The coldness between the two great singers was fomented by the malice of others, but at last a touching reconciliation occurred, and the two rivals remained ever afterward sincere friends and admirers of each other's talents. There are many charming anecdotes of Madame Malibran's generosity and quick sympathy.
Five months utterly snapped her patience, and she determined to return to Paris. She arrived there in September, 1826, and took up her abode with M. Malibran's sister.
Malibran's beauty, tenderness, and genius speedily displaced the former idol in the heart of the Belgian artist, while she learned that it was but a short step between pity and love. This mutual affection was the cause of a dispute between Maria and her friend Mme. Naldi, whose austere morality disapproved the intimacy, and there was a separation, our singer moving into lodgings of her own.
A hoarseness seized him at the moment of appearing on the stage. Malibran's second season in Paris confirmed the estimate which had been placed on her genius, but the incessant labors of her professional life and the ardor with which she pursued the social enjoyments of life were commencing to undermine her health.
Malibran's return to Paris, she found her father, who had unexpectedly returned from his Mexican tour, thoroughly bankrupted in purse, and more embittered than ever by his train of misfortunes. He announced his intention of giving some representations at the Theatre Italien. This resolution caused much vexation to his daughter, but she did not oppose it.
Among these was Rachel, who sat enjoying the humiliation of decayed grandeur with a cynical and bitter sneer on her face, drawing the attention of the theatre by her exhibition of satirical malevolence. Malibran's great sister, Mme. Pauline Viardot, was also present, watching with the quick, sympathetic response of a noble heart every turn of the singer's voice and action.
These were the highest terms which had then ever been offered to a public singer, or in fact to any stage performer since the days of imperial Rome. Mme. Malibran's Italian experiences were in the highest sense gratifying alike to her pride as a great artist and to her love of admiration as a woman.
Malibran's rehearsals were not so many hours of sauntering indifference she would, immediately after they were finished, dart to one or two concerts, and perhaps conclude the day by singing at an evening party.
It was during her London engagement of the same year that Mme. Malibran became acquainted with the greatest of bassos, Lablache, who made his début before an English public in the rôle of Geronimo, in "Il Matrimonio Segreto." The friendship between these two distinguished artists became a very warm one, that only terminated with Malibran's death.
Full of extraordinary expedients, an audience was always dazzled by some unexpected beauties of Malibran's performance, and her original and daring conceptions gave her work a unique character which set her apart from her contemporaries.