Adelina Patti (1843-1919)
(North Adams Transcript [USA] - 28th March 1899)
Mary Scott Rowland Tells the Secret of Mme. Patti's Youthfulness and Beauty.
Women seem to take a perennial interest in Mme. Patti's secret of youth and beauty. As, through my attendance on the great prima donna, I am supposed to be acquainted with her toilet secrets, almost every woman I meet nowadays inquires:
"Dear Mrs. Rowland, do tell us how Patti manages to look 25 when we all know she is over 50!"
Since Patti's marriage to Baron Cederstrom that question is asked with increasing frequency, with added queries as to whether she really is all that is claimed in that line. I want to say right here that Patti does look young and lovely. If we did not know her real age, I am quite sure we would set her down as a woman not over 30 years of age.
Nature gave Mme. Patti a good figure and luscious black eyes, with one of the sweetest dispositions I have ever known. Patti's intelligence, with good grooming, has done the rest. She has made a scientific study of the art of eating, bathing, resting and working, and to the observation of these she attributes the preservation of her good looks.
Patti's complexion was just like any other woman's. When I first became acquainted with her, she had very nearly spoiled her skin by the use of cosmetics. Every maker of cosmetics in the world opens business by sending samples of his or her wares to Mme. Patti. She receives about five jars every day of her life, and she used to try them all! There is no more of that now, for she has learned that the secret of youth and beauty may not be found in chance jars of cosmetics, but in the wisdom that shines forth in abstemious living and the use of only toilet accessories of known and tried purity.
Poor Patti! What a time of it she had until she found the futility of personal experiment with the blooms of youth and antiwrinkle creams! Because the ravages of stage paint had begun to tell on her skin she was anxious to find something to counteract its effects. This it was that led her to experiment. If the sample jar of cosmetic burned her skin, she threw it away. If it didn't, she went on using it. Every jar was acknowledged either by the diva or by her maid, and these letters of acknowledgment were in many cases widely advertised by manufacturers as "testimonials" from the great singer.
Nowadays Mme. Patti seldom bothers with any of these things, although she is particular in returning thanks for even the smallest courtesies. Therefore most of the much prized letters of thanks which skillful manufacturers make use of in advertising all sorts of compounds are written not by Patti, but by some one else.
An amusing incident which occurred during one of my visits at Craig-y-Nos will illustrate this. A friend of the singer had been much amused by the use of a letter signed by Patti and used to advertise a patent medicine. She brought the advertisement with her one day to show to Madame. "Wait," said the prima donna. Karoline will look over it first. I fancy," with a twinkle in her eye, "she knows more about it than I do."
Karoline Bauermeister, Mme. Patti's faithful companion, so long with her that she transacts much of the diva's personal business, came into the room. She took the advertisement and looked over it. First a look of perplexity, then one of amazement and annoyance, came over her face.
"Madame will not care to see this," she said, and Patti laughed. "When Miss Bauermeister left the room, the diva explained that her correspondence is all looked over by Karoline, who keeps from her everything but matters of the utmost personal importance. Such as would cause her annoyance are destroyed or returned. The others are answered in Patti's name, and in the majority of cases Mme. Patti never hears of the letters at all.
This freedom from annoyance is one of the reasons why Patti has been able to preserve her joyous and childlike expression. Nothing that can wound or harass her ever gets to her ears if the faithful Karoline and her devoted attendants can prevent it. Of course not all of us can thus spend our lives shielded from cares, but it should teach us the wisdom of ignoring petty annoyances and letting deeper troubles sit on our hearts as lightly as possible unless we wish them to plant telltale lines in our faces.
Now, you wonder what I did for Mme. Patti's complexion when a number of years ago she asked me to take care of it! Just what I would do for any woman's - gave it a thorough cleaning until I got the pores well opened and working in healthy condition; then I fed her skin with cream to give it the nourishment that the use of the strong stage cosmetics had robbed it of. For one hour every morning she sat in a chair and had her skin carefully treated.
She was deeply interested in what I told her of skin foods and tonics and with her mirror in her hand followed the applications, asked questions and obeyed directions like a little child. She is most strict in her observance of my orders. She sleeps with retiring cream on her face. She never applies a powder to her face without first putting on a skin lotion expressly prepared to prevent the powder getting in to the pores of the skin.
The washing of the face is an important process with the singer. She uses a Patti rose cream, as water is too dry for her complexion and also extract the natural oil with which her skin has none to part. First she washes with the cream, using an olive oil soap of special make. Her wash rag is a smal piece of Turkish toweling especially woven for the toilet. After that she puts on a few drops of a skin lotion which is also a tonic and protects the skin against the changes of the weather.
