Great Singers, Second Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 209 pages of information about Great Singers, Second Series.
her.  He writes in his “Musical Recollections” a vivid description of her appearance in “Fidelio”:  “She was a pale woman.  Her face, a thoroughly German one, though plain, was pleasing from the intensity of expression which her large features and deep, tender eyes conveyed.  She had profuse fair hair, the value of which she thoroughly understood, delighting in moments of great emotion to fling it loose with the wild vehemence of a Maenad.  Her figure was superb, though full, and she rejoiced in its display.”  He also speaks of “the inherent expressiveness of her voice which made it more attractive on the stage than a more faultless organ.”  Mme. Schroeder-Devrient met a warm social welcome in London from the family of the great pianist, Moscheles, to whom she was known of old.  Mme. Moscheles writes in her diary:  “Our interesting guests at dinner were the Haizingers, he the admirable tenor singer of whom the German opera company here may well be proud, she pretty and agreeable as ever; we had, too, our great Schroeder and our greater Mendelssohn.  The conversation, of course, was animated, and the two ladies were in such spirits that they not only told anecdotes, but accompanied them with dramatic gestures; Schroeder, when telling us how he (the hero of her anecdote) drew his sword, flourished her knife in a threatening manner toward Haizinger, and Mendelssohn whispered to me, ’I wonder what John [the footman] thinks of such an English vivacity?  To see the brandishing of knives, and not know what it is all about!  Only think!’” A comic episode which occurred during the first performance of “Fidelio” is also related by the same authority:  “In that deeply tragic scene where Mme. Schroeder (Fidelio) has to give Haizinger (Florestan) a piece of bread which she has kept hidden for him three days in the folds of her dress, he does not respond to the action.  She whispers to him with a rather coarse epithet:  ‘Why don’t you take it?  Do you want it buttered?’ All this time, the audience, ignorant of the by-play, was solely intent on the pathetic situation.”  This is but one of many instances which could be adduced from the annals of the stage showing how the exhibition of the greatest dramatic passion is consistent with the existence of a jocose, almost cynical, humor on the part of the actors.


In the following year (1833), Mme. Schroeder-Devrient sang under Mr. Bunn at the Covent Garden Theatre, appearing in several of Weber’s and Mozart’s masterpieces.  She was becoming more and more of a favorite with the English public.  The next season she devoted herself again to the stage of Germany, where she was on the whole best understood and appreciated, her faults more uniformly ignored.  She appeared in twelve operas by native composers in Berlin, and thence went to Vienna and St. Petersburg.  She proceeded to Italy in 1835, where she sang for eighteen

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