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his ballet of “ The Deserter of Naples.” He conceived the just idea, that the natural affections would produce a deeper and more homefelt interest than the heroes of the Iliad, or even the deities of the classical mythology. The example spread, and tragedy was brought down to ordinary life. Upon our own stage instances now multiplied in all the three species, and the discovery was adopted and established. It was, indeed, amongst the effects of the general progression, and belongs to the intellectual conversion we have so often observed and alluded to. The deeper and more sublime yielded to the lighter and livelier emotions; it affected not only the construction of the music of the stage, but of music universally.
This little-varying state of things continued for an interval of considerable duration, though singers of great merit arrived. Fodor, Camporese,+ Ronzi de Begnis, Caradori, and Colbran, deserve especial regard as artistes of great natural and acquired talents. The operas of Mozart, Cimarosa, and Zingarelli, took their turns with others of less note and inferior genius; but there could be said to be no visible movement either in the arte del canto or in composition till the rise of Rossini and the appearance of Madame Pasta,-two events which have materially altered the taste, not of the English alone, but of the world.
The perfection at which this great artiste (and to no singer can the term be with such strict propriety applied) has arrived, is one of the strongest proofs of the force of genius and industry over natural disqualifications that vocal science has ever exhibited. About the year 1815 or 1816, she was in this country, bearing her maiden name of Neri, and, without the slightest disparagement, she could not be esteemed above the third rank. So little promise, indeed, was there attached to her performance, that no expectation could then be formed of her ever realising even tolerable excellence. Her voice was harsh, rough, and unequal; her intonation imperfect beyond endurance, especially as it was balanced by no equivalents of expression. Some few years after she re-appeared a star of the first magnitude—a great singer, a greater actress. We shall refer those of our readers who wish to enter minutely into the scientific character and details of Pasta's singing, to the extended description in Stendhal’s “ Vie de Rossini,” and the “Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review.”'S It will be sufficient for our purpose to lay in the grander outlines.
* Moore's " Gamester” may be safely pronounced to be the most touching, the most true, and the most morally-effective play in the English language.
[ Camporese was a gentlewoman in mind and in manner, but still unable to resist, at all times, the insolences to which her situation exposed her. At a rehearsal of “ Pietro l'Eremita," she commenced the exquisite quartett “ Mi manca la voce.” “ E vero," whispered Mad. Ronzi, but loud enough for the bystanders to hear, which Camporese instantly chastised by a box on the ear—" Tantæne animis cælestibus iræ ?"
This splendid woman, and no less splendid singer, had lost the better portion of her powers when she visited this country as the wife of Rossini, during the season of Benelli's management. It was to this lady that Crescentini is reported to have anticipated her coming eminence-". Lorsqu'il la jugea capable de prendre son essor, il prophétisa la réputation dont elle devoit jouir un jour en disant, • Je ne pense pas qu'il n'y ait en Europe un talent plus beau que le tien.' Il accompagna cet éloge du don de toute sa musique.”
8 It were to be wished that this publication had not been so hastily abandoned. Since our first article was written, “ The Harmonicon" has also been given up, and England has now no literary work to carry forward the progress of musical events or musical philosophy. What a bitter practical sarcasm upon our want of taste as a nation !
The extraordinary distinction which has raised her to such eminence making the first and most necessary allowance for her intellectual superiority, and a sensibility to musical and passionate effects of extraordinary delicacy–her peculiar distinction, we say, sprang from, nay, even now resides, in the very imperfection, as it would have been previously considered, of her voice. Hitherto equality and uniformity of vocalization, the homogeneity of the tone, had been deemed to be the supremest quality which instruction could bestow. For this the young artist toiled through the most tedious of all practice; but such equalization was impossible to Pasta. Her organ was naturally a mezzo soprano. She, however, discovered a means (or, at least, used it more visibly and more successfully than any other singer) of attaining three different registers. By this expedient, in addition to an uncommon extent of compass, she attained a power of diversifying the tone according to the emotion she wished to express. Her lower notes were by nature husky.* We have known instances where the practice indispensable to obtain sounds so low in the scale has polished away this roughness ;t but Madame Pasta voluntarily retains it, and, in the darker passions, uses it with prodigious effect; the middle of her scale was also by nature the best, that is, the most powerful and richly-toned portion. The same skill and perseverance which directed her to apply to the most useful ends the formation of these notes of her scale, enabled her to cultivate her falsetto, or headvoice, up to an equally rare perfection. M. de Stendhal appears to be unacquainted with the fact, that it is by three registers that Pasta's voice is formed; he therefore adopts the common division into two, the chest and the head voices. But having explained the distinction, we cannot describe in better terms than he has employed the manner and the effects produced by the artiste, whose empire over her hearers is so certain and so absolute; we shall therefore translate two or three passages of his work.
