April 1, 2011

Jenny Lind's Hat Full of Pearls

Luigi Lablache

Jenny Lind reached London in April, 1847, and soon began her rehearsals at the Queen's Theatre. When her voice was first heard in that spacious edifice at a rehearsal, no one was so enchanted as Lablasche, the celebrated basso.

"Every note," he exclaimed, "is like a pearl."

She was pleased with the simile, and when they had become better acquainted, she reminded him of it in a very agreeable manner. She came up to him one morning at rehearsal, and said to him:—

"Will you do me the favor, Signor Lablasche, to lend me your hat?"

Much surprised, he nevertheless handed her his hat, which she took with a deep courtesy, and, tripping away with it to the back part of the stage, began to sing an air into it. She then brought back the hat to Lablasche, and, ordering that portly personage to kneel, she returned it to him with the remark:—

"I have made you a rich man, signor, for I have given you a hat full of pearls!"

Everything a favorite does seems graceful and pleasant. This trifling act delighted the whole company. 

—From Entertaining Anecdotes From Every Available Source, edited by James Baird McClure, 1879

The 'Lablasche' in this story is none other than Luigi Lablache, the legendary basso who's voice was as imposing as his physique.  

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