Benjamin Lumley - 11 July, 1850

from Reminiscences of the Opera, pages 284-5:

A still severer trial attended the illustrious prima donna on the boards of the theatre. On Thursday the 11th of July she appeared (now "for the last time on any stage") in a selection of "scenes" from "Anna Bolena." The part of the afflicted queen had been one of the greatest among her characters. Curiosity had been stimulated to a very powerful degree, and the house was crowded in every part. Madame Pasta appeared, to be hailed with prolonged acclamations. There she stood once more, on the scene of her past glories, "every inch a Queen." The spectacle was deeply interesting ; yet it was melancholy, not to say painful, to all who could feel with true artistic sympathy. With the noble presence and the lofty air of the Pasta of old days, she moved like a mighty shadow of the past before the eyes of the spectators; but it was the "shadow of a shade." The qualities already mentioned — the faultless style, the finished phrasing, the grand declamation, were all greeted with something more than respect, whilst the imaginative among the audience may have figured to themselves, like clever geologists, out of the shattered remains of the great vocal Mammoth, a perfect creature of former times. But the general sentiment was one of disappointment and regret. "Is this all that remains of so wonderful a past?" was the regretful exclamation of the young. "It had been better that our hopeful recollection had never been disturbed and dimmed by so sad a ghost," thought the old. The "longing, lingering look behind " had literally been taken by the great prima donna. That she damaged her great fame by taking it, cannot be said. Her "last appearance" was soon forgotten in the turmoil of operatic events; whilst her name still gleams with tra- ditional lustre in the annals of lyric fame.

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cite as

Benjamin Lumley, Reminiscences of the Opera (London, 1864), p. 284-5. accessed: 12 June, 2024


Benjamin Lumley
Opera manager, Solicitor

Listening to

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Scenes from Anna Bolena
written by Gaetano Donizetti
performed by Giuditta Pasta

Experience Information

Date/Time 11 July, 1850
Medium live
Listening Environment in the company of others, indoors, in public

Originally submitted by sp327 on Wed, 05 Aug 2015 15:05:43 +0100
Approved on Wed, 20 Apr 2016 13:17:34 +0100