Of The Suggeritore Or Prompter





"There never was a man so notoriously abused.



TWELFTH NIGHT.



"But whispering words can poison truth."



COLERIDGE.








We should be much grieved were we to let a chance of immortality at our

hands go by, for our great friend the prompter--the suggeritore of the

Italians. The prompter is to the opera, what the fifth wheel is to a

wagon; everything rubs, grates and abrades it, yet the whole concern

turns on it. He is the most abused (not hated--that is reserved for the

Impresario,) man in the company. But he does not care for it. That is

what he is hired for. He is paid to be of a good temper, and he does it.

He returns docility for dollars; and suavity for salary. He is the true

philosopher; just enough in the company to be part of it, and

sufficiently detached to avoid all the squabbles and bickerings. He,

however, is the victim of all the caprices of the company, from the

prima donna, who in a miff kicks about his partition in a very piano

cavatina, to each of the bandy-legged choristers. True, he has his

little revenge. This he accomplishes by using his voice too much and too

loudly in the sotto voce parts, so that all the duos become trios and

the quintettes, choruses. This is little enough to sweeten the

embitterments of a suggeritore's life, but such it is, and he is

contented. The suggeritore must be a thin man. It does not require a

Paxton to know that a hole in the stage two feet square, will not hold

Barnum's obesities. He must also be short and supple-necked, to allow

the green fungus which excresces from the stage to cover him; and he

must be the fortunate owner of a right arm as untiring as a locomotive

crank or the sails of a windmill. It is a prevalent but mistaken idea,

that the prompter is an impolite man; we happen to know that it is a

matter of the deepest concern with him to be obliged to sit with his

back to the audience. But he is like the angels and St. Cecilia, "Il

n'avait pas de quoi" to do otherwise. Operas must be, Singers must

have, a lead horse--(N. B. How can delicate females and tenors be

expected to recollect "les paroles;")--and there he is, with a little

hole in the back of his calash for the leader of the orchestra to stir

him up when the excitement becomes very strong, and the time is

irrecoverably lost. As to the social habits of the suggeritore, the

naturalist is at a loss, for he immediately disappears after rehearsal,

and remains in close retirement till the performance, after which he is

again lost till the next day.





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