Great Singers, First Series eBook

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

III.

The following year the management of the King’s Theatre again endeavored to secure Pasta, who had returned to Paris.  Before she would finally consent she stipulated that the new manager should pay her all the arrears of salary left unsettled by his predecessor, for, in spite of its artistic excellence, the late season had not proved a pecuniary success.  After much negotiation the difficulty was arranged, and Mme. Pasta, binding herself to fill her Parisian engagements at the close of her leave of absence, received her conge for England.  Her reappearance in “Otello” was greeted with fervid applause, and it was decided that her singing had gained in finish and beauty, while her acting was as powerful as before.  It was during this season that Pasta first sang with Malibran.  Ronzi di Begnis had lost her voice, Caradori had seceded in a pet, and the manager in despair tried the trembling and inexperienced daughter of the great Spanish tenor to fill up the gap.  She was a failure, as Pasta had been at first in England, but time was to bring her a glorious recompense, as it had done to her elder rival.  For the next two years Pasta sang alternately in London and Paris, and her popularity on the lyric stage exceeded that of any of the contemporary singers, for Catalini, whose genius turned in another direction, seemed to care only for the concert room.  But some disagreement with Rossini caused her to leave Paris and spend a year in Italy.  During this time her English reputation stood at its highest point.  No one had ever appeared on the English stage who commanded such exalted artistic respect and admiration.  Ebers tells us, speaking of her last engagement before going to Italy:  “At no period of Pasta’s career had she been more fashionable.  She had literally worked her way up to eminence, and, having attained the height, she stood on it firm and secure; no performer has owed less to caprice or fashion; her reputation has been earned, and, what is more, deserved.”

On her reappearance in London in 1827 Pasta was engaged for twenty-three nights at a salary of 3,000 guineas, with a free benefit, which yielded her 1,500 guineas more.  Her opening performance was that of Desdemona, in which Mme. Malibran also appeared during the same season, thus affording the critics an opportunity for comparison.  It was admitted that the younger diva had the advantage in vocalization and execution, but that Pasta’s conception was incontestably superior, and her reading of the part characterized by far greater nobility and grandeur.  The novelty of the season was Signor Coccia’s opera of “Maria Stuarda,” in which Pasta created the part of the beautiful Scottish queen.  Her interpretation possessed an “impassioned dignity, with an eloquence of voice, of look, and of action which defies description and challenges the severest criticism.”  It was a piece of acting which great natural genius, extensive powers of observation, peculiar sensibility of feeling, and those acquirements of art which are the results of sedulous study, combined to make perfect.  It is said that Mme. Pasta felt this part so intensely that, when summoned before the audience at the close, tears could be seen rolling down her cheeks, and her form to tremble with the scarcely-subsiding swell of agitation.

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