Great Singers, Second Series eBook

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

II.

M. Duponchel, the manager of the Opera in Paris, hastened to London to hear Alboni sing, and immediately offered her an engagement.  In October, 1847, she made her Parisian debut.  Her first appearance in concert was with Alizard and Barroilhet.  “Many persons, artists and amateurs,” said Fiorentino, “absolutely asked on the morning of her debut, Who is this Alboni?  Whence does she come?  What can she do?” And their interrogatories were answered by some fragments of those trifling and illusory biographies which always accompany young vocalists.  There was, however, intense curiosity to hear and see this redoubtable singer who had held the citadel of the Royal Italian Opera against the attraction of Jenny Lind, and the theatre was crowded to suffocation by rank, fashion, beauty, and notabilities on the night of her first concert, October 9th.  When she stepped quietly on the stage, dressed in black velvet, a brooch of brilliants on her bosom, and her hair cut a la Titus, with a music-paper in her hand, there was just one thunder-clap of applause, followed by a silence of some seconds.  She had not one acknowledged advocate in the house; but, when Arsace’s cavatina, “Ah! quel giorno,” gushed from her lips in a rich stream of melodious sound, the entire audience was at her feet, and the critics could not command language sufficiently glowing to express their admiration.

“What exquisite quality of sound, what purity of intonation, what precision in the scales!” wrote the critic of the “Revue et Gazette Musicale.”  “What finesse in the manner of the breaks of the voice!  What amplitude and mastery of voice she exhibits in the ‘Brindisi’; what incomparable clearness and accuracy in the air from ‘L’ltaliana’ and the duo from ‘Il Barbiere!’ There is no instrument capable of rendering with more certain and more faultless intonation the groups of rapid notes which Rossini wrote, and which Alboni sings with the same facility and same celerity.  The only fault the critic has in his power to charge the wondrous artist with is, that, when she repeats a morceau, we hear exactly the same traits, the same turns, the same fioriture, which was never the case with Malibran or Cinti-Damoreau.”

“This vocal scale,” says Scudo, speaking of her voice, “is divided into three parts or registers, which follow in complete order.  The first register commences at F in the base, and reaches F in the medium.  This is the true body of the voice, whose admirable timbre characterizes and colors all the rest.  The second extends from G in the medium to F on the fifth line; and the upper part, which forms the third register, is no more than an elegant superfluity of Nature.  It is necessary next to understand with what incredible skill the artist manages this instrument; it is the pearly, light, and florid vocalization of Persiani joined to the resonance, pomp, and amplitude of Pisaroni.  No words can convey an idea of the exquisite purity of this voice, always mellow, always equable, which vibrates without effort, and each note of which expands itself like the bud of a rose—­sheds a balm on the ear, as some exquisite fruit perfumes the palate.  No scream, no affected dramatic contortion of sound, attacks the sense of hearing, under the pretense of softening the feelings.”

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