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LA BELLE ASSEMBLÉE;
For JULY, 1811.
a Pew Series,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF ILLUSTRIOUS LADIES.
The Twenty- First Pumber.
Ir example is more valuable than pre derives additional charins from the mild rept, even in morals and philosophy, be and respectable tenor of her private life. cause niore forcibly instructive, what pre Ungrateful as unfounded is the contiference does it claim when employed for || nental opinion that no nation is so prethe elucidation of science and of art! Or, judiced in its own favour as the English; when adding to the evanescent image of an opinion which our prompt and liberal precept its own permanent and embodied encouragement of foreign talent ought long form, it gives purity to instruction, lives since to have removed ; an opinion for
feelings, and while it awakens ad- | which the excess of English generosity to miration, excites every imitative power! | exotic genius, in whomsover it is found, This reflection we conceive not only to be ought to suffuse with the blush of shame generally just, but of universal applica- the cheeks of every foreigner that har. tion, and to include among its objects even bours it. the elegancies of social life, as well as the That English liberality, however great, mainor walks of practical ethics, and seems has been exorbitantly extended towards the to supersede all necessity of apology for || present object of our biography, we would our intention to extend the biographical not, however, be thought to imply. Though department of LA BELLE AssemBLEE, we do not profess to be among those who and enrich our future Numbers with such are lost in equal admiration of whatever exemplary portraitures as shall appear to Madame Catalani performs, we are neverus at once the most desirable and most theless fully awake to all her vocal excellenuseful to our fair readers.
cies; can be astonished with, though not This acceptable acquisition to our work | prepared to extol, those fights which none We commence with recording the talents | but herself can reach, those eccentricities and virtues of a lady whose public and which only herself can achieve, and do professional character, we are happy to say, || not affect to withhold our wonder, even
where we cannot yield our commenda. - maturity of voice, which is rare because it tion,
is perfect, and the extent of which surMadame Catalani, a native of the mild passes the limits hitherto assigued to the regions of Italy, where music is inherent organs of the most fortunate. Nature, he almost in the atmosphere, was boru about adds, seems to have wished to supersede the year 1782; her parents, respectable in
in her favour those ordinary laws which their sphere, were resident in the Papal ter
she has imposed on herself, in regulating ritory, and having, even in iufaucy, dis- the structure and limits of the human covered her soul of harmiony, determined larynx, and in addition to the charms pethat instruction should develope the buds culiar to the female voice, had bestowed of genius, in hopes of happy maturity. on her all the advantages of artificial inSuch was her progress in musical science, strun.ents. This flattering critique he that as early as the age of sixteen, she was
closes witn the assertion that she united in judged qualified for the first parts in the herself all the great qualifications which serigys Opera of her native soil; and though excite our admiration when separately dison her first appearance she had to contend tributed to others; that her voice was against some of the first singers of that equally astonishing both in the liigh and tiine, singers who were improved by prac
low cadences; and that it was no less retire, accustomed to the stage, and support- | markable for flexibility and sweetness than ed by public fuvour, yet the extraordinary for strength and compass-ut of this more powers of her voice, even at that period, anon. enabled her not only to acquire, but to
We may judge of the estimation she was maintain a high musical reputation. Ta- held in at Lisbon, from the fact that her lents of such high promise were last engagement there was for 3,000 moiknown over the whole Continent, nor was dores annually, besides a benefit; the sashe permitted long to remain on the Italian lary alone being £4,050 sterling. She was stage, where music, though so much ad- not only also lighly admired by the Prinmired, is not so highly rewarded as in other cess of Brazil, but also honoured wita her countries; for an engagement of a very friendship; and when to the great regret, flattering nature indwed her to visit the of the Portuguese, she was induced to Court of Pertugal, and there, in the city quit Lisbon for Madrid, that Princess gave of Lisbon, those wonderful powers which her the most flattering introduction and renature has bestowed on her were se. commendation to the Queen of Spain, who dulously cultivated, and nearly brought to always treated her with innumerable proofs their greatest perfection. During a resi- of the most flattering and gracious condence of five years in that city, she dedi- descension ; indeed she met with the dated all her leizure hours to the musical | greatest distinction from the whole of the instructions of the well known and much | Spanish Court, and became also most deadmired Crescentini, a singer of extra- servedly a favourite with the people. ordinary science, and considered even as a From Spain she went to Paris, where prodigy in musical execution.
her reception was equal to her talents, and Though it is our intention to enter more there we believe that she formed her macritically into her professional powers attrimonial engagement with Monsieur Valle, the close of this sketch, yet we cannot avoid | braque, and theu first added the Madainc. giving here a tribute to her early excel to her name, in lieu of Signora, though lence, from the pen of a Parisian Journalist, she chooses still to be distinguished by who had witnessed its display at Lisbon. I that name under which she first electrified This critic tells us, that he does not an the musical world. There she is said to nounce one of the little infantine pro. have softened the irou temper of Napoleon digies which astonish only because they himself, who, as a mark of luis admiration, are out of season; one of those forced pro- is said to have settled upon her an annuity ducts of the hot-house which seems valu of 1000 livres, a fact, however, for which able only because they out-run nature. He we cannot vouch. declares that he speaks of a talent in its full In England, however, her fame had long
been known, and the Managers of the || but it was something whimsical that Perini, Opera House were particularly anxious to who was engaged as her double, though indulge the public curiosity; but it was iuured to our climate, thought proper to not until the latter end of 1806, that their || be delicate also, and one of her vindicators laudable object could be accomplislied, on in a fashionable Journal, went the length of account of the then perturbed state of con asserting that Madame Perini had certainly tinental communication. We may also add, as much right to be taken suddenly ill as that Madame Catalani's acceptance of the Madame Catalaui ! first engagements, was a convincing proof To give a detailed account of her resinot only of her confidence in the future ef
dence here is certainly unnecessary; but fects of her transcendant talents, but of her
we may observe that at first she was the reliance on the taste and generosity of the object both of prejudice and suspicion ; British public, as her first salary was only many aserting that her husband had been £2000, not more than the half of her secretary to Bonaparte, &c. but these ruannual salary at Lisbon.
mours were officially denied by Mr. Kelly. At length her first appearance was an It must be confessed, indeed, that Monsieur Bounced for the 13th of December, 1806, || Vallebraque's conduct was not at first of a in the character of Semiramide, the same in
wature to ensure esteem; great allowance which Banti had made her debut; and ought, however, to be made for prejudice, this, added to the general novelty, prov- || and we must candidly attribute much of ed so powerful an attraction, that the house the Aippancy complained of to his ignowas crowded to an extraordinary degree at rance of English reserve, and to the familiar an early hour, in a manrer hitherto unpre-style to which he had been accustomed on eerlented. In order to give full scope to her the Continent. The anecdotes of the Duke powers, the original music of Bianchi was of R---'s garter, and of his brusquerie to superseded by a new composition of Porto a noble Marchioness, &c. &c. are too well gallo, expressly fitted to bring into action | known to require mentioning here. all her powers, both native and acquired;
Before we proceed to the investigation of and this was followed by the most happy her musical powers, it will not be irrele
vant to notice her various engagements. Ou occasions of this kind it sometimes In 1803 she was to perform twice a week happens that where success is doubtful, in serious or comic Opera, for £5230, with the favour of the public has been insureu || two clear benefits; whilst Madame Dussek by some fortunate coincidence of dramatic
was to perforin in serious Opera, and to effect with the particular situation of the take the part of principal Butla in case she performer; here, indeed, this was not needl- || should be ill and unable to perform. This ful, yet neither was it the less particularly || engagement was indeed on a new principle, noticed when on her first entrée her con for if the Managers did not pay her regufidante said, “ Fear not!" And she ex- | larly every night, she was at liberty to claimed, Timor non é! “ It is not fear but employ her talents in other quarters, and $omething more!" When diffidence is to hold herself no longer bound to them. se en united with extraordinary powers, it || In 1809 difficulties arose respecting her is not surprizing that the two should com operatic engagements. Mr. Taylor offered m and admiration; but, in short, her suc her £6000 (together with three benefits), cess was complete, her applause was indeed || payable in two equal moieties in 1810 and well earned, particularly in a Brarura and | 1811, for hier persormance for eighty nights Curatina which cnraptured many and as in serious Opera only; this, however, she tonished all.
refused unless Miartini, her brother, was On her appearance after the holidays, her engaged as first violiu. An engagement fame was much increased, but the public | then took place with Mr. Harris, for Coventwere greatly disappointed by her frequent | Garden, which the public feeling, expressed illnesses, owing to the action of our winter in what was called the 0. P. row, induced atmosphere on organs delicately framed ; || the parties to forego. She has since given
her fascinating powers to the Opera, to i rapid in its succession, or scientific in its University performances, to charitable in- | arrangement, when it ceases to appeal to stitutions, and sometimes, as a wandering the mind, forfeits all its higher pretensions melodist, to the various provincial towns in to applause, resigns its best and proudest the three kingdoms.
powers, and becomes as purely sensual We must add, that Madame Catalani has as the most frivolous of human enjoy. always displayed a spirit of benevolence ments. highly honourable to her; and though If we felt these drawbacks upon the gemuch clamour was endeavoured to be ex- neral excellence of Madame Catalani's percited against her, for refusing to sing for formance at the Opera, how much more the Middlesex Hospital, yet it must be re- forcibly were we struck with them at the collected that her own Concert had long | Oratorios! The modesty and grand simbeen fixed for that evening, and that she plicity of nature to which the great Handel actually sext with her refusal a donation of has so faithfully adhered, was evidently twenty guineas to the charity.
