The source of Hasse's inspiration lay, not in intuition, but in his susceptibility to external impressions. In Art, the universally pleasing is the already familiar; so long as nothing is recognised, nothing is understood. Recognition may come as revelation; but, for a great original work to find acceptance, the truth of which it is the first expression must be latent in the minds of those who have to receive it. Hasse was no prophet, but in his works his contemporaries found fluent utterance given to their own feelings. Such men please all, while they offend none; but when the spirit and the time of which they are at once the embodiment and the reflection passes away, so, with it, must they and their work pass away and be forgotten. [App. p.669 "The last sentence of the article should run as follows:—Such men please all, while they offend none; but when the spirit and the time, of which they are at once the embodiment and the reflection, pass away, they and their work must also pass away and be forgotten."]
qualities which made him popular, we will mention the opening symphony and the first air in the oratorio 'I Pellegrini al Sepolcro,' written for the Electoral Chapel at Dresden. To appreciate the deficiencies which have caused him to be forgotten, we have only to proceed a little further in this or any other of his works. They are inexpressibly monotonous. In the matter of form he attempted nothing new. All his airs are in two parts, with the inevitable Da Capo, or repetition of the first strain. All his operas consist of such airs, varied by occasional duets, more rarely a trio, or a simple chorus, all cast in the same mould. His orchestra consists merely of the string quartet, sometimes of a string trio only; if now and then he adds hautboys, flutes, bassoons, or horns, there is nothing distinctive in his writing for these wind instruments, and their part might equally well be played by the violins. Nor is there anything distinctive in his writing of Church music, which presents in all respects the same characteristics as his operas. His Symphonies are for three, or at the most four, instruments. The harmonic basis of his airs is of the very slightest, his modulations the most simple and obvious, and these are repeated with little variety in all his songs. The charm of these songs consists in the elegance of the melodic superstructure and its sympathetic adaptation to the requirements of the voice. Singers found in them the most congenial exercise for their powers, and the most perfect vehicle for expression and display. For ten years Farinelli charmed away the melancholy of Philip V. of Spain by singing to him every evening the same two airs of Hasse (from a second opera, 'Artaserse'), 'Pallido è il sole' and 'Per questo dolce amplesso.'
[ F. A. M. ]
HASSE, Faustina Bordoni, the wife of the foregoing, was born at Venice, 1700, of a noble family, formerly one of the governing families of the republic. Her first instruction was derived from Gasparini, who helped her to develop a beautiful and flexible voice to the greatest advantage. In 1716 Bordoni made her début in 'Ariodante' by C. F. Pollarolo, achieved at once a reputation as a great singer, and was soon known as the 'New Syren.' In 1719 she sang again at Venice with Cuzzoni and Bernacchi, whose florid style her own resembled. In 1722 she sang at Naples, and at Florence a medal was struck in her honour. She visited Vienna in 1724, and was engaged for the Court Theatre at a salary of 15,000 florins. Here she was found by Handel, who immediately secured her for London, where she made her début May 5, 1726, in his 'Alessandro.' Her salary was fixed at £2000. 'She, in a manner,' says Burney, 'invented a new kind of singing, by running divisions with a neatness and velocity which astonished all who heard her. She had the art of sustaining a note longer, in the opinion of the public, than any other singer, by taking her breath imperceptibly. Her beats and trills were strong and rapid; her intonation perfect; and her professional perfections were enhanced by a beautiful face, a symmetric figure, though of small stature, and a countenance and gesture on the stage, which indicated an entire intelligence of her part.' Apostolo Zeno, in speaking of her departure from Vienna, says—'But, whatever good fortune she meets with, she merits it all by her courteous and polite manners, as well as talents, with which she has enchanted and gained the esteem and affection of the whole Court'.
In London she stayed but two seasons, and then returned to Venice, where she was married to Hasse. In 1731 she went to Dresden, and remained there till 1756. During the war, she and her husband went to Vienna, and resided there until 1775, when they retired to Venice, where they ended their days, she in 1783 at the age of 90 [App. p.669 "83"], and Hasse not long after, at nearly the same age [App. p.669 "in the same year"].
Faustina has seldom been equalled in agility of voice; 'a matchless facility and rapidity in her execution; dexterity in taking breath, exquisite shake, new and brilliant passages of embellishment, and a thousand other qualities contributed to inscribe her name among the first singers in Europe' (Stef. Arteaga). In London she divided the popular favour with Cuzzoni. 'When the admirers of the one began to applaud, those of the other were sure to hiss; on which account operas ceased for some time in London' (Quantz). In a libretto of 'Admeto,' Lady Cowper, the original possessor, has written opposite to Faustina's name, 'she is the devil of a singer.'Fétis mentions her portrait in Hawkins's History; but he seems not to have known the fine print, engraved by L. Zucchi after S. Torelli, which is a companion to that of Hasse by the same engraver, and represents Faustina as an elderly person, handsomely dressed, and with a sweet and intelligent countenance. This portrait is uncommon.
[ J. M. ]