Great Singers, Second Series eBook

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

Some critics regarded her as far more of the tragedian than the singer.  “Her voice, since I have known it,” observes Mr. Chorley, in his “Modern German Music,” “was capable of conveying poignant or tender expression, but it was harsh and torn—­not so inflexible as incorrect.  Mme. Schroeder-Devrient resolved to be par excellence ’the German dramatic singer.’  Earnest and intense as was her assumption of the parts she attempted, her desire of presenting herself first was little less vehement:  there is no possibility of an opera being performed by a company, each of whom should be as resolute as she was never to rest, never for an instant to allow the spectator to forget his presence.  She cared not whether she broke the flow of the composition by some cry heard on any note or in any scale—­by even speaking some word, for which she would not trouble herself to study a right musical emphasis or inflection—­provided, only, she succeeded in continuing to arrest the attention.  Hence, in part, arose her extraordinary success in “Fidelio.”  That opera contains, virtually, only one acting character, and with her it rests to intimate the thrilling secret of the whole story, to develop this link by link, in presence of the public, and to give the drama the importance of terror, suspense, and rapture.  When the spell is broken by exhibiting the agony and the struggle of which she is the innocent victim, if the devotion, the disguise, and the hope of Leonora, the wife, were not for ever before us, the interest of the prison-opera would flag and wane into a cheerless and incurable melancholy.  This Mme. Schroeder-Devrient took care that it should never do.  From her first entry upon the stage, it might be seen that there was a purpose at her heart, which could make the weak strong and the timid brave; quickening every sense, nerving every fiber, arming its possessor with disguise against curiosity, with persuasion more powerful than any obstacle, with expedients equal to every emergency....  What Pasta would be in spite of her uneven, rebellious voice, a most magnificent singer, Mme. Schroeder-Devrient did not care to be, though nature, as I have heard from those who heard her sing as a girl, had blessed her with a fresh, delicious soprano voice.”

II.

Her fame so increased that the Fraeulein Schroeder soon made an art-tour through Germany.  Her appearances at Cassel in the spring of 1823, in such characters as Pamina and Agathe, produced a great sensation.  At Dresden she also evoked a large share of popular enthusiasm, and her name was favorably compared with the greatest lights of the German lyric stage.  While singing at this capital she met Carl Devrient, one of the principal dramatic tenors of Germany, and, an attachment springing up between the pair, they were married.  The union did not prove a happy one, and Mme. Schroeder-Devrient had

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