Great Singers, Second Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 170 pages of information about Great Singers, Second Series.

In no previous season was Mlle. Titiens so popular or so much admired as during the season of 1862.  Her most remarkable performance was the character of Alice, in Meyerbeer’s “Robert le Diable.”  “Mlle. Titiens’s admirable personation of Alice,” observes the critic of a leading daily paper, “must raise her to a still higher rank in public estimation than that she has hitherto so long sustained.  Each of the three acts in which the German soprano was engaged won a separate triumph for her.  We are tired of perpetually expatiating on the splendid brightness, purity, and clearness of her glorious voice, and on the absolute certainty of her intonation; but these mere physical requisites of a great singer are in themselves most uncommon.  Irrespectively of the lady’s clever vocalization, and of the strong dramatic impulse which she evinces, there is an actual sensual gratification in listening to her superb voice, singing with immovable certainty in perfect tune.  Her German education, combined with long practice in Italian opera, peculiarly fit Mlle. Titiens for interpreting the music of Meyerbeer, who is equally a disciple of both schools.”

IV.

Mlle. Titiens was such a firmly established favorite of the English public that, in the line of great tragic characters, no one was held her equal.  The most brilliant favorites who have arisen since her star ascended to the zenith have been utterly unable to dispute her preeminence in those parts where height of tragic inspiration is united with great demands of vocalization.  Cherubini’s opera of “Medea,” a work which, had never been produced in England, because no soprano could be found equal to the colossal task of singing a score of almost unprecedented difficulty in conjunction with the needs of dramatic passion no less exigeant, was brought out expressly to display her genius.  Though this classic masterpiece was not repeated often, and did not become a favorite with the English public on account of the old-fashioned austerity of its musical style, Titiens achieved one of the principal triumphs of her life in embodying the character of the Colchian sorceress as expressed in song.  Pasta’s Medea, created by herself musically and dramatically out of the faded and correct commonplace of Simon Mayer’s opera, was fitted with consummate skill to that eminent artist’s idiosyncrasies, and will ever remain one of the grand traditions of the musical world.  To perform such a work as that of Cherubini required Pasta’s tragic genius united with the voice of a Catalani, made, as it were, of adamant and gold.  To such an ideal equipment of powers, Titiens approached more nearly than any other singer who had ever assayed the role in more recent times.  One of the noblest operas ever written, it has been relegated to the musical lumber-room on account of the almost unparalleled difficulties which it presents.

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