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Title: Vocal Mastery - Talks with Master Singers and Teachers
Author: Brower, Harriette, 1869-1928
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: To Miss Harriette Brower Very Sincerely Enrico Caruso
N.Y. 1919]






Author of "Piano Mastery, First and Second Series," "Home-Help in Music
Study," "Self-Help in Piano Study"





1918, 1919,



It has long been a cherished desire to prepare a series of Talks with
famous Singers, which should have an equal aim with Talks with Master
Pianists, namely, to obtain from the artists their personal ideas
concerning their art and its mastery, and, when possible, some inkling
as to the methods by which they themselves have arrived at the goal.

There have been unexpected and untold difficulties in the way of such an
undertaking. The greater the artist the more numerous the body-guard
which surrounds him--or her; the more stringent the watch over the
artist's time and movements. If one is able to penetrate this barrier
and is permitted to see the artist, one finds usually an affable
gentleman, a charming woman, with simple manners and kindly intentions.

However, when one is fortunate enough to come in touch with great
singers, one finds it difficult to draw from them a definite idea of the
process by which they have achieved victory. A pianist can describe his
manner of tone production, methods of touch, fingering, pedaling; the
violinist can discourse on the bow arm, use of left hand, on staccato
and pizzicati; but the singer is loath to describe his own instrument.
And even if singers could analyze, the description might not fit any
case but their own. For the art of singing is an individual art, the
perfecting an instrument hidden from sight. Each artist must achieve
mastery by overcoming difficulties which beset his own personal path.

Despite these obstacles, every effort has been put forth to induce
artists to speak from an educational standpoint. It is hoped the various
hints and precepts they have given, may prove of benefit to singers and
teachers. Limitations of space prevent the inclusion of many other
artists and teachers.


150 West 80 Street, New York City.



ENRICO CARUSO ... The Value of Work

GERALDINE FARRAR ... The Will to Succeed a Compelling Force

VICTOR MAUREL ... Mind Is Everything


AMELITA GALLI-CURCI ... Self-teaching the Great Essential

GIUSEPPE DE LUCA ... Ceaseless Effort Necessary for Artistic Perfection

LUISA TETRAZZINI ... The Coloratura Voice

ANTONIO SCOTTI ... Training American Singers for Opera

ROSA RAISA ... Patience and Perseverance Win Results

LOUISE HOMER ... The Requirements of a Musical Career

GIOVANNI MARTINELLI ... "Let Us Have Plenty of Opera in America"

ANNA CASE ... Inspired Interpretation

FLORENCE EASTON ... Problems Confronting the Young Singer

MARGUERITE D'ALVAREZ ... The Message of the Singer

MARIA BARRIENTOS ... Be Your Own Critic

CLAUDIA MUZIO ... A Child of the Opera

EDWARD JOHNSON (EDOUARDO DI GIOVANNI) ... The Evolution of an Opera Star

REINALD WERRENRATH ... Achieving Success on the Concert Stage

SOPHIE BRASLAU ... Making a Career in America

MORGAN KINGSTON ... The Spiritual Side of the Singer's Art

FRIEDA HEMPEL ... A Lesson with a Prima Donna


DAVID BISPHAM ... The Making of Artist Singers

OSCAR SAENGER ... Use of Records in Vocal Study

HERBERT WITHERSPOON ... Memory, Imagination, Analysis


J.H. DUVAL ... Some Secrets of Beautiful Singing

THE CODA ... A Resumé


Enrico Caruso _Frontispiece_

Geraldine Farrar

Victor Maurel

Amelita Galli-Curci

Giuseppe de Luca

Luisa Tetrazzini

Antonio Scotti

Rosa Raisa

Louise Homer

Giovanni Martinelli

Anna Case

Florence Easton

Marguerite d'Alvarez

Maria Barrientos

Claudia Muzio

Edward Johnson

Reinald Werrenrath

Sophie Braslau

Morgan Kingston

Frieda Hempel





Enrico Caruso! The very name itself calls up visions of the greatest
operatic tenor of the present generation, to those who have both heard
and seen him in some of his many rôles. Or, to those who have only
listened to his records, again visions of the wonderful voice, with its
penetrating, vibrant, ringing quality, the impassioned delivery, which
stamps every note he sings with the hall mark of genius, the tremendous,
unforgettable climaxes. Not to have heard Caruso sing is to have missed
something out of life; not to have seen him act in some of his best
parts is to have missed the inspiration of great acting. As Mr. Huneker
once wrote: "The artistic career of Caruso is as well known as that of
any great general or statesman; he is a national figure. He is a great
artist, and, what is rarer, a genuine man."

And how we have seen his art grow and ripen, since he first began to
sing for us. The date of his first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera
House, New York, was November 23rd, 1903. Then the voice was marvelous
in its freshness and beauty, but histrionic development lagged far
behind. The singer seemed unable to make us visualize the characters he
endeavored to portray. It was always Caruso who sang a certain part; we
could never forget that. But constant study and experience have
eliminated even this defect, so that to-day the singer and actor are
justly balanced; both are superlatively great. Can any one who hears and
sees Caruso in the rôle of Samson, listen unmoved to the throbbing wail
of that glorious voice and the unutterable woe of the blind man's
poignant impersonation?


Enrico Caruso was born in Naples, the youngest of nineteen children. His
father was an engineer and the boy was taught the trade in his father's
shop, and was expected to follow in his father's footsteps. But destiny
decreed otherwise. As he himself said, to one listener:

"I had always sung as far back as I can remember, for the pure love of
it. My voice was contralto, and I sang in a church in Naples from
fourteen till I was eighteen. Then I had to go into the army for awhile.
I had never learned how to sing, for I had never been taught. One day a
young officer of my company said to me: 'You will spoil your voice if
you keep on singing like that'--for I suppose I was fond of shouting in
those days. 'You should learn _how_ to sing,' he said to me; 'you must
study.' He introduced me to a young man who at once took an interest in
me and brought me to a singing master named Vergine. I sang for him, but
he was very discouraging. His verdict was it would be hopeless to try to
make a singer out of me. As it was, I might possibly earn a few lire a
night with my voice, but according to his idea I had far better stick to
my father's trade, in which I could at least earn forty cents a day.

"But my young friend would not give up so easily. He begged Vergine to
hear me again. Things went a little better with me the second time and
Vergine consented to teach me.


"And now began a period of rigid discipline. In Vergine's idea I had
been singing too loud; I must reverse this and sing everything softly.
I felt as though in a strait-jacket; all my efforts at expression were
most carefully repressed; I was never allowed to let out my voice. At
last came a chance to try my wings in opera, at ten lire a night
($2.00). In spite of the régime of repression to which I had been
subjected for the past three years, there were still a few traces of my
natural feeling left. The people were kind to me and I got a few
engagements. Vergine had so long trained me to sing softly, never
permitting me to sing out, that people began to call me the Broken


"A better chance came before long. In 1896 the Opera House in Salerno
decided to produce _I Puritani_. At the last moment the tenor they had
engaged to sing the leading rôle became ill, and there was no one to
sing the part. Lombardi, conductor of the orchestra, told the directors
there was a young singer in Naples, about eighteen miles away, who he
knew could help them out and sing the part. When they heard the name
Caruso, they laughed scornfully. 'What, the Broken Tenor?' they asked.
But Lombardi pressed my claim, assured them I could be engaged, and no
doubt would be glad to sing for nothing.

"So I was sent for. Lombardi talked with me awhile first. He explained
by means of several illustrations, that I must not stand cold and stiff
in the middle of the stage, while I sang nice, sweet tones. No, I must
let out my voice, I must throw myself into the part, I must be alive to
it--must live it and in it. In short, I must act as well as sing.


"It was all like a revelation to me. I had never realized before how
absolutely necessary it was to act out the character I attempted. So I
sang _I Puritani_, with as much success as could have been expected of a
young singer with so little experience. Something awoke in me at that
moment. From that night I was never called a 'Broken Tenor' again. I
made a regular engagement at two thousand lire a month. Out of this I
paid regularly to Vergine the twenty-five per cent which he always
demanded. He was somewhat reconciled to me when he saw that I had a real
engagement and was making a substantial sum, though he still insisted
that I would lose my voice in a few years. But time passes and I am
still singing.


"The fact that I could secure an opera engagement made me realize I had
within me the making of an artist, if I would really labor for such an
end. When I became thoroughly convinced of this, I was transformed from
an amateur into a professional in a single day. I now began to take care
of myself, learn good habits, and endeavored to cultivate my mind as
well as my voice. The conviction gradually grew upon me that if I
studied and worked, I would be able one day to sing in such a way as to
satisfy myself."


Caruso believes in the necessity for work, and sends this message to all
ambitious students: "To become a singer requires work, work, and again
work! It need not be in any special corner of the earth; there is no one
spot that will do more for you than other places. It doesn't matter so
much where you are, if you have intelligence and a good ear. Listen to
yourself; your ear will tell you what kind of tones you are making. If
you will only use your own intelligence you can correct your own


This is no idle speech, voiced to impress the reader. Caruso practices
what he preaches, for he is an incessant worker. Two or three hours in
the forenoon, and several more later in the day, whenever possible. He
does not neglect daily vocal technic, scales and exercises. There are
always many rôles to keep in rehearsal with the accompanist. He has a
repertoire of seventy rôles, some of them learned in two languages.
Among the parts he has prepared but has never sung are: _Othello, Fra
Diavolo, Eugen Onegin, Pique Dame, Falstaff_ and _Jewels of the

Besides the daily review of opera rôles, Caruso examines many new songs;
every day brings a generous supply. Naturally some of these find their
way into the waste basket; some are preserved for reference, while the
favored ones which are accepted must be studied for use in recital.

I had the privilege, recently, of spending a good part of one forenoon
in Mr. Caruso's private quarters at his New York Hotel, examining a
whole book full of mementos of the Jubilee celebration of March, 1919,
on the occasion when the great tenor completed twenty-five years of
activity on the operatic stage. Here were gathered telegrams and
cablegrams from all over the world. Many letters and cards of greeting
and congratulation are preserved in this portly volume. Among them one
noticed messages from Mme. Schumann-Heink, the Flonzaley Quartet,
Cleofonte Campanini and hosts of others. Here, too, is preserved the
Jubilee Programme booklet, also the libretto used on that gala occasion.
Music lovers all over the world will echo the hope that this wonderful
voice may be preserved for many years to come!


The above article was shown to Mr. Caruso, at his request, and I was
asked a few days later to come to him. There had been the usual
rehearsal at the Opera House that day. "Ah, those rehearsals," exclaimed
the secretary, stopping his typewriter for an instant; "no one who has
never been through it has any idea of what a rehearsal means." And he
lifted hands and eyes expressively. "Mr. Caruso rose at eight, went to
rehearsal at ten and did not finish till after three. He is now resting,
but will see you in a moment."

Presently the great tenor opened the door and entered. He wore a
lounging coat of oriental silk, red bordered, and on the left hand
gleamed a wonderful ring, a broad band of dull gold, set with diamonds,
rubies and sapphires. He shook hands, said he had read my story, that it
was quite correct and had his entire approval.

"And have you a final message to the young singers who are struggling
and longing to sing some day as wonderfully as you do?"

"Tell them to study, to work always,--and--to sacrifice!"

His eyes had a strange, inscrutable light in them, as he doubtless
recalled his own early struggles, and life of constant effort.

And so take his message to heart:

"Work, work--and--sacrifice!"




"To measure the importance of Geraldine Farrar (at the Metropolitan
Opera House, New York) one has only to think of the void there would
have been during the last decade, and more, if she had not been there.
Try to picture the period between 1906 and 1920 without Farrar--it is
inconceivable! Farrar, more than any other singer, has been the
triumphant living symbol of the new day for the American artist at the
Metropolitan. She paved the way. Since that night, in 1906, when her
Juliette stirred the staid old house, American singers have been added
year by year to the personnel. Among these younger singers there are
those who will admit at once that it was the success of Geraldine Farrar
which gave them the impetus to work hard for a like success."

[Illustration: GERALDINE FARRAR]

These thoughts have been voiced by a recent reviewer, and will find a
quick response from young singers all over the country, who have been
inspired by the career of this representative artist, and by the
thousands who have enjoyed her singing and her many characterizations.

I was present on the occasion of Miss Farrar's début at the greatest
opera house of her home land. I, too, was thrilled by the fresh young
voice in the girlish and charming impersonation of Juliette. It is a
matter of history that from the moment of her auspicious return to
America she has been constantly before the public, from the beginning to
end of each operatic season. Other singers often come for part of the
season, step out and make room for others. But Miss Farrar, as well as
Mr. Caruso, can be depended on to remain.

Any one who gives the question a moment's thought, knows that such a
career, carried through a score of years, means constant, unremitting
labor. There must be daily work on vocal technic; repertoire must be
kept up to opera pitch, and last and perhaps most important of all, new
works must be sought, studied and assimilated.

The singer who can accomplish these tasks will have little or no time
for society and the gay world, inasmuch as her strength must be devoted
to the service of her art. She must keep healthy hours, be always ready
to appear, and never disappoint her audiences. And such, according to
Miss Farrar's own words is her record in the service of art.

While zealously guarding her time from interruption from the merely
curious, Miss Farrar does not entrench herself behind insurmountable
barriers, as many singers seem to do, so that no honest seeker for her
views of study and achievement can find her. While making a rule not to
try voices of the throng of young singers who would like to have her
verdict on their ability and prospects, Miss Farrar is very gracious to
those who really need to see her. Again--unlike others--she will make an
appointment a couple of weeks in advance, and one can rest assured she
will keep that appointment to the day and hour, in spite of many
pressing calls on her attention.

To meet and talk for an hour with an artist who has so often charmed you
from the other side of the footlights, is a most interesting experience.
In the present instance it began with my being taken up to Miss Farrar's
private sanctum, at the top of her New York residence. Though this is
her den, where she studies and works, it is a spacious parlor, where all
is light, color, warmth and above all, _quiet_. A thick crimson carpet
hushes the footfall. A luxurious couch piled with silken cushions, and
comfortable arm chairs are all in the same warm tint; over the grand
piano is thrown a cover of red velvet, gold embroidered. Portraits of
artists and many costly trifles are scattered here and there. The young
lady who acts as secretary happened to be in the room and spoke with
enthusiasm of the singer's absorption in her work, her delight in it,
her never failing energy and good spirits. "From the day I heard Miss
Farrar sing I felt drawn to her and hoped the time would come when I
could serve her in some way. I did not know then that it would be in
this way. Her example is an inspiration to all who come in touch with

In a few moments Miss Farrar herself appeared, and the young girl

And was this Farrar who stood before me, in the flush of vigorous
womanhood, and who welcomed me so graciously? The first impression was
one of friendliness and sincerity, which caused the artist for the
moment to be forgotten in the unaffected simplicity of the woman.

Miss Farrar settled herself comfortably among the red silk cushions and
was ready for our talk. The simplicity of manner was reflected in her
words. She did not imply--there is only one right way, and I have found
it. "These things seem best for my voice, and this is the way I work.
But, since each voice is different, they might not fit any one else. I
have no desire to lay down rules for others; I can only speak of my own


"And you would first know how I keep strong and well and always ready?
Perhaps the answer is, I keep regular hours and habits, and love my
work. I have always loved to sing, as far back as I can remember. Music
means everything to me--it is my life. As a child and young girl, I was
the despair of my playmates because I would not join their games; I did
not care to skate, play croquet or tennis, or such things. I never
wanted to exercise violently, and, to me, unnecessarily, because it
interfered with my singing; took energy which I thought might be better
applied. As I grew older I did not care to keep late hours and be in an
atmosphere where people smoked and perhaps drank, for these things were
bad for my voice and I could not do my work next day. My time is always
regularly laid out. I rise at half past seven, and am ready to work at
nine. I do not care to sit up late at night, either, for I think late
hours react on the voice. Occasionally, if we have a few guests for
dinner, I ask them, when ten thirty arrives, to stay as long as they
wish and enjoy themselves, but I retire.


"There are gifted people who may be called natural born singers. Melba
is one of these. Such singers do not require much technical practice, or
if they need a little of it, half an hour a day is sufficient. I am not
one of those who do not need to practice. I give between one and two
hours daily to vocalizes, scales and tone study. But I love it! A scale
is beautiful to me, if it is rightly sung. In fact it is not merely a
succession of notes; it represents color. I always translate sound into
color. It is a fascinating study to make different qualities of tonal
color in the voice. Certain rôles require an entirely different range of
colors from others. One night I must sing a part with thick, heavy,
rich tones; the next night my tones must be thinned out in quite another
timbre of the voice, to fit an opposite character."

