Page images
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

THE distinguished Character, who her to take the first parts in serious forms the subject of our present opera.

Her vocal powers, however, memoir, was born in Sinigaglia, a small were not the only qualities which retown in the Papal territories, about the commended her to public favour. Beauyear 1782. Though the accident of ty and youth, when accompanied by elebirth can add nothing, in the sight of gance and grace of deportment, will universal reason, to those mental or not easily yield their contested sovephysical qualities which lead to excel- reignty to the dominion of music. There lence, and which nature only can be is a witchery in beauty as well as in stow, it is, however, due to the cele- sound; and it is so difficult to say which brated ANGELICA CATALANI to say, exercises the strongest influence over that she was born of parents highly the heart and its affections, that the adrespectable though poor; and that this mirers of the fair Angelica were at a cireumstance, which in England only loss to determine which recommended facilitates the approach to the temple of her most to public esteem: in the latter, fame, was nearly depriving the world of however, she stood unrivalled ; and in those splendid powers, which are the ad- the former she had many competitors ; miration of the present, and will conti- and if her innocence and beauty were nue to be the theme of future ages. Ma- more highly esteemed, it was only bedame Catalani owed more to birth than cause they were found connected with to fortune; and she was, therefore, such extraordinary endowments. It is destined to take the veil, like other fe- certain, however, that the grace and males, similarly circumstanced. When elegance of her movements and person, fortune and birth stand at a distance, heightened and refined as they were by and view each other with a jealous eye, the severe dignity of virtue, rendered the one too proud to court, and the

her one of those miracles of nature other too capricious to favour, the nun- which only certain ages are permitted nery is the only asylum which the pride to behold. of birth has discovered in Italy to se- Her celebrity procured her an invitacure the fair sex from the contingencies tion from the Prince and Princess of Braof circumstances and situations. An- zil, now King and Queen of Portugal. gelica, however, discovered such supe- The opera house at Lisbon boasted rior powers during her noviciate in at this time of the first Italian singsinging the praises of her Creator, that ers in Europe. The fascinating Grasher parents were induced by the solici. sini, and the still more enchanting tation of friends, to change their inten- Crescentini, were among its principal tion of withdrawing their

daughter from ornaments; and to the instructions of all commerce with the world. She was the latter, who was deemed a prodigy accordingly suffered to cultivate her in his art, Madame Catalani owes much musical powers; and the combined ener- of the celebrity which she has since gies of nature and of art soon qualified obtained, She remained five years in

Lisbon, on a salary of three thousand that prompt us to action, like the latent moidores, and was honoured with pre- causes of natural effects, 'seldoın hang sents of great value. During her resi- on the surface of things, and it requires dence in this capital, she married Mon- time and opportunity to trace them to sieur Vallebraque, still retaining the their source.

Hence it is that public name which had raised her to such cele- opinion is always fallible, though not brity : instead, however, of Signora, always erroneous, when its object is the she was henceforth known by the name immediate public conduct of individuof Madame Catalani. She received let- duals; they generally refer the conters of recommendation to the royal duct of distinguised persons to a better family of Spain, from the Princess of or worse source than that from which Brazil, who was particularly attached it emanated. The cause of this error to her; and whose esteem was less found- seems to be, that the public judge of ed on her professional eminence, than all individuals alike who are placed on her private virtues.

in similar situations, without reflectIn Spain she was honored with the ing that every individual is the creafriendship of the royal family, and be- ture of babits, feelings, and impulses, came extremely popular with the nobi- which belong to no other but himlity and gentry during her residence at self, that these feelings, exercise an Madrid.

influence over him which reason can After having visited the French_me- seldom repel or bend to its own designs tropolis, in 1806 she arrived in Eng- and that consequently out of fifty inland, and appeared at the Opera House, dividuals who happen to act alike, not in the Hay-market, in the latter end of five may be prompted to it by similar that year. Her annual salary was only motives. One rule, however, should £2,000, and one benefit, á sum not never be forgotten in regulating our more than half what she received at judgments, and that is, that the motive Lisbon ; but she looked forward to that to which we ascribe any action should encouragement which, if it be not al. always be compared with the general ways, at least should be always, the tenor and character of the actor's life; prize of superior attainments; and her and, out of all the possible motives to expectations were amply realized. which it can be referred, always to

Madame Catalani made her first ap- select that which harmonizes best with pearance on the 13th of December, this general tenor and character. Who1806, in the character of Semiramide ; ever is guided by this rule, and what and, to give a full display of her pow- rule can we discover that approaches ers, a new composition of Portogallo nearer to infallibility, must instantly was substituted for Bianchi's original free Madame Catalani from the impumusic, as being more suited to her na- tation of avarice, in her quarrel with tural and exquisite powers: she was Mr. Taylor. Her liberality, and the accordingly received with the most un- readiness with which she has been bounded applause, and her fame became always known to attend, and promote every day more firmly established. the objects of all charitable institutions,

In 1808, her salary was encreased to are known and published throughout £5,250 and two clear benefits.

