Patti, Adelina



The most famous soprano of the Nineteenth Century. She was born in Madrid, her parents being Italian singers of note. When Patti was still very young the family came to New York, where her father directed the Italian opera for a time. Patti was a born singer, and though she learned from her step-brother, Etto're Barili, all that could be learned in the Italian School of singing, and finally a few operas under Maurice Strakosch, the impresario, she knew how to sing, intuitively, when only three years old, and sang the shake perfectly without instruction. As she expressed it her real teacher was " le bon Dieu." The family circumstances became such that it was necessary for Patti to put her talent to account, and in 1850 she appeared with great success at Tripler's Hall, New York, as a child prodigy. Under the direction of Strakosch and her father she sang in concerts until she was eleven, but as her voice was beginning to break from such hard use she was withdrawn to rest. On her reappearance she accompanied Gottschalk on his visit to the West Indies, and, returning to New York made her operatic debut at the Academy of Music, November 24, 1859, as Lucia di Lammermoor. After singing in the southern states and at Havana, she sailed for England. There her first appearance as Amina in La Sonnambula, at Covent Garden, May 14, 1861, completely conquered the audience, and her succeeding roles, Violetta, Zerlina, Martha and Rosina, were all triumphant successes. After singing at the Birmingham Festival, in Liverpool, Manchester and elsewhere in England, she appeared in Brussels and Berlin, and on November 19, 1862, brought all Paris to her feet by her rendering of Amina. The people of St. Petersburg went wild over her, and in Spain and Italy, where she first appeared as Violetta at La Scala in 1877, the enthusiasm was high. Throughout the world she reigned Queen of Singers, and it was this great popularity prob ably which made her so loath to retire. In London she sang in opera at Covent Garden each season until 1884, and at Her Majesty's in 1885 and 1887, and she gave brilliant concerts in many other English cities, singing on numerous festival occasions. In 1881 she made a concert tour of America, and the next two seasons was in Mapleson's Company at the Academy of Music in New York. In 1890 she sang in the Metropolitan Company, and in 1893 was again in this country. The last of her farewell tours in America began in the autumn of 1903, and then her voice was but a shadow of its former self. Nevertheless, she still sings occasionally at her home, and began a farewell tour of the English towns in 1907, appearing at Liverpool and at Birmingham, where the audience went wild over her singing of the simple old songs, especially Home, Sweet Home.


From childhood Patti has had to live carefully, keeping constant watch over her voice. She never forced it or sang when she was not in perfect condition, and this probably is the reason that at sixty, her beauty is unimpaired and her voice still well preserved. Her method is perfect, her style elegant, easy and spontaneous, her tone rich and clear and her compass unusual. Her wonderful memory enabled her to sing some forty operas in four different languages. Of these Rosina in the Barber of Seville, was perhaps her best, and Zerlina, her only classic role, Lucia, Violetta and Martha being also favorites. Mme. Patti, as she is still called, has been thrice married; in 1868 to the Marquis de Caux, equerry to Napoleon III., but it was not a happy union, and after separating in 1877 they were divorced in 1885. The next year she married the famous tenor, Ernest Niccolini, and their life was a happy one and Patti was most patient and devoted to him during his last sickness. She married Baron Cederstrom in 1899. They live at her beautiful home, Craig-y-Nos Castle, near Breconsture, South Wales, the splendid gifts showered upon her by an adoring world adding to the luxury of the place. There she has a private theatre, where she sometimes entertains her guests. She is said to be a charming hostess, and, at home, she holds court, beloved by the people round about for her many deeds of kindness.