Of The Barytone
"Our Barytone I almost had forgot;
* * * * *
In lover's parts, his passion more to breathe,
Having no heart to show, he shows his teeth."--BYRON.
The Barytone of the opera is probably the most inoffensive individual in
the world. This is his peculiarity. Even his fierceness on the stage is
done with an effort; and when in
the course of a piece he is
unfortunately called on to massacre somebody, we always fancy that he
does it with the most unfeigned reluctance, and for aught we know, with
silent tears. He is generally of a bashful, retiring disposition, and
pretty nearly always awkward. This perhaps arises from the anomalous
position he occupies in operatical society. He cannot be on good terms
with the basso,--they have too much similarity in their voices for that;
he is on no more friendly relations with the tenor for the same reason.
Besides never daring to aspire to the familiarity with the prima donna
which that worthy enjoys, he suffers under the affliction of conscious
diffidence in their presence.
The barytone must as surely be the king as the basso must be the tyrant;
indeed we have often thought of the startling effect which would be
produced by an opera in which this law of nature was reversed. To hear
the lover growling his tender feelings in a gutteral E flat, and moaning
his hard lot in a series of double D.'s; to listen to the remorseless
tyrant ordering his myrmidons to "away with him to the deepest dungeon
'neath the castle moat," in the most soothing and mellifluous of tenor
head notes, would produce such a revulsion in operatic taste, as surely
to create a deep sensation, if nothing more.