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"Norma" and "I Puritani," was arduous, and the issue undecided. Of Bellini's lyric tragedy there was perhaps never a better exponent than the beautiful daughter of Lieutenant Grisi, with her commanding, classical profile, her shapely head so well set on her magnificent shoulders, her mixture of pride, love, jealousy, and repentance. Having first sung the part of Adalgisa with Madame Pasta, the original representative of the haughty Druidess, she not only knew every note of Bellini's music, but, receiving from the composer himself invaluable hints as to his intentions, Grisi's name became as much identified with Norma as with Lucrezia Borgia and Semiramide. The with
lic, she very often, when inspired, touched the fibers of even the coldest spectators so as to move them to tears. Her acting in "La Sonnambula," when cruelly and unjustly accused by her lover, her broken accents, contrasted with an outburst of despair true and graphic as nature itself, was more than a triumph of art. You felt the warmth of the sunny South in every note. Then, again, when awakening from her state of somnambulism, she recognizes him whom she had given up as lost forever, her "Ah m'abbraccia" contained such a world of love and happiness that every eye was moist with emotion. Jenny Lind's assumption of the rôle was a perfect study from beginning to end. The delineation of the character such as she had felt it remained the same, nor did she ever swerve in her vocalization from what she considered the correct reading. When singing in her state of trance, the strange modulation of her voice, her apparent immobility whilst expressing her conflicting emotions in the most touching manner, were vastly superior to Malibran, but her articulation was more lingua Toscana in bocca, Suedese than Romanaher elaborate Scandinavian cadenzas jarred sometimes with the ideas, so true and passionate, of the Italian composer. In the very finale, where Malibran produced such a thrilling sensation by her strict adherence to the original, Jenny Lind destroyed the effect by doubling the part of the tenor in order to introduce a few high notes. These, however, were the only blots in a performance in every other respect faultless and irresistible.
Though the Amina of Malibran preceded that of Jenny Lind by almost eleven years, there was, at the same time, a striking similarity and diversity in their rendering of the part. Both were in the zenith of their glory, both in the full ripeness of their talent; a sad fate carried the gifted Spaniard to her grave at the age of twentyeight, while the fair Swede voluntarily abandoned prospects of boundless fame and fortune when twenty-nine. Malibran was all impulse, never playing or singing the same part alike in two successive performances; at times sublime, at others hardly to be recognized; the spoiled child of the pub-ering scorn and irony and the outbursts of rage of Norma were never better understood than by the favorite of Rossini and Bellini, and from the beginning to the end of her career this part was always considered the culminating point of her greatness. Yet, with the exception of the first recitative, which Grisi had made her own, the grand scena of "Casta Diva" was infinitely superior as conceived and performed by Jenny Lind. In the last scene, also, Norma's farewell to Pollione, her appeal for mercy to Oroveso, the high priest, on revealing the terrible secret of the existence of her children, were sung and acted with a harrowing expression by which they carried everywhere the sympathies of the public, and, though a child of the cold North, she far distanced her Southern rival in warmth of feeling and poetical conception. It cannot, however, be denied that, though unsurpassed when expressing softer feelings, she lacked the weight and power requisite in this character, and was deficient also when expressing the conflict of her passions on discovering the infidelity of her lover, and when conceiving the resolution of sacrificing her children. In "Puritani," Bellini's last work, the honors were equally divided, although the part of Elvira, composed expressly for the beautiful Giulia, had hitherto been considered as her exclusive property. If Grisi won the victory in the first act, imparting to the popular "Son vergine veszosa" all the buoyancy of youth and love, Jenny Lind triumphed in those inspirations of the second and third which are justly numbered amongst his happiest-the aria "Qui la voce" and the duet with Arturo. The dull and obscure libretto offered little scope for dramatic effect, but both the great artists lavished so generously all the treasures of their grace and perfect vocalization
claim the name of rivals: Fanny Persiani, Giulia Grisi, and Maria Malibran.
