Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/308

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296
ÇA IRA.
CAFFARELLI.

gave him in his own house elementary instruction in reading, writing, and music. When sent to study at Naples under Porpora, the grateful youth, as was not unusual, called himself Caffarelli, in remembrance of his first protector. It is of this extraordinary singer that the story is told that he was kept by old Porpora for five or six years to the uninterrupted and unvaried study of one page of exercises; and that, at the end of this time, he was dismissed with these words, 'Go, my son: I have nothing more to teach you. You are the greatest singer in Europe.' Whether Porpora' s object in this system was to secure the perfect equality of the voice, which in his opinion could not be otherwise gained, or to humble the boy's pride, which was inordinate—whether the story be true or false, certain it is that, according to all competent authorities, the singers whom he sent forth into the world, Farinelli, Caffarelli, etc., were superior to any that preceded or followed them. His valedictory words, in any case, were ill calculated to check the pride and presumption which made Caffarelli, throughout a career of marvellous success, always ridiculous, always odious, and always a contrast to the modest Farinelli. In 1724 he made his début at Rome in a female character, as was usual for sopranists, when his beautiful voice, perfect method, and handsome face, procured him his first triumph. He now easily obtained engagements, and sang with similar success in the principal cities of Italy until 1728, when he returned to Rome. Here his success was more brilliant than before, and than that of any previous singer. He was courted by the highest society, and in one of his very numerous 'bonnes fortunes' he nearly lost his life. Owing to a sudden alarm, he had to escape by passing the night in an empty cistern in a garden, where he caught a severe cold, which kept him to his bed for a month. After this he went about everywhere protected by four bravos from the vengeance of the husband. He left Rome safe, however, in 1730; and, after singing in other places, arrived in London at the end of 1737. Here he made his first appearance at the King's Theatre on Jan. 7, 1738, in the principal character in Handel's 'Faramondo,' and in 'Serse' on April 15. He also sang the part of Jason in Pescetti's 'La Conquista del vello d'oro' in the same year. His name does not appear again; and it is said that during all his stay in London he was never in good health or voice. He does not appear to have fulfilled the expectation that his coming had created. He now returned to Italy, and passed through Turin, Genoa, Milan, Florence, and Venice, in a triumphal progress. At Turin, when the Prince of Savoy told Caffarelli, after praising him greatly, that the princess thought it hardly possible that any singer could please after Farinelli, 'To-night,' he replied, 'she shall hear two Farinellis!' What would have been thought of this answer by the lady who once exclaimed in delirious excitement 'One God, and one Farinelli!' At Naples he excited the wildest enthusiasm. While he was singing there he was told of the arrival of Gizziello, whom, as a possible rival, he was most anxious to hear and estimate for himself. He posted all the way to Rome, arrived in time for the opera, and took a back seat in the pit. After listening attentively to Gizziello's aria di entrata he could not master his emotion; but, rising from his seat, exclaimed 'Bravo, bravissimo, Gizziello! E Caffarelli chi te lo dice!' and fled precipitately from the theatre. Throwing himself into his carriage, he posted rapidly back to Naples, and found he had barely time to dress and appear at the opera, where bis absence had already been remarked. In 1740 he returned to Venice, where he received a higher salary than any singer had received before,—800 sequins (=£385), and a benefit of 700 sequins (=£335), for a season of three months. He reappeared at Turin in 1746, and then at Florence and Milan. On the invitation of the Dauphine he went to Paris in 1750, and sang at several concerts, where he pleased as much as he astonished the critics. Louis XV sent him a present of a snuff-box; but Caffarelli, observing that it was plain, showed the messenger who brought it, one of the gentlemen of the court, a drawerfull of splendid boxes, and remarked that the worst of them was finer than the gift of the King of France. 'If,' said he, 'he had sent me his portrait in it!' 'That, 'replied the gentleman, 'is only given to ambassadors.' 'Well,' was the reply, 'and all the ambassadors of the world would not make one Caffarelli!' This, when repeated, made the King laugh heartily; but the Dauphine sent for the singer, and, giving him a passport, said—'It is signed by the King himself,—for you a great honour; but lose no time in using it, for it is only good for ten days.' Caffarelli left France in dudgeon, saying he had not gained his expenses there. Stories about him are innumerable: Metastasio, in one of his letters, tells an amusing one, according to which the intervention of Tesi, the celebrated singer, alone saved him from a duel at Vienna, provoked by his arrogance and folly. At the age of sixty-five he was still singing; but he had made an enormous fortune, had purchased a dukedom, and built at Santo Dorato a palace, over the gate of which he inscribed, with his usual modesty, 'Amphion Thebas, ego domum.' A commentator added 'Ille cum, sine tu!' It will be inferred from the above that he was the rival of Farinelli, to whom by some he was preferred as a singer. He excelled in slow and pathetic airs, as well as in the bravura style; and was unapproached both in beauty of voice and in the perfection of his shake and chromatic scales. He is said to have been the first to introduce the latter embellishment in quick movements. He died in 1783, leaving his wealth and his dukedom to his nephew.

[ J. M. ]

ÇA IRA. The earliest of French revolutionary songs, probably first heard on Oct. 5, 1789, when the Parisians marched to Versailles. The words were suggested to a street-singer called Ladré by General La Fayette, who remembered