1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lind, Jenny

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LIND, JENNY (1820–1887), the famous Swedish singer, was born at Stockholm on the 6th of October 1820, the daughter of a lace manufacturer. Mlle Lundberg, an opera-dancer, first discovered her musical gift, and induced the child’s mother to have her educated for the stage; during the six or seven years in which she was what was called an “actress pupil,” she occasionally appeared on the stage, but in plays, not operas, until 1836, when she made a first attempt in an opera by A. F. Lindblad. She was regularly engaged at the opera-house in 1837. Her first great success was as Agathe, in Weber’s Der Freischütz, in 1838, and by 1841, when she started for Paris, she had already become identified with nearly all the parts in which she afterwards became famous. But her celebrity in Sweden was due in great part to her histrionic ability, and there is comparatively little said about her wonderful vocal art, which was only attained after a year’s hard study under Manuel Garcia, who had to remedy many faults that had caused exhaustion in the vocal organs. On the completion of her studies she sang before G. Meyerbeer, in private, in the Paris Opera-house, and two years afterwards was engaged by him for Berlin, to sing in his Feldlager in Schlesien (afterwards remodelled as L’ Étoile du nord); but the part intended for her was taken by another singer, and her first appearance took place in Norma on the 15th of December 1844. She appeared also in Weber’s Euryanthe and Bellini’s La Sonnambula, and while she was at Berlin the English manager, Alfred Bunn, induced her to sign a contract (which she broke) to appear in London in the following season. In December 1845 she appeared at a Gewandhaus concert at Leipzig, and made the acquaintance of Mendelssohn, as well as of Joachim and many other distinguished German musicians. In her second Berlin season she added the parts of Donna Anna (Mozart’s Don Giovanni), Julia (Spontini’s Vestalin) and Valentine (Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots) to her repertory. She sang in operas or concerts at Aix-la-Chapelle, Hanover, Hamburg, Vienna, Darmstadt and Munich during the next year, and took up two Donizetti rôles, those of Lucia and “la Figlia del Reggimento,” in which she was afterwards famous. At last Lumley, the manager of Her Majesty’s Theatre, succeeded in inducing Mlle Lind to visit England, in spite of her dread of the penalties threatened by Bunn on her breach of the contract with him, and she appeared on the 4th of May 1847 as Alice in Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable. Her début had been so much discussed that the furore she created was a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless it exceeded everything of the kind that had taken place in London or anywhere else; the sufferings and struggles of her well-dressed admirers, who had to stand for hours to get into the pit, have become historic. She sang in several of her favourite characters, and in that of Susanna in Mozart’s Figaro, besides creating the part of Amalia in Verdi’s I Masnadieri, written for England and performed on the 22nd of July. In the autumn she appeared in operas in Manchester and Liverpool, and in concerts at Brighton, Birmingham, Hull, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Norwich, Bristol, Bath and Exeter. At Norwich began her acquaintance with the bishop, Edward Stanley (1779–1849), which was said to have led to her final determination to give up the stage as a career. After four more appearances in Berlin, and a short visit to Stockholm, she appeared in London in the season of 1848, when she sang in Donizetti’s L’Elisire d’amore and Bellini’s I Puritani, in addition to her older parts. In the same year she organized a memorable performance of Elijah, with the receipts of which the Mendelssohn scholarship was founded, and sang at a great number of charity and benefit concerts. At the beginning of the season of 1849 she intended to give up operatic singing, but a compromise was effected by which she was to sing the music of six operas, performed without action, at Her Majesty’s Theatre; but the first, a concert performance of Mozart’s Il Flauto magico, was so coldly received that she felt bound, for the sake of the manager and the public, to give five more regular representations, and her last performance on the stage was on the 10th of May 1849, in Robert le Diable. Her decision was not even revoked when the king of Sweden urged her to reappear in opera at her old home. She paid visits to Germany and Sweden again before her departure for America in 1850. Just before sailing she appeared at Liverpool, for the first time in England, in an oratorio of Handel, singing the soprano music in The Messiah with superb art. She remained in America for nearly two years, being for a great part of the time engaged by P. T. Barnum. In Boston, on the 5th of February 1852, she married Otto Goldschmidt (1829–1907), whom she had met at Lübeck in 1850. For some years after her return to England, her home for the rest of her life, she appeared in oratorios and concerts, and her dramatic instincts were as strongly and perhaps as advantageously displayed in these surroundings as they had been on the stage, for the grandeur of her conceptions in such passages as the “Sanctus” of Elijah, the intensity of conviction which she threw into the scene of the widow in the same work, or the religious fervour of “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” could not have found a place in opera. In her later years she took an active interest in the Bach Choir, conducted by her husband, and not only sang herself in the chorus, but gave the benefit of her training to the ladies of the society. For some years she was professor of singing at the Royal College of Music. Her last public appearance was at Düsseldorf on the 20th of January 1870 when she sang in Ruth, an oratorio composed by her husband. She died at Malvern on the 2nd of November 1887. The supreme position she held so long in the operatic world was due not only to the glory of her voice, and the complete musicianship which distinguished her above all her contemporaries, but also to the naïve simplicity of her acting in her favourite parts, such as Amina, Alice or Agathe. In these and others she had the precious quality of conviction, and identified herself with the characters she represented with a thoroughness rare in her day. Unharmed by the perils of a stage career, she was a model of rectitude, generosity and straightforwardness, carrying the last quality into a certain blunt directness of manner that was sometimes rather startling.  (J. A. F. M.)