A good anecdote is told a propos of an interview of Auber with Charles X. in 1830. “Masaniello,” a bold and revolutionary work, had just been produced, and stirred up a powerful popular ferment. “Ah, M. Auber,” said the King, “you have no idea of the good your work has done me.” “How, sire?” “All revolutions resemble each other. To sing one is to provoke one. What can I do to please you?” “Ah, sire! I am not ambitious.” “I am disposed to name you director of the court concerts. Be sure that I shall remember you. But,” added he, taking the artist’s arm with a cordial and confidential air, “from this day forth you understand me well, M. Auber, I expect you to bring out the ‘Muette’ but very seldom.” It is well known that the Brussels riots of 1830, which resulted in driving the Dutch out of the country, occurred immediately after a performance of this opera, which thus acted the part of “Lillibulero” in English political annals. It is a striking coincidence that the death of the author of this revolutionary inspiration, May 13, 1871, was partly caused by the terrors of the Paris Commune.
Boieldieu and Auber are by far the most brilliant representatives of the French school of Opera Comique. The work of the former which shows his genius at its best is “La Dame Blanche.” It possesses in a remarkable degree dramatic verve, piquancy of rhythm, and beauty of structure. Mr. Franz Hueffer speaks of this opera as follows:
“Peculiar to Boieldieu is a certain homely sweetness of melody which proves its kinship to that source of all truly national music, the popular song. The ‘Dame Blanche’ might be considered as the artistic continuation of the chanson, in the same sense as Weber’s ’Der Freischtitz’ has been called a dramatized Volkslied. With regard to Boieldieu’s work, this remark indicates at the same time a strong development of what has been described as the ’amalgamating force of French art and culture’; for it must be borne in mind that the subject treated is Scotch. The plot is a compound of two of Scott’s novels: the ‘Monastery’ and ‘Guy Mannering.’ Julian, alias George Brown, comes to his paternal castle unknown to himself. He hears the songs of his childhood, which awaken old memories in him; but he seems doomed to misery and disappointment, for on the day of his return his hall and his broad