At night she repeats the above treatment, but instead of the skin lotion she uses a retiring cream. These are all healing nourishers and lotions remember, not cosmetics in the ordinary sense of the word. Mme. Patti has several hundred dollars worth of these prepared for her use and shipped to her each year.
Very careful is Mme. Patti about her food. She seldom eats a morsel of bread unless toasted or any starchy foods, not even potatoes, peas, hominy, turnips or carrots. She thinks that they form a spongy mass in the stomach and are therefore hard to digest. She does eat fruit as most people eat bread, and this, with soups, green vegetables and rare beef, is her main food.
Mme. Patti's day begins with a bath. She is not partial to hot or cold water, but prefers it tepid. Sometimes she takes a plunge bath, sometimes a sponge. When she does not feel in the mood for the bath, she is content with a rubbing, simply for sanitary purposes. She is one of the most scrupulously dainty of women. No woman who has not been particular in the matter of bathing need expect to retain her good looks.
Very fond is Patti of outdoor exercise. She is seemingly untiring in her vitality, taking long walks and climbing the mountains with a truly youthful exuberance of strength and spirits.
The stories that Mme. Patti never goes out without bundling up her throat are absurd. She never wraps it up unless in severe weather, when any other woman would do the same. She laughs and talks as freely as any one of her friends, and from aught in her manner or actions you would take her for some pretty, care free child of wealth rather than the greatest singer of her time.
Perhaps one of the fundamental reasons of Patti's charm is her real loveliness of disposition. She is one of the sweetest and kindest of women, with a smile and a thank you to the poorest servant for the most trivial service. She thinks charming, kindly thoughts and lives quite as much for the happiness of those about her as for her own. A lovely disposition will sooner or later leave the photograph of its charm upon the face, and Mme. Patti is now drawing the interest on her quiet life of plain living and high thinking.
MARY SCOTT ROWLAND.
(The Dubuque Herald [USA] - October 28th, 1900)
PRIVATE LIFE OF PATTI
Mary Scott Rowland's Pleasant Hour With The Peerless Diva In London
While in London, from where I have just returned, I saw the Baroness Adelina Patti-Cederstrom and learned from her own lips that she is contemplating a visit to America. It will not be made this season, for Patti has many English and continental engagements which she must fill, but after that she hopes to sing again in the land which was the first to recognise her genius.
I had not seen Patti for two years, and as I waited at the Paddington station, London, for the arrival of the train I wondered if I would find her in face and figure the same as of old. Patti has a wonderful temperament. Were she to live to be 100 she would still be a child in heart, and youthfulness of the soul is one of the elixirs of youth. Still, when a woman is 50 years old, one does expect to find few lines traced upon the countenance by the hand of time.
The train drew up at the station with a roar. I noted at once Patti's private car attached to the rear of the train, and soon I had the pleasure of seeing the great diva alight. She was assisted by a tall, handsome man whom I surmised to be the Baron Cederstrom. I should have judged him to be 42 or 43 years old, but afterward I learned that he is about 36.
Patti herself was radiant. Never have I seen her look better. Everyone upon the platform turned to gaze at her, and every eye followed her until she disappeared into the station. Age? Don't speak of age when you mention Patti. She is better preserved than the average woman ot 35. Her complexion is fresh, her skin is smooth, her eyes are bright and her figure is as daintily rounded as ever. She trips along as lightly as a young girl, and her face and conversation are just as animated. Patti knows the secret of keeping young, as she takes the same care of her face as she does of her hands. She does not allow wrinkles to make their appearance.
As Patti travels like a princess, it is not necessary for he to don the usual serviceable travelling gown of womankind. Her special car, consisting of drawing room, dining room, kitchen and sleeping rooms, is as comfortable as a private residence. No smoke, no cinders, no soot, ever penetrates it's boundaries. When she travels she is accompanied by two maids and her secretary and companion and friend, Miss Karoline Bauermeister, and Austrian Lady who has been with her for overe 30 years. Besides these, a courier and one or two servants always accompany her.
No wonder, therefore, that, even after the long journey from Craig-y-nos castle in distant Wales, she could alight from her car fresh as a daisy in a woniderful gown of silver gray crepon and silk! Her cloak of gray cloth, scrolled over silver gray silk was obviously of Paris make. It was cut three-quarters length and of the sack shape, without which no English woman seems happy. Her millinery was a dream of silver gray chiffon and feathers and delicately shaded pink roses. There is a type of hat that Patti nearly always wears. It is one that shadows the face a trifle, and is almost on the picture order. This hat was of that class raised a trifle at one side, where some pink roses were tastefully combined with the chiffon. I was introduced to Baron Cederstrom, whom I found a very charming and agreeable man - quiet and studious, I should judge. The baroness and I chatted for a short time at the station. At her earnest solicitation I accepted an invitation to call at the hotel the next day to have a long talk.