Her Europe; and, even when her health has health, however, did not keep pace with sometimes prevented her from singing her fortune, and became as variable as in aid of such institutions, her purse the climate. Madame Dussek accord- has contributed to effect that good ingly was to perform in serious opera, which was sought for from her vocal and take the part of Buffa whenever assistance. The delicacy of her health Madame Catalani was unable to per- frequently obliged her to decline many form. A fracas however took place engagements, which were sufficiently

, which diminished her popularity in of her adoration; and when we know England. Mr. Taylor offered her that she refused 240,000 roubles, about $6,000 and three clear benefits, but 10,000 guineas, from the Muscovite though this engagement was highly nobility for giving ten concerts in their liberal she refused to accept of it. The ancient capital, we cannot think of aspublic attributed her refusal to a spirit cribing her refusal of Mr. Taylor's of avarice, but in doing so, they judged offer to a spirit which, if it had existed, by first appearances. The real motives would have certainly gratified itself by

[ocr errors]

embracing the offer of the Muscovite was unequal, and she determined to
nobility. Perhaps the state of her resign the charge and visit the capitals
health in 1809 was not the sole cause of Europe. She went first to Berlin,
of her refusing Mr. Taylor's offer. where she was received by his Prussian
She thought her brother's talents not Majesty with the most fattering res-
sufficiently appreciated by the situation pect. The Prussians were at a loss
appointed him in the orchestra, and which to admire most, her surprising
therefore, as Mr. Taylor refused him talents or beneficence. Of this she
the place to which she thought him received the most honourable testimo-
entitled, it is certain that she acted nies from all the Prussian courts, and
more under the influence of her feel- his Majesty sent her, accompanied by a
ings than of her reason at the moment. most gracious letter, the grand medal
To him, however, who can make no of the Academy, (similar to that which
allowance for that irritability of feeling the Great Frederick sent to Voltaire.)
which is the inseparable attendant of This letter was published in all the
genius, we can only say, that he knows journals of the time.
too little of the human heart to esti- From Berlin she proceeded to Hano-
mate as he ought the moral value of ver, where she was graciously received
human actions; for though weakness by his Royal Highness the Duke of
and irritability are not to be defended, Cambridge, and all the ladies of the
yet as they form a part of our nature, court. She was crowned at the The-
and are frequently found united with atre with her usual success, and after
virtues of a superior order, they should giving a concert for the benefit of the
not be too hastily condemned.

poor, she departed for Stutgard We
Another circumstance contributed, at are informed that the melody of her
this moment, to render Madame Cata- voice made such an impression on the
lani less popular, namely, her refusing late King, who was passionately fonda
to sing for a charitable institution. of music, that he pronounced her name
The public erroneously attributed this a few minutes before his death.
refusal, as well as her difference with From Stutgard she went to Munich,
Mr. Taylor, to motives of avarice, but but, in consequence of some trifling
if this were the real cause of her refu- misunderstanding, she departed with-
sal, how can we explain the fact, that out singing. She was persuaded, how-
she sent twenty guineas as a private ever, to return shortly after, and was
donation to that very charity? If this affectionately embraced by the Queen,
be the manner in which avarice mani- who greatly regretted the mistake
fests itself, it were well for charitable which had taken place.

The King institutions that all the world were was not less attentive to her, and remisers.

