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not be an easy matter nowadays to discover a young lady of sixteen able to play and sing from memory, from the first to the last note, Gluck's " Armida," Spontini's "Vestale," Cherubini's" Deux Journées," Dalayrac's "Château de Montenero," besides the operas of Mozart and Weber, the oratorios of Haydn, and all the melodies of Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn. It would be still more difficult to find an artist who could understand and enter into the spirit of these great masters, divine their intentions, preserve their local coloring, and appropriate their style. But it would be almost impossible to name a vocalist able to read at sight the most difficult compositions, to remember strains of irregular rhythm and perform them immediately as if she had herself created them.
rôle, which could hardly be expected of one so inexperienced in lyric dramas of the highest order. Her fame soon spread all over Germany and France, and numerous engagements were offered her from all parts; but she remained faithful to her own native country, maintaining her prestige in the theater uninterruptedly till the year 1841. It could not escape her perspicacity that to reach the summit of her art something more was wanted than the applause so liberally bestowed on her by those who, having watched her since her childhood, were naturally biased and predisposed in her favor. With the legitimate ambition which has always distinguished true genius, she threw over, at least pro tem., her engagement in Stockholm, and, aided by the liberality of some of her Swedish friends, resolved on a still more serious and persevering study in the French capital. There, during nine months, as a pupil of Manuel Garcia, the renowned professor of singing, she worked hard to correct the defects of her voice, to acquire the true Italian style of vocalization, and to judge for herself of the merits of her contemporaries, and, later, rivals. Grisi and Persiani, Rubini, Tamburini, and Lablache, were then the leading stars of the Italian opera; Cinti Damoureau, Dorus-gras, Stoltz, Duprez, and Levasseur, of the French Académie de Musique. It is evident that with her keen judgment she could not fail to derive the greatest benefit from following all these artists in their varied and extensive repertoires, adopting their readings where she considered them superior to her origi
conception, or rejecting them when she felt that, though different, her own interpretation approached more nearly her ideal. She succeeded in making her naturally harsh and unbending organ supple and pliant. To acquire, by dint of unceasing study, the most perfect shake; to blend the different registers of her voice so skillfully as to conceal effectually any break; to execute passages and runs with a full, rich tone, instead of the thin, wiry quality which belongs generally to bravura singers; to be infallible in her intonation,-these were the great aims she accomplished.
Meyerbeer, who had already previously begun negotiations to secure her for the Royal Opera, at Berlin, after her Stockholm successes, sought her personal acquaintance in the French capital, and, struck with her attainments, so varied and so infinitely above the average, recommended her most warmly to the director of the Académie de Musique,
Such, however, was Jenny Lind, and in this preparation, in this perseverance, in this early and undivided study, may be seen the germ of her subsequent prodigious popularity. Quite different this from the system now adopted of venturing on the first European stages after a few lessons from a renowned master, some drawingroom successes, and without even a sprinkling of the real acquirements which alone can justify a public career.
No wonder that curiosity should be aroused to see the young favorite in a prominent part, and that when she made her first appearance, as Agatha, in "Der Freischutz," in her eighteenth year, an overcrowded house, comprising the court and the élite of Swedish society, awaited her début. It was more than a common theat-nal rical triumph which she achieved on that memorable evening-it was a revelation; and for years afterward she attracted crowds of enthusiastic admirers to the Royal Theater, of which she was the principal support. All the artists of the opera vied with one another to shower on their young colleague marks of affection such as are seldom, if ever, seen in similar establishments. It was natural that the gentlemen, beginning with Herr Günter, first tenor, should fall in love with little Jenny; but that the dethroned prima donnas should bear their defeat by a comparative beginner patiently and even cheerfully is an occurrence worth recording. Taking in turn the parts of Euryanthe, in | Weber's opera of that name; of Alice, in Meyerbeer's "Robert le Diable," and of Julia, in Spontini's "La Vestale," she astonished, as much as she pleased, by giving a marked character and individuality to each VOL. XXII.-10.
