Great Singers, First Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Great Singers, First Series.
difference how absurd and unmeaning they were.  Had she assiduously cultivated the dramatic part of her profession, such were the powers of her voice, her sense of the beautiful, her histrionic passion and energy, her charms of person, that she might have been the greatest lyric artist that ever lived.  Many of the songs she selected as vehicles of display were unsuitable to a female voice.  For instance, she would take the martial song for a bass voice, “Non piu Andrai,” in “Figaro,” and overpower by the force and volume of her organ all the brass instruments of the orchestra.  A craving for such sort of admiration from unthinking crowds turned her aside from the true path of her art, where she might have reached the top peak of greatness, and has handed down her memory a shining beacon rather than as a model to her successors.


Greatness of Genius overcoming Disqualification.—­The Characteristic Lesson of Pasta’s Life.—­Her First Appearance and Failure.—­Pasta returns to Italy and devotes herself to Study.—­Her First Great Successes in 1819.—­Characteristics of her Voice and Singing.—­Chorley’s Review of the Impressions made on him by Pasta.—­She makes her Triumphal Debut in Paris.—­Talma on Pasta’s Acting.—­Her Performances of “Giulietta” and “Tancredi.”—­Medea, Pasta’s Grandest Impersonation, is given to the World.—­Description of the Performance.—­Enthusiasm of the Critics and the Public.—­Introduction of Pasta to the English Public in Rossini’s “Otello.”—­The Impression made in England.—­Recognized as the Greatest Dramatic Prima Donna in the World.—­Glances at the Salient Facts of her English Career.—­The Performance of “Il Crociato in Egitto.”—­She plays the Male Role in “Otello.”—­Rivalry with Malibran and Sontag.—­The Founder of a New School of Singing.—­Pasta creates the Leading Roles in Bellini’s “Sonnambula” and “Norma” and Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena.”—­Decadence and Retirement.


As an artist who could transform natural faults into the rarest beauties, who could make the world forgive the presence of other deficiencies which could not thus be glorified by the presence of genius, thought, and truth—­as one who engraved deeper impressions on the memory of her hearers than any other even in an age of great singers—­Mme. Pasta must be placed in the very front rank of art.  The way by which this gifted woman arrived at her throne was long and toilsome.  Nature had denied her the ninety-nine requisites of the singer (according to the old Italian adage).  Her voice at the origin was limited, husky, and weak, without charm, without flexibility.  Though her countenance spoke, its features were cast in a coarse mold.  Her figure was ungraceful, her movements were awkward.  No candidate for musical sovereignty ever presented herself with what must have appeared a more meager catalogue of pretensions at the outset of her career.  What she became let our sketch reveal.

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