Curiosities of Music - online book

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184                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
long chorus in a French opera of the last century, where the mayor of the village having fallen into the water, the anxious choristers sing for many minutes, that " he will be drowned unless he is speedily helped out;" decidedly we must not smile too broadly at the Chinese, as yet.
Sir John Barrow* speaks of the theatre, which he visited, as a mere " Shed of Bamboo." He says: "In the farther division of the building, a party of comedians were engaged in the midst of an historical drama, when we entered; but on our being seated they broke off, and coming forward, made before us an obeisance of nine genuflexions and prostrations, after which they returned to their labors, keeping up an incessant noise and bustle during our stay. The heat of the day, the ther­mometer standing at eighty-one degrees, in the open air, and at least ten degrees higher in the building, the crowds that thronged to see the strangers [this was in 1792, when Europeans were great raritidP in China] the horrible crash of the gongs, kettle drums, trumpets, and squalling flutes, were so stunning and oppressive that nothing but the novelty of the scene could possibly have detained us a moment."
"The most entertaining, as well as the least noisy part of the theatrical exhibition, was a sort of interlude, performed by three young women, for the amusement it would seem of the principal actress, who sat as a spectator, in the dress and character of some ancient queen, whilst an old
•Voyage to Cochin Chins, p. 296.






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