who, complying with the maestro's request, fixed a day for her audition at the theater. Some of the first living musicians, Rossini, Auber, Halevy, were summoned to hear and judge the "Swedish nightingale," but the director himself never made his appearance. The then reigning prima donna of that establishment, Mlle. Rosina Stoltz, whose influence was paramount, and who, besides his admiration for her talent, had inspired the director with a warmer feeling, had put her veto to his presence on the occasion. Thus, in spite of the sensation she created, not even an offer was made to Miss Lind. She was offended to the core by this gratuitous insult, and, notwithstanding invitations at once pressing and tempting, she never would accept an engagement in Paris. The composer of "The Huguenots" was even more indignant than she herself, and prevailed upon her to appear in a limited number of performances at the Royal OperaHouse, in Berlin. To prepare for this task, she went for a month to the Prussian capital, in order to perfect herself in the German language.
After a short visit to Stockholm, her real period of glory began with her performance of "Norma," at the Royal Opera-House, Berlin, December 15, 1844. She positively fascinated everybody, nor was there any abatement of enthusiasm in her successive representations. Expectation was, however, raised still more when she was announced as the heroine in Meyerbeer's last and unpublished work, " Das Feldlager in Schlesien (The Camp of Silesia), based on an incident in Prussian history. This work, the scene of which was transferred afterward by Scribe and Meyerbeer to Russia, has since become one of the most popular operas of these celebrated authors, under the name of "L'Etoile du Nord." The libretto, which in its first form was far from producing the excitement and interest which the experienced French playwright infused in it, would not have passed muster before the critical Berlin audience but for the newly discovered vocal star. The old Dessauer march and other national airs introduced failed to touch the popular vein, but Jenny Lind bravely bore the brunt of the battle, and issued a complete victor. The piece of all which led to almost frantic demonstrations was a trio for voice and two flutes, which, though since sung with equal perfection by Adelina Patti, carried then the honors of the day, and was considered as an almost unsurpassable vocal achievement.
As might be anticipated, nothing else was canvassed and discussed during that winter but the magic effect of the young artist. The directors and managers of the principal theaters in Europe were put on their mettle, but Miss Lind, who, like a musical Cæsar, might have said “Veni, vidi, vici," decided to follow an independent course-to go and sing where and when she liked, and not to be bound by a permanent engagement anywhere. In spite of the pressing solicitations of all classes, she never appeared again on the Berlin stage.
Thus, after the conclusion of her engagement, in April, 1845, she visited in turn Hamburg, Cologne, and Coblentz. At this latter place she sang on the occasion of Queen Victoria's visit to the King of Prussia at Stolzenfels, and during the time of the great Rhenish Festival. After concerts at Frankfurt and other German towns, with the same invariable result, she bent her steps northward, and received in Copenhagen and Stockholm renewed applause, subsequently making her début in Leipzig, December 6, 1845, under Mendelssohn's direction. It was a momentous event in the history of art. How Jenny Lind was received by the severe judges of the Gewandhaus concerts can be easily imagined, and the honors she gained there were, perhaps, the most gratifying of her career.
Mendelssohn, by whose family at Berlin she had already been received with unaffected and cordial friendship, became one of her most constant admirers. That this great tone-poet wrote the soprano part in "Elijah" for her, that had he accomplished his opera of "Loreley," he would have chosen her as representative of the heroine, are incontestable facts, and the best proof of the value he set upon her genius. How melancholy that this dream of his ambition should have been nipped in the bud by his premature death! Robert Schumann worshiped the rising star with equal fervor, and it may be fairly asserted that none of the melodies of either great master ever found a more worthy exponent than Jenny. With Clara Schumann she formed a friendship which has lasted uninterruptedly to this day.
