Great Singers, First Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 150 pages of information about Great Singers, First Series.

V.

Gabrielli’s career, which will now be resumed, had been full of romantic adventures, affaires d’amour, and curious episodes, and her vanity looked forward to the continuance in England of similar social excitements.  She had accepted the London engagement with some scruple and hesitation, but her anticipation of brilliant conquests among the jeunesse doree of Britain overcame her fear that she would find audiences less tolerant than those to which she had been accustomed in her imperious course through Europe.  But the beautiful Gabrielli was then a little on the wane both in personal loveliness and charm of voice; and, though her fame as a coquette and an artist had preceded her, she met with an indifference that was almost languor.  The young Englishmen of the period, though quick to draw blade as any gallants in Europe, did not feel inspired to fight for her smiles, as had been the case with their compeers in the Continental cities, which rang with the scandals, controversies, and duels engendered by her numerous conquests.  This sort of social stimulus had become necessary from long use as an ally of professional effort; and, lacking it, Gabrielli became insufferably indolent and careless.  She would not take the least trouble to please fastidious London audiences, then as now the most exacting in Europe.  She chose to remain sick on occasions which should have drawn forth her finest efforts, and frequently sent her sister Francesca to fill her great parts.  One night her manager, mistrusting her excuses of illness, proceeded to her apartments, and found them ablaze with light and filled with a large company of gay and riotous revelers.  Of course this condition of affairs could not long be endured.  Stung by the slight appreciation of her talents in England, and not choosing to endure the want of patience which made the public grumble when she chose to sing badly or not at all, she quitted England after a very brief stay.  Lord Mount Edgcumbe saw her in the opera of “Didone,” and avows bluntly that he could see nothing more of her acting than that she took the greatest possible care of her enormous hoop when she sidled out of the flames of Carthage.  Dr. Burney, on the other hand, is a more chivalrous critic, or else he was unduly impressed with the lady’s charms; for she appeared to him “the most intelligent and best-bred virtuoso with whom he had ever conversed, not only on the subject of music, but on every subject concerning which a well-educated female, who had seen the world, might be expected to have information.”  Furthermore, he extols the precision and accuracy of her execution and intonation, and the thrilling quality of her voice.

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