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KitKat1 at Jul 10, 2022 09:30 PM

p. 386

192.

Kean, only their figures were as opposite as those of Falstaff and of little Booth.

Signor De Begnis was an immense man, weighing at least 300 pounds, tall withal, and with large, expressive features of the Italian character. Of De Begnis many merry tales are told. He was quite original and eccentric of characterl his life abounded in anecdotes. He was brought to this country by James Wallack, sen., for his new establishment at New York. He suffered so much from sea sickness in his voyage to America, and was so alarmed at its dangers, that the fear ever after deterred his returning to Europe, although he had many magnificent offers tendered from Paris, London, etc. J. Wallack had many funny sayings of the Signor. He would pop his head out of the companion-way of the ship, on a dark night, and wonder how the sailors could run up the riggin and furl sails without any lighted lanterns with them. Mrs. Senguin used to teaze him in a joking way - "Why, Signor, you mught return to England through Northwest America to Behring's Straits, which is about to be bridged over; you can easily, Signor, cross over to Sibria, in Asiatic Russia, and thence travel on sleds to Soouthern European possessions, giving concerts all the way to the nobility, only crossing bridges and rivers till you reach sunny Italy."

In 1848 DeBegnis was brought by Signor Bochsa to Philadelphia to sing in an English opera. He was to appear in a new part to him, one which he never attempted heretofore, viz : Dr. Dulcamara, in Donzitti's opera of "L'Etosore d'Amour." In this De Begnis required the assistance of a pianist to get him up in the part, and applied to Mr. A. Fiot, the late popular music publisher, in Chesnut street, who sent him to our townsman, Mr. Albert G. Emerick. An arrangement was made, and the pianist and buffo artiste went at the rehearsals pell mell, day and night, at his hotel, the old Columbia House, (now Jayne's grand granite building.) Signor De Begnis' memory was not now so tenacious as in his former days, and therefore he had to bestow undue labors on his rehearsals. The artiste of middle life cannot renew the studies of youth. It is difficult to get an old actor to study a new part; at least they do so reluctantly. In the furor of practice and exhaustion, the Signor, who much relished sherry cobblers, would suddenly, in a pause of the rehearsal, invite Emerick to make a libation with him of that supernaculum of drinks, to resuscitate ere they resumed the lesson. He would ring the bell for the servant and order theglasses; but, as soon as the black servant had left the room, he would say, "My dear sare, we will go down ourself to the bar and take our refreshments; I do not like the negares (un nero) to taste my wine before I drink it myself." Quite a sensible precaution in the Signor, as we have seen liquor so sipped by Sambo.

De Begnis had prepared a splendid costume and a beautiful character wig for this part, being desirous to do full justice to it - a laudable ambition in all performers. During the excitement of the rehearlas at the Walnut Street Theatre, the Signor had fitful controversies with Bochsa, till at length, through the teazing and impertinent interruptions of the latter's most brutal and ungentlemanly course, these altercationsculminated in a grand explosion between these sons of harmony. The Signor De Begnis threw down his music and left the theatre, never to return. While the opera was thus preparing, he sang during his engagement his favorite scena, "Il fanatico per le musica." Our musical amateurs greatly regretted this rupture between the professors, as they anticipated a great treat at the representation of "L'Elisire d'Amour." We believe this was his last appearance in Philadelphia, as he certainly never appeared in any opera after this date. During De Begnnis' private practice, he would array his person en costume in the part, and go through it before the mirrors as before the audience at night, appealing to Mr. Emerick, who was accompanying him on the piano forte, for his judgment as to the effects of his action and looks. He would cut many antics by way of jike, exhibiting what he would call "fine buffo points," by applying his forefinger to his eye, and again by touching his large acquiline nose wiyh his thumb, and placing his dexter hand thumb on his sinister hand little finger, a la circus clown, with other hand and finger gyrations, expressions in action and in the low language of the day, "You can't come it!" In appealing to M. E. for his opinion, he ventured to express some doubt as to the elegance of the action. "Pshaw! nonesense!" said De Begnis, "it would meet with applause in Italy and bring down the house." These no doubt were mere whims of the mercurial Italian in mind, if not corporeally so.

Signor Giuseppe De Begnis died at his residence in New York, August 1st, 1849, after a terrific atack of cholera of only a few hours. The death of this distinguished musician and vocalist created a great sensation at the time. He had all the first vocal teaching in New York and died worth some twenty-five thousand dollars.

Mrs. Sefton's benefit closed up this very short and unprofitable season. The theatre passed entirely out of the hands of Mr. Pratt, who had been engaged in the management from the commencement of Maywood & Co., in , ending in the very remarkable season of -'.

p. 386

192.

Kean, only their figures were as opposite as those of Falstaff and of little Booth.

Signor De Begnis was an immense man, weighing at least 300 pounds, tall withal, and with large, expressive features of the Italian character. Of De Begnis many merry tales are told. He was quite original and eccentric of characterl his life abounded in anecdotes. He was brought to this country by James Wallack, sen., for his new establishment at New York. He suffered so much from sea sickness in his voyage to America, and was so alarmed at its dangers, that the fear ever after deterred his returning to Europe, although he had many magnificent offers tendered from Paris, London, etc. J. Wallack had many funny sayings of the Signor. He would pop his head out of the companion-way of the ship, on a dark night, and wonder how the sailors could run up the riggin and furl sails without any lighted lanterns with them. Mrs. Senguin used to teaze him in a joking way - "Why, Signor, you mught return to England through Northwest America to Behring's Straits, which is about to be bridged over; you can easily, Signor, cross over to Sibria, in Asiatic Russia, and thence travel on sleds to Soouthern European possessions, giving concerts all the way to the nobility, only crossing bridges and rivers till you reach sunny Italy."

In 1848 DeBegnis was brought by Signor Bochsa to Philadelphia to sing in an English opera. He was to appear in a new part to him, one which he never attempted heretofore, viz : Dr. Dulcamara, in Donzitti's opera of "L'Etosore d'Amour." In this De Begnis required the assistance of a pianist to get him up in the part, and applied to Mr. A. Fiot, the late popular music publisher, in Chesnut street, who sent him to our townsman, Mr. Albert G. Emerick. An arrangement was made, and the pianist and buffo artiste went at the rehearsals pell mell, day and night, at his hotel, the old Columbia House, (now Jayne's grand granite building.) Signor De Begnis' memory was not now so tenacious as in his former days, and therefore he had to bestow undue labors on his rehearsals. The artiste of middle life cannot renew the studies of youth. It is difficult to get an old actor to study a new part; at least they do so reluctantly. In the furor of practice and exhaustion, the Signor, who much relished sherry cobblers, would suddenly, in a pause of the rehearsal, invite Emerick to make a libation with him of that supernaculum of drinks, to resuscitate ere they resumed the lesson. He would ring the bell for the servant and order theglasses; but, as soon as the black servant had left the room, he would say, "My dear sare, we will go down ourself to the bar and take our refreshments; I do not like the negares (un nero) to taste my wine before I drink it myself." Quite a sensible precaution in the Signor, as we have seen liquor so sipped by Sambo.

De Begnis had prepared a splendid costume and a beautiful character wig for this part, being desirous to do full justice to it - a laudable ambition in all performers. During the excitement of the rehearlas at the Walnut Street Theatre, the Signor had fitful controversies with Bochsa, till at length, through the teazing and impertinent interruptions of the latter's most brutal and ungentlemanly course, these altercationsculminated in a grand explosion between these sons of harmony. The Signor De Begnis threw down his music and left the theatre, never to return. While the opera was thus preparing, he sang during his engagement his favorite scena, "Il fanatico per le musica." Our musical amateurs greatly regretted this rupture between the professors, as they anticipated a great treat at the representation of "L'Elisire d'Amour." We believe this was his last appearance in Philadelphia, as he certainly never appeared in any opera after this date. During De Begnnis' private practice, he would array his person en costume in the part, and go through it before the mirrors as before the audience at night, appealing to Mr. Emerick, who was accompanying him on the piano forte, for his judgment as to the effects of his action and looks. He would cut many antics by way of jike, exhibiting what he would call "fine buffo points," by applying his forefinger to his eye, and again by touching his large acquiline nose wiyh his thumb, and placing his dexter hand thumb on his sinister hand little finger, a la circus clown, with other hand and finger gyrations, expressions in action and in the low language of the day, "You can't come it!" In appealing to M. E. for his opinion, he ventured to express some doubt as to the elegance of the action. "Pshaw! nonesense!" said De Begnis, "it would meet with applause in Italy and bring down the house." These no doubt were mere whims of the mercurial Italian in mind, if not corporeally so.

Signor Giuseppe De Begnis died at his residence in New York, August 1st, 1849, after a terrific atack of cholera of only a few hours. The death of this distinguished musician and vocalist created a great sensation at the time. He had all the first vocal teaching in New York and died worth some twenty-five thousand dollars.

Mrs. Sefton's benefit closed up this very short and unprofitable season. The theatre passed entirely out of the hands of Mr. Pratt, who had been engaged in the management from the commencement of Maywood & Co., in , ending in the very remarkable season of -'.