Asked if she can hear herself, Miss Farrar answered:

"No, I do not actually hear my voice, except in a general way; but we
learn to know the sensations produced in muscles of throat, head, face,
lips and other parts of the anatomy, which vibrate in a certain manner
to correct tone production. We learn the _feeling_ of the tone.
Therefore every one, no matter how advanced, requires expert advice as
to the results.


"I have studied for a long time with Lilli Lehmann in Berlin; in fact I
might say she is almost my only teacher, though I did have some
instruction before going to her, both in America and Paris. You see, I
always sang, even as a very little girl. My mother has excellent taste
and knowledge in music, and finding I was in danger of straining my
voice through singing with those older than myself, she placed me with a
vocal teacher when I was twelve, as a means of preservation.

"Lehmann is a wonderful teacher and an extraordinary woman as well.
What art is there--what knowledge and understanding! What intensity
there is in everything she does. She used to say: 'Remember, these four
walls which inclose you, make a very different space to fill compared to
an opera house; you must take this fact into consideration and study
accordingly.' No one ever said a truer word. If one only studies or
sings in a room or studio, one has no idea of what it means to fill a
theater. It is a distinct branch of one's work to gain power and control
and to adapt one's self to large spaces. One can only learn this by
doing it.

"It is sometimes remarked by listeners at the opera, that we sing too
loud, or that we scream. They surely never think of the great size of
the stage, of the distance from the proscenium arch to the footlights,
or from the arch to the first set of wings. They do not consider that
within recent years the size of the orchestra has been largely
increased, so that we are obliged to sing against this great number of
instruments, which are making every possible kind of a noise except that
of a siren. It is no wonder that we must make much effort to be heard:
sometimes the effort may seem injudicious. The point we must consider
is to make the greatest possible effect with the least possible

"Lehmann is the most painstaking, devoted teacher a young singer can
have. It is proof of her excellent method and her perfect understanding
of vocal mastery, that she is still able to sing in public, if not with
her old-time power, yet with good tone quality. It shows what an artist
she really is. I always went over to her every summer, until the war
came. We would work together at her villa in Gruenewald, which you
yourself know. Or we would go for a holiday down nearer Salzburg, and
would work there. We always worked wherever we were.


"How do I memorize? I play the song or rôle through a number of times,
concentrating on both words and music at once. I am a pianist anyway;
and committing to memory is very easy for me. I was trained to learn by
heart from the very start. When I sang my little songs at six years old,
mother would never let me have any music before me: I must know my songs
by heart. And so I learned them quite naturally. To me singing was like
talking to people.


"You ask me to explain the difference between the coloratura and the
dramatic organ. I should say it is a difference of timbre. The
coloratura voice is bright and brilliant in its higher portion, but
becomes weaker and thinner as it descends; whereas the dramatic voice
has a thicker, richer quality all through, especially in its lower
register. The coloratura voice will sing upper C, and it will sound very
high indeed. I might sing the same tone, but it would sound like A flat,
because the tone would be of such totally different timbre.


"If I have any message to the young singer, it would be: Stick to your
work and study systematically, whole-heartedly. If you do not love your
work enough to give it your best thought, to make sacrifices for it,
there is something wrong with you. Then choose some other line of work,
to which you can give undivided attention and devotion. For music
requires this. As for sacrifices, they really do not exist, if they
promote the thing you honestly love most.

"Do not fancy you can properly prepare yourself in a short time to
undertake a musical career, for the path is a long and arduous one. You
must never stop studying, for there is always so much to learn. If I
have sung a rôle a hundred times, I always find places that can be
improved; indeed I never sing a rôle twice exactly in the same way. So,
from whatever side you consider the singer's work and career, both are
of absorbing interest.

"Another thing; do not worry, for that is bad for your voice. If you
have not made this tone correctly, or sung that phrase to suit yourself,
pass it over for the moment with a wave of the hand or a smile; but
don't become discouraged. Go right on! I knew a beautiful American in
Paris who possessed a lovely voice. But she had a very sensitive nature,
which could not endure hard knocks. She began to worry over little
failures and disappointments, with the result that in three years her
voice was quite gone. We must not give way to disappointments, but
conquer them, and keep right along the path we have started on.


"Modern music requires quite a different handling of the voice and makes
entirely different demands upon it than does the older music. The old
Italian operas required little or no action, only beautiful singing. The
opera houses were smaller and so were the orchestras. The singer could
stand still in the middle of the stage and pour out beautiful tones,
with few movements of body to mar his serenity. But we, in these days,
demand action as well as song. We need singing actors and actresses. The
music is declamatory; the singer must throw his whole soul into his
part, must act as well as sing. Things are all on a larger scale. It is
a far greater strain on the voice to interpret one of the modern Italian
operas than to sing one of those quietly beautiful works of the old

"America's growth in music has been marvelous on the appreciative and
interpretive side. With such a musical awakening, we can look forward to
the appearance of great creative genius right here in this country,
perhaps in the near future. Why should we not expect it? We have not yet
produced a composer who can write enduring operas or symphonies.
MacDowell is our highest type as yet; but others will come who will
carry the standard higher.


"The singer must be willing to admit limitations of voice and style and
not attempt parts which do not come within the compass of her
attainments. Neither is it wise to force the voice up or down when it
seems a great effort to do so. We can all think of singers whose natural
quality is mezzo--let us say--who try to force the voice up into a
higher register. There is one artist of great dramatic gifts, who not
content with the rich quality of her natural organ, tried to add several
high notes to the upper portion. The result was disastrous. Again, some
of our young singers who possess beautiful, sweet voices, should not
force them to the utmost limit of power, simply to fill, or try to fill
a great space. The life of the voice will be impaired by such injurious


"What do I understand by vocal mastery? It is something very difficult
to define. For a thing that is mastered must be really perfect. To
master vocal art, the singer must have so developed his voice that it is
under complete control; then he can do with it whatsoever he wishes. He
must be able to produce all he desires of power, pianissimo, accent,
shading, delicacy and variety of color. Who is equal to the task?"

Miss Farrar was silent a moment; then she said, answering her own

"I can think of but two people who honestly can be said to possess vocal
mastery: they are Caruso and McCormack. Those who have only heard the
latter do little Irish tunes, have no idea of what he is capable. I have
heard him sing Mozart as no one else I know of can. These two artists
have, through ceaseless application, won vocal mastery. It is something
we are all striving for!"




Mr. James Huneker, in one of his series of articles entitled "With the
Immortals," in the New York _World_, thus, in his inimitable way
characterizes Victor Maurel:

"I don't suppose there is to be found in musical annals such diversity
of aptitudes as that displayed by this French baritone. Is there an
actor on any stage to-day who can portray both the grossness of Falstaff
and the subtlety of Iago? Making allowance for the different art medium
that the singing actor must work in, and despite the larger curves of
operatic pose and gesture, Maurel kept astonishingly near to the
characters he assumed. He was Shakespearian; his Falstaff was the most
wonderful I ever saw."

[Illustration: VICTOR MAUREL]

And then Iago: "In the Maurel conception, Othello's Ancient was not
painted black in black--the heart of darkness, but with many nuances,
many gradations. He was economical of gesture, playing on the jealous
Moor as plays a skillfully handled bow upon a finely attuned violin. His
was truly an objective characterization. His Don Giovanni was broadly
designed. He was the aristocrat to the life, courtly, brave, amorous,
intriguing, cruel, superstitious and quick to take offense. In his best
estate, the drinking song was sheer virtuosity. Suffice to add that
Verdi intrusted to him the task of "originating" two such widely
sundered rôles as Iago and Falstaff. An extraordinary artist!"

One evening we were discussing the merits of various famous singers of
the past and present. My friend is an authority whose opinion I greatly
respect. He is not only a singer himself but is rapidly becoming a
singing master of renown.

After we had conferred for a long time, my friend summed it all up with
the remark:

"You know who, in my opinion, is the greatest, the dean of them all, a
past master of the art of song--Victor Maurel."

Did I not know! In times gone by had we not discussed by the hour every
phase of Maurel's mastery of voice and action? Did we not together
listen to that voice and watch with breathless interest his investiture
of Don Giovanni, in the golden days when Lilli Lehmann and the De
Reszkes took the other parts. Was there ever a more elegant courtly Don,
a greater Falstaff, a more intriguing Iago?

In those youthful days, my friend's greatest ambition was to be able to
sing and act like Maurel. To this end he labored unceasingly. Second
only to this aim was another--to know the great baritone personally, to
become his friend, to discuss the finest issues of art with him, to
consult him and have the benefit of his experience. The consummation of
this desire has been delayed for years, but it is one of the "all
things" which will surely come to him who waits. Maurel is now once more
on American soil, and doubtless intends remaining for a considerable
period. My friend is also established in the metropolis. The two have
met, not only once but many times--indeed they have become fast friends.

"I will take you to him," promised friend Jacque,--knowing my desire to
meet the "grand old man"; "but don't ask for too many of his opinions
about singers, as he does not care to be quoted."

Late one afternoon we arrived at his residence. At the moment he was in
his music room, where, for the last hour he had been singing
_Falstaff_! If we could only have been hidden away in some quiet corner
to listen! He came running down the stairway with almost the agility of
a boy, coming to meet us with simple dignity and courtesy. After the
first greetings were over we begged permission to examine the many
paintings which met the eye everywhere. There was a large panel facing
us, representing a tall transparent vase, holding a careless bunch of
summer flowers, very artistically handled. Near it hung an out-of-door
sketch, a garden path leading into the green. Other bits of landscape
still-life and portraits made up the collection. They had all been
painted by the same artist--none other than Maurel himself. As we
examined the flower panel, he came and stood by us.

"Painting is a great art," he said; "an art which requires profound
study. I have been a close student of this art for many years and love
it more and more."

"M. Maurel aims now to express himself through the art of color and
form, as he has always done through voice and gesture," remarked my

"Art is the highest means of expression," went on the master, "whether
through music, painting, sculpture, architecture or the theater. The
effort to express myself through another art-medium, painting, has long
been a joy to me. I have studied with no teacher but myself, but I have
learned from all the great masters; they have taught me everything."

He then led the way to his music room on the floor above. Here were more
paintings, many rare pieces of furniture and his piano. A fine portrait
of Verdi, with an affectionate autograph, stood on a table; one of
Ambroise Thomas, likewise inscribed, hung near. "A serious man, almost
austere," said Maurel, regarding the portrait of Verdi thoughtfully,
"but one of the greatest masters of all time."

Praying us to be seated, he placed himself on an ottoman before us. The
talk easily drifted into the subject of the modern operatic stage, and
modern operas of the Italian school, in which one is so often tempted to
shout rather than sing. The hero of Mozart's Don Giovanni, who could
sing his music as perhaps no one else has ever done, would not be likely
to have much patience with the modern style of explosive vocal

"How do you preserve your voice and your repertoire?" I questioned.

M. Maurel gazed before him thoughtfully.

"It is entirely through the mind that I keep both. I know so exactly
how to produce tone qualities, that if I recall those sensations which
accompany tone production, I can induce them at will. How do we make
tones, sing an aria, impersonate a rôle? Is not all done with the mind,
with thought? I must think the tone before I produce it--before I sing
it; I must mentally visualize the character and determine how I will
represent it, before I attempt it. I must identify myself with the
character I am to portray before I can make it _live_. Does not then all
come from thinking--from thought?

"Again: I can think out the character and make a mental picture of it
for myself, but how shall I project it for others to see? I have to
convince myself first that I am that character--I must identify myself
with it; then I must convince those who hear me that I am really that
character." Maurel rose and moved to the center of the room.

"I am to represent some character--Amonasro, let us say. I must present
the captive King, bound with chains and brought before his captors. I
must feel with him, if I am really going to represent him. I must
believe myself bound and a prisoner; then I must, through pose and
action, through expression of face, gesture, voice, everything--I must
make this character real to the audience."

And as we looked, he assumed the pose of the man in chains, his hands
seemed tied, his body bent, his expression one in which anger and
revenge mingled; in effect, he was for the moment Amonasro.

"I have only made you see my mental concept of Amonasro. If I have once
thoroughly worked out a conception, made it my own, then it is mine. I
can create it at any moment. If I feel well and strong I can sing the
part now in the same way as I have always sung it, because my thought is
the same and thought produces. Whether I have a little more voice, or
less voice, what does it matter? I can never lose my conception of a
character, for it is in my mind, and mind projects it. So there is no
reason to lose the voice, for that also is in mind and can be thought
out at will.

"Suppose I have an opposite character to portray,--the elegant Don
Giovanni, for example"; and drawing himself up and wrapping an imaginary
cloak about him, with the old well-remembered courtly gesture, his face
and manner were instantly transformed at the thought of his favorite
character. He turned and smiled on us, his strong features lighted, and
his whole appearance expressed the embodiment of Mozart's hero.

"You see I must have lived, so to say, in these characters and made them
my own, or I could not recall them at a moment's notice. All
impersonation, to be artistic, to be vital, must be a part of one's
self; one must get into the character. When I sing Iago I am no longer
myself--I am another person altogether; self is quite forgotten; I am
Iago, for the time being.

"In Paris, at the Sorbonne, I gave a series of lectures; the first was
on this very subject, the identification of one's self with the
character to be portrayed. The large audience of about fifteen hundred,
contained some of the most famous among artists and men of letters"; and
Maurel, with hands clasped about his knee, gazed before him into space,
and we knew he was picturing in mental vision, the scene at the
Sorbonne, which he had just recalled.

After a moment, he resumed. "The singer, though trying to act out the
character he assumes, must not forget to _sing_. The combination of fine
singing and fine acting is rare. Nowadays people think if they can act,
that atones for inartistic singing; then they yield to the temptation
to shout, to make harsh tones, simply for effect." And the famous
baritone caricatured some of the sounds he had recently heard at an
operatic performance with such gusto, that a member of the household
came running in from an adjoining room, thinking there must have been an
accident and the master of the house was calling for help. He hastily
assured her all was well--no one was hurt; then we all had a hearty
laugh over the little incident.

And now we begged to be allowed to visit the atelier, where the
versatile artist worked out his pictures. He protested that it was in
disorder, that he would not dare to take us up, and so on. After a
little he yielded to persuasion, saying, however, he would go up first
and arrange the room a little. As soon as he had left us my friend
turned to me:

"What a remarkable man! So strong and vigorous, in spite of his advanced
age. No doubt he travels those stairs twenty times a day. He is as alert
as a young man; doubtless he still has his voice, as he says. And what a
career he has had. You know he was a friend of Edward the Seventh; they
once lived together. Then he and Verdi were close friends; he helped
coach singers for Verdi's operas. He says it was a wonderful
experience, when the composer sat down at the piano, put his hands on
the keys and showed the singers how he wanted his music sung!

"Early in his career Maurel sang in Verdi's opera, _Simone Boccanegra_,
which one never hears now, but it has a fine baritone part, and a couple
of very dramatic scenes, especially the final scene at the close. This
is the death scene. Maurel had sung and acted so wonderfully on a
certain occasion that all the singers about him were in tears. Verdi was
present at this performance and was deeply moved by Maurel's singing and
acting. He came upon the stage when all was over, and exclaimed, in a
voice trembling with emotion: 'You have created the rôle just as I would
have it; I shall write an opera especially _for you_!' This he did; it
was _Othello_, and the Iago was composed for Maurel. In his later years,
when he seldom left his home, the aged composer several times expressed
the wish that he might go to Paris, just to hear Maurel sing once more.

"It is very interesting that he was led to speak to us as he did just
now, about mental control, and the part played by mind in the singer's
study, equipment and career. It is a side of the question which every
young singer must seriously consider, first, last and always. But here
he comes."

Again protesting about the appearance of his simple studio, the master
led the way up the stairways till we reached the top of the house, where
a north-lighted room had been turned into a painter's atelier. With
mingled feelings we stepped within this modest den of a great artist,
which held his treasures. These were never shown to the casual observer,
nor to the merely curious; they were reserved for the trusted few.

The walls were lined with sketches; heads, still life, landscapes, all
subjects alike interested the painter. A rugged bust of Verdi, over life
size, modeled in plaster, stood in one corner. On an easel rested a
spirited portrait of Maurel, done by himself.

