Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/523

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SINGING.

and Nicolini, and comprising the names of Boro- sini, Bianchi, Davitie, Ansani, Donzelli (with a voice that sent out large globes of sound), Tacchi- nardi, Tramezzani, Garcia, Malibran's father, who had a voice capable of singing either tenor or baritone, and for whom it has been said that Rossini wrote ' Otello* (it was certainly written for an exceptional voice, since part of the open- ing aria extends from the bass A to the high tenor A) Rubini, Haitzinger, Duprez, Ivanoff, (whose reputation was made by singing an Italian version of Schubert's serenade at concerts), Moriani, Guasco, Fraschini, Roger, Gardoni, Tamberlik, Wachtel, Mongini, Giuglini, Cam- panini, Gayarre, etc. The greater number of the earlier tenors seem to have been highly finished singers, Ansani especially so. Many of us re- member Rubini, with his power of drawing tears by the simple force of pathetic expression. Mo- riani a great favourite with Mendelssohn was to have been Rubini's successor in the world's estimation, but neither he nor Guasco another beautiful voice and talent fulfilled their early promise. Of all the tenors that we have heard on the stage, Mario was perhaps the most favoured by nature, and even if his natural talent was not exerted to the full, he has left a gap not easily to be filled. A voice rich as Devonshire cream, and a fine manly delivery, with an unusual freedom from the tremolo, were qualifications indeed. Duprez, Tamberlik, and Wachtel were tenori di forza with great quali- ties, but not without defects. Mongini, whose debut at La Scala in 'Guillaume Tell' was a triumphant success, but whose appearance a few nights after in ' La Sonnambula ' was an entire failure, was another of the tenori rdbusti, and rather a vocal athlete than a refined singer. Giuglini was a very graceful and charming artist, to be listened to for a time, but he lacked vigour, and the extreme sweetness of the voice and a somewhat throaty production soon made one wish for something more. Cam- panini, with a good voice, and total freedom from tremolo, was at first enthusiastically wel- comed on the latter account, but his production was very throaty. He improved in this respect, and was earnest in what he did. Nicolini and Gayarre are both powerful singers, but both troubled with the tremolo. One of the best tenors of modern times was Gardoni. With not a large voice, his production and style were per- fect. On the stage his singing was as distinctly heard as in a room, and in a room it was most graceful and sympathetic. This is one of the charms of the good school. Grisi and the rest of her well-known party had perfect control over their voices in private. Basses and baritones have also been numerous, from the time of Boschi and Fischer, already mentioned. Ambro- getti, though a buffo, was prodigiously fine in a part that was anything but comic, the mad father of Agnese in Paer's opera of that name. Galli, whose voice was at first tenor, but after an illness changed to bass, was a very fine singer. It was said that his voice could be heard at the Caffe

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��Martini, which in those days stood opposite the Scala opera-house. It had to traverse the row of boxes, two corridors, the portico of the theatre, and a moderately wide street. Perhaps with a box door, the entrance to the theatre, and the door of the Caffe, all open by chance at the same moment, a note may have been heard. At any rate it must have been a great voice. Tamburini, with a most defective vocalisation singing a florid passage with great agility, but detaching all the notes, and going through all the vowels in the process was nevertheless a very great artist. His qualifications were a fine voice, a fine manly style when not singing florid music, a noble stage presence, refined manner and action, and a hand- some person. His facility in executing passages in his own manner, naturally made him take florid parts, and he was otherwise so good that his obvious defects were pardoned. He was the best Don Giovanni, and the best Fernando in ' La Gazza ladra ' that h.is been seen. He was as good a Duca in ' Lucrezia Borgia,' and Henry VIII. in 'Anna Bolena,' as Lablache, but in his own way. His Dandini in 'La Cenerentola' was quite as good. He was therefore a great talent. Amongst basses Lablache was perhaps the most thoroughly satisfactory artist, even of those great days. Magnificent voice, perfect pro- duction, a noble countenance and person, in spite of his size, and a total freedom from trick or af- fectation. This was the chief secret of his powers as an actor his faculty of identifying himself with his part. Fornasari was a clever singer and actor, but, even at that date, he was afflicted to some extent with the tremolo mania, which interfered with his execution. Coletti was excellent, but not to be accepted in the place of Tamburini, whose exorbitant demands had provoked the famous 'Tamburini row.' Giorgio Ronconi was a striking instance of deficiency in physical means, in quality and power of voice, and in personal appearance, more than counter- balanced by tragic force of the highest order. His powers were equally great in comedy. His Figaro in the ' Barbiere ' was the best on the operatic stage. Ronconi was very witty, and a very good anecdote is told of him, which may be considered authentic. Under the Austrian government the police authorities were very 'strict about the words of the libretti. When singing the ' Puritani ' at the Scala the phrase 'gridando liberta' made such a sensation that Ronconi was sent for and told to substitute lealta ' for ' liberta.' He quietly obeyed, and a few nights after, when Dulcamara in the ' Elisire d'Amore ' has to say, speaking of Nemo- rino, ' vende la liberta, si f e soldato ' (' he sold his liberty and became a soldier'), Ronconi again substituted 'lealta' for 'liberta,' making the passage run, ' he sold his loyalty and became a soldier.' This was of course a furious hit at an alien government. Belletti, with a voice not large but well-produced and telling, was a highly-finished singer, with great power of dis- tinct vocalisation. Formes, with an immense voice, was a clever but somewhat erratic singer,

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