commended her to the friendship of his After the fracas between her and daughter, the Empress of Austria. Mr. Taylor, she appeared occasionally Vienna was the next Theatre of at private musical parties. She perform- Madame Catalani's vocal powers. Here ed at the principal towns in the three her success was unparalleled; and a kingdoms; at the grand music meet- simple statement of facts will easily ings at Oxford and Cambridge, and at evince the enthusiasm with which she several charitable institutions. She was received. The great room of the was at length induced to go to Paris, Redoubt was filled to excess at each of where the King of France granted her her concerts, though it contains 3,000 the patent of the Theatre Royal Italian, persons, and the tickets of admission with a yearly salary of £7,000 sterling. were very high. The Emperor, as a This Theatre, which was then by far mark of his royal favor, presented her the most elegant in Paris, she managed with a superb ornamental of opal, enwith great ability for four years, and riched with diamonds. Here her bealternately engaged the celebrated com- nevolence and liberality to the poor, posers, Paer and Spontine, to conduct who always participated in her success, the musical department. She also en- displayed itself as usual. Every mouth gaged the first singers of Italy, both resounded her praise, and the magismale and female. The receipts, how- tracy of the city, to testify the high ever, were trifling whenever she did sense which they entertained of her not sing herself, so that her attention character, caused a medal to be struck to the interests of the establishment which bears an inscription highly flatbecame a fatigue, to which her health tering to her.

Madame Catalani had long cherished rapidity, strength, and sweetness. She a wish to visit Russia, from which she gave another concert on the 30th of received many invitations. On leaving July, the profits of which amounted to Austria, therefore, she proceeded to St. upwards of £.300, and which she dePetersburgh, where she commenced voted to the funds of the Westminster with a concert, the tickets for which General Infirmary; and, indeed, the were fixed at twenty-five roubles. The whole tenor of her life shews the missuccess which attended her performance taken prejudice, which had been at one the first night was so great, that se- time excited against her in this country. veral hundred persons were disappoint- From London, Madame Catalani proed of seats each succeeding night. She ceeded to Glasgow; and afterwards vi. was persuaded to give her concluding sited Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, and concert at the public exchange, where Liverpool : here she was joined by Mr. she was honoured with the presence of Yaniewicz, who has ever since been the 4,000 individuals. The receipts of this sole director of her concerts. From Liconcert she devoted to the relief of two- verpool she proceeded to Leeds, and next hundred distressed families in St. Pe- visited Sheffield, where she was sudtersburgh. Such is the illustrious cha- denly taken ill while the audience were racter who has been charged with ava- assembling, or rather after the greater rice in the metropolis of the British part of them had assembled. The efempire! We must confess it gives us fect of her illness produced a temporasincere pleasure that it should fall to ry suspension of her vocal powers; and our lot to present these proofs of her she continued three days in this alarmliberality to the public, or at least ing state. She left Sheffield without a to that portion of the public who honor concert, promising to return shortly, our pages with a perusal. At her de- which she did, after visiting Birmingparture from St. Petersburgh, the Em- ham, Bath, and Clifton. From Shef. press embraced her in the most affec- field she proceeded to Nottingham, and tionate manner, and the reigning Em- from thence to London, where she still press presented her with a pair of gold continues. During this excursion, she car-rings, and a diamond necklace. The has cleared above £.6000 over and Emperor Alexander, not less sensible above the heavy expenses, which she of her virtues, kissed her hands at her must have necessarily incurred. She departure, and made her a present of a is now performing in London, where magnificent girdle of brilliants. She her success is without example. At remained four months in Russia, during this, however, we feel no surprize ; for which time she gave concerts at St. since she first commenced her musical Petersburgh, Riga, Moscow, and Wil- career to the present moment, she has na, which produced her, exclusive of all been not only the first singer in Europe, expenses and the sums she bestowed but in fact the only singer who may be on charity, upwards of 15,000 guineas. truly said to have had no competiWhen she went from Moscow to War- tor. The public mind never hesitated saw, she was presented on her arrival for a moment between the comparative with a letter from the Muscovite no- merits of her and any other performer; bility, offering her, as we have already and when we say the public mind, we observed, 240,000 roubles, if she would do not mean the English public alone, come and give ten concerts at their but that public of which all the nations ancient capital during the winter. Ap- in Europe are composed. No country prehending her health would not endure could produce a second to her, though the severity of the climate, she declined Italy, France, and England have prothe Aattering and advantageous invita- duced singers of whom, perhaps, it tion.

would have been said, “ the force of She made her second appearance in nature could no farther go,” if the England in July last, and gave a illustrious Angelica Catalani had been concert at the Argyle Rooms on the silently immured in a nunnery, and her Sixteenth of that month, where she transcendent powers known only to her was received with the most enthusiastic cloistered sisters, whose innocence or applause. Nothing could equal the ef- credulity would, in all probability, have fect which she produced in singing deemed them rather the work of inspiRode's violin variations. In this ex

ration, than one of those unattainable traordinary exercise of her vocal pow. gifts, which nature bestows on her own ers, she displayed at once her surprising peculiar favourites.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »