excerpt from 'Reminiscences of the Opera' pp. 235-6 (379 words)

excerpt from 'Reminiscences of the Opera' pp. 235-6 (379 words)

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Reminiscences of the Opera

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The dinner-party at the Embassy was a small one, no other company being invited except Mr. and Mrs. G ,Mademoiselle Lind, Madame Catalani and her daughter, and one English gentleman, a well-known amateur of the opera; the secretary of Embassy, and a sister of the Ambassadress being also present. After dinner, the weather being warm the party strolled in the garden attached to the Embassy — Catalani and Jenny Lind talking much together. In the evening, some little embarrassment arose about asking Jenny Lind to sing, because, as no one ever refuses a request made by the representative of majesty, the Marchioness considerately forbore to place the young Swede in a position of difficulty. But Catalani, who was burning vsdth curiosity to hear Jenny Lind sing, perceived that there was some hesitation, went up to the "Nightingale," and asked her with grace and earnestness to oblige the company with a song, adding, "C'est la vieille Catalani qui desire vous entendre chanter, avant de mourir !"

Such an appeal from such a person, overcame all Jenny's habitual dislike to sing in private society. She sat down to the piano, and after a few bars of prelude, gave her incomparable "Non credea mirarti," playing the accompaniment herself.

Now, the salon at the Embassy was exceedingly ill-adapted for vocal display, being crowded with stuffed sofas, chairs, and other heavy furniture, curtains inclusive. Jenny Lind's beautiful voice was consequently heard under sensible disadvantage; moreover, she had to sing in a sitting posture instead of standing up. Nevertheless, the many obvious merits of her style, taste, and execution enchanted the Italian ear of Catalani, who sat on the ottoman in the centre of the room, enjoying the rare treat, rocking her body to and fro with delight and sympathy, and murmuring (loud enough to be overheard by Mrs. G, who sat by her side), "Ah! la bella cosa che la musica, quando si fa di quella maniera !" — and again, "Ah ! la carissima ! quanto bellissima !" Of course expression of cordial thanks and admiration on the part of all present followed the performance; and before separating for the night, Jenny was good enough to sing one or two more "arias" (among which "Ah! non Giunge" was included), to the renewed gratification of the interesting "ex-prima donna."

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excerpt from 'Reminiscences of the Opera' pp. 235-6 (379 words)


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