Great Singers, Second Series eBook

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

Mme. Malibran had now learned to dearly love Italy and its impulsive, warm-hearted people, so congenial to her own nature.  She sang in different Italian cities, receiving everywhere the most enthusiastic receptions.  In Bologna they placed a bust of their adored songstress in the peristyle of the theatre.  Each city vied with its neighbor in lavishing princely gifts on her.  She had not long been in London, where she returned to meet her spring engagement at the King’s Theatre in 1833, when she concluded a contract with the Duke Visconti of Milan for one hundred and eighty-five performances, seventy-five in the autumn and carnival season of 1835-’36, seventy-five in the corresponding season of 1836-’37, and thirty-five in the autumn of 1836, at a salary of eighteen thousand pounds.  These were the highest terms which had then ever been offered to a public singer, or in fact to any stage performer since the days of imperial Rome.

V.

Mme. Malibran’s Italian experiences were in the highest sense gratifying alike to her pride as a great artist and to her love of admiration as a woman.  Her popularity became a mania which infected all classes, and her appearance on the streets was the signal for the most fervid shouts of enthusiasm from the populace.  For two years she alternated between London and the sunny lands where she had become such an idol.  She had to struggle in Milan against the indelible impress made by Mme. Pasta, whose admirers entertained an almost fanatical regard for her memory as the greatest of lyric artists; but when Malibran appeared as Norma, a part written by Bellini expressly for Pasta, she was proclaimed la cantante per eccelenza.  A medal, executed by the distinguished sculptor Valerio Nesti, was struck in her honor.  Her generosity of nature was signally instanced during these golden Italian days in many acts of beneficence, of which the following are instances:  During her stay at Sinigaglia in the summer of 1834, she heard an exquisite voice singing beneath the windows of her hotel.  On looking out she saw a wan beggar-girl dressed in rags.  Discovering by investigation that it was a case of genuine want, she placed the girl in a position where she could receive an excellent musical education and have all her needs amply supplied.  On the eve of her departure from Naples, the last engagement she ever sang in that city, Gallo, proprietor of the Teatro Emeronnitio, came to entreat her to sing once at his establishment.  He had a wife and several children, and was a very worthy man, on the verge of bankruptcy.  “I will sing,” answered she, “on one condition—­that not a word is said about remuneration.”  She chose the part of Amina; the house was crammed, and the poor man was saved from ruin.  A vast multitude followed her home, with an enthusiasm which amounted almost to a frenzy, and the grateful manager named his theatre the Teatro Garcia.  On Ash-Wednesday, March 13, 1835, Mme. Malibran bade the Neapolitans adieu—­an eternal adieu.  Radiant with glory, and crowned with flowers, she was conducted by the Neapolitans to the faubourgs amid the eclat of vivats and acclamations.

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