor of Germany and
King .Victor Emmanuel III, present ruler
of Italy. In the boxes at the right .and
left of the stage. are the cabinet and
princes of Italy.
The Theater San Carlo la connected
with the royal palaceV and royalty walks
into its box from the palace.
The other boxes are owned by. the no
bility. "They have been handed down from
generation to generation. In the ; flrst
place these noble families came forward
and helped to furnish money to build thjs
temple dedicated to the art of . music and
the boxes will be a heritage to them and
their heirs forever.
' This is all right for the nobility, but
makes^lt a little hard on the manager,
lie gets no rent for the boxes except the
entrance fee, which varies from 2 t;o 5
francs, or from 40 cents to $1 in our money.
Ten francs or $2 is the; price in the top '
gallery, where the students usually sit,
and 30 francs or $6 in the pit, or paltrona;
as they call it. ! . ['¦ ¦ \, .
But the manager,., or impresario, is a
man who has barrels of money to pay out.
He is manager for art's sake and not for
commercial reasons. ' He Has no rent to
pay, for the theaters there are a munici
pal institution. But there is the ballet of
600 to iooo. -v ;,..-• .
, In one opera . I attended at . l»a . Scala
(Milano) there were ten changes of cos
tumes, making 10,000 costumes, and all
beauties, too, for there is nothing cheap
or tawdry at. the Royal Theater. It keeps
open only' during the winter season, and
the manager is "satisfied if he does not
lose more than $50,000. Ho is a patron of
art, and art- is a shrine at which the
Italians worship, just as we worship at
the shrine of dollars and cents. .
And, after all, it must be an investment
on which he looks back with pleasure.
Think of feeding 3600 hungry souls with
The staging is realistic. The stage is
350 feet deep and 200 feet wide, and a vil
lage scene, for instance, instead of being
painted on the back drop, as would "be
done in ah ordinary theater, is built up
of ' set houses, smoke ascends from the
chimneys, neighbors gossip on the door
steps, or an Alpine boy drives a* herd of
real sheep along the village street in the
rear of the stage while, the singing is go
ing on before the footlights. No expense
is spared.
The rehearsals are something thorough,
as I had occasion to notice when on the
anniversary of -Verdi's death they pro
duced "II Trovatore." Although the cast
had sung the j opera over three hundred
times" Musical Director Toscaninl re
hearsed It thirty-two times for this occa
sion. . - t ;
Italy is the land, of opera. Here they
make a specialty of the ballet. There is
nothing like it in the world. It makes
other performances . look like amateurs'. »
Manzotti, the great ballet wrlter,#goes up
to the Royal Theater and rehearses them,
and here many of the celebrated composi
tions of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti
were performed for the first time.
The atmosphere of music hallows the
place and forces itself on the attention
of even the most casual globe-trotter.
And right here I want to make a plea
for San Francisco. It Is beyond doubt
the most musical city in America. Here
people love music, and they go to the
opera for the love of music. In the East
ern cities they go to meet their friends
and to gossip. But the atmosphere of
San Francisco, musically, is similar to
that of Italy, and that is saying a good
deal for a commercial city, for Italy has
the advantage— even the llttlo towns of
Italy have their band conceits every aft
ernoon in the public squares, and that
familiarizes the people with c.assical mu
sic. They are as familiar with the groat
musters there as San Franciscans are
with "Goo-goo Eyes." But then they
have the heritage of generations of music
lovers, accentuated by two or three hours
per day of the best cosmopolitan music—
for the Wagnerian and French ure. aa
much a part of their repertoire as Ital
I come back from Italy with the ideu of
starting San Franciscans to think of a
municipal band .of fifty or sixty pieces.
Sun Frunclsco contains some of the finest
musicians In tho world to-day, only thty
don't keep In practice. They can^t. They
are not under one director long enougn.
They have Jim Smith to-day and Jo
Drown to-morrow, and no ore long
enough to catch the inspiration of hs
method. But Grnu will tell you a-f 1 do,
that we on this We stern outpost of civil
ization liave tho IRn>6 inborn love of mu
sk- us the Ital uiih; ami one of the best
ways to keip alive, the musical a'moti
phere In to feed it with f?oo1 music,
Although we l.ave no Thia'tv Sa:i Carlo
in bun Francisco, we have appreciation!
and tho establishment «'f a inuo'c, pal
baud i» our midst would be a great factor
in our civilization.

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