Her début at Vienna was merely a repetition of the clamorous demonstrations of enthusiasm which greeted her everywhere, and, prompted by the desire of securing such a gem for the London public, Mr. Bunn, the manager of Drury Lane Theater, offered her an engagement for English opera on
terms only equaled by those formerly given to Malibran. Michael Balfe was to write a new work on purpose for her, and guarantees had been promised to surround her with the best available talent. After a long After a long correspondence she accepted Mr. Bunn's proposal, much to the dismay of the impresario of Her Majesty's Theater, Mr. Lumley, and his aristocratic supporters. Every effort was made, by personal influence and by letter, to shake her determination not to break her contract for the English opera, and at last, finding a flaw in the agreement, after an endless litigation and a most amusing warfare in the English and foreign newspapers, she yielded to the entreaties of those who thought that her fit place was the stage of Her Majesty's Theater. With Lumley it was a vital question. His principal artists having fallen out with him, a formidable opposition had been organized by them at Covent Garden, with the name of Royal Italian Opera, under the direction of Costa, that prince of conductors, whose banner was followed by the splendid orchestra and chorus formerly attached to Her Majesty's Theater. The lessee of the older establishment, being at his wit's end, felt that unless he could produce a startling novelty his prospects were worse than disheartening. His propositions to come to an amicable arrangement with Mr. Bunn having been rejected, he undertook to shield Miss Lind from any possible consequences arising from her altered determination.
Shortly after her arrival in London, the prohibitory injunction of Mr. Bunn against her appearance elsewhere than in his own theater was withdrawn, on payment of an indemnity of £2500. Meanwhile, the excitement of the public had reached a pitch unheard-of in theatrical annals, and long before the evening of her first performance, Alice, in "Robert le Diable," no places could be obtained anywhere. The ordeal to which the new-comer was to be subjected was by no means an easy one. Though Mr. Lumley's intention was to form a combination of artists worthy to support the rising star, he had but partially succeeded. Gardoni and Lablache were of course cordially accepted; Staudigl, a German basso with a voice of extraordinary power and extent, proved also a valuable acquisition, but Sanchioli, Montenegro, Fraschini, and Coletti failed to come up to the mark; orchestra and chorus, hastily put together, were wofully deficient when compared with the opposition, and the con
| ductor, Mr. Balfe, had very often a Herculean task in keeping them together. On the other hand, the acknowledged and justly popular vocal celebrities Grisi, Persiani, Corbari, Alboni (no doubt the first contralto of her period), Mario, Salvi, Tamburini, Ronconi, Marini, Tagliafico, and Polonini, with all the secondary parts admirably filled, formed at Covent Garden a phalanx which seemed almost invincible. To their own attractions must be added the entire reconstruction of the theater, tastefully ornamented, and with a new stage of the largest dimensions. Against all these Miss Lind, unknown and an entire novice in the Italian language, had to contend almost single-handed.
At her début, no one of the sommités sociales, litteraires, or artistiques was absent. Mendelssohn, who had been engaged to conduct the Philharmonic Concerts in London, was one of the first to arrive. He watched the whole performance with the utmost attention and interest, and was as vociferous in his delight as the rest of the audience. The reception of the prima donna was altogether unprecedented. During the whole of that season her fame, which had spread like wildfire, was on the increase, and her personification of Amina in the "Sonnambula," of Maria in the “Figlia del Reggimento," of Lucia di Lammermoor, added fresh laurels to her already rich garland. A new attraction was promised in the shape of an opera written expressly by that already renowned young composer Guiseppe Verdi, who had chosen for his subject an adaptation of Shakspere's "King Lear," the part of the King to be allotted to Lablache, that of Cordelia to Jenny Lind. The time, however, being too short to complete this work, Verdi proposed another, just terminated, "I Masnadieri." Of this much was expected, but it fell flat, notwithstanding that the cast included, besides Jenny Lind, Gardoni, Lablache, and Coletti. The libretto, a feeble adaptation of Schiller's drama, "The Robbers," was partly answerable for this failure, but the music cannot be numbered amongst the happiest inspirations of the Italian maestro, and the popular idol in the part of Amalia felt ill at ease in the share allotted to her by the composer.
