After the greatness of the artist had fairly-been made known to the public, the excitement in Paris was extraordinary. At some of the later concerts more than a thousand applications for admission had to be refused, and it was said that two theatres might have been thronged. Alboni was nearly smothered night after night with roses and camellias, and the stage was literally transformed into a huge bed of flowers, over which the prima donna was obliged to walk in making her exits. An amusing example of the naivete and simplicity of her character is narrated. On the morning after her second performance, she was seated in her hotel on the Boulevard des Italiens, reading the feuilletons of Berlioz and Fiorentino with a kind of childish pleasure, unconscious that she was the absorbing theme of Paris talk. A friend came in, when she asked with unaffected sincerity whether she had really sung “assez bien” on Monday night, and broke into a fit of the merriest laughter when she received the answer, “Tres bien pour une petite fille.” “Alboni,” writes this friend, “is assuredly for a great artist the most unpretending and simple creature in the world. She hasn’t the slightest notion of her position in her art in the eyes of the public and musical world.”
Mme. Alboni’s great success, it is said, made M. Vatel, the manager of the Italiens, almost frantic with disappointment, for, acting on the advice of Lablache, he had refused to engage her when he could have done so at a merely nominal sum, and had thus left the grand prize open to his rival. Her concert engagement being terminated, our prima donna made a short tour through Austria, and returned to Paris again to make her debut in opera on December 2d, in “Semiramide,” with Mme. Grisi, Coletti, Cellini, and Tagliafico, in the cast. The caprice of audiences was never more significantly shown than on this occasion. Alboni, on the concert stage, had recently achieved an unmistakable and brilliant recognition as a great vocalist, and on the night of her first lyric appearance before a French audience a great throng had assembled. All the celebrities of the fashionable, artistic, and literary world, princes, Government officials, foreign ministers, dilettanti, poets, critics, women of wit and fashion, swelled the gathering of intent listeners, through whom there ran a subdued murmur, a low buzz of whispering, betraying the lively interest felt. Grisi came on after the rising of the curtain and received a most cordial burst of applause. At length the great audience was hushed to silence, and the orchestra played the symphonic prelude which introduces the contralto air “Eccomi alfin in Babilonia.” Alboni glided from the side and walked slowly to the footlights. Let an eye-witness complete the story: “There was a sudden pause,” says one who was present; “a feather might almost have been heard to move.