We can not better close this sketch than by giving an account of one of the very last public appearances of her life, when she allowed herself to be seduced into giving a concert in London for the benefit of the Italian cause. Mme. Pasta had long since dismissed all the belongings of the stage, and her voice, which at its best had required ceaseless watching and study, had been given up by her. Even her person had lost all that stately dignity and queenlfness which had made her stage appearance so remarkable. It was altogether a painful and disastrous occasion. There were artists present who then for the first time were to get their impression of a great singer, prepared of course to believe that that reputation had been exaggerated. Among these was Rachel, who sat enjoying the humiliation of decayed grandeur with a cynical and bitter sneer on her face, drawing the attention of the theatre by her exhibition of satirical malevolence.
Malibran’s great sister, Mme. Pauline Viardot, was also present, watching with the quick, sympathetic response of a noble heart every turn of the singer’s voice and action. Hoarse, broken, and destroyed as was the voice, her grand style spoke to the sensibilities of the great artist. The opera was “Anna Bolena,” and from time to time the old spirit and fire burned in her tones and gestures. In the final mad scene Pasta rallied into something like her former grandeur of acting; and in the last song with its roulades and its scales of shakes ascending by a semitone, this consummate vocalist and tragedienne, able to combine form with meaning—dramatic grasp and insight with such musical display as enter into the lyric art—was indicated at least to the apprehension of the younger artist. “You are right!” was Mme. Viardot’s quick and heartfelt response to a friend by her side, while her eyes streamed with tears—“you are right. It is like the ‘Cenacolo’ of Leonardo da Vinci at Milan, a wreck of a picture, but the picture is the greatest picture in the world.”
The Greatest German Singer of the Century.—Her Characteristics as an Artist.—Her Childhood and Early Training.—Her Early Appearances in Weimar, Berlin, and Leipsic,—She becomes the Idol of the Public.—Her Charms as a Woman and Romantic Incidents of her Youth.—Becomes affianced to Count Rossi.—Prejudice against her in Paris, and her Victory over the Public Hostility.—She becomes the Pet of Aristocratic Salons.—Rivalry with Malibran.—Her Debut in London, where she is welcomed with Great Enthusiasm.—Returns to Paris.—Anecdotes of her Career in the French Capital.—She becomes reconciled with Malibran in London.—Her Secret Marriage with Count Rossi.—She retires from the Stage as the Wife of an Ambassador.—Return to her Profession after Eighteen Years of Absence.—The Wonderful Success of her Youth renewed.—Her American Tour,—Attacked with Cholera in Mexico and dies.