Meyerbeer’s operas are so intricate in their elements, and travel so far out of the beaten track of precedent and rule, that it is difficult to clearly describe their characteristics in a few words. His original flow of melody could not have been very rich, for none of his tunes have become household words, and his excessive use of that element of opera which has nothing to do with music, as in the case of Wagner, can have but one explanation. It is in the treatment of the orchestra that he has added most largely to the genuine treasures of music. His command of color in tone-painting and power of dramatic suggestion have rarely been equaled, and never surpassed. His genius for musical rhythm is the most marked element in his power. This is specially noticeable in his dance music, which is very bold, brilliant, and voluptuous. The vivacity and grace of the ballets in his operas save more than one act which otherwise would be insufferably heavy and tedious. It is not too much to say that the most spontaneous side of his creative fancy is found in these affluent, vigorous, and stirring measures.
Meyerbeer appears always to have been uncertain of himself and his work. There was little of that masterly prevision of effect in his mind which is one of the attributes of the higher imagination. His operas, though most elaborately constructed, were often entirely modified and changed in rehearsal, and some of the finest scenes both in the dramatic and musical sense were the outcome of some happy accidental