Theatrical Peak – Lind Mania

Theo S. Dudley

September 30th, 1950

I arrived in New York a month ago, a place where time goes faster than others. Development in the city never stop and it grows more rapidly than others. I came here early for the auction at the Barnum’s American Museum for the tickets of Jenny Lind concert, the Swedish Nightingale. I got the ticket for around $5, which was relatively

cheap for Jenny Lind, but amazingly high for a concert. I have heard of her through many newspapers, magazines and books. There is something in her that I am attracted to, maybe it is her voice, her performance, but I think it is her character that I have seen through the media under the power of P.T. Barnum (xi). People might say that I am crazy to be one of the victims of the “Lind Mania,” but I am willing to pay what I want to see. I can afford the tickets for my leisure and so as many people. Moreover, I have talked to P.T. Barnum at the auction, one of the talented flamboyant showmen and exhibitors, who have done many shows perfectly and successfully, about interviewing Lind. I could not imagine how wonderful and fulfilling it would be to meet with one of the most famous people in the world.

Around two weeks before the concert of Lind, I went to a theater to see a minstrel show, “My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night”, originally by Stephen Foster (vi). It was a show about African American slaves, who are capable of pain, same as white people. The show reflected the pain from another point of view, which is a new style of theatrical show in this time period (vi). People start to think more about the cruelty that white people have done to slaves. Another outstanding piece of Foster is “Nelly Was a Lady”. Apparently, it appeared to be the first song written by a white composer for the white audience of the minstrel shows that portrays a black man and woman as loving husband and wife (xii). The art of theatre is revolutionizing. Art will not be limited to only and about white or high class anymore.

Two days later from the minstrel show, while I was walking along Broadway to the Anthony street, I saw some women standing in front of old wooden buildings. The buildings were old and ill lighted. I could hear some music and dancing in there. Many women were just trying to invite me into their places or just to talk to them. They seemed to be drunk. I decided to go into one of the buildings with my curiosity. Two women were sitting in there, judging from the age and environments, the old one was probably a “mother” of this place. The younger one approached and dragged me to the next room. She seemed to be around twelve, maybe one or two years younger. When we were in the room, she said, “Half a dollar?” I was shocked. She was selling her body in such a small amount of money.

“I don’t want it. I came in just because I am curious,” I asked, “How many guest do you actually have a day?”

“It depends,” she says, “I have worked here since I was eight, but there is no approximation I can give you.”

I was so stunned. I could not believe how young when she first started. This place was such a wrong composition of this big city, New York. In the most developed city in America, there is a street, where all the decadent buildings are located on, including the future of the country that is sullied by the “Gentlemen” of this country. The filthiness in this area just drove me out from there (viii).

III.Magazine of the Month – Godey’s Lady’s Book: from http://denverlibrary.org/content/magazine-month-godeys-ladys-book

Magazine of the Month – Godey’s Lady’s Book: from http://denverlibrary.org/content/magazine-month-godeys-ladys-book

On the carriage to Lind’s concert, I found an old Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine. It was from 1839. It must have been here for so long or someone might forget it here. I found some good songs and stories in there. One page that surprised me was about Gymnastic. It was on page 222. It described about the style and how to do gymnastic. It was under a column called, “FIELD SPORTS and MANLY PASTIMES,” (222, iv). Another one that I found was Godey’s Lady’s Book. Interestingly, the pictures of the fashion of women in each season were outstanding. I would never doubt again why women in these days like reading their “fashion” magazines (v). Moreover, as well as Gentlemen’s magazines, poem and songs in the book were fascinating (iii). It seems like the education rate has increased in America, according to the number of people who can read magazines. Middle class people seem to be more educated and have a better life.

XIII.File: Jenny Lind New York Concert.jpg: from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jenny_Lind_New_York_Concert.jpg

 File: Jenny Lind New York Concert.jpg: from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jenny_Lind_New_York_Concert.jpg

“I’m a famous Cantatrice, and my name it is Miss Jenny,” Jenny Lind said, “And I’ve come to these United States to turn an honest penny,” (xi). I could not stop thinking about her. Her charisma, personality, magnetism got everything from my heart. Her hair, eyes, lips are dream-like. The concert was phenomenal. Tons of people came out as they paid.
“I would donate some to charity,” she added, “Supposedly, I would get $1000 for a concert.” It seemed to be a good amount of money, but Barnum would get a lot more. From the number of people who attended the first concert, he would have gained at least $4000 (xiv).

However, I think it was worth it. I do not regret paying that amount of money. I enjoyed it, as same as other people. It seems like leisure activities of American have enlarged from a small group into a village, a town and then a country. Urbanization seems to be growing everywhere, especially in New York, one of the most chaotic city in the world.

 

 

Works Cited

I.         Barnum’s American Museum: from http://www.fofweb.com/NuHistory/default.asp?ItemID=WE52

II.         Panorama of Humbug: from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/Panorama_of_Humbug_with_Jenny_Lind.jpg

III.         Magazine of the Month – Godey’s Lady’s Book: from http://denverlibrary.org/content/magazine-month-godeys-ladys-book

IV.         Burton’s gentlemen’s magazine and American Monthly review (1839): from https://archive.org/details/burtonsgentleman1839burt

V.         Godey’s magazine: from https://archive.org/details/godeysmagazin68v80gode

VI.         Stephen Foster: from http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHV117&SingleRecord=True

VII.       Living among the Shakers, 1843: from http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/shakers.htm

VIII.      Visit to the Red Light District, 1843: from http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/redlight.htm

IX.         “The Minstrel Boy” from Moore’s Irish Melodies. Illustrated by D. Maclise, R.A. :from http://docsouth.unc.edu/dusenbery/image/MinstrelBoy.jp2

X.         File: Jenny Lind Poster, 1850..jpg:from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:JENNY_LIND_POSTER,_1850..jpg

XI.         Reading Lind Mania: Print Culture and the Construction of Nineteenth-Century Audiences: from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30227283

XII.        Professional Career of Stephen Foster: from http://www.pitt.edu/~amerimus/FosterProfessionalcareer.html

XIII.         File: Jenny Lind New York Concert.jpg: from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jenny_Lind_New_York_Concert.jpg

XIV.         P.T. Barnum: from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.T._Barnum#Jenny_Lind

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