Great Singers, Second Series eBook

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

III.

In April of the same year during which Mme. Malibran had established herself so firmly in the admiration of the Parisian world, she accepted an engagement for the summer months with La-porte of the King’s Theatre in London.  She made her debut in the character of Desdemona, a part which had already been firmly fixed in the notions of the musical public by the two differing conceptions of Pasta and Sontag.  The opera had been originally written for Mme. Colbran, Rossini’s wife, and when it was revived for Pasta that great lyric tragedienne had embodied in it a grand, stormy, passionate style, suited to the genre of her genius.  Mme. Sontag, on the other hand, fashioned her impersonation from the side of delicate sentiment and tenderness, and Malibran had a difficult task in shaping the conception after an ideal which should escape the reproach of imitation.  Her version was full of electric touches and rapid alternations of feeling, but at times it bordered on the sensational and extravagant.  Her fiery vehemence was often felt to be inconsistent with the tenderness of the heroine.  The critics, while admitting the varied and original beauties of her reading, were yet severe in their condemnation of some of its features.  Mme. Malibran, however, urged that her action was what she would have manifested in the actual situations.  “I remember once,” says the Countess De Merlin, “a friend advised her not to make Otello pursue her so long when he was about to kill her.  Her answer was:  ’You are right; it is not elegant, I admit; but, when once I fairly enter into my character, I never think of effects, but imagine myself actually the person I represent.  I can assure you that in the last scene of Desdemona I often feel as if I were really about to be murdered, and act accordingly.’  Donzelli used to be much annoyed by Mme. Malibran not determining beforehand how he was to seize her; she often gave him a regular chase.  Though he was one of the best-tempered men in the world, I recollect him one evening being seriously angry.  Desdemona had, according to custom, repeatedly escaped from his grasp; in pursuing her, he stumbled, and slightly wounded himself with the dagger he brandished.  It was the only time I ever saw him in a passion.”

She next appeared successively as Rosina, Ni-netta, and Tancredi, winning fresh laurels in them all, not only by her superb skill in vocalizing, but by her versatility of dramatic conception and the ease with which she entered into the most opposite phases of feeling and motive.  She covered Rossini’s elaborate fioriture with a fresh profusion of ornament, but always with a dexterity which saved it from the reproach of being overladen.  She performed Semiramide with Mme. Pisaroni, and played Zerlina to Sontag’s Donna Anna.  Her habit of treating such dramatic parts as Ninetta, Zerlina, and Amina

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