B1399. CHARLES SANTLEY. Student and Singer – The Reminiscences of Charles Santley. London, Edward Arnold, 1892. 327pp. Photos. Excellent, albeit sl.detached & damaged spine. First Edition.
“Sir Charles Santley was an English-born opera and oratorio star with a bravura technique who became the most eminent English baritone and male concert singer of the Victorian era. His has been called 'the longest, most distinguished and most versatile vocal career which history records’.
With Mapleson's Italian Opera he joined some of the 19th century's most celebrated singers, including Thérèse Tietjens, Marietta Alboni, Antonio Giuglini and Zelia Trebelli. Once the 1862-63 season was over, Santley paid a visit to Paris and saw Mme Carvalho perform in Gounod's FAUST, which Mapleson had obtained for the 1863 season in London. In the new season, Carvalho and Santley appeared together in the première of Schira's NICCOLO DE' LAPI, Santley creating the title-rôle. The first performance of FAUST in England followed. After hearing Santley's Valentine, Gounod composed the aria ‘Even bravest heart’ expressly for him to an original English text by Chorley (now, ironically, better known in French translation as ‘Avant de quitter’ or in Italian as ‘Dio possente’) and this was introduced in London in January 1864 at the opening of the spring session.
In addition to a 'haunting' beauty of timbre, Santley's technique and musicianship made him a master in the singing of Handel or Mozart, where a fresh and accurate management of rhythm and roulade created an effect of spontaneity, vigour and ideal phrasing. His ensemble singing was also noted, for example, as Figaro and in FIDELIO. Henry J. Wood observed that his compass ranged from the bass E-flat to the baritone top G, and was exceptionally even throughout. 'All his low F's told – even to the remotest corners of the largest concert-hall while his top F's were as a silver trumpe’. His clarity and freedom from strain enabled him to continue singing with remarkable freshness throughout a career lasting more than 60 years, perhaps partly because he had not over-taxed his voice by remaining for too long on the operatic stage.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron