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Great Singers, Second Series / Malibran To Titiens By George T. Ferris Characters: 2816

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


At the close of 1851 Sophie went again to the Théatre Italien, and the following year she again returned to London to sing with Lablache and Gardoni. During this season she performed in "La Sonnambula," "Il Barbiere," and other operas of the florid Italian school, charming the public by her lyric comedy, as she had inspired them by her tragic impersonations. Cruvelli had always been remarkable for impulsive and eccentric ways, and no engagement ever operated as a check on these caprices. One of these whims seized the young lady in the very height of a brilliantly successful engagement, and one day she took French leave without a word of warning. The next that was heard of Sophie Cruvelli was that she was singing at Wiesbaden, and then that she had appeared as Fides in "Le Prophète" at Aix-La-Chapelle. Cruel rumors were circulated at her expense; but she showed herself as independent of scandal as she had been of professional loyalty to a contract.

Sophie Cruvelli's engagement at the Grand Opéra in Paris in January, 1854, filled Paris with the deepest excitement, for she was to make her appearance in the part of Valentine in "Les Huguenots." The terms given were one hundred thousand francs for six months. Meyerbeer, who entertained a great admiration for Sophie's talents, set to work on "L'Africaine" with redoubled zeal, for he destined the r?le of Selika for her. A fortnight ahead o

rchestra stalls were sold for two hundred francs, and boxes could not be obtained. The house was crowded to the ceiling, and the Emperor and Empress arrived some time before the hour of beginning on the night of "Les Huguenots." Everywhere the lorgnette was turned could be seen the faces of notabilities like Meyerbeer, Auber, Benedict, Berlioz, Alboni, Mme. Viardot, Mario, Tamburini, Vivire, Théophile Gautier, Fiorentino, and others. The verdict was that Cruvelli was one of the greatest of Valentines, and Meyerbeer, who was morbidly sensitive over the performance of his own works, expressed his admiration of the great singer in the most enthusiastic words.

Soon after this, she appeared as Julia in Spontini's "Vestale," and, as a long time had elapsed since its production, there was aroused the most alert curiosity to hear Cruvelli in a great part, in which but few singers had been able to make a distinguished impression. She acted the r?le with a vehement passion which aroused the deepest feeling in the Parisian mind, for it was a long time since they had heard an artist who was alike so great an actress and so brilliant a vocalist. One writer said, "She is the only cantatrice who acts as well as sings"; said one critic, "She would have made a grand tragedienne." Fickle Paris had forgotten Pasta, Malibran, and even Mme. Viardot, who was then in the very flush of her splendid powers.

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