Going to see them a second time, the Doctor was received by the whole family with much cordiality. He says Faustina was very intelligent, animated, and curious concerning what was going on in the world. She had a wonderful store of musical reminiscences, and showed remains of the splendid beauty for which her youth was celebrated. But her voice was all gone. Dr. Burney asked her to sing. “Ah! Non posso; ho perduto tutte le mie facolta.” ("Alas! I am no longer able; I have lost all my faculty.”) “I was extremely fascinated,” said the Doctor, “with the conversation of Signor Hasse. He was easy, communicative, and rational, equally free from pedantry, pride, and prejudice. He spoke ill of no one, but on the contrary did justice to the talents of several composers, among them Porpora, who, though he was his first master, was afterward his greatest rival.” Though his fingers were gouty, he played on the piano for his visitor, and his beautiful daughters sang. One was a “sweet soprano,” the other a “rich and powerful contralto, fit for any church or theatre in Europe “; both girls “having good shakes,” and “such an expression, taste, and steadiness as it is natural to expect in the daughters and scholars of Signor Hasse and Signora Faustina.”
There are two pictures of Faustina Bordoni in existence. One is in Hawkins’s “History,” showing her in youth. Brilliant large black eyes, splendid hair, regular features, and a fascinating sweetness of expression, attest how lovely she must have been in the heyday of her charms. The other represents her as an elderly person, handsomely dressed, with an animated, intelligent countenance. Faustina died in 1793, at the age of ninety-two, and Hasse not long after, at the age of ninety-four.
The Cardinal and the Daughter of the Cook.—The Young Prima Donna’s Debut in Lucca.—Dr. Barney’s Description of Gabrielli.—Her Caprices, Extravagances, and Meeting with Metastasio.—Her Adventures in Vienna.— Brydone on Gabrielli.—Episodes of her Career in Sicily and Parma.—She sings at the Court of Catharine of Russia.—Sketches of Caffarelli and Paochicrotti.—Gabrielli in London, and her Final Retirement from Art.
One of the great dignitaries of the Papal Court during the middle of the eighteenth century was the celebrated Cardinal Gabrielli. He was one day walking in his garden, when a flood of delicious, untutored notes burst on his ear, resolving itself finally into a brilliant arietta by Ga-luppi. The pretty little nymph who had poured out these wild-wood notes proved to be the daughter of his favorite cook. Catarina’s beauty of person and voice had already excited the hopes of her father, and he frequently took her to the Argentina Theatre, where her quick ear caught all the tunes she heard; but the humble