excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 320-321 (419 words)

excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 320-321 (419 words)

part of

Reminiscences of Michael Kelly

original language

urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

in pages

320-321

type

text excerpt

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This season I was engaged by the noble Directors of the Ancient Concerts, as principal tenor. The night of my debut, the Earl of Uxbridge was the Director ; the songs allotted to me by his Lordship, were " Jephtha's rash vow," and the laughing song from L' Allegro, " Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee." The late Mr. Linley heard me sing it over and over again, and to his masterly instruction I owed the indulgence which I received. In singing sacred music I was aware of its value, and fagged at the tenor songs of Handel with unremitting assiduity. Mr. Joah Bates conducted those concerts, and was supposed to understand Handel perfectly ; he was an excellent performer on the organ ; Cramer was the leader, and Cervetto principal violoncello. The concerts were then held in Tottenham Street, and their Majesties and the Royal Family were constant attendants ; but, although it was difficult to become a subscriber, the room was always crowded. I was lucky enough to meet with the approbation of Mr. Bates, in the recitative of " Deeper and deeper still;" my next song was the laughing one. Mr. Harrison, my predecessor at those concerts, was a charming singer : his singing " Oft on a plat of rising ground ;" his " Lord remember David ;" and " O come let us worship and fall down," breathed pure religion. No Divine from the pulpit, though gifted with the greatest eloquence, could have inspired his auditors with a more perfect sense of duty to their Maker than Harrison did by his melodious tones and chaste style ; indeed, it was faultless ; but in the animate songs of Handel he was very deficient. I heard him sing the laughing song, without moving a muscle ; and determined, though it was a great risk, to sing it my own way, and the effect produced justified the experiment: instead of singing it with the serious tameness of Harrison, I laughed all through it, as I conceived it ought to be sung, and as must have been the intention of the composer : the infection ran ; and their Majesties, and the whole audience, as well as the orchestra, were in a roar of laughter ; and a signal was given from the royal box to repeat it, and I sang it again with increased effect. Mr. Bates assured me, that if I had rehearsed it in the morning, as I sang it at night, he would have prohibited my experiment. I sang it five times in the course of that season by special desire.

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excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 320-321 (419 words)

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