B1296. THE COUNTESS DE MERLIN. Memoirs of Madame Malibran [in Two Volumes]. (Volume I only). London, Henry Colburn, 1840. 279pp. Handsome, half-calf binding with marbled endpapers & page edges; Excellent, albeit top & bottom of spine are edgeworn.
“Maria Malibran was a mezzo-soprano who commonly sang both contralto and soprano parts and was one of the most famous opera singers of the 19th century. Malibran was known for her stormy personality and dramatic intensity, becoming a legendary figure after her death at age 28. Contemporary accounts of her voice describe its range, power and flexibility as extraordinary.
Malibran sang the title rôle at the première of Donizetti's MARIA STUARDA. Malibran became romantically involved with the Belgian violinist, Charles Auguste de Bériot. The pair lived together as a common-law couple for six years and a child was born to them in 1833 (the piano pedagogue Charles-Wilfrid de Bériot), before Maria obtained an annulment of her earlier marriage to Malibran. Felix Mendelssohn wrote an aria accompanied by a solo violin especially for the couple. Malibran sang at the Paris Opéra among other major opera houses. In Paris, she met and performed with Michael Balfe.
Malibran is most closely associated with the operas of Rossini – she sang, among others, TANCREDI (title rôle), OTELLO (both Desdemona and title rôle), IL TURCO IN ITALIA, LA CENERENTOLA and SEMIRAMIDE (both Arsace and title rôle) but also sang in Meyerbeer's IL CROCIATO IN EGITTO and enjoyed great success in Bellini's operas NORMA, LA SONNAMBULA and I CAPULETI E I MONTECCHI (Romeo). Besides Bellini's Romeo, she also performed the same character in two other then-famous operas: GIULIETTA E ROMEO by Zingarelli and GIULIETTA E ROMEO by Vaccai. Bellini wrote a new version of his I PURITANI to adapt it to her mezzo-soprano voice and even promised to write a new opera especially for her, but he died before he was able to do so.”
- Z. D. Akron