"My friends tell me I should have a larger studio, with better light;
but I am content with this, for here is quiet and here I can be alone,
free to commune with myself. Here I can study my art undisturbed,--for
Art is my religion. If people ask if I go to church, I say No, but I
worship the immortality which is within, which I feel in my soul, the
reflection of the Almighty!"

In quiet mood a little later we descended the white stairway and passed
along the corridors of this house, which looks so foreign to American
eyes, and has the atmosphere of a Paris home.

The artist accompanied us to the street door and bade us farewell, in
his kindly dignified manner.

As the door closed and we were in the street, my friend said:

"A wonderful man and a rare artist. Where shall we find his like



A number of years before the great war, a party of us were spending a
few weeks in Berlin. It was midsummer; the city, filled as it was for
one of us at least, with dear memories of student days, was in most
alluring mood. Flowers bloomed along every balcony, vines festooned
themselves from windows and doorways, as well as from many unexpected
corners. The parks, large and small, which are the delight of a great
city, were at their best and greenest--gay with color. Many profitable
hours were spent wandering through the galleries and museums, hearing
concerts and opera, and visiting the old quarters of the city, so
picturesque and full of memories.

Two of us, who were musicians, were anxious to meet the famous dramatic
soprano, Lilli Lehmann, who was living quietly in one of the suburbs of
the city. Notes were exchanged, and on a certain day we were bidden to
come, out of the regular hours for visitors, by "special exception."

How well I remember the drive through the newer residential section of
Berlin. The path before long led us through country estates, past
beautifully kept gardens and orchards. Our destination was the little
suburb of Gruenewald, itself like a big garden, with villas nestling
close to each other, usually set back from the quiet, shaded streets.
Some of the villas had iron gratings along the pathway, through which
one saw gay flowers and garden walks, often statuary and fountains.
Other homes were secluded from the street by high brick walls,
frequently decorated on top by urns holding flowers and drooping vines.

Behind such a picturesque barrier, we found the gateway which led to
Mme. Lehmann's cottage. We rang and soon a trim maid came to undo the
iron gate. The few steps leading to the house door did not face us as we
entered the inclosure, but led up from the side. We wanted to linger and
admire the shrubs and flowering plants, but the maid hastened before us
so we had to follow.

From the wide entrance hall doors led into rooms on either hand. We were
shown into a salon on the left, and bidden to await Madame's coming.

In the few moments of restful quiet before she entered, we had time to
glance over this sanctum of a great artist. To say it was filled with
mementos and _objets d'art_ hardly expresses the sense of repleteness.
Every square foot was occupied by some treasure. Let the eye travel
around the room. At the left, as one entered the doorway, stood a fine
bust of the artist, chiseled in pure white marble, supported on a
pedestal of black marble. Then came three long, French windows, opening
into a green garden. Across the farther window stood a grand piano,
loaded with music. At the further end of the room, if memory serves,
hung a large, full length portrait of the artist herself. A writing
desk, laden with souvenirs, stood near. On the opposite side a divan
covered with rich brocade; more paintings on the walls, one very large
landscape by a celebrated German painter.

Before we could note further details, Mme. Lehmann stood in the doorway,
then came forward and greeted us cordially.

How often I had seen her impersonate her great rôles, both in Germany
and America. They were always of some queenly character. Could it be
possible this was the famous Lehmann, this simple housewife, in black
skirt and white blouse, with a little apron as badge of home keeping.
But there was the stately tread, the grand manner, the graceful
movement. What mattered if the silver hair were drawn back severely from
the face; there was the dignity of expression, classic features,
penetrating glance and mobile mouth I remembered.

After chatting a short time and asking many questions about America,
where her experiences had been so pleasant, our talk was interrupted,
for a little, by a voice trial, which Madame had agreed to give. Many
young singers, from everywhere, were anxious to have expert judgment on
their progress or attainments, so Lehmann was often appealed to and gave
frequent auditions of this kind. The fee was considerable, but she never
kept a penny of it for herself; it all went to one of her favorite
charities. The young girl who on this day presented herself for the
ordeal was an American, who, it seemed, had not carried her studies very


Mme. Lehmann seated herself at the piano and asked for scales and
vocalizes. The young girl, either from fright or poor training, did not
make a very fortunate impression. She could not seem to bring out a
single pure steady tone, much less sing scales acceptably.

Madame with a resigned look finally asked for a song, which was given.
It was a little song of Franz, I remember. Then Lehmann wheeled around
on the stool and said to us, in German:

"The girl cannot sing--she has little or no voice to begin with, and has
not been rightly trained." Then to the young girl she said, kindly, in

"My dear young lady, you have almost everything to learn about singing,
for as yet you cannot even sing one tone correctly; you cannot even
speak correctly. First of all you need physical development; you must
broaden your chest through breathing exercises; you are too thin
chested. You must become physically stronger if you ever hope to sing
acceptably. Then you must study diction and languages. This is
absolutely necessary for the singer. Above all you must know how to
pronounce and sing in your own language. So many do not think it
necessary to study their own language; they think they know that
already; but one's mother tongue requires study as well as any other

"The trouble with American girls is they are always in a hurry. They are
not content to sit down quietly and study till they have developed
themselves into something before they ever think of coming to Europe.
They think if they can just come over here and sing for an artist, that
fact alone will give them prestige in America. But that gives them quite
the opposite reputation over here. American girls are too often looked
upon as superficial, because they come over here quite unprepared. I say
to all of them, as I say to you: Go home and study; there are plenty of
good teachers of voice and piano in your own land. Then, when you can
_sing_, come over here, if you wish; but do not come until you are

After this little episode, we continued our talk for a while longer.
Then, fearing to trespass on her time, we rose to leave. She came to the
door with us, followed us down the steps into the front garden, and held
the gate open for us, when we finally left. We had already expressed the
hope that she might be able to return to America, at no very distant
day, and repeat her former triumphs there. Her fine face lighted at the
thought, and her last words to us were, as she held open the little iron
wicket. "I have a great desire to go to your country again; perhaps, in
a year or two--who knows--I may be able to do it."

She stood there, a noble, commanding figure, framed in the green of her
garden, and waved her handkerchief, till our cab turned a corner, and
she was lost to our view.


Several years later, a year before the world war started, to be exact,
we had the pleasure of meeting the artist again, and this time, of
hearing her sing.

It was the occasion of the Mozart Festival in Salzburg. It is well known
that Lehmann, devoted as she has always been to the genius of Mozart,
and one of the greatest interpreters of his music, had thrown her whole
energy into the founding of a suitable memorial to the master in his
native city. This memorial was to consist of a large music school, a
concert hall and home for opera. The Mozarteum was not yet completed,
but a Festival was held each year in Salzburg, to aid the project.
Madame Lehmann was always present and sang on these occasions.

We timed our visit to Mozart's birthplace, so that we should be able to
attend the Festival, which lasted as usual five days. The concerts were
held in the Aula Academica, a fine Saal in the old picturesque quarter
of the city.

At the opening concert, Lehmann sang a long, difficult Concert Aria of
Mozart. We could not help wondering, before she began, how time had
treated this great organ; whether we should be able to recognize the
famous Lehmann who had formerly taken such high rank as singer and
interpreter in America. We need not have feared that the voice had
become impaired. Or, if it had been, it had become rejuvenated on this
occasion. Mme. Lehmann sang with all her well-remembered power and
fervor, all her exaltation of spirit, and of course she had a great
ovation at the close. She looked like a queen in ivory satin and rare
old lace, with jewels on neck, arms and in her silver hair. In the
auditorium, three arm chairs had been placed in front of the platform.
The Arch-duke, Prince Eugen, the royal patron of the Festival, occupied
one. When Madame Lehmann had finished her Aria, she stepped down from
the platform. The Prince rose at once and went to meet her. She gave him
her hand with a graceful curtesy and he led her to the armchair next his
own, which had evidently been placed in position for her special use.

At the close of the concert we had a brief chat with her. The next day
she was present at the morning concert. This time she was gowned in
black, with an ermine cape thrown over her shoulders. The Arch-duke sat
beside her in the arm chair, as he had done the evening before. We had a
bow and smile as she passed down the aisle.

We trust the Mozarteum in Salzburg, for which Mme. Lehmann has labored
with such devotion, will one day fulfill its noble mission.


As a teacher of the art of singing Madame Lehmann has long been a
recognized authority, and many artists now actively before the public,
have come from under her capable hands. Her book, "How to
Sing,"--rendered in English by Richard Aldrich--(Macmillan) has
illumined the path, for many a serious student who seeks light on that
strange, wonderful, hidden instrument--the voice. Madame Lehmann, by
means of many explanations and numerous plates, endeavors to make clear
to the young student how to begin and how to proceed in her vocal


On the important subject of breathing she says: "No one can sing
without preparing for it mentally and physically. It is not enough to
sing well, one must know how one does it. I practice many breathing
exercises without using tone. Breath becomes voice through effort of
will and by use of vocal organs. When singing emit the smallest quantity
of breath. Vocal chords are breath regulators; relieve them of all

"At the start a young voice should be taught to begin in the middle and
work both ways--that is, up and down. A tone should never be forced.
Begin piano, make a long crescendo and return to piano. Another exercise
employs two connecting half tones, using one or two vowels. During
practice stand before a mirror, that one may see what one is doing.
Practice about one hour daily. Better that amount each day than ten
hours one day and none the next. The test will be; do you feel rested
and ready for work each morning? If not you have done too much the day


In regard to registers Madame Lehmann has this to say: "In the formation
of the voice no registers should exist or be created. As long as the
word is kept in use, registers will not disappear."


In spite of the fact there are many drawings and plates illustrating the
various organs of head and throat which are used in singing, Madame
Lehmann says:

"The singer is often worried about questions of physiology, whereas she
need--must--know little about it.


"The singer must have some nasal quality, otherwise the voice sounds
colorless and expressionless. We must sing toward the nose: (not
necessarily through the nose).

"For many ills of the voice and tone production, I use long, slow
scales. They are an infallible cure.


"The lips play a large part in producing variety of tone quality. Each
vowel, every word can be colored, as by magic, by well controlled play
of the lips. When lips are stiff and unresponsive, the singing is
colorless. Lips are final resonators, through which tones must pass,
and lip movements can be varied in every conceivable manner."


She humorously writes: "Singers without power and velocity are like
horses without tails. For velocity, practice figures of five, six, seven
and eight notes, first slowly, then faster and faster, up and down."




No singer can rise to any distinction without the severest kind of
self-discipline and hard work. This is the testimony of all the great
vocalists of our time--of any time. This is the message they send back
from the mountain top of victory to the younger ones who are striving to
acquire the mastery they have achieved. Work, work and again--work! And
if you have gained even a slight foothold on the hill of fame, then work
to keep your place. Above all, be not satisfied with your present
progress,--strive for more perfection. There are heights you have not
gained--higher up! There are joys for you--higher up, if you will but
labor to reach them.

[Illustration: _Photo by De Strelecki, N.Y._ AMELITA GALLI-CURCI]

Perhaps there is no singer who more thoroughly believes in the gospel of
work, and surely not one who more consistently practices what she
preaches, than Amelita Galli-Curci. She knows the value of work, and she
loves it for its own sake. There is no long cessation for her, during
summer months, "to rest her voice." There is no half-day seclusion after
a performance, to recover from the fatigue of singing a rôle the night
before. No, for her this event does not spell exhaustion but happiness,
exhilaration. It is a pleasure to sing because it is not wearisome--it
is a part of herself. And she enjoys the doing! Thus it happens that the
morning after a performance, she is up and abroad betimes, ready to
attend personally to the many calls upon her time and attention. She can
use her speaking voice without fear, because she has never done anything
to strain it; she is usually strong and well, buoyant and bright. Those
soft, dark eyes are wells of intelligent thinking; the mouth smiles
engagingly as she speaks; the slight figure is full of life and energy.
Yet there is a deep sense of calm in her presence. A brave, bright
spirit; a great, wonderful artist!

These thoughts faintly glimpse my first impression of Mme. Galli-Curci,
as she entered her big, sunny parlor, where I was waiting to see her.
Her delicate, oval face was aglow with the flush of healthful exercise,
for she had just come in from a shopping expedition and the wintry air
was keen. "I love to go shopping," she explained, "so I always do it

She bade me sit beside her on a comfortable divan, and at once began to
speak of the things I most wished to hear.

"I am often asked," she began, "to describe how I create this or that
effect, how I produce such and such tones, how I make the voice float to
the farthest corner, and so on. I answer, that is my secret. In reality
it is no secret at all, at least not to any one who has solved the
problem. Any one possessing a voice and intelligence, can acquire these
things, who knows how to go to work to get them. But if one has no
notion of the process, no amount of mere talking will make it plain.
Singing an opera rôle seems such an easy thing from the other side of
the footlights. People seem to think, if you only know how to sing, it
is perfectly natural and easy for you to impersonate a great lyric rôle.
And the more mastery you have, the easier they think it is to do it. The
real truth of the matter is that it requires years and years of
study--constant study, to learn how to sing, before attempting a big
part in opera.

"There are so many organs of the body that are concerned in the process
of breathing and tone production; and most of these organs must be, if
not always, yet much of the time, relaxed and in an easy pliable
condition when you sing. There is the diaphragm--then the throat,
larynx, the lungs, nose, lips--all of them help to make the tone.
Perhaps I might say the larynx is the most important factor of all. If
you can manage that, you have the secret. But no human being can tell
you exactly how to do it. Some singers before the public to-day have no
notion of how to manage this portion of their anatomy. Others may do so
occasionally, but it may only be by accident. They sometimes stumble
upon the principle, but not understanding how they did so, they cannot
reproduce the desired effects at will. The singer who understands her
business must know just how she produces tones and vocal effects. She
can then do them at all times, under adverse circumstances, even when
nervous, or not in the mood, or indisposed.


"How did I learn to know these things? By constant study, by constant
listening--for I have very keen ears--by learning the sensations
produced in throat and larynx when I made tones that were correctly
placed, were pleasing and at the same time made the effects I was

"Milan is my home city--beautiful Milano under the blue Italian skies,
the bluest in the world. As a young girl, the daughter of well-to-do
parents, I studied piano at the Royal Conservatory there, and also
musical theory and counterpoint. I shall ever be grateful I started in
this way, with a thorough musical foundation, for it has always been of
great advantage to me in further study. When my father met with
reverses, I made good use of my pianistic training by giving piano
lessons and making a very fair income for a young girl.

"But I longed to sing! Is it not the birthright of every Italian to have
a voice? I began to realize I had a voice which might be cultivated. I
had always sung a little--every one does; song is the natural,
spontaneous expression of our people. But I wished to do more--to
express myself in song. So I began to teach myself by singing scales and
vocalizes between my piano lessons. Meanwhile I studied all the books on
singing I could lay hands on, and then tried to put the principles I
learned in this way in practice. In trying to do this I had to find out
everything for myself. And that is why I know them! I know exactly what
I am about when I sing, I know what muscles are being used, and in what
condition they ought to be; what parts of the anatomy are called into
action and why. Nature has given me two great gifts, a voice and good
health; for both these gifts I am deeply grateful. The first I have
developed through arduous toil; the second I endeavor to preserve
through careful living, regular hours and plenty of exercise in the
fresh air. I have developed the voice and trained it in the way that
seemed to me best for it. There are as many kinds of voices as there are
persons; it seems to me each voice should be treated in the way best
suited to its possessor. How can any other person tell you how that
should be done?" And the singer gave me a bright look, and made a pretty
deprecating gesture. "You yourself must have the intelligence to
understand your own case and learn how to treat it.


"A singer who would keep her voice in the best condition, should
constantly and reasonably exercise it. I always do a half hour or so of
exercises, vocalizes and scales every morning; these are never
neglected. But I never do anything to strain the voice in any way. We
are told many fallacies by vocal teachers. One is that the diaphragm
must be held firmly in order to give support to the tone. It seems to me
this is a serious mistake. I keep the diaphragm relaxed. Thus tone
production, in my case, is made at all times with ease; there is never
any strain. You ask if it is not very fatiguing to sing against a large
orchestra, as we have to, and with a temperamental conductor, like
Marinuzzi, for instance, I do not find it so; there is a pure, clear
tone, which by its quality, placement and ease of production, will carry
farther than mere power ever can. It can be heard above a great
orchestra, and it _gets over_.


"Young singers ask me what vowels to use in vocal practice. In my own
study I use them all. Of course some are more valuable than others. The
O is good, the E needs great care; the Ah is the most difficult of all.
I am aware this is contrary to the general idea. But I maintain that the
Ah is most difficult; for if you overdo it and the lips are too wide
apart, the result is a white tone. And on the other hand, if the lips
are nearer--or too near together, or are not managed rightly, stiffness
or a throaty quality is apt to result; then the tone cannot 'float.' I
have found the best way is to use the mixed vowels, one melting into the
other. The tone can be started with each vowel in turn, and then mingled
with the rest of the vowels. Do you know, the feathered songster I love
best--the nightingale--uses the mixed vowels too. Ah, how much I have
learned from him and from other birds also! Some of them have harsh
tones--real quacks--because they open their bills too far, or in a
special way. But the nightingale has such a lovely dark tone, a 'covered
tone,' which goes to the heart. It has the most exquisite quality in the
world. I have learned much from the birds, about what not to do and what
to do.


"In taking up a new rôle I begin with the story, the libretto, so I may
first learn what it is about, its meaning and psychology. I take it to
bed with me, or have it by me if lying down, because I understand
musical composition and can get a clear idea of the composer's meaning
without going to the instrument. After a short time I begin to work it
out at the piano, in detail, words and music together. For a great rôle
like the _Somnambula_ or _Traviata_, I must spend three or four years,
perhaps more, in preparation, before bringing it to public performance.
It takes a long time to master thoroughly an operatic rôle, to work it
out from all sides, the singing, the acting, the characterization. To
the lay mind, if you can sing, you can easily act a part and also
memorize it. They little know the labor which must be bestowed on that
same rôle before it can be presented in such a shape as to be adequate,
in a way that will get it across. It does not go in a few weeks or even
months; it is the work of years. And even then it is never really
finished, for it can always be improved with more study, with more care
and thought.


"We hear much about need for study of languages by the singer, and
indeed too much stress cannot be placed on this branch of the work. I
realize that in America it is perhaps more difficult to impress people
with this necessity, as they have not the same need to use other
languages in every day life. The singer can always be considered
fortunate who has been brought up from earliest years to more than one
language. My mother was Spanish, my father Italian, so this gave me
both languages at home. Then in school I learned French, German and
English, not only a little smattering of each, but how to write and
speak them."

"You certainly have mastered English remarkably well," I could not help
remarking, for she was speaking with great fluency, and with hardly any
accent. This seemed to please her, for she gave me one of those flashing


"Would you be pleased," I asked, "if later on your voice should develop
into a dramatic soprano?"

Mme. Galli-Curci thought an instant.

"No," she said, "I think I would rather keep the voice I have. I
heartily admire the dramatic voice and the rôles it can sing. Raisa's
voice is for me the most beautiful I know. But after all I think, for
myself, I prefer the lyric and coloratura parts, they are so beautiful.
The old Italian composers knew well how to write for the voice. Their
music has beauty, it has melody, and melodic beauty will always make its
appeal. And the older Italian music is built up not only of melody and
fioriture, but is also dramatic. For these qualities can combine, and
do so in the last act of _Traviata_, which is so full of deep feeling
and pathos.


"Perhaps, in Vocal Mastery, the greatest factor of all is the breathing.
To control the breath is what each student is striving to learn, what
every singer endeavors to perfect, what every artist should master. It
is an almost endless study and an individual one, because each organism
and mentality is different. Here, as in everything else, perfect ease
and naturalness are to be maintained, if the divine song which is the
singer's concept of beauty, is to be 'floated on the breath,' and its
merest whisper heard to the farthest corner of the gallery.


"To sum up then, the three requirements of vocal mastery are: a,
Management of the Larynx; b, Relaxation of the Diaphragm; c, Control of
the Breath. To these might be added a fourth; Mixed Vowels.

"But when all these are mastered, what then? Ah, so much more it can
never be put into words. It is self-expression through the medium of
tone, for tone must always be a vital part of the singer's
individuality, colored by feeling and emotion. Tone is the outlet, the
expression of all one has felt, suffered and enjoyed. To perfect one's
own instrument, one's medium of expression, must always be the singer's
joy and satisfaction."

"And you will surely rest when the arduous season is over?"

"Yes, I will rest when the summer comes, and will return to Italy this
year. But even though I seem to rest, I never neglect my vocal practice;
that duty and pleasure is always performed."

And with a charming smile and clasp of the hand, she said adieu.




"A Roman of Rome" is what Mr. Giuseppe De Luca has been named. The very
words themselves call up all kinds of enchanting pictures. Sunny Italy
is the natural home of beautiful voices: they are her birthright. Her
blue sky, flowers and olive trees--her old palaces, hoary with age and
romantic story, her fountains and marbles, her wonderful treasures of
art, set her in a world apart, in the popular mind. Everything coming
from Italy has the right to be romantic and artistic. If it happens to
be a voice, it should of necessity be beautiful in quality, rich,
smooth, and well trained.

[Illustration: To Mrs. Harriette Brower cordially Giuseppe De Luca]

While all singers who come from the sunny land cannot boast all these
qualifications, Mr. De Luca, baritone of the Metropolitan Opera House,
New York, can do so. Gifted with a naturally fine organ, he has
cultivated it arduously and to excellent purpose. He began to study in
early youth, became a student of Saint Cecilia in Rome when fifteen
years of age, and made his début at about twenty. He has sung in opera
ever since.

In 1915,--November 25th to be exact--De Luca came to the Metropolitan,
and won instant recognition from critics and public alike. It is said of
him that he earned "this success by earnest and intelligent work.
Painstaking to a degree, there is no detail of his art that he neglects
or slights--so that one hesitates to decide whether he is greater as a
singer or as an actor." Perhaps, however, his most important quality is
his mastery of "_bel canto_"--pure singing--that art which seems to
become constantly rarer on the operatic and concert stage.

"De Luca does such beautiful, finished work; every detail is carefully
thought out until it is as perfect as can be." So remarked a member of
the Metropolitan, and a fellow artist.

Those who have listened to the Roman baritone in the various rôles he
has assumed, have enjoyed his fine voice, his true _bel canto_ style,
and his versatile dramatic skill. He has never disappointed his public,
and more than this, is ever ready to step into the breach should
necessity arise.

A man who has at least a hundred and twenty operas at his tongue's end,
who has been singing in the greatest opera houses of the world for more
than twenty years, will surely have much to tell which can help those
who are farther down the line. If he is willing to do so, can speak the
vernacular, and can spare a brief hour from the rush of constant study
and engagement, a conference will be possible. It was possible, for time
was made for it.


Mr. De Luca, who speaks the English language remarkably well, greeted
the writer with easy courtesy. His genial manner makes one feel at home
immediately. Although he had just come from the Opera House, where he
had sung an important rôle, he seemed as fresh and rested as though
nothing had happened.

"I think the ability to act, and also, in a measure, to sing, is a
gift," began the artist. "I remember, even as a little child, I was
always acting out in pantomime or mimicry what I had seen and felt. If I
was taken to the theater, I would come home, place a chair for audience,
and act out the whole story I had just seen before it. From my youngest
years I always wanted to sing and act.


"As early as I could, at about the age of fifteen, I began to study
singing, with a most excellent teacher; who was none other than Signor
Wenceslao Persischini, who is now no longer living. He trained no fewer
than seventy-four artists, of which I was the last. Battestini, that
wonderful singer, whose voice to-day, at the age of sixty-five, is as
remarkable as ever, is one of his pupils. We know that if a vocal
teacher sings himself, and has faults, his pupils are bound to copy
those faults instinctively and unconsciously. With Persischini this
could not be the case; for, owing to some throat trouble, he was not
able to sing at all. He could only whisper the tones he wanted,
accompanying them with signs and facial grimaces." And Mr. De Luca
illustrated these points in most amusing fashion. Then he continued:

"But he had unerring judgment, together with the finest ear. He knew
perfectly how the tone should be sung and the student was obliged to do
it exactly right and must keep at it till it was right. He would let
nothing faulty pass without correction. I also had lessons in acting
from Madame Marini, a very good teacher of the art.


"After five years of hard study I made my début at Piacenza, as
Valentine, in _Faust_, November 6th, 1897. Then, you may remember, I
came to the Metropolitan in the season of 1915-1916, where I have been
singing continually ever since.

"The artist should have good health, that he may be always able to sing.
He owes this to his public, to be always ready, never to disappoint. I
think I have never disappointed an audience and have always been in good
voice. It seems to me when one is no longer able to do one's best it is
time to stop singing."

"It is because you study constantly and systematically that you are
always in good voice."

"Yes, I am always at work. I rise at eight in the morning, not later.
Vocalizes are never neglected. I often sing them as I take my bath. Some
singers do not see the necessity of doing exercises every day; I am not
one of those. I always sing my scales, first with full power, then
taking each tone softly, swelling to full strength, then dying away--in
mezza voce. I use many other exercises also--employing full power.
English is also one of the daily studies, with lessons three times a


"When singing a rôle, I am always listening--watching--to be conscious
of just what I am doing. I am always criticizing myself. If a tone or a
phrase does not sound quite correct to me as to placement, or
production, I try to correct the fault at once. I can tell just how I am
singing a tone or phrase by the feeling and sensation. Of course I
cannot hear the full effect; no singer ever can actually hear the effect
of his work, except on the records. There he can learn, for the first
time, just how his voice sounds.


"How do I begin a new part? I first read over the words and try to get a
general idea of their meaning, and how I would express the ideas. I try
over the arias and get an idea of those. Then comes the real work--the
memorizing and working out the conception. I first commit the words, and
know them so well I can write them out. Next I join them to the music.
So far I have worked by myself. After this much has been done, I call in
the accompanist, as I do not play the piano very well; that is to say,
my right hand will go but the left lags behind!


"Yes, as you say, it requires constant study to keep the various rôles
in review, especially at the Metropolitan, where the operas are changed
from day to day. Of course at performance the prompter is always there
to give the cue--yet the words must always be in mind. I have never yet
forgotten a word or phrase. On one occasion--it was in the _Damnation of
Faust_, a part I had already sung a number of times--I thought of a word
that was coming, and seemed utterly unable to remember it. I grew quite
cold with fear--I am inclined to be a little nervous anyway--but it was
quite impossible to think of the word. Luckily at the moment when I
needed the word I was so fearful about, it suddenly came to me.


"Of course there is always anxiety for the artist with every public
appearance. There is so much responsibility--one must always be at
one's best; and the responsibility increases as one advances, and begins
to realize more and more keenly how much is expected and what depends on
one's efforts. I can assure you we all feel this, from the least to the
greatest. The most famous singers perhaps suffer most keenly.

"I have always sung in Italian opera, in which the language is easy for
me. Latterly I have added French operas to my list. _Samson and
Delilah_, which I had always done in Italian, I had to relearn in
French; this for me was very difficult. I worked a long time on it, but
mastered it at last.

"This is my twenty-second season in opera. I have a repertoire of about
one hundred and twenty rôles, in most of which I have sung many times in
Italy. Some I wish might be brought out at the Metropolitan. Verdi's
_Don Carlos_, for instance, has a beautiful baritone part; it is really
one of the fine operas, though it might be considered a bit
old-fashioned to-day. Still I think it would be a success here. I am
preparing several new parts for this season; one of them is the
Tschaikowsky work--_Eugene Onegin_. So you see I am constantly at work.

"My favorite operas? I think they are these"; and Mr. De Luca hastily
jotted down the following: _Don Carlos, Don Giovanni, Hamlet, Rigoletto,
Barbier, Damnation of Faust_, and last, but not least, _Tannhauser_.


Asked if he considered appreciation for music had advanced during his
residence in America, his answer was emphatically in the affirmative.

"The other evening I attended a reception of representative American
society, among whom were many frequenters of the Metropolitan. Many of
them spoke to me of the opera _Marouf_. I was surprised, for this modern
French opera belongs to the new idiom, and is difficult to understand.
'Do you really like the music of _Marouf_?' I asked. 'Oh, yes indeed,'
every one said. It is one of my longest parts, but not one of my special

"In the summer! Ah, I go back to my beloved Italy almost as soon as the
Metropolitan season closes. I could sing in Buenos Aires, as the season
there follows the one here. But I prefer to rest the whole time until I
return. I feel the singer needs a period of rest each year. To show you
how necessary it is for the singer to do daily work on the voice, I
almost feel I cannot sing at all during the summer, as I do no
practicing, and without vocalizes one cannot keep in trim. If I am asked
to sing during vacation, I generally refuse. I tell them I cannot sing,
for I do not practice. It takes me a little while after I return, to get
the vocal apparatus in shape again.

"Thus it means constant study, eternal vigilance to attain the goal,
then to hold what you have attained and advance beyond it if possible."




Luisa Tetrazzini has been called the greatest exponent of coloratura
singing that we have at the present time. Her phenomenal successes in
various quarters of the globe, where she has been heard in both opera
and concert, are well known, and form pages of musical history, full of
interest. This remarkable voice, of exquisite quality and development,
is another proof that we have as beautiful voices to-day, if we will but
realize the fact, as were ever known or heard of in the days of famous
Italian songsters.


Portraits often belie the artist, by accentuating, unduly, some
individuality of face or figure, and Tetrazzini is no exception. From
her pictures one would expect to find one of the imperious, dominating
order of prima donnas of the old school. When I met the diva, I was at
once struck by the simplicity of her appearance and attire. There was
nothing pompous about her; she did not carry herself with the air of
one conscious of possessing something admired and sought after by all
the world, something which set her on a high pedestal apart from other
singers. Not at all. I saw a little lady of plump, comfortable figure, a
face which beamed with kindliness and good humor, a mouth wreathed with
smiles. Her manner and speech were equally simple and cordial, so that
the visitor was put at ease at once, and felt she had known the great
singer for years.

Before the conference could begin a pretty episode happened, which
showed the human side of the singer's character, and gave a glimpse into
her every day life. Mme. Tetrazzini was a little late for her
appointment, as she had been out on a shopping expedition, an occupation
which she greatly enjoys. Awaiting her return was a group of
photographers, who had arranged their apparatus, mirrors and flash-light
screen, even to the piano stool on which the singer was to be placed.
She took in the situation at a glance, as she entered, and obediently
gave herself into the hands of the picture makers.

"Ah, you wish to make me beautiful," she exclaimed, with her pretty
accent; "I am not beautiful, but you may try to make me look so." With
patience she assumed the required poses, put her head on this side or
that, drew her furs closer about her or allowed them to fall away from
the white throat, with its single string of pearls. The onlooker
suggested she be snapped with a little black "Pom," who had found his
way into the room and was now an interested spectator, on his vantage
ground, a big sofa. So little "Joy" was gathered up and held in
affectionate, motherly arms, close against his mistress' face. It was
all very human and natural, and gave another side to the singer's
character from the side she shows to the public.

At last the ordeal was over, and Madame was free to leave her post and
sit in one of the arm chairs, where she could be a little more
comfortable. The secretary was also near, to be appealed to when she
could not make herself intelligible in English. "My English is very
bad," she protested; "I have not the time now to learn it properly; that
is why I speak it so very bad. In the summer, or next year, I will
really learn it. Now, what is it I can tell you? I am ready."


To ask such a natural born singer how she studies and works, is like
asking the fish swimming about in the ocean, to tell you where is the
sea! She could not tell you how she does it. Singing is as the breath of
life to Tetrazzini--as natural as the air she breathes. Realizing this,
I began at the other end.

"What message have you, Madame, for the young singer, who desires to
make a career?"

"Ah, yes, the débutante. Tell her she must practice much--very much--"
and Madame spread out her hands to indicate it was a large subject; "she
must practice several hours every day. I had to practice very much when
I began my study--when I was sixteen; but now I do not have to spend
much time on scales and exercises; they pretty well go of themselves";
and she smiled sweetly.

"You say," she continued, "the débutante--the young singer--does not
know--in America--how much she needs the foreign languages. But she
should learn them. She should study French, Italian and Spanish, and
know how to speak them. Because, if she should travel to those
countries, she must make herself understood, and she must be able to
sing in those languages, too.

"Besides the languages, it is very good for her to study piano also;
she need not know it so well as if she would be a pianist, but she
should know it a little; yet it is better to know more of the piano--it
will make her a better musician."


"You love the coloratura music, do you not, Madame?"

