Article on American female singers

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Last Updated:
31 August 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

27 Mar 1865

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Article: Courrier des √Čtats-Unis, 27 March 1865, 1.
“This is the occasion to note that America is for all good reasons in the process of becoming a mine of female singers, just as it is already a mine of gold and a mine of petroleum. Somebody made a recent tally of those who have already taken flight, and here are eleven of them: Adelina and Carlotta Patti, Mme Van Zandt, Adelaide Phillips, Mme Whiting Lorini, Miss Lucy Simmons [sic], Mme Guerrabella, Miss Kellog [sic], Miss Morensi, Mme Hinckley-Susini and Miss Laura Harris. There are degrees in these talents, but all are talents, most of the first order. Adelina Patti is the queen everywhere today; her sister, Carlotta, is not inferior to her and doesn’t remain in the second rank of celebrity except for a twist of nature that keeps her away from opera. Mme Van Zandt, Adelaide Phillips, are artists of great value. Miss Morensi has a superb voice in which only cultivation is lacking. Miss Kellogg will take first place, for the few who wish it, in great comic opera roles; Mme Guerrabella hasn’t, for a very good reason, given all of her dimensions, and will reveal herself with glory when she reappears on the scene; Miss Lucy Simmons, who has scarcely made an appearance, disappeared too soon, to marry, Mr. Muzio, they say, before the departure for a world tour in Gottschalk’s company; finally Miss Laura Harris is more than a hope, and one can hail her appearance as the rising of a star. The two others, Mmes Hinckley Susini and Whiting-Lorini are dead in the flower of their youth and without having attained the zenith of their talent.
Here is certainly a constellation that doesn’t lack brilliance, and all of that revealed itself during the barely distant period when opera became a permanent establishment in New York. I truly deceive myself, or that’s an incontestable sign of the American nation’s aptitude for music—or at the very least for vocal music. They say the Anglo-Saxon race is scarcely artistic. That is true, and England has not produced, since the world was made, a single male or female musician [performer] beyond the commonplace. Balfe is the only composer that they cite on their own, and still he’s mostly third-rate.
How is it, then, that while John Bull has an unyielding ear, his young cousin Jonathan shows some aptitudes for harmony? It’s because England is England, and America is cosmopolitan. That is, the old Anglo-Saxon spring that flows there without mixing is constantly modified here, transformed by the tributaries which mingle in it, which unite closely and impart their youngest and most enlivening elements to it. Germany, France, Italy, pour out their artistic waters , which don’t travel through without leaving a trace here, but rather remain here and naturalize. It’s thus that the arts get a foothold in this country little by little, and begin to acquire a force of vitality here that is already more than a promise for the future.”