Her features were most expressive, and well adapted to the lyric stage; her manner also was dramatic and energetic. She was highly original, and always thought for herself. Possessing a profound insight into character, her conception was always true and just, while her execution continually varied. “The one proceeds from a judgment that never errs, the other from impulse, which may possibly lead her astray. Thus, while her Fidelio and her Norma are never precisely the same on two consecutive evenings, they are, nevertheless, always Fidelio and Norma.... She does not calculate. She sings and acts on the impulse of the moment; but her performance must always be impressive, because it is always true to one idea, always bearing upon one object—the vivid realization of the character she impersonates to the apprehension of her audience.” So much was she the creature of impulse that, even when she would spend a day, a week, a month, in elaborating a certain passage—a certain dramatic effect—perhaps on the night of performance she would improvise something perfectly different from her preconceived idea.
Her sister Marie made her debut in Thalberg’s Florinda, in July, with Sophie. She was a graceful and charming contralto; but her timidity and an over-delicacy of expression did not permit her then to display her talents to the greatest advantage. The brother of the sisters Cruvelli was a fine barytone.
At the close of 1851 Sophie went again to the Theatre Italien, and the following year she again returned to London to sing with Lablache and Gardoni. During this season she performed in “La Sonnambula,” “Il Barbiere,” and other operas of the florid Italian school, charming the public by her lyric comedy, as she had inspired them by her tragic impersonations. Cruvelli had always been remarkable for impulsive and eccentric ways, and no engagement ever operated as a check on these caprices. One of these whims seized the young lady in the very height of a brilliantly successful engagement, and one day she took French leave without a word of warning. The next that was heard of Sophie Cruvelli was that she was singing at Wiesbaden, and then that she had appeared as Fides in “Le Prophete” at Aix-La-Chapelle. Cruel rumors were circulated at her expense; but she showed herself as independent of scandal as she had been of professional loyalty to a contract.
Sophie Cruvelli’s engagement at the Grand Opera in Paris in January, 1854, filled Paris with the deepest excitement, for she was to make her appearance in the part of Valentine in “Les Huguenots.” The terms given were one hundred thousand francs for six months. Meyerbeer, who entertained a great admiration for Sophie’s talents, set to work on “L’Africaine” with redoubled zeal, for he destined the role of Selika for her. A fortnight ahead orchestra stalls were sold