In a message dated 8/10/98 8:32:35 AM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:
<< "After an initial fiasco at La Scala (talking about Norma here), the opera
became very popular and was repeated there thirty-nine times in the first
season. But its demands exhausted Pasta's vocal resources, and by the time
she sang the part in London, in 1833, one reviewer claimed that 'It would not
be exaggerated to say that not a single phrase of the entire opera was sung
the correct pitch...it required her power as an actress to save her from
'You are right' was Madame Viardot's
(Pauline Viardot, Malibran's sister, who was there that night) quick and
heartfelt response (her eyes full of tears) to a friend beside her; 'You are
right! It is like the Cenacolo of da Vinci at Milan - a wreck of a picture,
but the picture is the greatest picture in the world.'"
Dear Tom and list:
There is much more to this than meets the eye. The reigning prima donna in
London from 1834 to 1861, and that city's greatest interpreter of Norma was
Giulia Grisi. Years before, she had outsung Malibran, resulting in Malibran's
singing at lesser theatres. Then, when Viardot (Malibran's kid sister)
appeared on the scene, she, Viardot did everything in her power to make her
rival look bad. And, eventually, by means of all kinds of dirty tricks, she
succeeded. She was especially able to influence the Rev.Cox to spread false
accusations about Grisi. This resulted in Grisi's reputation being unfairly
damaged (see Pleasants and Rosenthal). When Viardot finally heard Pasta, she
went out of her way to make her look good--at Grisi's expense, of course.
Seems like they had prima donna rivalries and funny stuff even then.