B1740. Ellen Creathorne Clayton. Queens of Song: Being Memoirs of some of the Most Celebrated Female Vocalists. New York, Harper, 1865. 543pp. Index; Illus. with portraits. Very fine ex-lib copy has minor foxing, primarily on outer pages. Sturdy covers & spine; front cover only is ltly.stained.
“QUEENS OF SONG, being Memoirs of some of the most celebrated Female Vocalists who have performed on the Lyrics Stage, from the earliest days of opera to the present time, to which is added a chronological list of all the operas that have been performed in Europe.
Miss Clayton's book is a satisfactory digest, prepared with care and industry, from the best sources, of the operatic annals of Europe, for the last one hundred and fifty years, as illustrated in the careers of the great ‘artistes’ whose triumphs are imperishably allied with the progress of the lyric drama. Within this period falls the introduction of opera as a recognized national amusement in England, and Miss Clayton's first heroines are those who took a share in the amusing contests that followed in the attempted naturalization of Italian singers on the English stage. A long list of names succeeds, forming a splendid galazy of talent, until Jenny Lind, Grisi, and Piccolomini of our own day, are reached, with no symptoms of decay in the supply of genius or in the public appreciation of it. It is impossible, indeed, to avoid remarking how the rewards of all other gifts and professions pale before the splendid tributes showered on the successful songstress. Talk of Queens, indeed! We all know the bitter woes that bowed down to the dust some of the noblest heads ever born to the purple; but these Queens all led a charmed existence. Their royalty once recognized, all Europe was at their feet. Jewels sprung up on their pathway, monarchs were constantly suing for the good graces of the willful and impevious charmers, who, sure of their empire, were never troubled by rebellious subjects; and, as for money, they alone in modern days could realize its worthlessness, from the utter profusion with which it was lavished upon the fulfillment of their slightest fancies. They all built charming villas in Italy, married as many husbands as they felt inclined to, and (as the story-books say) ‘lived long and died happy’, when at last they condescended to visit the only place where their melody could be excelled. Such are the delights of sovereignty when conferred by the new force of popular opinion, as compared with the obsolete claims of divine right. Seriously speaking, however, Miss Clayton's book supplies a fund of information on topics that no one in society can afford to be ignorant of, while it is very difficult to procure in any other shape. The only shortcoming of the volume is that of the engraver, who has failed to do adequate justice to his originals, as our ocular experience in several cases testifies.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 23 Jan., 1865