neither felt nor understood by this extraWhat we have hitherto said of this un- | ordinary singer; too conscious of powers, equalled performer has been dictated by the exercise of which nature and good that spirit of liberality from which we do sense would never suffer to intrude themnot mean to depart; though we cannot selves in the sacred drama, she could not suffer ourselves to be swayed by that blind resist an ill-judged vanity, and what she prejudice which mistakes wonders for ex dulcified with the native sweetness of her cellencies, and conceives every thing to be tones, frittered into frivolity with the idle exemplary that is inimitable. We profess flippancy of art. ourselves to be adherents of the old school, The objections we have here made in because according to our opinion it is the treating of Madame Catalani's style, have school of nature. We prefer expression to not their source, we are convinced, so flourish, just and passionate intonations to much in the want as in the neglect of judgrapid roulades, and cadences that touch | ment. In this opinion we are strongly and melt the soul to the eccentric and un supported by the excellency of her acting, intelligible trills and figlits that may rouse as well as by the many and distinguished a momentary astonishment but leave all | beauties of her vocal exertions. Her fine the finer sensations of our nature unex- || portamento, her firm and equal manner of cited.
pitching and sustaining her notes, the cerMusic is a language-the dulcet language tainty and precision of her distances, the of the passious; extraneous distances, a | emphatic pointing of her recitativo, the vagrant series of semitonic intervals, and unequalled compass, mellifluence, and flexiinapplicable rapidity of execution may sur bility of her voice, its swelling volume and prise, and even startle, but will never ex electric transitions--these bring with them tort the praise of those who wish to feel; so many claims to our admiration and apwho listen to the singer as the mellifluous plause, that the severest critic, while he illustrator of the poet and the composer, has them in his contemplation, must almost and who, while their ears are ravished with be induced to retract his censure, and join “ the concord of sweet sound," are soli- in the general claims of her praise. We citous that the heart and intellect should most cordially join it; and if we cannot share the enjoyment.
discover perfection where we find so much Madame Catalani, by the volatile extra- | to admire, it only resolves itself into what vaganzas and chromatic dissonances in | has so long been known—that perfection which, we must in candour say, we think and human nature are in themselves inher too fond of indulging, seeins to forget | congruous. that melody, however sweet in its tones,
HYMEN EA IN SEARCH OF A HUSBAND
(Continued from Vol. III. Page 231.)
Having paid my respects to the “ Stupid !" exclaimed a very handsome Duchess of Chertsey, to avoid any further || woman just before him. “These heathens, persecution from the disappointed Baronet, my dear Lady Castledowne," said she, turnwho I perceived approaching through aing to my friend, “ have no eyes for any parterre of exotics, I turned into a wood thing but follies.” which seemed extending its perfumed fo “ Unfortunately for the charming obliage to invite me to its shade. Thejects in this room," replied her Ladyship, boughs were laden with festoons of inter they disagree with the prejudices of an mingling wreaths, where roses and lilies | eastern lover; he can see nothing to twisted their fragrant branches in rich || admire in a woman after she is turned assemblage. Lady Castledowne obeyed || twenty." the impulse of my arm, and hastening “ Now forty, with us, is the meridian of through the delightful thicket, we emerged, | female charms!" said a voice from behind; on the opposite side, before the marble and looking round, I beheld Sir Bingham portico of a Turkish pavilion; our ears Courtown; he bowed to the lady as he were here saluted by sweet music, and spoke, who colouring violently, forced a ascending the steps, we beheld a very gay || laugh, and exclaimed:-“ Nobody minds scene.
your nonsense, Sir Bingham." The Persian Ambassador, for whose re I fear
teach that cruel sentiment to ception this eastern temple had been de- your daughter," returned the persecuting corated with every luxury that wealth Baronet; “once or twice have I tried to could summon from the Levant, was seated breathe iny admiration of her beauties in on a raised platform of embroidered velvet; her ear, and as often has she turned on me a beautiful groupe of young girls, dressed with a blush and smile as sweet as her with the grace of hourii, danced before mother's, and exclaimed, nonsense!" him; while the spectators, men in the “Let us leave that disagreeable man," costume of Bond-street, and ladies in that whispered the beauty of forty to Lady of St. James's, still reminded us that we Castledowne, and moved towards the were in the land of mode and whim. other end of the pavilion. I was preparing
The benur around laughed at the admi- | to follow, glad to get out of the way of ration with which the honest Persian re- | my rejected lover, whose persecution I also garded the light steps of the pretty rustics ; | dreaded, but hastily putting forth his and the belles, impatient at the attention hand, he prevented me by taking mine, which his Excellency paid to any thing and holding it fast:
:-“ Come, lovely Hyelse than themselves, so crowded round | menea,” said he, “although you have exthe dancers that, despairing of room to tinguished the hope I was coxcomb enough complete their evolutions, they ceased atto cherish, do not also annihilate our aconce, making a profound salam.
quaintance! allow me to enjoy your conu Charmante! charmante!” exclaimed versation, if I may not your smiles and the Persian, clapping his hands.
sighs; I can esteem when I am forbidden “ Not so charming an object as one I to love!" can tell you of!" cried a lady, drawing
There was a frankness and good nature towards his Excellency, and affecting to in this that pleased me; I believe I then whisper in his ear, but speaking loud gave him one of the most gracious looks enough for all present to be her auditors. he had ever received from me, and said, I
“ Where?" asked the Ambassador, look should be happy to continue our acquain. ing around.
tance on the terms he now proposed; he