The Swedish soprano Mademoiselle Jenny Lind known as the “Swedish Nightingale” was one of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century. At the height of her fame she was persuaded by the showman P.T Barnum to undertake a long tour of the United States. The tour began in September 1850 and continued to May 1852. Barnum’s advance publicity made Lind a celebrity even before she arrived in the U.S., and tickets for her first concerts were in such demand that Barnum sold them by auction. The tour provoked a popular furore dubbed “Lind Mania” by the local press,
In July of 1851, a parade of grand vocal and instrumental concerts took place at Corinthian Hall in Rochester including Jenny Lind and her tour group. On July 22 and 24 Rochester witnessed two of the most unforgettable performances it had ever seen,
Jenny Lind arrived at the train station (then on Goodman St.) and was met by the Mayor, and a throng of fans. The Mayor scurried off with her by carriage through back roads to escape the adoring fans and get her safely to the Eagle Hotel in the heart of the city. After arriving at the hotel, she greeted her fans from a balcony and acknowledged the applause from the crowd gathered in the streets below.
Assisting Jenny Lind in concert were Signor Billeti, her pianist, Otto Goldschmidt, her piano accompanist, and Joseph Burke, her violinist. She performed a variety of songs including arias by Bellini and Donizetti, as well as one from Handel’s Messiah.
An article written afterwards read, “Jenny Lind Sings at the Corinthian Hall. Demand to see her was so great that tickets to her second performance were auctioned. The proceeds over the regular price, $2,500 were donated to local charities. She also gave a private performance for four Indian Chiefs at the Eagle Hotel.” It’s hard to imagine who could cause such a stir today.