excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 37-41 (395 words)

excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 37-41 (395 words)

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Thirty Years of Musical Life in London

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I was barely twenty-two when I ceased taking lessons from Signor Garcia. Our relations by that time were those of very close friends. We used to chat freely upon musical as well as other topics, and I loved to "draw him out" upon the respective merits of the great Italian singers of bygone years. I think his chief object of admiration was the celebrated Pasta, who lived the most brilliant portion of her career in Paris during his own residence there. He would often speak of the ravishing beauty of her voice, the perfection of her fiorituri, and the grandeur of her dramatic conceptions. Yet in his inmost heart, I fancy, his famous sister, Malibran, reigned supreme. She was his junior by three years, but at the period here referred to had achieved triumphs unsurpassed by any singer of her time, and yet she had been dead and buried some forty years! He would describe her as the most natural genius he had ever encountered, and also the most precocious. A great deal that has been related concerning her is purely imaginary; but one perfectly true story is that of an incident which happened at Naples one night when, a little girl of five, she was playing the part of the child in Paer's masterpiece, "Agnese." In this opera there occurs a scene where a husband and wife, who have quarreled, are reunited through the agency of their little daughter. The tiny Malibran had attended all the rehearsals, and so extraordinary was her memory that she knew the whole opera by heart. On the night of the performance, the prima donna, in the episode above mentioned, either forgot her part or hesitated a moment, when, lo! the little girl by her side instantly took up the melody and sang out with such vigor and resonance that the entire house heard her. The prima donna was about to interfere when the audience shouted, "Brava! Don't stop her. Let the child go on!" And go on the child did, until she had sung through the entire scene, amid an exhibition of true Italian enthusiasm. How strange it seems when one reflects that the venerable maestro who narrated to me this incident, which he witnessed as a boy of eight, is still alive and enjoying good health, and in full possession of his faculties and his wonderful spirits!

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excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 37-41 (395 words)


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