Pasta, Giuditta



Celebrated Italian dramatic soprano, of Jewish origin. She was born at Como, where Lotte, organist of the Cathedral, was her first teacher. At fifteen she entered the Conservatory at Milan, and after studying for two years with Asioli she appeared at second-class theatres in Brescia,Parma and Leghorn. Then, having married Signer Pasta, she went to Paris, in 1816, where she played subordinate parts at the Favart Theatre. In 1817 she made her first visit to London, playing at the King's Theatre, first as Telemaceo in Cimarosa's Penelope, then as Cherubino in Nozze de Figaro, but her voice as yet was rather crude, and the season failed to bring her into notice. Returning to Italy, she devoted her time to study under Scappa, and, having conquered her unruly voice, made her first real success at Venice in 1819. After singing at Rome the same year and at Milan and Trieste in 1820, she appeared at the Theatre des Italiens at Paris in 1821. She made a marked impression at Verona during the Congress in 1822, and there met Rossini, whose operas she afterward so successfully sang. It was in the role of Desdemona in his Otello, given at Paris the same year, that she made her name famous, and the French were enthused with her excellent singing and wonderful acting. She appeared at the King's Theatre in 1824, completely conquering London, and was much sought after for concerts both private and public. After the season she returned to Paris, and was with difficulty engaged to reappear in London in 1825 and in 1827, when her presentation of Coccio's Maria Stuarta made a great impression. Instead of returning to Paris, a quarrel with Rossini caused her to visit Italy, where she sang, among other roles, Niobe, which Pacini wrote for her. In 1828 she again appeared in London, Sontag and Malibran being her rivals. A great success in Vienna in 1829 resulted in Madame Pasta's appointment as Court singer to the Emperor. That same year at Bologna she gave twelve of Rossini's operas, under the direction of the composer himself. At Milan in 1830 she created the role of Anna Bolena, which Donizetti had written for her; in 1831 introduced Bellini's La Sonnambula, and the next year gave the initial performance of Norma at La Scala. This she played in London on her return in 1833, and during that year and the next she was again in Paris. Her voice was now beginning to fail, though her acting had lost none of its intense dramatic beauty. On account of the loss of her fortune, through the failure of a Vienna bank, she was forced to keep on with her work, singing in St. Petersburg in 1840 and Berlin in 1841. This was her farewell engagement, although in 1850 she sang at two concerts in London. Her retirement was spent at her home on Lake Como during the summer and at Milan or Genoa during the winter, and she occupied herself with a few pupils. She died at her villa. Madame Pasta's voice was never perfectly equalized; it was inclined to flat and was a little muffled at the beginning of a performance, but her power and truth of expression and the simplicity and dramatic intensity of her rendering left her imperfections unnoticed.