A whimsical circumstance quite marred what was to be one of the most striking scenes of the drama. Old Moor, who, like King Lear, has discarded his younger and devoted son for the elder, Franz, a demon
in human form, is punished for his credulity by being thrust into a dungeon by this villain, there to starve. Carl, the rejected son, who has become the chief of a band of outcasts, discovers the whereabouts of his unhappy father, whose prison-doors he forces open. The old man, on appearing on the stage, half crazy by his sufferings and famine, exclaims, "I am starving!" Now père Lablache, having the circumference of two Falstaffs rolled into one, looked anything but a picture of starvation, and when he made the piteous appeal, naturally set the whole house roaring.
Altogether "Norma" and this opera proved the only disappointments in an otherwise uninterrupted series of successes. The trial had been severe, but the goal had been won, and a more decisive victory than that of Jenny Lind was never known in the records of the Italian opera. A subsequent tour in the provinces under Mr. Lumley's auspices produced the most brilliant result in every respect, and the engagement was immediately renewed for the following year.
The death of Mendelssohn, November 4, 1847, affected Miss Lind deeply, and she took immediately the initiative in a movement whose object was to render a worthy tribute to his memory.
The season of 1848 introduced to the London audiences an artist of the highest merit, Mme. Pauline Viardot Garcia, at the Royal Italian Opera, and a rising talent of no mean order at Her Majesty's Theater, Mlle. Sophie Cruvelli. But, though received with the utmost favor, they did not dim the splendor of the Northern star, whose attractions seemed rather to increase than otherwise. Miss Lind now undertook the additional parts of Elvira in "I Puritani," and Adina in "L'Elisir d'Amore."
At the end of the operatic season she undertook another tour in the provinces with even greater éclat, if possible, than the first, giving on several occasions the aid of her talent at concerts for the furtherance of existing, and the establishment of new, charities, which produced the most satisfactory results.
power, and being in several instances almost overcome by the depth of her feeling, she entranced the immense crowd filling every nook and corner of the hall, and at once established her superiority in this new branch of her art. The impression she created will never be forgotten. The receipts exceeded £1700, and led, with subsequent additions, to the foundation of a permanent scholarship, the first scholar elected, six years later, being the now celebrated English composer, Arthur Sullivan.
One might have anticipated that, reaching the climax of her career when just in the prime of womanhood, worshiped almost more than applauded, and having the world at her feet, she would for years to come continue to earn a rich harvest in every capital of Europe. But great and painful was the surprise when, at the end of that year, it was first whispered, and afterward positively announced, that she intended to retire absolutely and forever from the stage. It was only by the most urgent entreaties that she consented to give, in the early part of the season, 1849, a limited number of so-called "operatic concerts," and a very few representations of those works in which she had chiefly gained her laurels. The former, however, were stopped after only one attempt, as, for the first time, not even Jenny Lind's name could induce the public to patronize such a hybrid entertainment. Her last appearance on any stage took place May 18, 1849, in the very part in which she had created such a wonderful sensation at her début two years previously -Alice, in "Roberto." On that evening terminated her career in the lyric drama, and it may be as well to recapitulate what she achieved in that short period, to observe some of her characteristic features as compared with those of her contemporaries and rivals, and to explain the probable reasons which prompted her to take such a sudden resolution.
