Page images


Entertaining Miscellany.


and birth stand at a distance, and MADAME CATALANI. view each other with a jealous eye,

THE distinguished Character, the one too proud to court, and the who forms the subject of our pre-other too capricious to favour, the sent memoir, was born in Sinigag- nunnery is the only asylum which lia, a small town in the Papal ter- the pride of birth has discovered ritories, about the year 1782. in Italy to secure the fair sex from Though the accident of birth can the contingencies of circumstances add nothing, in the sight of uni- and situations. Angelica, howversal reason, to those mental or ever, discovered such superior physical qualities which lead to powers during her novitiate in excellence, and which nature only singing the praises of her Creator, can bestow, it is, however, due to that her parents were induced by the the celebrated ANGELICA CA- solicitations of friends, to change TALANI to say, that she was born their intention of withdrawing of parents highly respectable their daughter from all commerce though poor; and that this circum- with the world. She was accordingstance, which in England only ly suffered to cultivate her musical facilitates the approach to the powers; and the combined energies temple of fame, was nearly depriv- of nature and of art soon qualified ing the world of those splendid her to take the first parts in seripowers, which are the admiration ous opera. Her vocal

powers, of the present, and will continue however, were not the only qualito be the theme of future ages. ties which recommended her to Madame Catalani owed more to public favour. Beauty and youth birth than to fortune; and she when accompanied by elegance was therefore destined to take the and grace of deportment, will not veil, like other females, similarly easily yield their contested sovecircumstanced. When fortune reignty to the dominion of music,


There is a witchery in beauty as this capital, she married Monsieur well as in sound! and it is so dif- Vallebraque, still retaining the ficult to say which exercises the name which had raised her to strongest influence over the heart such celebrity: instead, however, and its affections, that the admirers of Signora, she was henceforth of the fair Angelica were at a loss to known by the name of Madetermine which recommended her dame Catalani. She received letmost to public esteem: in the ters of recommendation to the latter, however, she stood unrival- royal family of Spain, from the led; and in the former she had Princess of Brazil, who was parmany competitors; and if her in- ticularly attached to her; and nocence and beauty were more whose esteem was less founded on highly esteemed, it was only be- her professional eminence, than cause they were found connected on her private virtues. with such extraordinary endow- In Spain she was honored with ments. It is certain, however, the friendship of the royal family, that the grace and elegance of her and became extremely popular with movements and person, heighten- the nobility and gentry, during ed and refined as they were by the her residence at Madrid. severe dignity of virtue, rendered After having visited the French her one of those miracles of nature metropolis, in 1806 she arrived in which only certain ages are per- England, and appeared at the mitted to behold.

Opera House, in the Hay-market, Her celebrity procured her an in the latter end of that year. Her inyitation from the Prince and annual salary was only £2,000, Princess of Brazil, now King and and one benefit, a sum not more Queen of Portugal. The opera than half what she received at Lishouse at Lisbon boasted at this bon; but she looked forward to time of the first Italian singers in that encouragement which, if it Europe. The fascinating Grassi- be not always, at least should be ni, and the still more enchanting always, the prize of superior Crescentini, were among its prin- attainments; and her expectations cipal ornaments; and to the in- were amply realized. structions of the latter, who was Madàme Catalani made her first deemed a prodigy in his art, Ma- appearance on the 13th of Decemdame Catalani owes much of the ber, 1806, in the character of Secelebrity which she has since miramide; and, to give a full-isobtained. She remained five years play of her powers, a new compoin Lisbon, on a salary of three sition of Portogallo was substituthousand moidores, and was ho- ted for Bianchi's original music, noured with presents of great as being more suited to her natuvalue, During her residence in ral and exquisite powers : she was accordingly received with the Taylor's offer. She thought her most unbounded applause, and her brother's talents not sufficiently fame became every day more firin- appreciated by the situation aply established.

