excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 20-21 (302 words)

excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 20-21 (302 words)

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Thirty Years of Musical Life in London

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The other representation [of Theresa Tietjens's "Lucrezia Borgia"] (Her Majesty's 
Theatre, May 19, 1877) is fraught with sad memories and undying admiration for a
courageous woman and a true artist. It had been known for some time that Theresa
Tietjens was suffering from cancer; and, after much hesitation, the doctors
decided to perform an operation before the end of May. "Lucrezia" was announced
for the 19th, and among the prima donna's friends it was pretty well understood
that this would be her last appearance before the operation was performed. When the day arrived Tietjens was far too ill to be really fit to sing. It was
distinctly against her medical advisers' wish that she insisted upon keeping
faith with her manager and the public a practice that she had persistently
adhered to throughout her career. How she contrived to get through the opera I
shall never understand. It can only be compared to some splendid example of
martyrdom. She fainted after each of the acts, but immediately on recovering
consciousness decided to proceed with the performance. Never so much as a look
or gesture betrayed to her audience the mortal anguish she was suffering. Only
the initiated knew how much of reality there was in the terrible scream of agony
uttered by Lucrezia in the final scene when she perceives that her son is dead.
As it rang through the house the audience shuddered. Yet the brave artist would
not shirk her fall at the end. What it cost her could be guessed, however, from
the fact that after the curtain had been twice raised in response to rapturous plaudits, she still lay motionless upon the ground. She had once more become
insensible. In the following week the operation was performed, but the case was hopeless,
and on October 3, 1877, Theresa Tietjens breathed her last.

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excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 20-21 (302 words)


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