Great Singers, First Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 150 pages of information about Great Singers, First Series.
to induce her to sing when she was in a bad humor was to prevail upon her favorite lover to place himself in the principal seat of the pit, or the front of a box, and, if they were on good terms—­which was seldom the case, however—­she should address her tender airs to him, and exert herself to the utmost.  When Brydone was in Sicily, her lover promised to give him an example of his power over her.  “He took his seat accordingly; but Gabrielli, probably suspecting the connivance, would take no notice of him; so even this expedient does not always succeed.”

II.

When Gabrielli left Vienna for Sicily in 1765, she was laden with riches, for her manifold extravagances were generally incurred at the expense of somebody else; and she continued at Palermo the same eccentric, capricious, and flighty conduct which had made her name synonymous with everything reckless and daring in contravening propriety.  She treated the highest dignitaries with the same insolence which she displayed toward operatic managers.  Even the Viceroy of Sicily, standing in the very place of royalty, was made the victim of wanton impertinence.  The Viceroy gave a dinner in honor of La Gabrielli, to which were invited the proudest nobles of the court; and, as she did not appear at the appointed hour, a servant was sent to her apartments.  She was found en deshabille dawdling over a book, and affected to have forgotten the viceregal invitation—­a studied insult, hardly to be endured.  This insolence, however, was overlooked by the representative of royal authority, and it was not till the proud beauty’s caprices caused her to seriously neglect her artistic duties that she felt the weight of his displeasure.  When he sent a remonstrance against her singing sotto voce on the stage, she said she might be forced to cry, but not to sing.  The exasperated ruler ordered her to prison for twelve days.  Her caprice was here shown by giving the costliest entertainments to her fellow prisoners, who were of all classes from debtors to bandits, paying their debts, distributing great sums among the indigent, and singing her most beautiful songs in an enchanting manner.  When she was released she was followed by the grateful tears and blessings of those she had so lavishly benefited in jail.  This fascinating creature seems all through life to have been good on impulse and bad on principle.  Three years after this Gabrielli was singing in Parma, where she made a speedy conquest of the Infante, Don Ferdinand.  His boundless wealth condoned the ugliness of his person in the eyes of the singer, and the lavish income he placed at her disposal gratified her boundless extravagances, while it did not prevent her from being gracious to the Infante’s many rivals and would-be successors.  Bitter quarrels and recriminations ensued, and the jealous ravings of Catarina’s princely admirer were more than matched by the fierce sarcasms and

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Great Singers, First Series from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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