Great Singers, First Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Great Singers, First Series.

To his supreme merit as an artist we have, however, overwhelming testimony.  Out of the many enthusiastic descriptions of his singing, that of Mancini, after Porpora the greatest singing-master of the age, and the fellow pupil with Farinelli under Bernacchi, will serve:  “His voice was thought a marvel because it was so perfect, so powerful, so sonorous, and so rich in its extent, both in the high and low parts of the register, that its equal has never been heard.  He was, moreover, endowed with a creative genius which inspired him with embellishments so new and so astonishing that no one was able to imitate them.  The art of taking and keeping the breath so softly and easily that no one could perceive it, began and died with him.  The qualities in which he excelled were the evenness of his voice, the art of swelling its sound, the portamento, the union of the registers, a surprising agility, a graceful and pathetic style, and a shake as admirable as it was rare.  There was no branch of the art which he did not carry to the highest pitch of perfection....  The successes of his youth did not prevent him from continuing to study, and this great artist applied himself with so much perseverance that he contrived to change in some measure his style, and to acquire another and superior method, when his name was already famous and his fortune brilliant.”


Let us return from the consideration of Faustina’s most brilliant contemporary to Hasse and his wife.  We have already seen that this great prima donna retired from the stage in 1753, at the age of fifty-two.  The life of the distinguished couple during this period is described with much pictorial vividness in a musical novel, published several years since, under the name of “Alcestis,” which also gives an excellent idea of German art and music generally.  In 1760 Hasse suffered greatly from the bombardment of Dresden by the Prussians, losing among other property all his manuscripts in the destruction of the opera-house—­a fact which may partly account for the oblivion into which this once admired composer has passed.  The loss was peculiarly unfortunate, for the publication of Hasse’s works was then about to commence at the expense of the King.  He and his wife removed to Vienna, where they remained till 1775, when they retired to Venice, Faustina’s birthplace.  Two years before this Dr. Burney visited them at their handsome house in the Landstrasse in Berlin, and found them a humdrum couple—­Hasse groaning with the gout, and the once lovely Faustina transformed into a jolly old woman of seventy-two, with two charming daughters.  As he approached the house with the Abate Taruffi, Faustina, seeing them, came down to meet them.  Says the Doctor:  “I was presented to her by my conductor, and found her a short, brown, sensible, lively old lady, who expressed herself much pleased to meet a cavaliere Inglesi, as she had been honored with great marks of favor in England.  Signor Hasse soon entered the room.  He is tall and rather large in size, but it is easy to imagine that in his younger days he must have been a robust and fine figure; great gentleness and goodness appear in his countenance and manners.”

Project Gutenberg
Great Singers, First Series from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook