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CURIOSITIES OF THE OPERA.             369
ling in the pathetic quality, and hreadth of her tones.*
But to follow the absurdities which constantly arose in the rivalries of the various composers, singers and performers, would require, not one, but very many volumes by itself; we need only allude to the disputes and rivalries between Gluck and Piccini (in the composition of operas,) . the singers Mara and Todi, in France, and Billington and Mara in London.
The names of those who have established a reputation as wonderful operatic singers, also make a formidable list. Among the very greatest may however be mentioned Farinelli (male sopra­no) Catalani, and Lablache, and among the most successful of operatic writers, Gluck, Mozart, Meyerbeer, Rossini, Verdi, Gounod. Of course many names could be added, but these may stand as representatives.
It is not singular that the great masters, Handel, Beethoven and Mendelssohn failed in this branch of composition. None of them had the ability to stoop to the musical finesses, and coups de theatre, which were necessary to make a success­ful opera. They might have succeeded, if the pure style of Gluck, with libretti taken from the Greek tragedies, had continued, for these were in their vein. But the public demanded a more spicy operatic diet which they were not able or desirous to finish.
It is well that it was so, for to this fact we owe our grandest oratorios.






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III