"Ah, yes, I love the coloratura,--it suits me; I have always studied for
that--I know all the old Italian operas. For the coloratura music you
must make the voice sound high and sweet--like a bird--singing and
soaring. You think my voice sounds something like Patti's? Maybe. She
said so herself. Ah, Patti was my dear friend--my very dear friend--I
loved her dearly. She only sang the coloratura music, though she loved
Wagner and dramatic music. Not long before she died she said to me:
'Luisa, always keep to the coloratura music, and the beautiful _bel
canto_ singing; do nothing to strain your voice; preserve its velvety
quality.' Patti's voice went to C sharp, in later years; mine has
several tones higher. In the great aria in Lucia, she used to substitute
a trill at the end instead of the top notes; but she said to
me--'Luisa, _you_ can sing the high notes!'"

"Then the breathing, Madame, what would you say of that?"

"Ah, the breathing, that is very important indeed. You must breathe from
here, you know--what you call it--from the diaphragm, and from both
sides; it is like a bellows, going in and out," and she touched the
portions referred to. "One does not sing from the chest,--that would
make queer, harsh tones." She sang a few tones just to show how harsh
they would be.

"You have shown such wonderful breath control in the way you sustain
high tones, beginning them softly, swelling then diminishing them."

"Ah, yes, the coloratura voice must always be able to do those things,"
was the answer.

"Should you ever care to become a dramatic singer?" she was asked.

Tetrazzini grew thoughtful; "No, I do not think so," she said, after a
pause; "I love my coloratura music, and I think my audience likes it
too; it goes to the heart--it is all melody, and that is what people
like. I sing lyric music also--I am fond of that."

"Yes, and you sing songs in English, with such good diction, that we
can all understand you--almost every word."

Madame beamed.

"I promise you I will learn English better next year; for I shall come
back to my friends in America next autumn. I shall be in Italy in the
summer. I have two homes over there, one in Italy and one in

"Do I prefer to sing in opera or concert, you ask? I believe I like
concert much better, for many reasons. I get nearer to the audience; I
am freer--much freer, and can be myself and not some other person. There
is no change of costume, either; I wear one gown, so it is easier; yes,
I like it much more.

"In traveling over your big country--you see I have just been out to
California and back--I find your people have advanced so very much in
appreciation of music; you know so much more than when I was here
before; that was indeed a long time ago--about twelve years,--" and
Madame made a pretty little gesture.

"But in one way your great big country has scarcely advanced any if at
all; you have not advanced in providing opera for your music lovers. You
need permanent opera companies in all the larger cities. The opera
companies of New York and Chicago are fine, oh yes,--but they cannot
give opera to the whole country. There are a few traveling companies
too, which are good. But what are they in your big country? You should
have opera stock companies all over, which would give opera for the
people. Then your fine American girls would have the chance to gain
operatic experience in their own country, which they cannot get now.
That is why the foreign singer has such a chance here, and that is why
the native singer can hardly get a chance. All the American girls' eyes
turn with longing to the Metropolitan Opera House; and with the best
intentions in the world the Director can only engage a small number of
those he would like to have, because he has no room for them. He can not
help it. So I say, that while your people have grown so much in the
liking and in the understanding of music, you do not grow on this side,
because your young singers are obliged to travel to a foreign land to
get the practice in opera they are unable to get at home. You need to do
more for the permanent establishing of opera in the large and small
cities of your country."

Madame did not express her thoughts quite as consecutively as I have set
them down, but I am sure she will approve, as these are her ideas of
the musical situation in this country.

As I listened to the words of this "second Patti," as she is called, and
learned of her kindly deeds, I was as much impressed by her kindness of
heart as I had been by her beautiful art of song. She does much to
relieve poverty and suffering wherever she finds it. As a result of her
"vocal mastery," she has been able to found a hospital in Italy for
victims of tuberculosis, which accommodates between three and four
hundred patients. The whole institution is maintained from her own
private income. During the war she generously gave of her time and art
to sing for the soldiers and aided the cause of the Allies and the Red
Cross whenever possible. For her labors of love in this direction, she
has the distinction of being decorated by a special gold medal of honor,
by both the French and Italian Governments; a distinction only conferred
on two others beside herself.

After our conference, I thanked her for giving me an hour from her
crowded day. She took my hand and pressed it warmly in both hers.

"Please do not quite forget me, Madame."

"Indeed not, will you forget me?"

"No, I shall always remember this delightful hour."

"Then, you see, I cannot forget you!" and she gave my hand a parting




A singer of finished art and ripe experience is Antonio Scotti. His
operatic career has been rich in development, and he stands to-day at
the top of the ladder, as one of the most admired dramatic baritones of
our time.

One of Naples' sons, he made a first appearance on the stage at Malta,
in 1889. Successful engagements in Milan, Rome, Madrid, Russia and
Buenos Aires followed. In 1899 he came to London, singing _Don Giovanni_
at Covent Garden. A few months thereafter, he came to New York and began
his first season at the Metropolitan. His vocal and histrionic gifts won
instant recognition here and for the past twenty years he has been one
of the most dependable artists of each regular season.


[Illustration: [handwritten note] To Miss Harriette Brower Cordially A
Scotti New York 1920]

With all his varied endowments, it seldom or never falls to the lot of a
baritone to impersonate the lover; on the contrary it seems to be his
métier to portray the villain. Scotti has been forced to hide his true
personality behind the mask of a Scarpia, a Tonio, an Iago, and last but
not least, the most repulsive yet subtle of all his villains--Chim-Fang,
in _L'Oracolo_. Perhaps the most famous of them all is Scarpia. But what
a Scarpia, the quintessence of the polished, elegant knave! The
refinement of Mr. Scotti's art gives to each rôle distinct
characteristics which separate it from all the others.


Mr. Scotti has done and is doing much for the young American singer, by
not only drilling the inexperienced ones, but also by giving them
opportunity to appear in opera on tour. To begin this enterprise, the
great baritone turned impresario, engaged a company of young singers,
most of them Americans, and, when his season at the Metropolitan was at
an end, took this company, at his own expense, on a southern trip,
giving opera in many cities.

Discussing his venture on one occasion, Mr. Scotti said:

"It was an experiment in several ways. First, I had an all-American
company, which was indeed an experiment. I had some fine artists in the
principal rôles, with lesser known ones in smaller parts. With these I
worked personally, teaching them how to act, thus preparing them for
further career in the field of opera. I like to work with the younger
and less experienced ones, for it gives me real pleasure to watch how
they improve, when they have the opportunity.

"Of course I am obliged to choose my material carefully, for many more
apply for places than I can ever accept.


"So closely is Italy identified with all that pertains to opera," he
continued, "that the question of the future of Italian opera in America
interests me immensely. It has been my privilege to devote some of the
best years of my life to singing in Italian opera in this wonderful
country of yours. One is continually impressed with the great advance
America has made and is making along all musical lines. It is marvelous,
though you who live here may not be awake to the fact. Musicians in
Europe and other parts of the world, who have never been here, can form
no conception of the musical activities here.

"It is very gratifying to me, as an Italian, to realize that the
operatic compositions of my country must play an important part in the
future of American musical art. It seems to me there is more intrinsic
value--more variety in the works of modern Italian composers than in
those of other nations. We know the operas of Mozart are largely founded
on Italian models.

"Of the great modern Italian composers, I feel that Puccini is the most
important, because he has a more intimate appreciation of theatrical
values. He seems to know just what kind of music will fit a series of
words or a scene, which will best bring out the dramatic sense.
Montemezzi is also very great in this respect. This in no way detracts
from what Mascagni, Leoncavallo and others have accomplished. It is only
my personal estimate of Puccini as a composer. The two most popular
operas to-day are _Aïda_ and _Madame Butterfly_, and they will always
draw large audiences, although American people are prone to attend the
opera for the purpose of hearing some particular singer and not for the
sake of the work of the composer. In other countries this is not so
often the case. We must hope this condition will be overcome in due
time, for the reason that it now often happens that good performances
are missed by the public who are only attracted when some much heralded
celebrity sings."


Asked for his views regarding American operatic composers, Mr. Scotti

"American composers often spoil their chances of success by selecting
uninteresting and uninspired stories, which either describe some doleful
historic incident or illustrate some Indian legend, in which no one of
to-day is interested, and which is so far removed from actual life that
it becomes at once artificial, academic and preposterous. Puccini spends
years searching for suitable librettos, as great composers have always
done. When he finds a story that is worthy he turns it into an opera.
But he will wait till he discovers the right kind of a plot. No wonder
he has success. In writing modern music dramas, as all young Americans
endeavor to do, they will never be successful unless they are careful to
pick out really dramatic stories to set to music."


On a certain occasion I had an opportunity to confer with this popular
baritone, and learn more in regard to his experiences as impresario.
This meeting was held in the little back office of the Metropolitan, a
tiny spot, which should be--and doubtless is--dear to every member of
the company. Those four walls, if they would speak, could tell many
interesting stories of singers and musicians, famed in the world of art
and letters, who daily pass through its doors, or sit chatting on its
worn leather-covered benches, exchanging views on this performance or
that, or on the desirability or difficulty of certain rôles. Even while
we were in earnest conference, Director Gatti-Casazza passed through the
room, stopping long enough to say a pleasant word and offer a clasp of
the hand. Mr. Guard, too, flitted by in haste, but had time to give a
friendly greeting.

Mr. Scotti was in genial mood and spoke with enthusiasm of his
activities with a favorite project--his own opera company. To the
question as to whether he found young American singers in too great
haste to come before the public, before they were sufficiently prepared,
thus proving they were superficial in their studies, he replied:

"No, I do not find this to be the case. As a general rule, young
American singers have a good foundation to build upon. They have good
voices to start with; they are eager to learn and they study carefully.
What they lack most--those who go in for opera I mean--is stage routine
and a knowledge of acting. This, as I have said before, I try to give
them. I do not give lessons in singing to these young aspirants, as I
might in this way gain the enmity of vocal teachers; but I help the
untried singers to act their parts. Of course all depends on the
mentality--how long a process of training the singer needs. The
coloratura requires more time to perfect this manner of singing than
others need; but some are much quicker at it than others.

"It is well I am blessed with good health, as my task is extremely
arduous. When on tour, I sing every night, besides constantly rehearsing
my company. We are ninety in all, including our orchestra. It is indeed
a great undertaking. I do not do it for money, for I make nothing
personally out of it, and you can imagine how heavy the expenses are;
four thousand dollars a week, merely for transportation. But I do it for
the sake of art, and to spread the love of modern Italian opera over
this great, wonderful country, the greatest country for music that
exists to-day. And the plan succeeds far beyond my hopes; for where we
gave one performance in a place, we now, on our second visit, can give
three--four. Next year we shall go to California.

"So we are doing our part, both to aid the young singer who sorely needs
experience and to educate the masses and general public to love what is
best in modern Italian opera!"




To the present day opera goers the name of Rosa Raisa stands for a
compelling force. In whatever rôle she appears, she is always a
commanding figure, both physically, dramatically and musically. Her
feeling for dramatic climax, the intensity with which she projects each
character assumed, the sincerity and self forgetfulness of her
naturalistic interpretation, make every rôle notable. Her voice is a
rich, powerful soprano, vibrantly sweet when at its softest--like a
rushing torrent of passion in intense moments. At such moments the
listener is impressed with the belief that power and depth of tone are
limitless; that the singer can never come to the end of her resources,
no matter how deeply she may draw on them. There are such moments of
tragic intensity, in her impersonation of the heroine in _Jewels of the
Madonna_, in _Sister Angelica_, in _Norma_, as the avenging priestess,
in which rôle she has recently created such a remarkable impression.

[Illustration: Rosa Raisa]


If one has pictured to one's self that because the Russian prima donna
can show herself a whirlwind of dynamic passion on the stage, therefore
she must show some of these qualities in private life, one would quickly
become disabused of such an impression when face to face with the
artist. One would then meet a slender, graceful young woman, of gentle
presence and with the simplest manners in the world. The dark, liquid
eyes look at one with frankness and sincerity; the wide, low brow, from
which the dark hair is softly drawn away, is the brow of a madonna. In
repose the features might easily belong to one of Raphael's saints.
However, they light up genially when their owner speaks.

Mme. Raisa stood in the doorway of her New York apartment, ready to
greet us as we were shown the way to her. Her figure, clad in
close-fitting black velvet, looked especially slender; her manner was
kind and gracious, and we were soon seated in her large, comfortable
salon, deep in conference. Before we had really begun, the singer's pet
dog came bounding to greet us from another room. The tiny creature, a
Mexican terrier, was most affectionate, yet very gentle withal, and
content to quietly cuddle down and listen to the conversation.

"I will speak somewhat softly," began Mme. Raisa, "since speaking seems
to tire me much more than singing, for what reason I do not know. We
singers must think a little of our physical well being, you see. This
means keeping regular hours, living very simply and taking a moderate
amount of exercise.

"Yes, I always loved to sing; even as a little child I was constantly
singing. And so I began to have singing lessons when I was eight years
old. Later on I went to Italy and lived there for a number of years,
until I began to travel. I now make my home in Naples. My teacher there
was Madame Marchesio, who was a remarkable singer, musician and
teacher--all three. Even when she reached the advanced age of eighty,
she could still sing wonderfully well. She had the real _bel canto_,
understood the voice, how to use it and the best way to preserve it. I
owe so much to her careful, artistic training; almost everything, I may


"One cannot expect to succeed in the profession of music without giving
one's best time and thought to the work of vocal training and all the
other subjects that go with it. A man in business gives his day, or the
most of it, to his office. My time is devoted to my art, and indeed I
have not any too much time to study all the necessary sides of it.

"During the season, I do regular vocal practice each day and keep the
various rôles in review. During the summer I study new parts, for then I
have the time and the quiet. That is what the singer needs--quiet. I
always return to Naples for the vacation, unless I go to South America
and sing there. Then I must have a little rest too, that I may be ready
for the labors of the following season.


"Even during the busiest days technic practice is never neglected.
Vocalizes, scales, terzetta--what you call them--broken thirds, yes, and
long, slow tones in _mezza di voce_, that is, beginning softly, swelling
to loud then gradually diminishing to soft, are part of the daily
régime. One cannot omit these things if one would always keep in
condition and readiness. When at work in daily study, I sing softly, or
with medium tone quality; I do not use full voice except occasionally,
when I am going through a part and wish to try out certain effects.


"I was trained first as a coloratura and taught to do all the old
Italian operas of Bellini, Rosini, Donizetti and the rest of the florid
Italian school. This gives the singer a thorough, solid training--the
sort of training that requires eight or ten years to accomplish. But
this is not too much time to give, if one wishes to be thoroughly
prepared to sing all styles of music. In former days, when singers
realized the necessity of being prepared in this way, there existed I
might say--_one voice;_ for the soprano voice was trained to sing both
florid and dramatic music. But in these days sopranos are divided into
High, Lyric, Coloratura and Dramatic; singers choose which of these
lines seems to suit best their voice and temperament.


"It is of advantage to the singer to be trained in both these arts. In
the smaller opera houses of Italy, a soprano, if thus trained, can sing
_Lucia_ one night and _Norma_ the next; _Traviata_ one night and
_Trovatore_ the next.

"Modern Italian opera calls for the dramatic soprano. She must be an
actress just as well as a singer. She must be able to express in both
voice and gesture intense passion and emotion. It is the period of storm
and stress. Coloratura voices have not so much opportunity at the
present time, unless they are quite out of the ordinary. And yet, for
me, a singer who has mastery of the beautiful art of _bel canto,_ is a
great joy. Galli-Curci's art is the highest I know of. For me she is the
greatest singer. Melba also is wonderful. I have heard her often--she
has been very kind to me. When I hear her sing an old Italian air, with
those pure, bell-like tones of hers, I am lifted far up; I feel myself
above the sky.


"The younger singer need not yield to discouragement, for she must know
from the start, that the mastery of a great art like singing is a long
and arduous task. If the work seems too difficult at times, do not give
up or say 'I cannot.' If I had done that, I should have really given up
many times. Instead I say; 'I can do it, and not only I can but I will!'


"There are so many sides to the singer's equipment, besides singing
itself"; and Mme. Raisa lifted dark eyes and spread out her graceful
hands as though to indicate the bigness of the subject. "Yes, there is
the piano, for instance; the singer is much handicapped without a
knowledge of that instrument, for it not only provides accompaniment but
cultivates the musical sense. Of course I have learned the piano and I
consider it necessary for the singer.

