Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

fully decorated, and between graceful there remain for me to do? What but to columns are inscribed in panels the names enact scenes and plays in pantomime— to of the great composers. The scenery is utilize the ancient art of the Italian mime, painted by the best theatrical artists, while and express every sentiment by means of the act-drop, representing Semiramis driv- gesture, action, and facial expression ? I ing her war-chariot, is a spirited achieve- must have music, of course. I cannot do ment, besides furnishing an excellent entirely without my own art and all its portrait of the queen of the castle. Also wealth of suggestive force. Give me only to be noted is a novel mechanism for raising a dramatic idea with music that aids in the floor of the auditorium to the level of depicting it, and I will play you any part the stage, whereby the hall is converted you choose, from one of Sarah Bernhardt's into a handsome ball-room. It here, down to Fatima in 'Bluebeard.'” every Christmas eve, that Mme. Patti I understood. There was something bestows her annual gifts upon the servants more in this than mere whim or caprice. and tenantry of her estate.

That Mme. Patti had already been demonWhat, it may be asked, can have been strating her marvelous talent for “ dramatic the object of a great artist, with a busy pantomime" upon the stage of her new career (yet unfinished) of many years be- theater I knew quite well. In a word, her hind her, in enriching her home with such histrionic powers, which had so conspicua structure as this ? To practise and per- ously developed during the later years of form operas? Certainly not. True it is her career, were now asserting their strength that on the memorable opening night of to a degree which, in this case, demanded twelve years ago she sang, a picture of active exercise. Knowing that I was an grace ablaze with diamonds, the first act “old hand” at amateur stage work, she of “La Traviata,” followed by the garden asked me if I would like to assist in one of scene from “Faust," with her husband, M. the entertainments. I inquired which parNicolini, in his old part. Again, three days ticular kind—the Sarah Bernhardt or the later, a performance was given of the bal- Bluebeard.” cony scene from

Roméo" and the third “Both,” she replied, laughing. “We alact of Flötow's “Martha,” this being at- ready have a capital arrangement of ‘Bluetended, like the first, by a crowded audi- beard. We can do that to-morrow or next ence of privileged friends and neighbors. day. Then if you like to write out a sceBut these were the baptismal representa- nario of one of Bernhardt's plays, we will tions. They consecrated the theater, as it put it in hand and give it later in the were, without precisely foreshadowing the month.” main purpose of its existence.

I suggested "La Tosca," little dreaming The answer to the question was supplied that Puccini was then thinking of composby Mme. Patti herself early in that very ing an opera upon Sardou's play. My sojourn at Craig-y-nos Castle: "I love the hostess agreed. The casts were arranged, stage. I love to act and to portray every and we set to work forthwith. In “Blue

every shade of human emotion. Only beard ” I played the lover. In “La Tosca” I want freedom--more freedom than opera, young Richard Nicolini, a professional with its restricted movements and its wear actor, enacted the painter Paul Cavaradossi, and tear on the voice, can possibly allow and I took the part of Scarpia. The rethe actress. I care not if it be comedy or hearsals were a delight. They frequently tragedy, so long as I feel that I can devote took place in the afternoon, and Mme. my whole energy, my whole being, to real- Patti entered into them as seriously as if izing the character that I have to delineate. they were for a public performance, interEven words trouble me; they take time to esting herself in every little detail, and commit to memory, and their utterance suggesting countless bits of effective fatigues a singer too much. Yet I want to “business.” It was in the course of these act, to feel myself upon the boards, playing rehearsals that I began to see what a to amuse myself and a few chosen friends consummate mistress she was of the art on each side of the footlights. What does of the stage. A bare idea, a mere hint,

1 In matters concerning scenery, costumes, and lighting it was the same, though herein Mme. Patti relied greatly upon the able assistance of Frank Rigo (the second rígisseur of Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera House), who used regularly to spend his summer holiday at Craig-y-nos.