“ It is with astonishing skill,” he says, “ that Madame Pasta unites her head and chest voice; she displays the supremest art in the variety of agreeable and exciting effects which she produces by this combination. In the twinkling of an eye, she heightens or alters the colouring of a phrase of melody, by introducing her falsette, even in the middle of her scale, or by using alternately notes of the falsette and of the chest voice. She employs this expedient with the same facility of blending in the middle as in the highest notes of the chest voice.
* This imperfection was dignified, by her foreign admirers, by the phrase of “sons voilées," which some of our English critics adopted in the term“ veiled sounds."
The real truth is, her voice was husky, because these notes were beyond her fair compass. Genius converted this defect into a beauty.
of Malibran is an example. Her father (Garcia) taught according to this method of three registers, and where the chest will bear it (which is perhaps not one out of a thousand) the best results follow. Where the chest is weak, it is not only fatal to the voice, but very likely to be so to life itself. The exhaustion of the practice is dreadful.
The gentleman's true name is Beyle. 8 When the voice is trained to three registers, many notes of the middle portion are formed by the commixture of the head and chest voice, in a manner so artful, that the singer can at pleasure swell the tone to the full power of the natural, or attenuate it to the softest sound of the falsette-or thus ise either quality : a most liquid and beautiful shake is attained upon parts of the scale, where the use
“ The head voice of Madame Pasta has a character almost entirely opposite to her chest voice. It is brilliant, rapid, pure, flexile, and of an admirable lightness. In a descending passage, she possesses the power of attenuating the tone to such an inconceivable degree, that the existence of any sound becomes almost a matter of doubt.
“ Such refinement of colouring, such powerful and varied means, are necessary to Pasta, to give expression to the forcible conception that is peculiar to her,-a conception always just, and which, though modified according to the rules of the beau ideal, is always full of that fiery energy and extraordinary power which electrifies a whole audience. But what art must this gifted singer have acquired, what study must it have cost her to attain the power of producing such sublime effects from means so directly opposite !*
“ This art continues daily to improve; the effects it produces are proportionally surprising, and its power over the auditor must go on to increase, for the voice of Madame Pasta has now for some time past overcome all the physical obstacles that can be opposed to the attainment of musical perfection. She now seduces the ear of her enchanted hearers at the same time that she electrifies their souls; in every new opera she awakens fresh emotions or new modifications of the same pleasure. She possesses the art of imparting a new musical colouring, not by the accentuation of words, or in her character of a great tragedian, but as a singer, and in characters which are to all appearance insignificant.”
These were the qualities (both intellectual and organic) which enabled Pasta to work the change she undoubtedly wrought in the public taste; and it is one very beneficial. She has arrested the rapidity of the progression towards the substitution of notes—mere notes—for the sensible and expressive employment of sounds. Her use of ornament is comparatively restrained; but her graces are, for the most part, the best adaptations of such passages to the illustration of the passion. If she introduces a volata, it has all the analogies which the philosophy of the mind, as well as of the art, has determined are the vocal media of emotions, and which are common to the representation and the thing represented : e. g. rage, loud and vehement, exhibits its fury by rapid successions of intervals; love,-soft, tender, and pathetic,-by sweet, protracted, and melting tones, or appogiaturas. By such general laws her embellishments are governed, and though it requires a wide acquaintance with the art of gracing to appreciate fully the invention, the delicacy, and the beauty of her choice of ornament, yet the impression, by which the million is governed, is always strong upon all who hear her. Her imagination, in a word, is as chaste as it is brilliant; her conceptions, as pure as they are sublime; and her excellence consists in found
of the falsette is scarcely suspected. It is achieved by strengthening through exercise) the lowest notes of the falsette ; and, on the contrary, by weakening the highest of the natural voice. The singer becomes able to take the same three or four notes in either, and also in both mixed. This is what the French term la voix mixte.
* The devoted friendship of the Chevalier Micheroux to Madame Pasta was of the highest advantage to her. This gentleman was a very fine accompanist, and his taste was exquisite. He watched Madame Pasta most attentively during her performance in public, and assisted her with his judgment in private.
ing her fame upon the solid parts of the great style, yet adorning them to the exact degree where fine taste limits the application of such embroidery.*
Thus, then, she brought us back to a purer expression, if not to that original plainness and strength which belong only to absolute simplicity. But when it is considered how far the public taste had been vitiated by Catalani, and how far the love of volatile execution was still to be sustained by the enchanting facility of Sontag,-a star which rose soon after in our horizon,-it will scarcely be denied that Pasta has at least stayed, if she may not have prevented a complete revolution in the art.
(To be continued.)
THE STORY OF HESTER MALPAS.
BY L. E. L. THERE is a favourite in every family; and, generally speaking, that favourite is the most troublesome member in it. People evince a strange predilection for whatever plagues them. This, however, was not the case with Hester Malpas. The eldest of six children, she was her father's favourite, because from her only was he sure of a cheerful word and a bright smile. She was her mother's favourite, because every one said that she was the very image of that mother herself at sixteen. She was the favourite of all her brothers and sisters, because she listened patiently to all their complaints, and contributed to all their amusements; an infallible method, by the by, of securing popularity on a far more extended scale.
Mr. Malpas was the second son of a prosperous tradesman in Wapping -a sickly child. Of course, he shrank from active amusement. Hence originated a love of reading, which, in his case, as in many others, was mistaken for a proof of abilities. Visions of his being a future lord chancellor, archbishop of Canterbury, or at least an alderman, soon began to stimulate the ambition of the little back-parlour where his parents' nightly discussed the profits of the day, and the prospects of their family. The end of these hopes was a very common one ;--at forty, Richard Malpas was a poor curate in Wiltshire, with a wife and six children, and no chance of bettering his condition. He had married for love, under the frequent delusion of supposing that love will last under every circumstance most calculated to destroy it; and, secondly, that it can supply the place of everything else. Many a traveller paused to admire the beauty of the curate's cottage, with the pear-tree, whose trained branches covered the front; and the garden where, if there were few flowers, there was much fruit; and which was bounded on one side by a green field, and on the other by the yet greener churchyard. Behind stood the church, whose square tower was covered with ivy of a hundred years growth. Two old yews overshadowed the little gate; and rarely did the sunset glitter on the small panes of the Gothic windows without assembling half the children in the hamlet, whose gay voices and ringing laughter were in perfect unison with a scene whose chief characteristic was cheerfulness. But as whoso could have lifted up the ivy would have seen that the wall was mouldering beneath; and whoso could have looked from the long, flower-filled grass, and the glad and childish occupants of the rising mounds, to the dust and ashes that lay perishing below; so who could have looked into the interior of that pretty cottage would have seen regret, want, and despondency. Other sorrows soften the heart, – poverty hardens it. Nothing like poverty for chilling the affections and repressing the spirits. Its annoyances are all of the small and mean order; its regrets all of a selfish kind; its presence is perpetual; and the scant meal, and the grudged fire, are repeated day by day, yet who can become accustomed to them? Mr. and Mrs. Malpas had long since forgotten their youth ; and if ever they referred to their marriage, on his part it was to feel, too late, what a drawback it had been to his prospects, and to turn in his mind all the college comforts and quiet of which his ill-fated union had deprived him. Nor was his wife without her regrets. A woman always exaggerates her beauty and its influence when they are past; and it was a perpetual grief to think what her pretty face might have done for her. As the children grew up, discomfort increased; breakfast, dinner,-supper was never attempted, — instead of assembling an affectionate group, each ready with some slight tale of daily occurrence, to which daily intercourse gives such interest, these meals were looked forward to with positive fear. There was never quite enough for all; and the very regret of the parents took, as is a common case, the form of scolding. When Hayley tried Serena's temper, he forgot the worst, the real trial-want; and want, too, felt more for others than for yourself. The mother's vanity, too, -and what mother is without vanity for her children ?—was a constant grievance. It was hard that hers should be the prettiest and worstdressed in the village. In her, the distress of their circumstances took the form of perpetual irritability that constant peevishness which frets over everything; while in Mr. Malpas it wore the provoking shape of sullen indifference
* Were we called upon to illustrate our assertions by any single instance, we should select her version of the entrata in “ Tancredi," Nothing could be more powerfully affecting than her recitative, • O Patria !”-it had a masculine vigour that was irresistible. The middle movement, “ Tu che accendi,” was no less vivid and beautiful for its passionate love, its valour, and its lofty indignation. The last portion, " Di tanti palpiti," embraced and reconciled the apparent impossibilities of the most touching tenderness and the most brilliant execution. But our description is not exaggerated, as every auditor will acknowledge. Her transmutation of the latter movement, from exultant joy to entranced ecstacy, was at first indeed disputed for it seemed disputable. But at length judgment confirmed the award of impulse, and the head justified what the heart could not avoid to feel. Pacini's song from “ Niobe," "Il soave e bel contento," is a splendid instance of the brilliancy of her powers-her use of distant intervals-her harmonic tones in the upper notes and her exquisite softness here shone out. Plain pathos, perhaps, was best exemplified in her * Che farò senza Eurydice,” and in Zingarelli's more exquisite “Ombra adorata."
In the midst of all this, Hester grew up;—but there are some natures nothing can spoil. The temper was as sweet as if it had not breathed the air of eternal quarrellings; the spirits as gay as if they had not been tried by the wearing disappointment of being almost always exerted in vain. She had ever something to do something to suggest; and when the present was beyond any actual remedy, she could at least look forward ; and this she did with a gaiety and an