Great Singers, First Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 150 pages of information about Great Singers, First Series.
the composer and wife to Berlin.  During the Prussian King’s occupation he made Faustina many magnificent gifts, an exceptional generosity in one who was one of the most penurious of monarchs as well as one of the greatest of soldiers.  Faustina continued to sing for eight years longer, when, at the age of fifty-two, she retired from the long art reign which she had enjoyed, having held her position with unchanged success against all comers for nearly forty years.

III.

In notable contrast to the career of Faustina was that of her old-time rival, Cuzzoni.  After the Venetian singer retired from London, Cuzzoni again returned to fill an engagement with the opposition company formed by Handel’s opponents.  With her sang Farinelli and Senesino, the former of whom was the great tenor singer of the age—­perhaps the greatest who ever lived, if we take the judgment of the majority of the musical historians.  Cuzzoni was again overshadowed by the splendid singing of Farinelli, who produced an enthusiasm in London almost without parallel.  Her haughty and arrogant temper could not brook such inferiority, and she took the first opportunity to desert what she considered to be an ungrateful public.  We hear of her again as singing in different parts of Europe, but always with declining prestige.  In the London “Daily Post” of September 7, 1741, appeared a paragraph which startled her old admirers:  “We hear from Italy that the famous singer, Mrs. C-z-ni, is under sentence of death, to be beheaded for poisoning her husband.”  If this was so, the sentence was never carried into execution, for she sang seven years afterward in London at a benefit concert.  She issued a preliminary advertisement, avouching her “pressing debts” and her “desire to pay them” as the reason for her asking the benefit, which, she declared, should be the last she would ever trouble the public with.  Old, poor, and almost deprived of her voice by her infirmities, her attempt to revive the interest of the public in her favor was a miserable failure; her star was set for ever, and she was obliged to return to Holland more wretched than she came.  She had scarcely reappeared there when she was again thrown into prison for debt; but, by entering into an agreement to sing at the theatre every night, under surveillance, she was enabled to obtain her release.  Her recklessness and improvidence had brought her to a pitiable condition; and in her latter days, after a career of splendor, caprice, and extravagance, she was obliged to subsist, it is said, by button-making.  She died in frightful indigence, the recipient of charity, at a hospital in Bologna, in 1770.

IV.

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