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pliant tone. A notion prevails that it can be acquired as a separate accomplishment, in the early stages of vocal tuition ; but this is not the case. The possession of it depends upon the progress we make in execution ; we only approximate it as we make these advances, and ultimately it will come of itself. When the shake rises out of a note, as in the air · He that ruleth Israel,' in the oratorio of Judah, and in this way it is most conveniently begun, it appears with peculiar beauty. No example of this effect was more exquisitely shown than by Mrs. Salmon.
Great variety may be given to it, by combining the forzando, crescendo, or diminuendo.
Formerly compositions were crowded with shakes and trills* which produced a pert and unmeaning effect; but since the introduction of other graces, we find them more sparingly used. In instrumental compositions, the shake has assumed a new character. Mozart, in his admired opera of the · Zauberflote,' at the ascent of the genii into the clouds, by a series of butterfly shakes has given such an indescribable lightness to the piece, as apparently to waft the vision by its airiness from the sight. On the contrary, Cherubini, in his overture to Anacreon, has a close succession of them upon all the stringed instruments, which imparts a force of expression that carries the sounds to a higher climax than was ever before heard. • Some of which were termed by our forefathers a double relish.
Was the first female singer who appeared on the Italian theatre with a contralto voice, that part having been previously sustained by men. Her tones, though purely feminine, were so new, that they were received with distrust; and some time elapsed before the audience were reconciled to a voice which was thought greatly too low for a woman. Her compass did not exceed ten notes, from a in the bass to c in the treble; but such was their rich and mellow quality, that they formed a new species of delight in the vocal art. Her pathos and feeling became the more evident when contrasted with the cold and fluty tones of Billington. She was beautiful and graceful; and her acting was superior to all those who had preceded her. From the introduction of Grassini, we may date one of the greatest improvements in the opera, that of the duetto for female voices, in which Rossini has shown such exquisite and incomparable taste.
The most splendid vocalist of the age, made her appearance in this country, in the year 1806; and such was her extraordinary power of voice, that it was said, place her at the top of St. Paul's, and she will be heard at the Opera House. In compass it extended from A in the bass, to c in alt, every
note of which was as firm as the tone of a trumpet. Her middle voice, when subdued, possessed a quality of tone that was delightful : the notes G, A, and B, being produced in a way similar to the tone we make in laughing. The force of her execution was extraordinary; she would run through the scale of semitones with the rapidity of lightning, and jump back again over two octaves at once. Her soul was full of music, and her energy so great, that she sustained the whole weight of the Opera throughout a season, driving every other competitor from the stage. As a musician she was below mediocrity, possessing scarcely the knowledge of a third-rate performer; but by a quick perception and sensibility, she concealed these defects even from the learned.
Her figure was elegant and commanding, and her face could assume a terrific aspect, or the most captivating smiles. As an actress, she was eminently great; and, as a tragedian, full of grace and dignity. With these splendid gifts, she debased the Opera during her reign to the lowest degree; for so intoxicated was the audience with her individual vocal powers, that she was permitted to mangle and cut up the finest compositions to serve as mere vehicles to exhibit her extraordinary powers. Soon after her arrival she acquired sufficient knowledge of our language to repeat the words of 'Rule Britannia, and 'God save the King,' which she sang in the English theatres, and at all the music meetings,
with a power of voice that overwhelmed every instrument in the orchestra. * ...
Nor was Madame Catalani confined to songs of this deafening cast : the following air of Paesiello's she. sang with great tenderness, all' Italiano, interposing occasionally a vowel to prevent the collision of consonants.. ... . .... . :
Her origin, it is said, was that of a match girl, in Rome; but in her career she visited every court in Europe, where the most profuse presents were showered upon her by kings and princes. Having amassed vast treasures in money and jewels,t her voice and beauty gone, she has retired to her do
* When Captain Montague was cruizing off Brighton, Madame Catalani was invited, with other ladies, to a brilliant fête on board his frigate. The Captain went in his launch on shore, manned by more than twenty men, to escort the fair freight on board, and as the boat was cutting through the waves, Madame Catalani, without any previous notice, commenced the air of Rule Britannia. Had a voice from the great deep spoken, the effect could not have been more instantaneous and sublime. The sailors, not knowing whom they were rowing, were so astonished and enchanted into inactivity, that with one, accord they rested upon their oars, while tears trembled in the eyes of many of them. You see, Madame,' said the Captain, the effect this favorite air has upon these brave men, when sung by the finest voice in the world. I have been in many victorious battles, but never felt any excitement equal to this.' On arriving on board, the sailors, with his consent, entreated her to repeat the strain: she complied with the request with increased effect, and with so much good nature, that when she quitted the ship, they cheered her until she reached the shore.
† After her first visit to England, in which she cleared more than ninety thousand pounds, she purchased a diamond necklace of the Queen of Portugal, for sixteen thousand guineas, and in addition, gave four thousand more for the tiara and earrings.