"Then there are languages. Be not content with your own, though that
language must be perfectly learned and expressed, but learn others."

"You of course speak several languages?" questioned the listener.

"Yes, I speak eight," she answered modestly. "Russian, of course, for I
am Russian; then French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Roumanian and
English. Besides these I am familiar with a few dialects.


"So many young singers are so impatient; they want to prepare themselves
in three or four years for a career," and Madame frowned her
disapproval. "Perhaps they may come before the public after that length
of time spent in study; but they will only know a part--a little of all
they ought to know. With a longer time, conscientiously used, they would
be far better equipped. The singer who spends nine or ten years in
preparation, who is trained to sing florid parts as well as those which
are dramatic--she indeed can sing anything, the music of the old school
as well as of the new. In Rome I gave a recital of old music, assisted
by members of the Sistine Chapel choir. We gave much old music, some of
it dating from the sixth century.

"Do I always feel the emotions I express when singing a rôle? Yes, I can
say that I endeavor to throw myself absolutely into the part I am
portraying; but that I always do so with equal success cannot be
expected. So many unforeseen occurrences may interfere, which the
audience can never know or consider. One may not be exactly in the mood,
or in the best of voice; the house may not be a congenial space, or the
audience is unsympathetic. But if all is propitious and the audience
with you--then you are lifted up and carry every one with you. Then you
are inspired and petty annoyances are quite forgotten.


"You ask a very difficult question when you ask of what vocal mastery
consists. If I have developed perfect control throughout the two and a
half octaves of my voice, can make each tone with pure quality and
perfect evenness in the different degrees of loud and soft, and if I
have perfect breath control as well, I then have an equipment that may
serve all purposes of interpretation.

"Together with vocal mastery must go the art of interpretation, in which
all the mastery of the vocal equipment may find expression. In order to
interpret adequately one ought to possess a perfect instrument,
perfectly trained. When this is the case one can forget mechanism,
because confident of the ability to express whatever emotion is

"Have you a message which may be carried to the young singers?" she was

"Tell them to have patience--patience to work and patience to wait for
results. Vocal mastery is not a thing that can be quickly accomplished;
it is not the work of weeks and months, but of years of consistent,
constant effort. It cannot be hurried, but must grow with one's growth,
both mentally and physically. But the reward of earnest effort is sure
to come!"




Madame Louise Homer is a native artist to whom every loyal American can
point with pardonable pride. Her career has been a constant, steady
ascent, from the start; it is a career so well known in America that
there is hardly any need to review it, except as she herself refers to
it on the rare occasions when she is induced to speak of herself. For
Mme. Homer is one of the most modest artists in the world; nothing is
more distasteful to her than to seek for publicity through ordinary
channels. So averse is she to any self-seeking that it was with
considerable hesitation that she consented to express her views to the
writer, on the singer's art. As Mr. Sidney Homer, the well known
composer and husband of Mme. Homer, remarked, the writer should prize
this intimate talk, as it was the first Mme. Homer had granted in a very
long time.

[Illustration: LOUISE HOMER]

The artist had lately returned from a long trip, crowded with many
concerts, when I called at the New York residence of this ideal musical
pair and their charming family. Mme. Homer was at home and sent down
word she would see me shortly. In the few moments of waiting, I seemed
to feel the genial atmosphere of this home, its quiet and cheer. A
distant tinkle of girlish laughter was borne to me once or twice; then a
phrase or two sung by a rich, vibrant voice above; then in a moment
after, the artist herself descended and greeted me cordially.

"We will have a cup of tea before we start in to talk," she said, and,
as if by magic, the tea tray and dainty muffins appeared.

How wholesome and fresh she looked, with the ruddy color in her cheeks
and the firm whiteness of neck and arms. The Japanese robe of "midnight
blue," embroidered in yellows, heightened the impression of vigorous
health by its becomingness.


"There is so much to consider for the girl who desires to enter the
profession," began Mme. Homer, in response to my first query. "First,
she must have a voice, there is no use attempting a career without the
voice; there must be something to develop, something worth while to
build upon. And if she has the voice and the means to study, she must
make up her mind to devote herself exclusively to her art; there is no
other way to succeed. She cannot enter society, go to luncheons, dinners
and out in the evening, and at the same time accomplish much in the way
of musical development. Many girls think, if they attend two or three
voice lessons a week and learn some songs and a few operatic arias, that
is all there is to it. But there is far more. They must know many other
things. The vocal student should study piano and languages; these are
really essential. Not that she should strive to become a pianist; that
would not be possible if she is destined to become a singer; but the
more she knows of the piano and its literature, the more this will
cultivate her musical sense and develop her taste.


"I am always studying, always striving to improve what I have already
learned and trying to acquire the things I find difficult, or that I
have not yet attained to. I do vocal technic every day; this is
absolutely essential, while one is in the harness. It is during the
winter that I work so industriously, both on technic and repertoire,
between tours. This is when I study. I believe in resting the voice part
of the year, and I take this rest in the summer. Then, for a time, I do
not sing at all. I try to forget there is such a thing as music in the
world, so far as studying it is concerned. Of course I try over Mr.
Homer's new songs, when they are finished, for summer is his time for

"Since the voice is such an intangible instrument, the singer needs
regular guidance and criticism, no matter how advanced she may be. As
you say, it is difficult for the singer to determine the full effect of
her work; she often thinks it much better than it really is. That is
human nature, isn't it?" she added with one of her charming smiles.


"How did you start upon an operatic career?" the singer was asked.

Just here Mr. Homer entered and joined in the conference.

"I do not desire to go into my life-history, as that would take too
long. In a few words, this is how it happened--years ago.

"We were living in Boston; I had a church position, so we were each busy
with our musical work. My voice was said to be 'glorious,' but it was a
cumbersome, unwieldy organ. I could only sing up to F; there were so
many things I wanted to do with my voice that seemed impossible, that I
realized I needed more training. I could have remained where I was; the
church people were quite satisfied, and I sang in concert whenever
opportunity offered. But something within urged me on. We decided to
take a year off and spend it in study abroad. Paris was then the Mecca
for singers and to Paris we went. I plunged at once into absorbing
study; daily lessons in voice training and repertoire; languages, and
French diction, several times a week, and soon acting was added, for
every one said my voice was for the theater. I had no idea, when I
started out, that I should go into opera. I had always loved to sing, as
far back as I can remember. My father was a Presbyterian clergyman, and
when we needed new hymn books for church or Sunday School, they used to
come to our house. I would get hold of every hymn book I could find and
learn the music. So I was always singing; but an operatic career never
entered my thought, until the prospect seemed to unfold before me, as a
result of my arduous study in Paris. Of course I began to learn
important arias from the operas. Every contralto aspires to sing the
grand air from the last act of _Le Prophete;_ you know it of course. I
told my teacher I could never do it, as it demanded higher tones than I
had acquired, going up to C. He assured me it would be perfectly easy in
a little while, if I would spend a few moments daily on those high
notes. His prediction was correct, for in a few months I had no trouble
with the top notes.

"I studied stage deportment and acting from one of the greatest singing
actors of the French stage, Paul Lherie. What an artist he was! So
subtle, so penetrating, so comprehensive. The principles he taught are a
constant help to me now, and his remarks often come back to me as I
study a new rôle.

"As I say, I studied this line of work, not knowing what would grow out
of it; I did it on faith, hoping that it might prove useful."

"It seems to me," remarked the composer, "that young singers would do
well to make a study of acting, along with languages and piano. Then, if
the voice developed and an operatic career opened to them, they would be
so much better prepared; they would have made a start in the right
direction; there would not be so much to learn all at once, later on."

"If the girl could only be sure she was destined for a stage career,"
said Mme. Homer, thoughtfully, "she might do many things from the start
that she doesn't think of doing before she knows.

"To go on with my Paris story. I kept faithfully at work for a year,
preparing myself for I knew not just what; I could not guess what was in
store. Then I got my first opera engagement, quite unexpectedly. I was
singing for some professional friends in a large _saale_. I noticed a
man standing with his back to me, looking out of one of the long
windows. When I finished, he came forward and offered me an engagement
at Vichy, for the summer season. The name Vichy only suggested to my
mind a kind of beverage. Now I learned the town had a flourishing Opera
House, and I was expected to sing eight rôles. Thus my stage career


"And what must the girl possess, who wishes to make a success with her
singing?" was asked.

"First of all, as I have already said, she must have a voice; she can
never expect to get very far without that. Voice is a necessity for a
singer, but it rests with her what she will do with it, how she will
develop it.

"The next asset is intelligence; that is as great a necessity as a
voice. For through the voice we express what we feel, what we are;
intelligence controls, directs, shines through and illumines everything.
Indeed what can be done without intelligence? I could mention a young
singer with a good natural voice, who takes her tones correctly, who
studies well; indeed one can find no fault with the technical side of
her work; but her singing has no meaning--it says absolutely nothing; it
only represents just so many notes."

"That is because she has not a musical nature," put in Mr. Homer. "To my
mind that is the greatest asset any one can have who wishes to become a
musician in any branch of the art. What can be done without a musical
nature? Of course I speak of the young singer who wishes to make a
career. There are many young people who take up singing for their own
pleasure, never expecting to do much with it. And it is a good thing to
do so. It gives pleasure to their family and friends--is a healthful
exercise, and last but not least, is financially good for the teacher
they employ.

"But the trouble comes when these superficial students aspire to become
opera singers, after a couple of seasons' study. Of course they all cast
eyes at the Metropolitan, as the end and aim of all striving.

"Just as if, when a young man enters a law office, it is going to lead
him to the White House, or that he expects it will," said Mr. Homer.

"Then," resumed the artist, "we have already three requirements for a
vocal career; Voice, Intelligence and a Musical Nature. I think the
Fourth should be a Capacity for Work. Without application, the gifts of
voice, intelligence and a musical nature will not make an artist. To
accomplish this task requires ceaseless labor, without yielding to
discouragement. Perhaps the Fifth asset would be a cheerful optimism as
proof against discouragement.

"That is the last thing the student should yield to--discouragement, for
this has stunted or impaired the growth of many singers possessed of
natural talent. The young singer must never be down-hearted. Suppose
things do not go as she would like to have them; she must learn to
overcome obstacles, not be overcome by them. She must have backbone
enough to stand up under disappointments; they are the test of her
mettle, of her worthiness to enter the circle with those who have
overcome. For she can be sure that none of us have risen to a place in
art without the hardest kind of work, struggle and the conquering of all
sorts of difficulties.

"The sixth asset ought to be Patience, for she will need that in large
measure. It is only with patient striving, doing the daily vocal task,
and trying to do it each day a little better than the day before, that
anything worth while is accomplished. It is a work that cannot be
hurried. I repeat it; the student must have unlimited patience to labor
and wait for results.


"I would advise every student to study coloratura first. Then, as the
voice broadens, deepens and takes on a richer timbre, it will turn
naturally to the more dramatic expression. The voice needs this
background, or foundation in the old Italian music, in order to acquire
flexibility and freedom. I was not trained to follow this plan myself,
but my daughter Louise, who is just starting out in her public career,
has been brought up to this idea, which seems to me the best.


"I memorize very easily, learning both words and music at the same time.
In taking up a new rôle, my accompanist plays it for me and we go over
it carefully noting all there is in language and notes. When I can take
it to bed with me, and go over it mentally; when I can go through it as
I walk along the street, then it has become a part of me; then I can
feel I know it."

"Mme. Homer holds the banner at the Metropolitan, for rapid memorizing,"
said her husband. "On one occasion, when _Das Rheingold_ was announced
for an evening performance, the Fricka was suddenly indisposed and
unable to appear. Early in the afternoon, the Director came to Mme.
Homer, begging her to do the part, as otherwise he would be forced to
close the house that night. A singer had tried all forenoon to learn the
rôle, but had now given it up as impossible. Mme. Homer consented. She
started in at three o'clock and worked till six, went on in the evening,
sang the part without rehearsal, and acquitted herself with credit. This
record has never been surpassed at the Metropolitan." "I knew the other
Frickas of the Ring," said Madame, "but had never learned the one in the
_Rheingold_; it is full of short phrases and difficult to remember, but
I came through all right. I may add, as you ask, that perhaps _Orfeo_ is
my favorite rôle, one of the most beautiful works we have."


"What do I understand by Vocal Mastery? The words explain themselves.
The singer must master all difficulties of technic, of tone production,
so as to be able to express the thought of the composer, and the meaning
of the music."

"Don't forget that the singer must have a musical nature," added Mr.
Homer, "for without this true vocal mastery is impossible."




Said the Professor: "How well I remember the first time I heard
Martinelli. We were traveling in Italy that summer, and had arrived in
Verona rather late in the afternoon. The city seemed full of people,
with many strangers, and we could not at first secure accommodations at
the hotel. Inquiring the cause, the answer was: 'Does not the signer
know that to-day is one holiday, and to-night, in the Amphitheater,
_Aïda_ will be sung, under the stars.' We finally secured rooms, and of
course heard the opera that night. Young Martinelli was the Rhadames,
and I shall never forget how splendidly his voice rang out over those
vast spaces of the Arena. It was a most unusual experience to hear that
music sung in the open--'under the stars,' and it was unforgettable."


Giovanni Martinelli, who has been for several years one of the leading
tenors at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, has warmly entrenched
himself in the hearts of music lovers in America. To be a great singer,
as some one has said, requires, first, voice; second, voice; third,
voice. However, at the present hour a great singer must have more than
voice; we demand histrionic ability also. We want singing actors as well
as great singers.

Mr. Martinelli is the possessor of a beautiful voice and, moreover, is a
fine actor and an excellent musician. He was, first of all, a
clarinetist before he became a singer, and so well did he play his
chosen instrument that his services were in great demand in his home
town in Italy. Then it was discovered he had a voice and he was told he
could make a far greater success with that voice than he ever could
playing the clarinet. He set to work at once to cultivate the voice in
serious earnest and under good instruction. After a considerable time
devoted to study, he made his début in Milan, in Verdi's _Ernani_. His
success won an engagement at Covent Garden and for Monte Carlo.

A visit to the singer's New York home is a most interesting experience.
He has chosen apartments perched high above the great artery of the
city's life--Broadway. From the many sun-flooded windows magnificent
views of avenue, river and sky are visible, while at night the
electrical glamour that meets the eye is fairy-like. It is a sightly
spot and must remind the singer of his own sun lighted atmosphere at

The visitor was welcomed with simple courtesy by a kindly, unaffected
gentleman, who insists he cannot speak "your English," but who, in spite
of this assertion, succeeds in making himself excellently well
understood. One feels his is a mentality that will labor for an object
and will attain it through force of effort. There is determination in
the firm mouth, which smiles so pleasantly when speaking; the thoughtful
brow and serious eyes add their share to the forceful personality. The
Titian-tinted hair indicates, it is said, a birthplace in northern
Italy. This is quite true in the case of Mr. Martinelli, as he comes
from a village not far from Padua and but fifty miles from Venice--the
little town of Montagnana.


"You ask about my daily routine of study. In the morning I practice
exercises and vocalizes for one hour. These put the voice in good
condition, tune up the vocal chords and oil up the mechanism, so to
speak. After this I work on repertoire for another hour. I always
practice with full voice, as with half voice I would not derive the
benefit I need. At rehearsals I use half voice, but not when I study. In
the afternoon I work another hour, this time with my accompanist; for I
do not play the piano myself, only just enough to assist the voice with
a few chords. This régime gives me three hours' regular study, which
seems to me quite sufficient. The voice is not like the fingers of a
pianist, for they can be used without limit. If we would keep the voice
at its best, we must take care not to overwork it.


"In regard to the treatment of the voice, each singer must work out his
own salvation. A great teacher--one who understands his own voice and
can sing as well as teach--may tell how he does things, may explain how
he treats the voice, may demonstrate to the student his manner of
executing a certain phrase or passage, or of interpreting a song. But
when this is done he can do little more for the student, for each person
has a different mentality and a different quality of voice--indeed
there are as many qualities of voice as there are people. After general
principles are thoroughly understood, a singer must work them out
according to his own ability. This does not mean that he cannot be
guided and helped by the greater experience of a master higher up, who
can always criticize the _result_ of what the student is trying to do.
The voice is a hidden instrument, and eventually its fate must rest with
its possessor.


"When I take up a new part I read the book very carefully to get a
thorough idea of the story, the plot and the characters. Then comes the
study of my own part, of which I memorize the words first of all. As
soon as the words are committed I begin on the music. When these are
both well in hand, work with the accompanist follows.