With Giulia Grisi, the reigning favorite of Paris and London for more than five and twenty years, the contest of the "Swedish nightingale," limited to only two operas,
on the music that ever since this opera has been one of the most attractive of the Italian repertoire.
The other prima donna at the rival establishment of Covent Garden, Fanny Persiani, was not favored by nature with an expressive face or regular features, her eyes and her long silky hair being the only redeeming points in her personal appearance. Her voice, though thin and sometimes shrill, had been cultivated not only by her father, the once celebrated tenor Tacchinardi, but by her husband, the maestro Guiseppe Persiani. To the latter, an experienced and clever musician, the young vocalist was indebted for a great deal of the tact and refinement she displayed in her personifications. The operas of "L'Elisir d'Amore" and "Lucia di Lammermoor" had been written expressly for her by Donizetti, her gentle manners and finished style fitting her remarkably well for the ill-fated bride of Edgar Ravenswood, while the archness and the mocking spirit assumed by the heroine of "The Love Spell" were equally attractive. Her vocalization in the most complicated cadenzas would have been as exceptional as surprising if her intonation had not become at times more than doubtful, not to say distressing. Her daring, however, was extraordinary, and she was able to execute shakes on the highest notes with a facility that astonished her hearers. And yet, notwithstanding the qualities enumerated, her hold on the masses was far below that of Jenny Lind. One could never help thinking, when dazzled by the glare of these vocal fire-works, how much time and labor they must have cost their frail exponent. How different from Jenny Lind! Having curbed her rebellious organ so as to modulate it to any degree of force or softness, giving the same difficult passages, not mezza voce, which was the wont of the Florentine prima donna, and which rendered her task so much easier, Miss Lind employed the fullness and richness of her vocal chords so efficiently that, instead of a thin, wiry thread, you admired in her scale-passages a string of pearls of equal value and exquisite purity.
In "L'Elisir," the balance between her and the pet of Her Majesty's turned rather in favor of the Italian artist, who, with her pure and clear Tuscan articulation, brought out all the point of Romani's poetry, and the coquettish, brilliant setting of the words by Donizetti. He had studied how to turn her unquestionable talent to advantage, and fitted her in the part of the fickle, wayward,
yet not heartless girl to a nicety. Here Miss Lind, wanting occasionally that vis comica in which Madame Persiani excelled, labored under a disadvantage which all her art could not entirely remove. Not so in Lucia. Who, having seen Jenny Lind, can ever forget the expression of mental agony, the fixed looks of threatening insanity, the stifled voice of a heart rent in twain by despair and rising to an almost painful climax of hopeless passion, or her last scene, when in her madness she was recalling the vows of her lover and her own dream of happiness! Madame Persiani was correct and lady-like throughout the opera, giving a faithful outline of the heroine, but Miss Lind was the living picture of the hapless Lucy.
Where she stood, however, alone and unrivaled, and where the most difficult judge could hardly detect a flaw, was in the part of Alice and of the Figlia. The whole conception of the simple French peasant-girl, the guardian angel of the misguided Robert, was a histrionic and musical achievement such as has rarely been seen or heard. In another style, a similar praise must be awarded to the representation of the adopted daughter of the regiment. Every nuance, from mutinous archness to the most emphatic expression of grief; a variety of vocal effects -now an unassuming melody, now a dazzling display of bravura, combined in one partleft no room for criticism.
On renouncing the glories of the stage, Miss Lind had formed a project to devote herself henceforth entirely to a branch of the art hardly less important, but not exacting the same amount of self-abnegation, viz. : oratorio and concert singing. This decision was confirmed by an event which entirely changed her sphere of action, and led ultimately to her complete withdrawal from public life. The unexampled impression she had created in Europe had excited the greatest interest among lovers of music in the United States, and an indefatigable caterer for novelties of more than common attraction, Mr. P. T. Barnum, conceived the idea of tempting the young artist by a proposal-which thirty years ago seemed of almost gigantic dimensions-for a series of one hundred and fifty concerts. The conditions were one thousand dollars (more than two hundred pounds) for each concert, which was subsequently increased by onehalf of all the sums exceeding the nightly receipt of five thousand five hundred dollars.
