Great Singers, Second Series eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 209 pages of information about Great Singers, Second Series.

Perhaps at no period of her life, though, did Mme. Viardot create a stronger feeling than when she appeared in Berlin in the spring of 1847 as Rachel in Halevy’s “La Juive.”  It was a German version, but the singer was perfect mistress of the language, and though the music of the opera was by no means well suited to the character of her voice, its power as a dramatic performance and the passion of the singing established a complete supremacy over all classes of hearers.  The exhibition on the part of this staid and phlegmatic German community was such as might only be predicated of the volcanic temperament of Rome or Naples.  The roar of the multitude in front of her lodgings continued all night, and it was dawn before she was able to retire to rest.  The versatility and kind heart of Mme. Viardot were illustrated in an occurrence during this Berlin engagement.  She had been announced as Alice in “Robert le Diable,” when the Isabella of the evening, Mlle. Tuezck, was taken ill.  The impressario tore his hair in despair, for there was no singer who could be substituted, and a change of opera seemed to be the only option.  Mme. Viardot changed the gloom of the manager to joy.  Rather than disappoint the audience, she would sing both characters.  This she did, changing her costume with each change of scene, and representing in one opera the opposite roles of princess and peasant.  One can imagine the effect of this great feat on that crowded Berlin audience, who had already so warmly taken Pauline Viardot to their hearts.  Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg, Dresden, Frankfort, Leipsic, and other German cities were the scenes of a series of triumphs, and everywhere there was but one voice as to her greatness as an artist, an excellence not only great, but unique of its kind.  Her repertoire at this time consisted of Desdemona, Cenerentola, Rosina, Camilla (in “Gli Orazi"), Arsace, Norma, Ninetta, Amina, Romeo, Lucia, Maria di Rohan, Leonora ("La Favorita” ), Zerlina, Donna Anna, Iphigenie (Gluck), the Rachel of Halevy, and the Alice and Valentine of Meyerbeer.


Mme. Viardot’s high position on the operatic stage of course brought her into intimate association with the leading singers of her age, some of whom have been mentioned in previous sketches.  But there was one great tenor of the French stage, Nourrit, who, though he died shortly after Mme. Viardot’s entrance on her lyric career, yet bore such relation to the Garcia family as to make a brief account of this gifted artist appropriate under this caption.  Adolphe Nourrit, of whom the French stage is deservedly proud, was the pupil of Manuel Garcia, the intimate friend of Maria Malibran, and the judicious adviser of Pauline Viardot in her earlier years.  The son of a tenor singer, who united the business of a diamond broker with the profession of music, young

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