[ocr errors]

kind,

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

would suffice; whether comedy or tragedy days later we all went over to Swansea to were the theme, she would work upon it take part in the annual concert given by and elaborate it with wonderful skill. Once Mme. Patti in aid of the local charities. while we were rehearsing “La Tosca,” Sir The journey each way assumed the charAugustus Harris quietly slipped in and acter of a triumphal progress, the entire took a seat in the dark auditorium. He route from the station to the concert-hall watched the proceedings with the amuse- being lined by dense crowds. It was touchment of a master of the game who is ing to witness the eagerness of the humble enjoying a holiday. Soon Mme. Patti folk-men, women, and children- to catch perceived him. She called out to him : a glimpse of the illustrious vocalist who

“Gus, what are you doing there? Why once every year came from her mountain don't you come on the stage and help us ? ' home to aid the institution that succored

"My dear Adelina," answered Sir Au- their needy and suffering. The concert gustus, “if this were an opera or a play, I itself was memorable because on this occawould with pleasure. But it is neither, and sion' the famous songstress for the first whatever it may be, there is no need of my time in her life delivered as an encore the help so long as you are there. I am just soul-stirring strains of the Welsh national beginning to realize that if you had not air, “ Land of my Fathers”; and when, at been the world's greatest singer you could her request, her enthusiastic auditors joined have been one of its best actresses." in the chorus, the effect was simply elecHe meant it, and it was true.

trifying The “Tosca” performance did not come Altogether that delightful month at off until August 29, after the impresario Craig-y-nos Castle was replete with excitehad left the castle. At the last moment ment and bustle. It was my privilege we found it was too long, so we deter- during the next few years to spend many mined to omit the dramatic action and weeks there— visits not less merry and gay, give it as a series of tableaux vivants, in but not so eventful, and far more restful. which form it vastly pleased a large audi- In the evenings we would sit and listen to ence of friends from the “Valley.” They the orchestrion, and when it had exhausted missed, however, the thrilling effect of its round of Wagnerian excerpts, I would Mme. Patti's gliding, serpentine move- occasionally supplement the selection upon ments in the supper scene, where she stabs the piano with fragments from “ Die MeisScarpia ; and they could not guess that the tersinger,” “Tristan,” and

the

Nibedead Minister of Police, in the person of lungen." It was extraordinary to see the myself, was positively shuddering while he pleasure Mme. Patti took in this music. lay prone between the two lighted candles. One year August Wilhelmj was there, and I had been told to keep my eyes open and to please her he played his own transcripstare; but that tragic look upon the coun- tion of the “ Preislied”

upon

Nicolini's fine tenance of La Tosca as she placed the Guarnerius, Clara Eissler executing the accrucifix upon my breast was so terrible that companiment upon the harp. To reward if I had not shut out the vision I should him, Patti sang Gounod's “Ave Maria” have had to jump up before the curtain fell. to his violin obbligato, Clara Eissler again Patti's attitudes throughout were a won- playing the harp part, while I took the derful study, and I feel sure Sarah Bern- harmonium. Never did the familiar piece hardt and Ternina would both have given go better. But the real reward came later, a great deal to witness her remarkable when some one brought a copy of Wagimpersonation.

ner's “ Träume" to the castle, and the diva, A week prior to this event Mme. Patti for the first time in her career, wedded her had been honored by a visit from the late golden tones to one of Wagner's longPrince Henry of Battenberg, who was drawn melodies. By her request we worked staying at Clyne Castle, and came out to at it together; but her German accent and lunch, accompanied by Count Gleichen, phrasing were faultless, and, beyond markLord Royston (now the Earl of Hard- ing the breathing-places, I had virtually wicke), and other friends. The Queen's nothing to suggest. son-in-law witnessed a repetition of the In the following season she sang garden scene from “Faust,” and altogether me” in London at one of the concerts at spent a most agreeable afternoon. A few the Albert Hall, and so rapturously was it

[ocr errors]

