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word to word: pauses, judiciously managed, successively render her respiration more short ; and the piano, gradually augmented, insensibly stifles her voice.- The last attitude of an actress charged with such a part should accompany this expression with a degree of faintness almost approaching to annihilation, with her face averted from the spot whence the terrific sounds are supposed to arise : she should now and then cast a timid and furtive glance, as if fearful of beholding the dreaded spectres : the reversed hands, which she had opposed to them, ought to preserve their former direction; but she should not appear to have force or courage sufficient to give any degree of tension to the muscles, so that, feeble and trembling, they may afterwards drop lifeless by her sides. (See Plate XLVII.)
Immediately after this weakness caused by fear, the second invocation of the infernal gods and the devotion of this faithful wife ought to take place. The musical declamation is here l'eplete with animation and a kind of savage enthusiasm : she should indicate a soul displaying its greatest degrees of energy; and the play ought consequently to acquire a superior degree of vivacity. The countenance of Alcestis should be fixed on the ground, because she is invoking the infernal deities; her body should bend forwards; her step ought to be grand, her arms extend, and each open eye to seem bursting from its orbit: the whole countenance should beam with a species of haggard inspiration. (See Plate XLVIII.)
Each of these expressions, separately taken, are exactly conformable to truth; as much in respect to the words which they ought to accompany, as to the situation of the soul, which they are intended to designate : neither of these can be called too strong nor too weak. But to be more rapid in the transitions, to rush on from weakness to strength, or from strength to weakness, with a kind of instantaneous celerity, would be to act directly contrary to the knowledge which even the most uninstructed spectator has attained of the human heart, and of the nature of sentiments in general. It is here necessary to introduce a pause, and even a very long one, to connect and bind together sentiments so extremely opposite to their intermediate conditions.
Parthenia, in supporting the Queen, who is ready to fall, should clasp her sister closely in her arms. Alcestis, reposing on her faithful bosom, should soon recover herself, and lifting up her feeble arm, in the sentiment of the disorder