The principal cause of her retirement was the objection of a gentleman to whom she was engaged to be married-an engagement which was afterward broken off-to her further appearance on the stage, but other powerful grounds may have influenced her decision. Without for a moment disparag
The concert which had been resolved upon for the Mendelssohn memorial came off at Exeter Hall, December 15, 1848, under my direction. "Elijah" was the working the unexampled but, in many instances, chosen by her to do homage to her dear and lamented friend, and taken in all it was perhaps one of the most complete performances of this oratorio ever heard. Throwing into her part all her pathos and dramatic
deserved impression she produced, it cannot be denied that it was only in five parts she held an undisputed sway over her audiences. They are the often mentioned Alice, Amina, Figlia, Lucia, and Elvira-operas
in which the interest, from beginning to end, is centered in the prima donna. The characters, with the exception of Lucia, are those usually allotted to the more lyric than dramatic class. They all require emotional power, a great mastery over technical difficulties, and, generally, the perfect expression of genial and tender affections. They do not appeal, like Lucrezia Borgia, Fides in "The Prophet," Valentin in "The nots," Selika in "The Africaine," or Fidelio, to the highest requirements of tragic personification, and, though the repertoires of our times have been so vastly extended, it would be difficult even now to point out compositions so entirely adapted to the style, method, and individuality of the Swedish songstress as these were. Of three works belonging to the heroic style, Weber's "Euryanthe," Spontini's "Vestale," and Bellini's "Norma,"-only the last was included in her London repertoire. The omission of the two former, in which she made her mark both in Stockholm and Berlin, cannot be regretted enough.
Her sphere being thus limited, it was natural that she should hesitate before continuing her theatrical engagements, feeling, as she did, the immense responsibility of maintaining a position so exceptional, so glorious, but also so dangerous. Her conscientiousness as an artist, and the never-failing, sometimes superhuman, energy in the accomplishment of her task which threatened gradually to undermine her health, were other motives for her unexpected withdrawal not generally understood or appreciated. Her strength did not equal her ambition, which was almost as great as her talent. When on the stage, and in order that nothing should interfere with what she looked upon as her mission, she would give up all the pleasures of social intercourse, refusing invariably dinner or evening parties, and sacrificing the best years of her life to her feeling of duty. How often did she tell me that, knowing what the public had a right to expect from her, and being fully aware that any short-coming in her performances would destroy the prestige she had acquired after so many years of trial, she felt she could not continue the strain for any length of time without being crushed beneath the weight of the self-created difficulties of her position. The exacting demands of opera and concert goers had been so exceptionally raised, not only by her own merit but by the often injudicious eulogies in the organs of the press, that each of her
new characters was looked forward to as a necessary improvement on all its predecessors. Unless the already over-anxious artist had thrown all her soul into her impersonation of new works, there would have been an outcry of a diminution of her efficiency. Such constant excitement was too much for her physical and moral strength, and thus her resolution to abandon the scene of her triumphs became almost a necessity.
There has always been a disposition to cry up by-gone times,-artists who had either retired from public life thirty or forty years before or had died,―to extol the qualities of a Catalani when hearing Pasta, of a Sontag when listening to Bosio, and, in fact, to find fault with everything new. Have we not heard in our times the bold assertion that none of the present stars could come up to Malibran or Grisi-that no tenor of our period could approach either Rubini or Braham? And, after all, is not this very natural? The impressions we receive in the effervescence of youth, when everything has a tinge of freshness, we like to hold fast to, to engrave them in our memory and to carry them to the autumn and winter of life. We do not want new idols to take the place of those we have worshiped so long, and we are even unwilling to acknowledge it, should we recognize their superiority. But there has doubtless been an immense increase of talent of the first class, and we must also not forget that the acquirements of a prima donna of 1881 not only include the masterpieces of the classical school, the florid style of the Rossinian epoch, Meyerbeer's grand and romantic lyric dramas, but Verdi's fiery and stirring compositions, Gounod's fascinating and poetical effusions, and Wagner's stupendous epics. She is expected to unite the highest declamatory power with a perfect command of the stage, extraordinary flights of vocalization having given place to simple phrases, strongly accentuated and requiring almost appalling vigor; moreover, instead of being accompanied by a string quartette, she has now to do battle with the whole and often overwhelming blast of the modern orchestra.
It is, therefore, not my purpose, nor, indeed, would it be possible within the limits of the present article, to assume the invidious task of establishing a comparison between Jenny Lind and the renowned vocalists of the present day. I will, however, select two of her contemporaries, and one of her immediate predecessors, who could