After a lengthened correspondence, the agreement to that effect was signed, and
Jenny Lind, accompanied by her friend | the grand scene from Norma, “Casta Diva," and companion, Miss Ahmanzon, her sec- commencing with the recitative "Sediziose retary, Mr. Max Hjortsberg, Signor Gio- voci, voci di guerra" (Seditious voices, voices vanni Belletti (an excellent baritone who of war). Scarcely had she uttered these had already been singing with her at Stock- words when the very warlike voices of a holm and at Her Majesty's Theater), and triple salute of guns shook the building and myself, as conductor, started from Liverpool increased the already feverish excitement on August 21, 1850. The leave-taking on of the audience. She faltered and stopped, that morning was of the most imposing the orchestra became mute and motionless. character. Though the departure was fixed The mystery, however, was soon solved. for an early hour, the roadsteads, and every A new constellation had been added to the available spot whence a glance of the steam- star-spangled banner-the admission of the ship Atlantic and its precious freight could State of California into the Union was being be obtained, were filled with a vast multi- celebrated. This news was greeted with tude, who bid a hearty and touching fare- mingled cheering and merriment, and only well to their favorite queen of song. after it had subsided the fair songstress resumed her task.
The journey was one of the pleasantest imaginable, and friendships were formed on board, on the spur of the moment, with some charming American ladies, which predisposed Miss Lind in favor of the new country more than any description could have done. Mr. Barnum met us on our arrival at New York, September 1st, and nothing could exceed the completeness of the arrangements he had made with so much care and attention: an admirable orchestra, including the élite of the profession, had been secured, every comfort in the accommodation of the great artist and her party provided. September 10th, the day of the general rehearsal, almost equally momentous for her future in the States with her first performance, arrived. None but the staff of the principal newspapers, and those prominent by their musical or literary merit, or by their social position, were admitted in the vast area of Castle Garden, thus forming at once a most discriminating but not easily to be pleased public. After the overture to "Oberon," played with as much delicacy as power, and an aria from Rossini's "Maometto," sung to perfection by Signor Belletti, the diva stepped forward.
She was then in her thirtieth year, her features were irregular and could not be termed handsome, but her figure was wellproportioned and equally balanced between grace and dignity; in her eyes flashed the fire of genius, and when singing even the most difficult passages, there was a total absence of effort and of those distorting grimaces which so often impair the influence of the best vocal power. When thus inspired, her whole face lighted up and became perfectly beautiful. She was greeted with an immense outburst of applause. Silence being at last restored, she began
It was highly interesting to note first the breathless attention of this unique assembly, and then to follow the gradual phases of surprise, wonder, and delight created and developed by the magic of the singer's power. Not like many other celebrities on such occasions, who consider it infra dig. and not worth their while to employ more than half-steam when before a non-paying audience, Jenny Lind rehearsed as she always did, taking the matter seriously, working, as it were, with the orchestra, electrifying the musicians with her ardor, scattering the treasures of her voice, and identifying herself with the composer. And what a result! It was touching to see those severe judges carried away by their ecstasy at having their anticipations so far surpassed. From that moment if any doubts could have been entertained they vanished, and the first concert, given on the next evening, September 11th, and the unheard-of ovation offered to Jenny, were reported, on the morning of the 12th, in every daily newspaper throughout the length and breadth of the American continent.
To enumerate the details of one hundred concerts, given with unvarying success in different parts of the States, would exceed by far the limits of this paper, nor can I do more than glance at the various sensations experienced by us all in this surprising succession of new and wonderful cities, of fresh and eager audiences, contrasting with the so often used-up and blasés frequenters of European concert-rooms. With that beehive of the world, the home of all nationalities, New York, where thirty-five concerts scarcely satisfied the craving for the Swedish idol, how many ineffaceable recollections are connected! It was there the fact was recognized that the welcome given to the great artist was one of an entire people.