The Northwestern Hotel, which is Patti's London headquarters, is comfortably near the Paddington station. In the house she has reserved for herself and her servants a suit of nine rooms from year's end to year's end. Five of these are Patti's personal suit. Whenever she comes to town, her apartments are literally lined with flowers, the gifts of friends. The drawing room into which I was shown might have been a conservatory. I found Patti fully dressed; she never wears negligee, no matter how informally she receives a friend. So long as I have known her I have never found her, even at Craig-y-nos, where she dispenses with formality, attired in a tea gown or morning jacket. A neat bodice and a pretty plain skirt are her preference for morning wear. Of colors she likes the more neutral shades, such as grays and pastels in blue and pink. On the afternoon of my call she was gowned in an elegant yet simple toilet of white and blue crepe de chine, softened with lace at the throat and neck. Her lovely white hands were guiltless of rings save for one superb diamond and the wedding band. As I hold her hand in mine for a moment I noted it sharply. The advance of years is first indicated in the hand, the skin grows withered, the muscles relax and the hand in some degree looks lean, dry and discolored. Patti always had a pretty hand, and today it might be the model for a sculptor. The fact is that Patti, clever woman that she is, has always cared as conscientiously for her hands as for her face. I am not sure but she is prouder of its faultless contour and texture than of her face, for one of her treasures at Craig-y-nos is a model of her hand sculptured in Carrara marble by a great artist.
Although her hand is so pretty, Patti seldom wears rings, but if she cared to do so few royal ladies could surpass her in the variety, beauty and value of her gems. All her jewels are safely locked away, to be worn only when she is in full toilet, when she sings or when she attends some great social function. Patti dresses elaborately every evening for dinner and then wears some exquisite jewels.
The Baron Cederstrom was present when I entered the drawing room and, after chatting for a short time, he excused himself and left the baroness and myself to spend a pleasant hour alone. I was very much pleased with what I saw of Baron Cederstrom. He is a man of intellectual tastes, and it is apparent to the most casual observer that he admires the genius of his wife quite as much as he is captivated by that charm which Patti excercises over all with whom she comes in contact.
Patti told me of her recent concert at Brecon, the seat of the Welsh county in which her castle is located. There, for eight years, she has annually given a concert for the poor. Every season, when she comes to sing for them, the people of Brecon give a grand fete in her honor. She has been appointed honorary burgess of the town and presented with numerous beautiful souvenirs and public testimonials by the nobility, the city officials and the people of the place. Patti is very proud of the regard in which she is held by her Welsh neighbors. At Crais-y-nos, Neath, Swansea and Brecon she is regarded as a Lady Bountiful by all the poor folks. From Brecon she went north to give a concert at Blackpool and she was quite gleeful as she told how enthusiastic the audiences had been in regard to her singing. Patti is very modest and, unlike many great artistes, does not receive the applause of her audience and the praises of her friends as her just tribute, but is most appreciative of it all. She told me how the people flocked to the stations when she left and cheered her and threw flowers after the departing train. After her visit to, London she intended to go to Sweden to give a concert for the poor. The king and queen of Sweden, to whom she had been presented recently, had given her a cordial invitation to come to Stockholm, promising her a hearty welcome in her husband's native land. Patti, knowing the interest the queen takes in all charities, agreed to sing for the poor under their majesties patronage, a prospect which greatly pleased the king and queen, who are devoted to philanthropic work. While abroad she intended to go to see the Passion play at Oberammergau and then return to London, where her concert tour begins at Albert hall.
At parting she said to me: "Oh, yes: do not forget. I shall come to dear old America as soon as my engagements over here, will permit. The managers over there have been urging me for a long time, and I should be so unhappy if I thought I should never see America again. Among the Americans are many of my best friends, and the Americans were always so kind to me! I am so glad to notice that American singers are coming to the front! The Americans, next to the Italians, have the artistic temperament. The reason they are doing better in music now is because they have better teachers. I am a believer, in a great future for American musicians. Nowhere outside of Italy does one find a finer appreciation of music than in England and America."
Mary Scott Rowland.
[Mary Scott Rowland was a prominent society woman of London, and frequent visitor to Craig-y-nos. - Ed.]