The marriage of Mlle. Grisi, in the spring of 1830, to M. Auguste Gerard de Melcy, a French gentleman of fortune, did not deprive the stage of one of its greatest ornaments, for after a short retirement at the beautiful chateau of Vaucresson, which she had recently purchased, she again resumed the operatic career which had so many fascinations for one of her temperament, as well as substantial rewards. Her first appearance in London after her marriage was with Rubini and Tamburini in the opera of “Semiramide,” speedily followed by a performance of Donna Anna, in “Don Giovanni.” The excitement of the public in its eager anticipation of the latter opera was wrought to the highest pitch. A great throng pressed against both entrances of the theatre for hours before the opening of the doors, and many ladies were severely bruised or fainted in the crush. It was estimated that more than four thousand persons were present on this occasion. The cast was a magnificent one. Mme. Grisi was supported by Mmes. Persiani and Albertazzi, and Tamburini, Lablache, and Rubini. This was hailed as one of the great gala nights in the musical records of London, and it is said that only a few years ago old connoisseurs still talked of it as something incomparable, in spite of the gifted singers who had since illustrated the lyric art. Mme. Pasta, who occupied a stage box, led the applause whenever her beautiful young rival appeared, and Grisi, her eyes glowing with happy tears, went to Pasta’s box to thank the queen of lyric tragedy for her cordial homage.
“Don Giovanni” was performed with the same cast in January, 1838, at the Theatre Italiens. About an hour after the close of the performance the building was discovered to be on fire, and it was soon reduced to a heap of glowing ashes. Severini, one of the directors, leaped from an upper story, and was instantly dashed to pieces, and Robert narrowly saved himself by aid of a rope ladder. Rossini, who had an apartment in the opera-house, was absent, but the whole of his musical library, valued at two hundred thousand francs, was destroyed, with many rare manuscripts, which no effort or expense could replace.
Mme. Grisi, more than any other prima donna who ever lived, was habitually associated in her professional life with the greatest singers of the other sex. Among those names which are inseparable from hers, are those of Rubini, Tamburini, Lablache, and, par excellence, that of Mario. Any satisfactory sketch of her life and artistic surroundings would be incomplete without something more than a passing notice of these shining lights of the lyric art. Giambattista Rubini, without a shred of dramatic genius, raised himself to the very first place in contemporary estimation by sheer genius as a singer, for his musical skill was something more than the outcome of mere knowledge