pointed him in the orchestre, and In 1808, her salary was increas- therefore, as Mr. Taylor refused: ed to £5,250 and two clear bene- him the place to which she thought fits. Her health, however, did not him entitled, it is certain that she keep pace with her fortune, and acted more under the influence of became as variable as the climate. her feelings than of her reason at Madame Dussek accordingly was the moment. To him, however, who to perform in serious opera, and can make no allowance for that take the part of Buffa whenever irritability of feeling which is the Madame Catalani was unable to inseparable attendant of genius, perform. A fracas however took we can only say, that he knowsplace between her and Mr. Taylor, too little of the human heart to esin 1809, which diminished her timate as he ought the moral vapopularity in England. Mr. Tay- lue of human actions ; for though lor offered her £6,000 and three weakness and irritability are not to clear benefits, but though this en- be defended, yet as they forin a gagement was highly liberal she part of our nature, and are frerefused to accept of it. The public quently found united with virtues attributed her refusal to a spirit of a superior order, they should of avarice, but, in doing so, they not be too hastily condemned. judged by first appearances. The Another circumstance contridelicacy of her health frequently buted, at this moment, to render obliged her to decline many en- Madame Catalani less popular, gagements, which were sufficient namely, her refusing to sing for a ly tempting, if avarice had been charitable institution. The public the god of her adoration; and erroneously attributed this refuswhen we know that she refused al, as well as her difference with 240,000 roubles, about 10,000 Mr. Taylor, to motives of avarice, guineas, from the Muscovite nobi- but if this were the real cause of lity for giving ten concerts in her refusal, how can we explain their ancient capital, we cannot the fact, that she sent twenty guithink of ascribing her refusal of neas as a private donation to that. Mr. Taylor's offer to a spirit very charity? If this be the manwhich, if it had existed, would ner in which avarice manifests ito have certainly gratified itself by self, it were well for charitable embracing the offer of the Mus- institutions that all the world were covite nobility. Perhaps the state misers. of her health in 1809 was not the After the fracas between her and sole cause of her 'refusing Mr. Mr. Taylor, she appeared occasionally at private musical parties. letter was published in all the She performed at the principal journals of the time. towns in the three kingdoms; at Froin Berlin she proceeded to thegrand music meetings atOxford Hanover, where she was graciousand Cambridge, and at several ly received by his Royal Highness charitable institutions. She was the Duke of Cambridge, and all at length induced to go to Paris, the ladies of the court,

She was where the King of France granted crowned at the Theatre with her her the patent of the Theatre usual success, and after giving a Royal Italian, with a yearly salary concert for the benefit of the poor, of £7,000 sterling. This Theatre, she departed for Stutgard. We which was then by far the most are informed that the melody of elegant in Paris, she managed her voice made such an impression with great ability for four years, on the late King, who was pasand alternately engaged the celesionately fond of music, that he brated composers, Paer and Spon- pronounced her name a few mitine, to condu&t the musical de- nutes before his death. partment. She also engaged the From Stutgard she went to first singers of Italy, both male Munich, but, in consequence of and female. . The receipts, how some trifling misunderstanding, ever, were trifling whenever she she departed without singing.-did not sing herself, so that her She was persuaded, however, to attention to the interest of the return shortly after, and was afestablishment became a fatigue, fecționately embraced by to which her health was unequal, Queen, who greatly regretted the and she determined to resign the mistake which had taken place. charge and visit the capitals of The King was not less attentive Europe. She went first to Berlin, to her, and recommended her to where she was received by his the friendship of his daughter, the Prussian Majesty, with the most Empress of Austria. flattering respect. The Prussians Vienna was the next Theatre of were at a loss which to admire Madame Catalani's vocal powers. most, her surprising talents or Here her success was unparallelbeneficence. Of this she received ed; and a simple statement of the most honourable testimonies facts will easily evince the ene from all the Prussian courts, and thusiasm with which she was rehis Majesty sent her, accompanied ceived. The great room of the by a most gracious letter, the Redoubt was filled to excess at grand medal of the Academy, each of her concerts, though it ' (similar to that which the Great contains 3,000 persons, and the Frederick sent to Voltaire.) This tickets of admission were wory

« PreviousContinue »