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Entertaining Miscellany.


MADAME CATALANI. THE distinguished Character, who forms the subject of our present memoir, was born in Sinigaglia, a small town in the Papal territories, about the year 1782. Though the accident of birth can add nothing, in the sight of universal reason, to those mental or physical qualities which lead to excellence, and which nature only can bestow, it is, however, due to the celebrated ANGELICA CATALANI to say, that she was born of parents highly respectable though poor; and that this circumstance, which in England only facilitates the approach to the temple of fame, was nearly depriving the world of those splendid powers, which are the admiration

of the present, and will continue to be the theme of future ages. Madame Catalani owed more to birth than to fortune; and she was therefore destined to take the veil, like other females, similarly circumstanced. When fortune

and birth stand at a distance, and view each other with a jealous eye, the one too proud to court, and the other too capricious to favour, the nunnery is the only asylum which the pride of birth has discovered in Italy to secure the fair sex from the contingencies of circumstances and situations. Angelica, however, discovered such superior powers during her novitiate in singing the praises of her Creator, that her parents were induced by the solicitations of friends, to change their intention of withdrawing their daughter from all commerce with the world. She was accordingly suffered to cultivate her musical powers; and the combined energies of nature and of art soon qualified her to take the first parts in serious opera.

Her vocal powers,

however, were not the only qualities which recommended her to public favour. Beauty and youth when accompanied by elegance and grace of deportment, will not easily yield their contested sovereignty to the dominion of music.


There is a witchery in beauty as well as in sound! and it is so difficult to say which exercises the strongest influence over the heart and its affections, that the admirers of the fair Angelica were at a loss to determine which recommended her most to public esteem: in the latter, however, she stood unrivalled; and in the former she had many competitors; and if her innocence and beauty were more highly esteemed, it was only because they were found connected with such extraordinary endowments. It is certain, however, that the grace and elegance of her movements and person, heightened and refined as they were by the severe dignity of virtue, rendered her one of those miracles of nature which only certain ages are permitted to behold.

Her celebrity procured her an invitation from the Prince and Princess of Brazil, now King and Queen of Portugal. The opera house at Lisbon boasted at this time of the first Italian singers in Europe. The fascinating Grassini, and the still more enchanting Crescentini, were among its principal ornaments; and to the instructions of the latter, who was deemed a prodigy in his art, Madame Catalani owes much of the celebrity which she has since obtained. She remained five years in Lisbon, on a salary of three thousand moidores, and was honoured with presents of great value, During her residence in

this capital, she married Monsieur Vallebraque, still retaining the name which had raised her to such celebrity: instead, however, of Signora, she was henceforth known by the name of Madame Catalani. She received letters of recommendation to the royal family of Spain, from the Princess of Brazil, who was particularly attached to her; and whose esteem was less founded on her professional eminence, than on her private virtues.

In Spain she was honored with the friendship of the royal family, and became extremely popular with the nobility and gentry, during her residence at Madrid.

After having visited the French metropolis, in 1806 she arrived in England, and appeared at the Opera House, in the Hay-market, in the latter end of that year. Her annual salary was only £2,000, and one benefit, a sum not more than half what she received at Lisbon; but she looked forward to that encouragement which, if it be not always, at least should be always, the prize of superior attainments; and her expectations were amply realized.

Madame Catalani made her first appearance on the 13th of December, 1806, in the character of Semiramide; and, to give a full display of her powers, a new composition of Portogallo was substituted for Bianchi's original music, as being more suited to her natural and exquisite powers; she was

accordingly received with the Taylor's offer. She thought her most unbounded applause, and her brother's talents not sufficiently fame became every day more firm-appreciated by the situation aply established.

pointed him in the orchestre, and therefore, as Mr. Taylor refused him the place to which she thought him entitled, it is certain that she acted more under the influence of her feelings than of her reason at the moment. To him, however, who can make no allowance for that irritability of feeling which is the inseparable attendant of genius, we can only say, that he knowstoo little of the human heart to estimate as he ought the moral value of human actions; for though weakness and irritability are not to be defended, yet as they form a part of our nature, and are frequently found united with virtues of a superior order, they should not be too hastily condemned.

In 1808, her salary was increased to £5,250 and two clear benefits. Her health, however, did not keep pace with her fortune, and became as variable as the climate. Madame Dussek accordingly was to perform in serious opera, and take the part of Buffa whenever Madame Catalani was unable to perform. A fracas however took place between her and Mr. Taylor, in 1809, which diminished her popularity in England. Mr. Taylor offered her £6,000 and three clear benefits, but though this engagement was highly liberal she refused to accept of it. The public attributed her refusal to a spirit of avarice, but, in doing so, they judged by first appearances. The Another circumstance contridelicacy of her health frequently buted, at this moment, to render obliged her to decline many en- Madame Catalani less popular, gagements, which were sufficient- namely, her refusing to sing for a ly tempting, if avarice had been charitable institution. The public the god of her adoration; and erroneously attributed this refuswhen we know that she refused al, as well as her difference with 240,000 roubles, about 10,000 Mr. Taylor, to motives of avarice, guineas, from the Muscovite nobi- but if this were the real cause of lity for giving ten concerts in her refusal, how can we explain their ancient capital, we cannot the fact, that she sent twenty guithink of ascribing her refusal of neas as a private donation to that Mr. Taylor's offer to a spirit very charity? If this be the manwhich, if it had existed, would ner in which avarice manifests it have certainly gratified itself by self, it were well for charitable embracing the offer of the Mus-institutions that all the world were covite nobility. Perhaps the state misers. of her health in 1809 was not the sole cause of her refusing Mr.

After the fracas between her and Mr. Taylor, she appeared occasi

Froin Berlin she proceeded to Hanover, where she was graciously received by his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, and all the ladies of the court. She was crowned at the Theatre with her usual success, and after giving a concert for the benefit of the poor, she departed for Stutgard. are informed that the melody of her voice made such an impression on the late King, who was passionately fond of music, that he pronounced her name a few mi

onally at private musical parties. letter was published in all the She performed at the principal | journals of the time. towns in the three kingdoms; at the grand music meetings atOxford and Cambridge, and at several charitable institutions. She was at length induced to go to Paris, where the King of France granted her the patent of the Theatre Royal Italian, with a yearly salary of £7,000 sterling. This Theatre, which was then by far the most elegant in Paris, she managed with great ability for four years, and alternately engaged the celebrated composers, Paer and Spontine, to conduct the musical de-nutes before his death. partment. She also engaged the


From Stutgard she went to

She was persuaded, however, to return shortly after, and was affectionately embraced by the Queen, who greatly regretted the mistake which had taken place. The King was not less attentive to her, and recommended her to the friendship of his daughter, the Empress of Austria.

first singers of Italy, both male Munich, but, in consequence of and female. The receipts, how-some trifling misunderstanding, ever, were trifling whenever she she departed without singing.did not sing herself, so that her attention to the interest of the establishment became a fatigue, to which her health was unequal, and she determined to resign the charge and visit the capitals of Europe. She went first to Berlin, where she was received by his Prussian Majesty with the most flattering respect. The Prussians were at a loss which to admire most, her surprising talents or beneficence. Of this she received the most honourable testimonies from all the Prussian courts, and his Majesty sent her, accompanied by a most gracious letter, the grand medal of the Academy, (similar to that which the Great contains 3,000 persons, and the Frederick sent to Voltaire.) This tickets of admission were very

Vienna was the next Theatre of Madame Catalani's vocal powers. Here her success was unparalleled; and a simple statement of facts will easily evince the enthusiasm with which she was received. The great room of the Redoubt was filled to excess at each of her concerts, though it

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