Great Singers, First Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 150 pages of information about Great Singers, First Series.
music of Mozart, however, who had just become a great favorite in England.  The strict time, the severe form, and the importance of the accompaniments were not suited to her splendid and luxuriant style, which disdained all trammels and rules.  Yet she was the first singer who introduced “Le Nozze di Figaro” to the English stage.  Besides Susanna in “Le Nozze,” she appeared as Vitellia in “La Clemenza di Tito,” a serious role; and both in acting and singing these interpretations were praised by the most intelligent connoisseurs—­who had previously attacked the vicious redundancy of her style severely—­as nearly matchless.  Arch and piquant as the waiting-woman, lofty, impassioned, and haughty as the patrician dame of old Rome, she rendered each as if her sole talent were in the one direction.  Tremmazani, a delightful tenor, who had just arrived in England, and possessed a voice of that rich, touching Cremona tone so rare even in Italy, it may be remarked in passing, refused the part of Count Almaviva as lacking sufficient importance, and because he regarded it as beneath his dignity to appear in comic opera.

III.

The year 1813 was the last season of Catalani’s regular engagement on the operatic stage.  She continued to sing in “Tito” and “Figaro,” but her principal pleasure was in the most extravagant and bizarre show-pieces, such, for example, as variations composed for the violin on popular airs like “God save the King,” “Rule Britannia,” “Cease your Funning.”  She carried her departure from the true limits of art to such an outrageous degree as to draw on her head the severest reprobation of all good judges, though the public listened to her wonderful execution with unbounded delight and astonishment.  Toward the latter part of the season an extraordinary riot took place in consequence of Catalani’s failure to appear two successive evenings.  The managers were in arrears, and the diva by the advice of her husband adopted this plan to force payment.  There were mutterings of the thunder on the first non-appearance; but when on the following night Catalani was still absent, the storm broke.  The opera which had been substituted was half finished when the clamor drowned all the artistic noise behind the footlights.  A military guard who had been called in to protect the stage from invasion were overpowered by a throng of gentlemen who leaped on from the auditorium, many of them men of high rank, and the guns and bayonets wrested from the soldiers’ hands.  Bloodshed seemed imminent; and had it not been for the moderation of the soldiers, who permitted themselves to be disarmed rather than fire, the result would have been very serious.  The chandeliers and mirrors were all broken into a thousand pieces, and the musical instruments hurled around in the wildest confusion.  Fiddles, flutes, horns, drums, swords, bayonets, muskets, operatic costumes, and stage properties generally were hurled

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