“ Träu

applauded that we subsequently took up Many are the pleasant recollections of the study of Elizabeth's Prayer (" Tann- Craig-y-nos that I could commit to these häuser"). This suited her to perfection, pages did space allow. The days there and she rendered it with a depth of fervid were always full of interest and variety. It expression and a wealth of glorious tone was an inestimable privilege to enjoy the that have never been equaled. Further daily society and conversation of Adelina than this, however, Mme. Patti has not yet Patti, to hear her ever and anon burst into consented to pursue her active alliance song, to catch the ring of her sunshiny with the music of Wagner. She loves to laugh, to come under the spell of a perlisten to it, but hesitates to impose upon

sonal charm such as few women possess. her delicate organ the strain of singing it She converses with equal facility in Engin public. During our Wagner chats she lish, French, Italian, and Spanish, speaks would often ask me about Bayreuth, and German and Russian well, and by this I begged her to seize the first opportunity time, I dare say, can carry on a fluent conof attending the festival. She did not do versation in Swedish. Her memory is exso, however, until after her marriage with traordinary. She tells a hundred stories of Baron Rolf Cederström, who is extremely her early life in America, dating from the fond of traveling, and, besides taking his age of seven, when she made her first apwife to Sweden every summer, introduces pearance in public. She tells how they her to many interesting European resorts. used to stand her upon the table to sing; The following letter tells its own tale: how she first rendered “Casta Diva " by

ear without a single mistake; and how, Fährens Villa, near Saltsjöbaden, when her eldest sister, Amelia, was striving

Stockholm, August 5, 1901. hard to master the shake, the tiny Adelina DEAR MR. KLEIN: We have just arrived at

stopped her and asked, “Why don't you this lovely place after spending a very pleasant

do it like this?" therewith executing a time in Switzerland and at Bayreuth, and I must send you first these few lines to tell you

natural and absolutely irreproachable trill. how immensely I was impressed by the Bay

Patti

says that she never studied the art reuth performances. I never could have ima. of producing or emitting the voice. Nagined anything so perfect as the mise en scène, ture, alone and unaided, accomplished that and I thought the Ring”simply divine. There marvel. To keep her voice in perfect conare no words to express it; it is all so wonder- dition, it suffices for her to run over the ful and beautiful. I thought “ Parsifal” was scales ten minutes every morning. Her glorious, especially the last act, and I am in

vocalization is one of those miracles that deed glad to have heard all these marvelous

cannot be explained. Its wondrous cerworks. After a three weeks' stay at Schinznach we

tainty and finish are assuredly not arrived went to Lucerne, where we had a most de

at without some labor, but in the end the lightful time, taking long excursions every

miracle seems to have accomplished itself. day. Can you imagine me going up the Righi, Her “ear” is phenomenal. She never forPilatus, the Bürgenstock, and similar places? gets a tune, and will instantly name the I was well rewarded for my courage in mount- opera or composition in which it occurs. ing those perpendicular heights, for the view

Another mystery is the perennial freshness from the top was simply beyond descrip- of her voice, which, after half a century of tion.

constant use, retains well-nigh unimpaired We expect to remain here until the begin

the delicious sweetness and bell-like timbre ning of September, when we shall return to England, as my concert tour commences the

of early womanhood. No other such exfirst week in October. The Baron joins me in ample of perfect preservation stands on sending you kindest remembrances.

record in the annals of the lyric art. To Yours very sincerely,

analyze its secret one can only say, Here Adelina Patii-Cederström. is surely a singer of marvelous constitution, 1 The accompanying portrait of Adelina Patti features generally-so like, even at that age, to at the age of nine is taken from a daguerreotype in the familiar face of later years — that I begged her possession, which she showed me at Craig-y- Mme. Patti to allow me to have a photographic nos Castle a few years ago. The complete pic- enlargement made of the central figure. She ture shows three little girls seated together at a table kindly consented, and three copies were executed. - Adelina in the center and a playmate on each side. Of these she herself owns one, the widow of Sir I was so much struck by the intelligence of the ex- Augustus Harris has another, and I possess the pression and the extraordinary maturity of the third.

a

heaven-gifted with a faultless method, who who were naturally doubtful lest her return has sedulously nursed her physical re- to opera should interfere with the financial sources, and has never, under any circum- success of the customary concerts at the stances, imposed the smallest undue strain Albert Hall. Ultimately the fears of Mr. upon the exquisitely proportioned mecha- Percy Harrison were allayed, and Mme. nism of her vocal organs.

