The scene is supposed to take place in a garden of the planet Phonos; a Paradise especially created by the Omnipotent as an eternal home and resting place for all musicians and vocalists of genius or talent, after their demise on earth. They have become immortal, enjoying the inestimable privilege of retaining their terrestrial individualities, powers of composition, voices, language, and thoughts, on the condition that they will not quarrel, and will live with each other as they naturally should, in harmony.
The Garden of Melodies in Phonos —Stately avenues of trees; innumerable statues and fountains; parterres of lovely flowers over which myriads of golden-feathered birds chirp, trill, and warble the favorite gems of the great masters. In an arbor Rossini is seated at a piano, Malibran stands by his side; near them, reclining on the lawn, are Mozart, Auber, Glück, and Grétry sleeping.
Malibran.—No, divine maestro—I cannot sing it. Rossini.—Per Bacco, child, you must, it is exceedingly grand, I am beginning to understand it, come, try again.
Auber (yawning)—Mon dieu! Rossini, have pity upon me. I was so happy dreaming of the first representation of “La Muette,” why did you arouse me from such a beatific slumber? Stop! stop! that infernal tintamarre, what are you playing?
[Rossini plays with his elbows occasionally.]
Glück (yawning) —By the shades of Händel, cease Rossini; I have just caught a wondrous melody in si mineur, if you don’t stop I’ll lose it—what are you playing?
Glück.—Heiliger Gott! is that Wagner’s music I have heard so much of?
Rossini.—Yes, fine, isn’t it, luscious accords, heh?
Auber.—Discords you mean, I never heard such noisy trash. I’m sure I will not be able to hear for a week.
[Pointing to Grétry, asleep on the grass ]
See, it has killed my cher Grétry, bah, we are immortal, I forgot. Wagner, indeed, and they call that music on Earth. Music of the future, ah, mon Dieu, quil’s sont bêtes.
[Exit whistling, “On yonder rock reclining.”]
Rossini.—About five minutes, I feel weary now.
Mozart (to Malibran),—And how long have you been singing, madame?
Malibran —I only sang eight bars, my voice failed me on the ninth.
Mozart.—And what is the title of this work?
[Looks for it.]
Rossini.—“Tristram and Yseult,” I believe.
Mozart.—Oh! oh! but my dear maestro, the score is upside down! No wonder you couldn’t play it effectively, no wonder we were disgusted.
Rossini.—Yes, I knew it was upside down.
Mozart.—Well, why don’t you read it as it should be read?
Rossini.—Well, Mozy, I did try to play it the right way, but to tell you the truth, I could not make anything out of it.