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at finding this picture every way fo disagreeable and disappointing, I could not avoid criticising it a little before the Ciceroni; who exclaimed at my finding fault (though he could not deny that he perceived some absurdities) with the work of il divino, il grande Corregio.
The Theatre of Parma, erected in the time of Ranutio the First, is esteemed one of the most magnificent buildings at Parma. Vignola was the architect. The plan is a demi-oval. That part that fronts the stage rises in steps, after the antique models, intended for the spectators to fit on. They rise about as high as the second row of boxes at the Italian Theatre at Paris. These steps are so narrow, that they seem dangerous to sit upon; and rise at the same time fo near the perpendicular, that I apprehend few English ladies have nerves sufficiently strong co venture to place themselves upon them, could this Theatre be transported to London. These are crowned by a gallery, ornamented and divided in front by columns, equally distant, supporting arches. Higher up, and above all, is a gallery for the common people. Lalande makes a capital miltake, in asserting that this Theatre will contain above twelve thousand persons; it appears barely large enough to accommodate four thousand. The ornaments make a beggarly appearance; the pillars, frizes, cornices, &c. are all of wood, and wretchedly painted : the figures of the genii, intended to hold large wax-tapers to light the
Theatre, for the renna fill the trourok
Theatre, are poorly executed in plaister : the other figures, higher up, are of the same materials, and equally meritorious'; and the two Equestrian ftatues, placed at each end of the Proscenium, are miserable performances. The height and breadth of this Theatre considered, I am at a loss to imagine how it is possible to light it. The ceiling appeared to be a parcel of old brown planks ill joined together, and much damaged by smoke and damps. There is no orchestra; but the place where it should be is occupied by a long leaden trough, reaching the whole breadth of the Proscenium; from which are pipes or shoots so contrived as to enable them to fill the trough with water, intended for the, representation of a naumachia or sea-fight. I imagine this trough was to have served the double purpose of an orchestra and artificial fea: but when it so happened that a naumachia was to be represented, what became of the poor musicians ? they surely were not to remain in the trough; that would be a symphony al fresco indeed. As we could get no intelligence concerning this point, we contented ourselves with viewing the vessels intended for the sea fight, which are behind the half scenes; they are small, and move upon wheels. The stage slopes more than any I have seen ; it is of a rapid descent, and so ill floored (I suppose from ceconomical considerations), that you cannot easily walk over it without stumbling. The effect of the voice from the stage is very surprising; every word, though VOL. I.
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fpoke under the common voice, is heard distinctly at the farthest extremity of the house, which is the pit-door of entrance, fronting the ftage, at the distance of 106 yards. But the voice does not found agreeably; it seems to the distant auditor as if proceeding from a comb: the speaker on the stage, as he pronounces, perceives a certain vibration in the air, as if the words at utterance became condensed, and rolled forward towards the audience. Perhaps the emptiness of the Theatre may in some degree occasion these effects : but it has not yet been discovered to what power this extension of the voice is owing; it is therefore supposed to be something accidental in the architecture; many builders and others have carefully examined its construction, but to no purpose; a cause having never yet been assigned for this effect. The scenery and decorations are in a wretched state, and do not appear to have ever been magnificent or ingenious.
Upon the whole, you are struck at entering by a want of proportion: the building appears too high for its breadth; the steps supporting the gallery shock the eye, and you feel as if under ground in a vast deep and dark mine.
There has been no representation here since the Emperor passed through Parma: at that time an opera was performed on purpose for him in this Theatre: it is never made use of but on particular occasions.
This town affords another Theatre for operas serious and comic, and for the comedie. The grand or serious opera during the months of May and June; from that time till Christmas, the French comedie; and from Christmas to the end of the carnival, buffoon or comic operas, The Infant defrays most part of the expence for theatrical representations.
Here is also a Caslino, or Assembly-room, for the nobility. The Infant provides the cards and lights, and two of his gentlemen do the honours. He sometimes honours the Caffino with his presence, and plays. The company meet generally three cimes a week during the cessation of thea. trical amusements. This is a very economical, as well as agreeable scheme in a country where the Noblesse are not accustomed to have assemblies at their own houses, and where the expence would be very inconvenient to them.
We have seen another church belonging to a St. Paolo female convent: it is called St. Paolo, and was Church. founded by a Princess Volgonda, niece to Cuni. gonda, widow of Bernard King of Italy. Vol. gonda was a nun in this convent, and died in the year 899. In the third chapel to the right is a very good picture by Agostino Carracci, repre. Agostino senting a Virgin, a St. Margaret, St. Nicholas, and St. John. The picture over the great altar is by Raphael : the subject is Jesus Christ in Glory, Raphael., with St. Paul and St. Catherine ; but this picture has been unfortunately retouched by some pre
sumptuous wretch of a painter, who has done his utmost to spoil it, and has so far succeeded, as that scarce a trace remains of the work of that
prince of painters. Palace. The palace is large, and seems to consist of
several buildings joined together. The architecture irregular, and the front unworthy of observation. The court of this palace, which leads to the apartments, is in a fine style of architecture.
The vast collection made by the Farnese family, of bronzes, pictures, medals, and a library of books, is removed to Capo di Monte, a palace be. longing to the King of Naples.
The apartments are hung with crimson velvet embroidered with gold, as also with some fine pieces of tapestry from Flanders, and from the
Gobelins at Paris. Gallery. There is a gallery appropriated to the medals,
designs, &c. that have gained the prize in the
Academy of painting and sculpture of Parma. Academy. The Infant encourages this Academy as much
as possible, and I make no doubt that in a few years the students of Parma will distinguish them. selves in these arts. Here are several of the prizedrawings for six or seven years past. Those for buildings, and all that represent architecture, do honour to their authors; they are principally done in Indian ink, and amongst them are some drawings by one George Dance, an Englishman, that I think are equal, if not superior, to those of the