Patti confided to me that she would not And the triumphs of this incomparable be unwilling to consider an offer on certain artist have not spoiled her. The homage terms from her old friend. I immediately of kings, the adulation of friends, the ap- set about arranging an interview between plause of multitudes, have not robbed her them in London. This was not altogether of that unaffected simplicity, that absence an easy matter. The great prima donna of ostentation, that yearning for home life was to spend only one evening in town on and domestic tranquillity, which are among her way to the Riviera, and the busy imher most characteristic attributes. As evi- presario, with whom minutes reckoned as dence of this fact, I quote a portion of a hours, was not readily to be moved on an letter which Mme. Patti wrote me from uncertain mission, as he chose to deem it, Nice in the spring of 1895. It was obvi- from one quarter of London to another. ously not "intended for publication," but But eventually I persuaded him that herein lies its chief value as a communi- Mme. Patti was really in earnest, and he cation emanating from the friend rather consented to accompany me to Paddingthan the artist.

ton station to meet the express from South

Wales. When I gave my extra performance of the “Barbiere," my triumph was, if possible, even

It was a bleak January evening, and of greater than usual, but on each occasion the

course the train was late. This was the success has been so enormous that it would be more unlucky because it so happened that difficult to say which performance excited the Tennyson's “King Arthur” was to be progreatest enthusiasm, or when I received the duced at the Lyceum that night, and we biggest ovation. It has indeed become a suc- were both anxious to be at the theater at cession of triumphs the whole time. Do you not the time the curtain went up, I having to feel proud of your little friend, who was fifty- write a notice of Sullivan's incidental music two last month, and has been singing uninter

to the new play. We were already in evenruptedly every year from the age of seven! I am really beginning to believe what they all ing dress, and as Harris was suffering from tell me—that I am a wonderful little woman !

a cold, I took care not to let him stand It is no exaggeration to say that every one

upon the drafty platform. We waited, without exception has been running after me therefore, by a warm fire at the station and loading us with invitations, in fact to such hotel, and discussed current events. My a degree that I must honestly confess that I am companion was not in his usual spirits, getting decidedly tired of all the parties and while that his mood was not sanguine was gaieties we have been going through during palpable from his frequent remark:“ Klein, the past few weeks. It has been an incessant

I can't believe Patti means to sing at Colunching out, dining out, and receiving visitors from morning till night. I shall be very happy

vent Garden this season.” So I felt heartily to see my dear Castle again and have a little glad when the train was signaled and the peace and quietness.

youthful little lady, as vivacious as ever in

bearing, but silent under a mountain of It was just prior to this visit to the south

wraps to protect her from the biting air, of France that negotiations, in which I had stepped buoyantly out of her saloon carthe honor of acting as ambassador or inter- riage and took Harris's arm to walk into mediary, were concluded between Mme. the hotel. Not a word was spoken until Patti and Sir Augustus Harris for the diva's we got to the private sitting-room. Then, reappearance in opera at Covent Garden greetings over, Mme. Patti, with an arch during the season of 1895. I had long smile, asked Sir Augustus if he would like devoutly wished for this consummation; a little quiet conversation with her. He but there were many obstacles to be re- bowed graciously. The rest of us discreetly moved, not the smallest of these being retired. Ten minutes later he came out of concerned with Messrs. Harrison of Bir- the room beaming with pleasure. “Make mingham, the managers of the “ Patti Con- haste and say good-by. Adelina would certs " throughout the United Kingdom, like us to stay and dine, but we must n't;

LXVI.-9

« AnkstesnisTęsti »