Great Singers, First Series eBook

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

In private life Braham was much admired, and was always received in the most conservative and fastidious circles.  As a man of culture, a humorist, and a raconteur, he was the life of society; and he will be remembered as the composer who has left more popular songs, duets, etc., than almost any other English musician.  He died in 1856, after living to see his daughter Lady Walde-grave, and one of the most brilliant leaders of London high life.

The Davides, father and son, also belonged to the Catalani period, the elder having sung with her in Italy, and the younger in after years both in opera and concert.  Giacomo Davide, the elder, whose prime was between 1770 and 1800, was pronounced by Lord Mount Edgecumbe the first tenor of his time, possessing a powerful and well-toned voice, great execution as well as knowledge of music, and an excellent style of singing.  His son Giovanni, who became better known than himself, was his pupil.  Though singing with a faulty method, Giovanni Davide had a voice of such magnificent compass and quality as to produce with it the most electrical effects.  M. Edouard Bertin gives an interesting account of him in a letter from Venice dated 1823:  “Davide excites among the dilletanti of this town an enthusiasm and delight which can hardly be conceived without having been witnessed.  He is a singer of the new school, full of mannerism, affectation, and display, abusing like Martin his magnificent voice with its prodigious compass (three octaves comprised between four B flats).  He crushes the principal motive of an air beneath the luxuriance of his ornamentation, which has no other merit than that of a difficulty conquered.  But he is also a singer full of warmth, verve, expression, energy, and musical sentiment.  Alone he can fill up and give life to a scene:  it is impossible for another singer to carry away an audience as he does, and when he will only be simple he is admirable.  He is the Rossini of song.  He is the greatest singer I ever heard.  Doubtless the way in which Garcia* plays and sings the part of Otello is preferable, taking it all together, to that of Davide; it is pure, more severe, more constantly dramatic; but with all his faults Davide produces more effect, a great deal more effect.  There is something in him, I can not say what, which, even when he is ridiculous, entrances attention.  He never leaves you cold, and when he does not move he astonishes you.  In a word, before hearing him, I did not know what the power of singing really was.  The enthusiasm he excites is without limit.”

     * The father of Mlle. Mulibran and Viardot-Garcia.

This remarkable singer died in St. Petersburg in 1851, being then manager of an Imperial Opera in that city of enthusiastic music-lovers.

V.

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