Great Singers, First Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Great Singers, First Series.

When Talma heard her declaim, at the time of her earliest celebrity in Paris, he said:  “Here is a woman of whom I can still learn.  One turn of her beautiful head, one glance of her eye, one light motion of her hand, is, with her, sufficient to express a passion.  She can raise the soul of the spectator to the highest pitch of astonishment and delight by one tone of her voice.  ‘O Dio!’ as it comes from her breast, swelling over her lips, is of indescribable effect.”  Poetical and enthusiastic by temperament, the crowning excellence of her art was a grand simplicity.  There was a sublimity in her expressions of vehement passion which was the result of measured force, energy which was never wasted, exalted pathos that never overshot the limits of art.  Vigorous without violence, graceful without artifice, she was always greatest when the greatest emergency taxed her powers.

Pasta’s second great part at the Theatre Italien was in Rossini’s “Tancredi,” an impersonation which was one of the most enchanting and finished of her lighter roles.  “She looked resplendent in the casque and cuirass of the Red Cross Knight.  No one could ever sing the part of Tancredi like Mine.  Pasta:  her pure taste enabled her to add grace to the original composition by elegant and irreproachable ornaments.  ’Di tanti palpiti’ had been first presented to the Parisians by Mme. Fodor, who covered it with rich and brilliant embroidery, and gave it what an English critic, Lord Mount Edgcumbe, afterward termed its country-dance-like character.  Mine.  Pasta, on the contrary, infused into this air its true color and expression, and the effect was ravishing.”

“Tancredi” was quickly followed by “Otello,” and the impassioned spirit, energy, delicacy, and tenderness with which Pasta infused the character of Desdemona furnished the theme for the most lavish praises on the part of the critics.  It was especially in the last act that her acting electrified her audiences.  Her transition from hope to terror, from supplication to scorn, culminating in the vehement outburst “sono innocente,” her last frenzied looks, when, blinded by her disheveled hair and bewildered with her conflicting emotions, she seems to seek fruitlessly the means of flight, were awful.  The varied resources of the great art of tragedy were consummately drawn forth by her Desdemona, in this opera, though she was yet to astonish the world with that impersonation imperishably linked with her name in the history of art.  “Elisabetta” and “Mose in Egitto” were also revived for her, and she filled the leading characters in both with eclat.


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