"I have many tenor rôles in my repertoire and am working on others. If
you ask for my favorite opera, or operas, I would answer, as most
Italians would do, that I enjoy singing the music of Verdi more than
that of any composer. I love his _Aïda_ perhaps best of all. _Ernani_ is
a beautiful opera, but maybe would be thought too old-fashioned for New
York. I sing various rôles in French as well as Italian--_Faust, Sans
Gene_, and many more. In Italy we know Wagner very well--_Lohengrin,
Tannhauser, Tristan_ and _Meistersinger_,--but of course they are always
sung in Italian.


"The Metropolitan is one of the greatest opera houses in the world--but
it is only _one_. You have a wonderful country, yet most of its cities
must do without opera. Do not forget that in Italy every city and town
has its opera house and its season of opera, lasting ten weeks or more.
Of course the works are not elaborately produced, the singers may not be
so great or high-salaried, but the people are being educated to know and
love the best opera music. Performances are given Wednesdays and
Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays; the singers resting the days between.
They need to as they are obliged to sing at every performance.

"Ah, if you would follow some such plan in America! It would create a
great love for good music in the smaller cities and towns where people
hear so little, and so seldom this kind of music. You do so much for
music in every other style, but not for opera. Of course I must except
the half dozen cities large enough and rich enough to be favored with a
season of extended operatic performances; these are the real music
centers of your country.

"I will show you what we do for opera in Italy. Here is an Italian
musical journal, which I have just received." Mr. Martinelli took up a
single-sheet newspaper which lay upon his desk. "You will find all the
large cities and most of the small ones reported here. Accordingly,
accounts are given of what works are being performed, what artists are
singing and where, and how long each season will last. Thus we can
glance over the whole field and keep in touch with every singer.
Naturally, the time and length of the seasons of performance differ
widely in the different places. Thus a singer of reputation can make
engagements in various places, then go from one town to another in a
complete tour, without conflicting.

"I have had the pleasure of singing a number of seasons at the
Metropolitan. During the summer I do not always go back to Italy when
the season is over here; last year I sang in Buenos Aires. This keeps
me at work the whole year. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, and reminds
one of Milan. Yes, I like New York. It is more commercial, of course,
but I have grown accustomed to that side of it."

As the visitor was leaving, courteously conducted through the corridor
by Mr. Martinelli, a small chariot was encountered, crammed with dolls
and toys, the whole belonging to little Miss Martinelli, aged eleven

"Shall you make a singer of the little lady?" the artist was asked.

"Ah, no; one singer in a family is enough," was the quick response. "But
who can tell? It may so happen, after all."




Anna Case, known from one end of our land to the other, in song recital,
is surely one hundred per cent. American. She was born in the little
State of New Jersey, and received her entire vocal training right here
in New York City, of a single teacher. No running about from one
instructor to another, "getting points" from each, for this singer. She
knew from the first moment that she had found the right teacher, one who
understood her, what she wanted to do, and could bring her to the goal.

And when one has discovered just the right person to develop talent, one
should have the good sense and loyalty to stick to that person. This is
exactly what Miss Case has done, for along with other gifts she has the
best gift of all--common sense. "Mme. Ostrom-Renard has been my only
teacher," she says; "whatever I am or have accomplished I owe entirely
to her. She has done everything for me; I feel she is the most wonderful
teacher in the world."

[Illustration: ANNA CASE]

A life of constant travel and almost daily concerts and recitals, lies
before Miss Case from early in the Autumn to the end of Spring, with but
a few breathing places here and there, between the tours, when she
returns home to rest up.

During one of these oases it was a pleasant experience to meet and talk
with the charming young singer, in her cozy New York apartment. She had
just come in from a six weeks' trip, which had included concerts in
Texas and Mexico, where the usual success had attended her everywhere.

It must surely give a sense of relief to know that the quiet home is
awaiting one's return; that there are to be found one's favorite books,
music, piano, the silken divan, soft lights, pictures,--all the familiar
comforts one is deprived of on the road.

The visitor, coming in from the biting winds without, was impressed with
the comfort and warmth of the small salon, as the mistress of it
entered. Clad in soft draperies of dull blue, which but thinly veiled
the white arms and fell away from the rounded throat, Miss Case was just
as beautiful to look upon as when she stands in bewildering evening gown
before a rapt audience. And, what is much more to the point, she is a
thoroughly sensible, sincere American girl, with no frills and no
nonsense about her.

After greetings were over, the singer settled herself among the silken
cushions of her divan ready for our talk.

"I believe I always wanted to sing, rather than do anything else in the
way of music. I studied the piano a little at first, but that did not
exactly appeal to me. I also began the violin, because my father is fond
of that instrument and wanted me to play it. But the violin was not just
what I wanted either, for all the time I longed to sing. Singing is such
a part of one's very self; I wanted to express myself through it. I had
no idea, when I started, that I should ever make a specialty of it, or
that, in a comparatively few years I should be singing all over the
country. I did not know what was before me, I only wanted to learn to

"Now I cannot tell just how I do the different things one must do to
sing correctly. I know that, if I have to master some subject, I just
sit down and work at that thing till I can do it--till it is done. My
teacher knows every organ in the anatomy, and can describe the muscles,
bones and ligaments found in the head, face and throat. She can make a
diagram of the whole or any part. Not that such knowledge is going to
make a singer, but it may help in directing one's efforts."


"Can you describe tone placement?" she was asked.

"For the deeper tones--as one makes them--they seem to come from lower
down: for the middle and higher tones, you feel the vibrations in facial
muscles and about the eyes, always focused forward, just at the base of
the forehead, between the eyes. It is something very difficult to put
into words; the sensations have to be experienced, when making the
tones. The singer must judge so much from sensation, for she cannot very
well hear herself. I do not really hear myself; I mean by this I cannot
tell the full effect of what I am doing."


"No doubt you do much practice--or is that now necessary?"

Miss Case considered this thoughtfully.

"I never practice when I am tired, for then it does more harm than good.
It is much better for the voice to rest and not use it at all, than to
sing when not physically fit. One must be in good condition to make
good tones; they will not be clear and perfect if one is not strong and
in good health. I can really study, yet not sing at all. For the whole
work is mental anyway.


"When I work on the interpretation of a song, in the quiet of my music
room here, I try to sing it just as I would before an audience; I have
not two ways of doing it, one way for a small room and another for a
large one. If your tone placement is correct, and you are making the
right effects, they will carry equally in a large space. At least this
is my experience. But," she added, smiling, "you may find other artists
who would not agree to this, who would think quite differently. Each one
must see things her own way; and singing is such an individual thing
after all.


"The interpretation of a rôle, or song, is everything--of course. What
are mere notes and signs compared to the thoughts expressed through
them? Yet it is evident there are people who don't agree to this, for
one hears many singers who never seem to look deeper than the printed
page. They stand up and go through their songs, but the audiences
remain cold; they are not touched. The audiences are blamed for their
apathy or indifference, but how can they be warmed when the singer does
not kindle them into life?

"To me there is a wonderful bond of sympathy between the audience and
myself. I feel the people, in a sense, belong to me--are part of my
family. To them I pour out all my feelings--my whole soul. All the
sorrow of the sad songs, all the joy of the gay ones, they share with
me. In this spirit I come before them; they feel this, I am sure. It
awakens a response at once, and this always inspires me. I put myself in
a receptive mood; it has the desired effect; my interpretation becomes
inspired through their sympathy and my desire to give out to them.


"I feel the greatest thing about a song is the words. They inspired the
music, they were the cause of its being. I cannot imagine, when once
words have been joined to music, how other words can be put to the same
music, without destroying the whole idea. The words must be made plain
to the audience. Every syllable should be intelligible, and understood
by the listener. I feel diction is so absolutely essential. How can a
singer expect the audience will take an interest in what she is doing,
if they have no idea what it is all about? And this applies not only to
English songs but to those in French as well. In an audience there will
be many who understand French. Shall the singer imagine she can
pronounce a foreign tongue in any old way, and it will go--in these
days? No, she must be equally careful about all diction and see that it
is as nearly perfect as she can make it; that it is so correct that
anybody can understand every word. When she can do this, she has gone a
long way toward carrying her audience with her when she sings.

"When the diction is satisfactory, there is yet something much deeper;
it is the giving out of one's best thought, one's best self, which
must animate the song and carry it home to the listener. It touches
the heart, because it comes from one's very inmost being. I am a
creature of mood. I cannot sing unless I feel like it. I must be
inspired in order to give an interpretation that shall be worth


"In traveling over the country, I have found such wonderful musical
growth, and it seems to increase each year. Even in little places the
people show such appreciation for what is good. And I only give them
good music--the best songs, both classical and modern. Nothing but the
best would interest me. In my recent trip, down in Mexico and Oklahoma,
there are everywhere large halls, and people come from all the country
round to attend a concert. Men who look as though they had driven a
grocery wagon, or like occupation, sit and listen so attentively and
with such evident enjoyment. I am sure the circulation of the phonograph
records has much to do with America's present wonderful advancement in
musical understanding."

Just here a large cat slipped through the doorway; such a beautiful
creature, with long gray and white fur and big blue eyes.

"It is a real chinchilla, of high degree," said Miss Case, caressing her
pet. "I call her Fochette. I am so fond of all animals, especially dogs
and cats."

"You must know the country well, having been over it so much."

"Yes, but oh, the long distances! It often takes so many hours to go
from one place to another. I think there is a reason why foreign singers
are apt to be rather stout; they are not worn out by traveling great
distances, as cities are so much nearer together than over here!" And
Miss Case smiled in amusement. "But, in spite of all discomforts of
transportation and so on, the joy of bringing a message to a waiting
audience is worth all it costs. I often think, if one could just fly to
Chicago or Philadelphia, for instance, sing one's program and return
just as quickly, without all these hours of surface travel, how
delightful it would be! I had a wonderful experience in an airplane last
summer. Flying has the most salutary effect on the voice. After sailing
through the air for awhile, you feel as though you could sing anything
and everything, the exhilaration is so great. One takes in such a
quantity of pure air that the lungs feel perfectly clear and free. One
can learn a lesson about breathing from such an experience."

Before parting a final question was asked:

"What, in your opinion, are the vital requisites necessary to become a

Almost instantly came the reply:

"Brains, Personality, Voice."

With this cryptic answer we took leave of the fair artist.




English by birth, American by marriage, beloved in every country where
her art is known, Florence Easton, after ten years of activity in the
music centers of Europe, is now making her home in America. Mme. Easton
is a singer whose attitude towards music is one of deepest sincerity. No
one could witness her beautiful, sympathetic investiture of the Saint
Elizabeth, of Liszt, or some of her other important rôles, without being
impressed with this complete, earnest sincerity. It shines out of her
earnest eyes and frank smile, as she greets the visitor; it vibrates in
the tones of her voice as she speaks. What can even a whole hour's talk
reveal of the deep undercurrents of an artist's thought? Yet in sixty
minutes many helpful things may be said, and Mme. Easton, always serious
in every artistic thing she undertakes, will wish the educational side
of our talk to be uppermost.


"I have a deep sympathy for the American girl who honestly wishes to
cultivate her voice. Of course, in the first place, she must have a
voice to start with; there is no use trying to train something which
doesn't exist. Given the voice and a love for music, it is still
difficult to tell another how to begin. Each singer who has risen, who
has found herself, knows by what path she climbed, but the path she
found might not do for another.

"There are quantities of girls in America with good voices, good looks
and a love for music. And there are plenty of good vocal teachers, too,
not only in New York, but in other large cities of this great country.
There is always the problem, however, of securing just the right kind of
a teacher. For a teacher may be excellent for one voice but not for


[Illustration: FLORENCE EASTON]

"The American girl, trained in the studio, has little idea of what it
means to sing in a large hall or opera house. In the small room her
voice sounds very pretty, and she can make a number of nice effects; she
may also have a delicate pianissimo. These things are mostly lost when
she tries them in a large space. It is like beginning all over again.
She has never been taught any other way but the studio way. If young
singers could only have a chance to try their wings frequently in large
halls, it would be of the greatest benefit. If they could sing to a
public who only paid a nominal sum and did not expect great things; a
public who would come for the sake of the music they were to hear,
because they wanted the enjoyment and refreshment of it, not for the
sake of some singers with big names, they would judge the young aspirant
impersonally, which would be one of the best things for her.


"Frequently the trouble with the young singer is that her friends too
often tell her how wonderful she is. This is a hindrance instead of a
help. She should always have some one who will criticize her honestly.
The singer cannot really hear herself, that is, not until she is well
advanced in her work. Therefore she should always have the guidance of a
teacher. I never think of giving a program without going through it for
criticism. The office of critic is a very difficult one, especially if
you are to criticize some one you are fond of. Mr. Maclennan and I try
to do it for each other. I assure you it is no easy task to sing a
program knowing some one is listening who will not spare you, and will
tell you all your faults. I know this is all very salutary, but it is
human nature to wish to hear one's good points rather than the poor
ones. I sometimes say: 'Do tell me the good things I did.' But he says
he does not need to speak of those; I only need to know my faults in
order that they may be corrected.

"It is so easy to overdo a little, one way or the other. For instance,
you make a certain effect,--it goes well. You think you will make it a
little more pronounced next time. And so it goes on, until before you
know it you have acquired a definite habit, which the critics will call
a mannerism and advise you to get rid of. So the artist has to be
constantly on the watch, to guard against these incipient faults."


Asked what kind of breathing exercises she used, Mme. Easton continued:
"No doubt each one has her own exercises for the practice and teaching
of breath control. For myself, I stand at the open window, for one
should always breathe pure air, and I inhale and exhale slowly, a
number of times, till I feel my lungs are thoroughly clear and filled
with fresh air. Then I frequently sing tones directly after these long
inhalations. A one-octave scale, sung slowly in one breath, or at most
in two, is an excellent exercise. You remember Lilli Lehmann's talks
about the 'long scale'? But the way in which she uses it perhaps no one
but a Lehmann could imitate. What a wonderful woman she was--and is! She
has such a remarkable physique, and can endure any amount of effort and
fatigue. Every singer who hopes to make a success in any branch of the
musical profession, should look after the physical side, and see that it
is cared for and developed.


"If a girl is fond of music, let her first of all study the piano, for a
knowledge of the piano and its music is really at the bottom of
everything. If I have a word of advice to mothers, it should be: 'Let
your child study the piano.' All children should have this opportunity,
whether they greatly desire it or not. The child who early begins to
study the piano, will often--almost unconsciously--follow the melody
she plays with her voice. Thus the love of song is awakened in her, and
a little later it is discovered she has a voice that is worth
cultivating. How many of our great singers began their musical studies
first at the piano.

"On the other hand, the girl with a voice, who has never worked at the
piano, is greatly handicapped from the start, when she begins her vocal
studies. As she knows nothing of the piano, everything has to be played
for her,--she can never be independent of the accompanist; she loses
half the pleasure of knowing and doing things herself."


Asked if she used full or half voice for practice, Mme. Easton replied:

"I do not, as a rule, use full voice when at work. But this admission,
if followed, might prove injurious to the young singer. In the earlier
stages of study, one should use full voice, for half voice might result
in very faulty tone production. The advanced singer, who has passed the
experimental stage can do many things the novice may not attempt, and
this is one of them.


"Here again my particular method of work can hardly be of value to
others, as I memorize with great rapidity. It is no effort for me; I
seem to be able to visualize the whole part. Music has always been very
easy to remember and with sufficient concentration I can soon make the
words my own. I always concentrate deeply on what I am doing. Lately I
was asked to prepare a leading rôle in one of the season's new operas,
to replace a singer at short notice, should this be necessary. I did so
and accomplished the task in four days. Mr. Caruso laughingly remarked I
must have a camera in my head. I know my own parts, both voice and
accompaniment. In learning a song, I commit both voice and words at the
same time.


"I feel the meaning of the music, the tragedy or comedy, the sadness or
gayety of it each time I perform it, but not, as a rule, to the extent
of being entirely worn out with emotion. It depends, however, on the
occasion. If you are singing in a foreign language, which the audience
does not understand, you make every effort to 'put it over,' to make
them see what you are trying to tell them. You strive to make the song
intelligible in some way. You may add facial expression and gesture,
more than you would otherwise do. All this is more wearing because of
the effort involved.


