Curiosities of Music - online book

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224                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
address the actors, and the latter answer in kind; thus frequently a brisk fire of repartee is kept up which delights the audience far more than the play itself. It is very rare in any of these pieces that more than two actors are upon the stage together. In the ballet the performers are richly attired, and sometimes wear several dresses of light silk, one above the other; as they dance they detach a few of these vestments and allow them to hang from their waist, a cloud of airy texture seemingly voluminous, but in reality very light.* The Japanese plays are sometimes pre­ceded by a prologue in which much of the action is described (a la Greek chorus) but not the denouement.^ The performance of the jugglers is most to the popular taste, for it is not unusual to find the restaurants (with which each theatre is surrounded, and which cater to the same class of custom) quite crowded during the entire per­formances, but the moment that the gong gives the signal for the commencement of the juggling, they are at once deserted, every one hastening back to his seat in the theatre. The principal parts of the performance are announced not with a bell or with music, but by striking a small wooden stick upon the stage.
Sometimes the actors pass through the audience on their way to the stage, in order to give the spectators an opportunity to admire their appear ance and costume, as closely as possible4 The
•Thunbarg.
t La Fage, Hilt. da la Mas. T. I, p. 875.
t Engel Mas. Myths and Fact*, t. II, p. 164.






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