Grisi united much of the nobleness and tragic inspiration of Pasta with something of the fire and energy of Malibran, but in the minds of the most capable judges she lacked the creative originality which stamped each of the former two artists. She was remarkable for the cleverness with which she adopted the effects and ideas of those more thoughtful and inventive than herself. Her Norma was ostentatiously modeled on that of Pasta. Her acting showed less the exercise of reflection and study than the rich, uncultivated, imperious nature of a most beautiful and adroit southern woman. But her dramatic instincts were so strong and vehement that they lent something of her own personality to the copy of another’s creation. When to this engrossing energy were added the most dazzling personal charms and a voice which as nearly reached perfection as any ever bestowed on a singer, it is no marvel that a continual succession of brilliant rivals was unable to dispute her long reign over the public heart.
Vicissitudes of the Garcia Family.—Pauline Viardot’s Early Training.—Indications of her Musical Genius.—She becomes a Pupil of Liszt on the Piano.—Pauline Garcia practically self-trained as a Vocalist.—Her Remarkable Accomplishments.—Her First Appearance before the Public with De Beriot in Concert.—She makes her Debut in London as Desdemona.—Contemporary Opinions of her Powers.—Description of Pauline Garcia’s Voice and the Character of her Art.—The Originality of her Genius.—Pauline Garcia marries M. Viardot, a Well-known Litterateur.—A Tour through Southern Europe.—She creates a Distinct Place for herself in the Musical Art.—Great Enthusiasm in Germany over her Singing.—The Richness of her Art Resources.—Sketches of the Tenors, Nourrit and Duprez, and of the Great Barytone, Ronconi.—Mine. Viardot and the Music of Meyerbeer.—Her Creation of the Part of Fides in “Le Prophete,” the Crowning Work of a Great Career.—Retirement from the Stage.—High Position in Private Life.—Connection with the French Conservatoire.
The genius of the Garcia family flowered not less in Mme. Malibran’s younger sister than in her own brilliant and admired self. Pauline, the second daughter of Manuel Garcia, was thirteen years the junior of her sister, and born at Paris, July 18, 1821. The child had for sponsors at baptism the celebrated Ferdinand Paer, the composer, and the Princess Pauline Prascovie Galitzin, a distinguished Russian lady, noted for her musical amateurship, and the full name given was Michelle Ferdinandie Pauline. The little girl was only three years old when her sister Maria made her debut in London, and even then she lisped the airs she heard sung by her sister and her father with something like musical intelligence, and showed that the hereditary gift was deeply rooted in her own organization.