LAIDLAW, Anna Robena, a lady whom Schumann distinguished by dedicating to her his Fantasiestücke (op. 12), was a Yorkshirewoman, born at Bretton April 30, 1819, educated in Edinburgh at the school of her aunt, and in music by Robert Müller, a pianoforte teacher there. Her family went to Königsberg in 1830, and there her vocation was decided, she improved in playing rapidly, and in three or four years appeared in public at Berlin with great applause. In 34 she was in London studying under Herz, and played at Paganini's farewell concert. In 36 she returned to Berlin, and after a lengthened tour through Prussia, Russia and Austria, returned in 1840 to London. It was during this last stay in Germany that the Fantasiestücke were written.
[ G. ]
[ G. ]
LAJEUNESSE, the family name of Madlle. Marie Emma Albani, who was born in 1851 of French Canadian parents, at Chambly, near Montreal, and is therefore an English subject. Her father was a professor of the harp, and she began life in a musical atmosphere. At the age of five the family removed to Montreal, and Madlle. Lajeunesse entered the school of the Convent of the Sacre Coeur. Here she remained several years, with such instruction in singing as the convent could afford, and she is said to have abandoned the idea of adopting a religious life on the representation of the Superior of the convent, who discovered the great qualities of her pupil.In the year 1864 the family again removed, this time to Albany, the capital of the State of New York; and while pursuing her studies there Madlle. Lajeunesse sang in the choir of the Catholic cathedral, and thus attracted the notice not only of the public but of the Catholic bishop, who strongly urged M. Lajeunesse to take his daughter to Europe and place her under proper masters for the development of so remarkable a talent. A concert was given in Albany to raise the necessary funds, after which Madlle. Lajeunesse proceeded to Paris with her father. From Paris, after studying with Duprez for eight months, she went to Lamperti at Milan, with whom she remained for a considerable time. The relation between the master and his gifted pupil may be gathered by the fact that his treatise on the Shake is dedicated to her. In 1870 she made her debut at Messina in the Sonnambula, under the name of Albani, in memory of the city in which her resolution to become a singer was carried into effect. She then sang for a time at the Pergola, Florence. Her first appearance in London was at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, on April 2, 1872. The beautiful qualities of her voice and the charm of her appearance were at once appreciated, and she grew in favour during the whole of the season. Later in the year she made a very successful appearance at the Italian Opera of Paris. She then returned to Milan, and passed several months in hard study under her former master. 1873 saw her again at Covent Garden. In the autumn she sang at St. Petersburg, and between that and her next London season, re-visited America and sang once more in the cathedral at Albany. Since then Madlle. Albani has appeared regularly at Covent Garden, and is now one of the permanent ornaments of that theatre. On Aug. 6, 1878, she married Mr. Ernest Gye, who, since his father's death (Dec. 4, 1878), has been lessee of the theatre. It is sufficient to name her principal parts—Amina (Sonnambula), Margherita (Faust), Mignon, Ophelia, Elsa (Lohengrin), Lucia, Linda, Gilda (Rigoletto), Elisabetta (Tannhäuser), to indicate the wide range of her vocal talent. Since 1872 she has sung every autumn at one or more of our great provincial festivals. Her voice is a light soprano of great beauty and very sympathetic quality, especially telling in the higher registers. She is in addition a fine pianoforte player.
[ H. S. E. ]
[App. p.519 "Albani, Mme., born 1850, not '51, whose full christian names are Marie Louise Cécilia Emma, since 1879 has appeared each year in Italian opera at Covent Garden, excepting that year and 1885. Her new parts have been:—June 26, 1880, Isabella (production of 'Pré aux Clercs'); June 21, 1881, Tamara, on production of 'Il Demonio' (Rubinstein); July 11, 1882, Margaret and Helen of Troy, on production at above theatre of 'Mefistofele'; and July 15, 1884, Brunhild (production of Reyer's 'Sigurd'). In the German season there of 1884, under Richter, she played her favourite parts of Senta and Elsa. In the season of 1887 she added to her already large repertory (wherein we remark that no work of Rossini or Meyerbeer is included) the leading part in 'La Vie pour le Czar' (July 12) and was announced to appear in 'Il Matrimonio segreto,' but that opera was not given.In the concert-room, Mme. Albani has maintained her position, especially at the festivals, where she has created, in important new works, the soprano parts mostly written for her, viz. at Birmingham, 1882, in the 'Redemption'; 1885 'Mors et Vita' and 'Spectre's Bride'; 1881 at Norwich in 'St. Ursula' (Cowen); and at Leeds, 1880, Margarita in 'The Martyr of Antioch'; 1886, Elsie in 'The Golden Legend,' St. Ludmila (Dvořák), and Ilmas (Story of Sayid), Mackenzie. At Worcester also, in 1881, she sang in Cherubini's Mass in D minor, on its production in this country; in 1882 (at Birmingham) in the same composer's Mass in C; and in 1884 in Bach's cantata 'God so loved the world,' in which is the well-known air 'My heart ever faithful.' In London and at Sydenham she has sung in the greater part of these works, also in 'The Rose of Sharon,' Dvořák's Stabat Mater, and in 1886 in Liszt's 'St. Elizabeth' on the occasion of the composer's farewell visit. Mme. Albani has sung in opera abroad with her usual success; also in Gounod's oratorios at the Trocadéro, Paris. Her most recent engagements have been at Berlin, where in 1887, in a three weeks' visit, she sang both in German and Italian in 'Lucia,' 'Traviata,' 'Faust,' 'Fliegende Holländer' and 'Lohengrin,' and was appointed by the Emperor a court chamber singer. At the request of Sir Arthur Sullivan she returned to Berlin on April 2, 1887, and sang her original part of Elsie on the second performance there of 'The Golden Legend,' under his direction, having travelled from Brussels for that express purpose."]
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- First produced in concert room in England, April 21, 1880, at St. James's Hall, by the Bach Choir.