"This brings us to another point, the study of languages. The Italian
sings nearly all his rôles in his own tongue, with a few learned in
French. With the Frenchman, it is the same: he sings in his own tongue
and learns some parts in Italian. But we poor Americans are forced to
learn our parts in all three languages. This, of itself, greatly adds to
our difficulties. We complain that the American sings his own language
so carelessly. An Italian, singing his own language for his own people,
may not be any more careful than we are, but he will make English, if he
attempts it, more intelligible than we do, because he takes extra care
to do so. The duty is laid upon Americans to study other languages, if
they expect to sing. I know how often this study is neglected by the
student. It is another phase of that haste to make one's way which is
characteristic of the young student and singer.

"Take, for example, the girl in the small town, who is trying to do
something with her voice. She believes if she can get to New York, or
some other music center, and have six months' lessons with some well
known teacher, she will emerge a singer. She comes and finds living
expenses so great that only one lesson a week with the professor is
possible. There is no chance for language or diction study, or piano
lessons; yet all these she ought to have. And one vocal lesson a week is
entirely inadequate. The old way of having daily lessons was far more
successful. The present way vocal teachers give lessons is not conducive
to the best development. The pupils come in a hurry, one after another,
to get their fifteen or twenty minutes of instruction. Yet one cannot
blame the teacher for he must live.


"The ideal way is to have several lessons a week, and not to take them
in such haste. If the pupil arrives, and finds, on first essay, that her
voice is not in the best of trim, how much better to be able to wait a
bit, and try again; it might then be all right. But, as I said, under
modern conditions, this course seems not to be possible, for the teacher
must live. If only vocal lessons could be free, at least to the
talented ones! It seems sad that a gifted girl must pay to learn to
sing, when it is a very part of her, as much as the song of the bird.
Ah, if I had plenty of money, I would see that many of them should have
this privilege, without always looking at the money end of it.


"It seems to me the young singer should not practice more than two
periods of fifteen or twenty minutes each. At most one should not use
the voice more than an hour a day. We hear of people practicing hours
and hours daily, but that is probably in books. The voice cannot be
treated as the pianist or violinist does his fingers. One must handle
the voice with much more care.


"The chances for the American singer to make a career in concert and
recital are abundant. In no other country in the world do such
opportunities exist. If she can meet the requirements, she can win both
fame and fortune on the concert stage.

"In opera, on the other hand, opportunities are few and the outlook
anything but hopeful. Every young singer casts longing eyes at the
Metropolitan, or Chicago Opera, as the goal of all ambition. But that is
the most hopeless notion of all. No matter how beautiful the voice, it
is drill, routine, experience one needs. Without these, plus musical
reputation, how is one to succeed in one of the two opera houses of the
land? And even if one is accepted 'for small parts,' what hope is there
of rising, when some of the greatest artists of the world hold the
leading rôles? What the American singer needs is opportunity to gain
experience and reputation in smaller places. Several years' drill and
routine would fit the aspirant for a much broader field. This would give
her command over her resources and herself, and perfect her voice and
impersonations, if she has the gifts and constantly studies to improve
them. Even England, so small compared to America, has seven opera
companies that travel up and down the land, giving opera; they have done
this during all the years of the war.

"This question of providing opportunity for operatic experience in
America, is one which has long been discussed and many experiments have
been tried, without arriving at satisfactory results. What is needed is
to awaken interest in opera in small places--just little out-of-the-way
towns. My idea would be to have a regular stock local opera company, and
have the standard operas studied. Have a little orchestra of about
twenty and a small chorus. The small parts to be learned by the most
competent singers in the place. Then have the few principal rôles taken
by 'guest artists,' who might make these engagements in regular route
and succession. It seems to me such a plan could be carried out, and
what a joy it would be to any small community! But people must gradually
awake to this need: it will take time."




A great podium backed with green, reminding one of a forest of palms;
dim lights through the vast auditorium; a majestic, black-robed figure
standing alone among the palms, pouring out her voice in song; a voice
at once vibrant, appealing, powerful, filled now with sweeping passion,
again with melting tenderness; such was the stage setting for my first
impression of Mme. Marguerite d'Alvarez, and such were some of the
emotions she conveyed.

Soon after this experience, I asked if I might have a personal talk with
the artist whose singing had made such a deep impression upon me. It was
most graciously granted, and at the appointed hour I found myself in a
charmingly appointed yet very home-like salon, chatting with this
Spanish lady from Peru, who speaks such beautiful English and is
courtesy itself.

This time it was not a somber, black-robed figure who came forward so
graciously to greet me, for above a black satin walking skirt, Madame
had added a blouse of soft creamy lace, which revealed the rounded
curves of neck and arms; the only ornament being a string of pearls
about the full throat. Later in our talk I ventured to express my
preference for creamy draperies instead of black, for the concert room;
but the singer thought otherwise. "No," she said; "my gown must be
absolutely unobtrusive--negative. I must not use it to heighten effect,
or to attract the audience to me personally. People must be drawn to me
by what I express, by my art, by what I have to give them."

But to begin at the beginning. In answer to my first question, "What
must one do to become a singer?" Madame said:


"To become a singer, one must have a voice; that is of the first
importance. In handling and training that voice, breathing is perhaps
the most vital thing to be considered. To some breath control seems to
be second nature; others must toil for it. With me it is intuition; it
has always been natural. Breathing is such an individual thing. With
each person it is different, for no two people breathe in just the same
way, whether natural or acquired. Just as one pianist touches the keys
of the instrument in his own peculiar way, unlike the ways of all other
pianists. For instance, no two singers will deliver the opening phrase
of 'My heart at thy sweet voice,' from _Samson_, in exactly the same
way. One will expend a little more breath on some tones than on others;
one may sing it softer, another louder. Indeed how can two people ever
give out a phrase in the same way, when they each feel it differently?
The great thing is to control the management of the breath through
intelligent study. But alas,"--with a pretty little deprecating
gesture,--"many singers do not seem to use their intelligence in the
right way. They need to study so many things besides vocalizes and a few
songs. They ought to broaden themselves in every way. They should know
books, pictures, sculpture, acting, architecture,--in short everything
possible in the line of art, and of life. For all these things will help
them to sing more intelligently. They should cultivate all these means
of self-expression. For myself, I have had a liberal education in
music--piano, harmony, theory, composition and kindred subjects. And
then I love and study art in all its forms and manifestations."

"Your first recital in New York was a rich and varied feast," I

"Indeed I feel I gave the audience too much; there was such a weight of
meaning to each song, and so many! I cannot sing indifferent or
superficial songs. I must sing those which mean much, either of sadness
or mirth, passion or exaltation. No one knows (who has not been through
it) what it means to face a great audience of strangers, knowing that
something in you must awake those people and draw them toward you: you
must bare your very soul to them and bring theirs to you, in answering
response, just by your voice. It is a wonderful thing, to bring to
masses of people a message in this way. I feel this strongly, whenever I
stand before a large audience, that with every note I sing I am
delivering something of the God-given gift which has been granted to
me--that I can do some good to each one who hears. If they do not care
for me, or if they misunderstand my message, they may hate me--at first.
When they do understand, then they adore me.


"You can well believe it is far more difficult to sing a recital program
than to do an operatic rôle. In the recital you are absolutely alone,
and entirely responsible for your effect on the audience. You must be
able to express every variety of emotion and feeling, must make them
realize the difference between sorrow and happiness, revenge or disdain;
in short, make them, for the moment, experience these things. The artist
who can best vivify these varying emotions must have temperament. On the
piano, you may hear players who express sentiment, feeling, fine
discrimination in tone color and shading; but comparatively few possess
real temperament. There is great difference between that quality and
sentiment. The one can be learned, to a certain extent; but temperament
is one's very life and soul, and is bound to sweep everything before it.
Of this one thing I am very sure; the singer cannot express all these
emotions without feeling them to the full during performance. I always
feel every phrase I sing--live it. That is why, after a long and
exhausting program, I am perfectly limp and spent. For I have given all
that was in me. Friends of Sara Bernhardt say that after a performance,
they would find her stretched prone on a couch in her dressing room,
scarcely able to move or speak. The strain of a public appearance, when
one gives one's heart's blood, is beyond words"; and Madame's upturned
face and expressive gesture denoted how keenly alive she was to this

After a little pause, I said: "Let us come down to earth, while you tell
me just how you study. No doubt you do some daily technical practice."


"Oh, yes, technic is most important; one can do nothing without it. When
I begin to study in the morning, I give the voice what I call a massage.
One's voice cannot be driven, it must be coaxed, enticed. This massage
consists of humming exercises, with closed lips. Humming is the sunshine
of the voice." The singer illustrated the idea with a short musical
figure, consisting of three consecutive tones of the diatonic scale,
ascending and descending several times; on each repetition the phrase
began on the next higher note of the scale. "You see," she continued,
"this little exercise brings the tone fully forward. As you feel the
vibration, it should be directly between the eyes.

"Now, after you have coaxed the voice forward in this way, and then
opened your lips to sing a full tone, this tone should, indeed must, be
right in the same place where the humming tones were,--it cannot be
anywhere else." Madame illustrated again, first humming on one tone,
then letting it out with full resonance, using the vowel Ah, which
melted into O, and later changed into U, as the tone died away. "This
vibration in the voice should not be confounded with a tremolo, which
is, of course, very undesirable. A voice without vibrato, would be cold
and dead, expressionless. There must be this pulsing quality in the
tone, which carries waves of feeling on it.

"Thus the singer entices the voice to come forward and out, never
treating it roughly or harshly, never forcing or straining it. Take
pleasure in every tone you make; with patience and pleasure much is
accomplished. I could not give you a more useful tip than this."

"Will you tell me how you learn a song?" she was asked.

"I first read over the text and get a good idea of its meaning. When I
begin to study the song, I never separate the music from the words, but
learn both together. I play the piano of course, and thus can get a good
idea of the accompaniment, and of the whole _ensemble_.

"I feel so strongly that real art, the highest art, is for those who
truly understand it and its mission. A dream of mine is one day to found
a school of true art. Everything in this school shall be on a high plane
of thought. The instructors shall be gifted themselves and have only
lofty ideals. And it will be such a happiness to watch the development
of talent which may blossom into genius through having the right
nurture. I shall watch this work from a distance, for I might be too
anxious if I allowed myself to be in the midst of the work. But this is
my dream, and I hope it will one day come true."




It is often remarked that the world has grown far away from coloratura
singing; that what we want to-day is the singing actor, the dramatic
singer, who can portray passion--tear it to tatters if need be--but at
least throw into voice gesture and action all the conflicting emotions
which arise when depicting a modern dramatic character. It is said, with
much truth, composers do not write coloratura parts in these days, since
audiences do not care to listen to singers who stand in the middle of
the stage, merely to sing beautiful arias and tonal embroideries.
Therefore there are very few coloratura singers at present, since their
opportunities are so limited.

To the last objection it can be answered that audiences do still flock
to hear a great coloratura artist, for they know they will hear pure,
beautiful melodies when they listen to the old Italian operas. And
melody proves to be a magnet every time; it always touches the heart.

Again, the coloratura singer is not obliged to stand in the middle of
the stage, while she warbles beautiful tones, with seemingly little
regard for the rôle she is enacting. The coloratura singer, who is an
artist, can act as well as sing. Tetrazzini, as she moves about the
room, greeting her guests, as she does in _Traviata_ or _Lucia_, can at
the same time keep right on with her florid song, proving she can think
of both arts at once.

It is quite true there are not many coloratura singers of the first rank
to-day. When you have mentioned Galli-Curci, Tetrazzini, Barrientos, and
Frieda Hempel--the last is both lyric and coloratura--you have named all
the great ones who are known to us here in America. There are a couple
of younger artists, Garrison and Macbeth, who are rapidly gaining the
experience which will one day place them in the charmed circle.

[Illustration: MARIA BARRIENTOS]

Consider for an instant the three first named singers. They stand at the
very top of their profession; they are each and all great in their
chosen line, to which they are fitted by reason of their special vocal
gifts. Yet how absolutely different is each from the other! They cannot
even be compared. They all sing the great florid arias, but each with
her own peculiar timbre of voice, her individual nuance and manner of
expression. And it is well this should be so. We would not have all
coloratura singing of the same pattern of sameness or quality, for we
find uniformity is monotonous. There is one peculiar mode of mastery for
Galli-Curci, another for Tetrazzini, still another for Barrientos; each
in her particular _genre_ is unique, apart.

Perhaps this is especially the case with the Spanish prima donna,
Barrientos, who has for several years past come to the Metropolitan for
part of the season. She lives very quietly--almost in seclusion--in the
great city, keeping very much to herself, with her mother and the
members of her household, and does not care to have the simple routine
she plans for herself interrupted by any outside demands on her crowded

Thus it happens that very few come face to face with the Spanish artist
except her personal friends. But once in a while she breaks the strict
rule, and will consent to speak with a serious questioner about her
manner of study, how she happened to take up a musical career, also some
of the characteristics of her country, its people and its musical art.

As her own art of song is most delicate and pure, as her instrument is
the most fragile and ethereal of any of the voices of her class, so the
singer herself is of slight and delicate physique. Her oval face, with
its large luminous eyes, has a charm more pronounced than when seen on
the other side of the footlights. Her manner is simple and sincere, in
common with that of all great artists.

"Although I always loved singing, I never expected to become a singer,"
began Mme. Barrientos, as we were seated on a comfortable divan in her
artistic music room. "As a very young girl, hardly more than a child, my
health became delicate. I had been working very hard at the Royal
Conservatory of Music, in Barcelona, my native city, studying piano,
violin and theory, also composition. I was always a delicate child, and
the close application required for these studies was too much for me.
Singing was prescribed in order to develop my chest and physique; I took
it up as a means of health and personal pleasure, without the slightest
idea to what it might lead.

"You speak of the responsibility of choosing a good and reliable vocal
instructor. This is indeed a difficult task, because each teacher is
fully persuaded that his method is the only correct one. But there are
so _many teachers_, and some of them do not even sing themselves at
all. Can you imagine a vocal teacher who cannot sing himself, who is so
to say voiceless, unable to demonstrate what he teaches? A piano or
violin teacher must play his instrument, or he will not be able to show
the pupils how it ought to be done. But the vocal teacher thinks to
instruct without demonstrating what he is trying to impart.


"So I did not begin my studies with a regular vocal teacher, but with a
dilettante--I do not know just how you say that in English. This
gentleman was not a professional; he was a business man who at the same
time was a good musician. Instead of starting me with a lot of scales
and exercises, we began at once with the operas. I was twelve years old
when I began, and after one year of this kind of study, made my début in
the rôle of Inez, in _L'Africaine_. About this time I lost my kind
instructor, who passed away. I then worked by myself until I was
sixteen, when I began to study technic systematically. As you see, then,
I am practically self-taught. It seems to me, if one has voice and
intelligence, one can and should be one's own teacher. No one else can
do as much for you as you can do for yourself. You can tell what the
sensations are, what parts are relaxed and what parts are firm, better
than any one else. You can listen and work on tone quality until it
reaches the effect you desire. I do not neglect vocal technic now, for I
know its value. I do about three quarters of an hour technical practice
every day--scales and exercises.


"I memorize very easily; it only takes a few weeks to learn an operatic
rôle. I spent three weeks on _Coq d'Or_, and that is a difficult part,
so many half tones and accidentals. But I love that music, it is so
beautiful; it is one of my favorite rôles. Some parts are longer and
more difficult than others. Of course I know most of the Italian operas
and many French ones. I should like to sing _Mireille_ and _Lakmé_ here,
but the Director may wish to put on other works instead.


"Yes, we have native opera in Spain, but the works of our operatic
composers are little known in other lands. The Spanish people are
clannish, you see, and seem to lack the ambition to travel abroad to
make their art known to others; they are satisfied to make it known to
their own people. Casals and I--we are perhaps the ones who regularly
visit you, though you have several Spanish singers in the opera who
reside here permanently.

"As for Spanish composers of instrumental music, you are here somewhat
familiar with the names of Grovelez and Albeniz; Granados you know also,
both his opera, _Goyescas_, which was performed at the Metropolitan, and
his personality. He came to America to witness the premier of his opera,
and while here proved he was a most excellent pianist as well as a
composer of high merit, which fact was revealed in his piano and vocal
compositions. The American people were most kind and appreciative to
him. When the disaster came and he was lost at sea, the testimonial they
sent his orphaned children was a goodly sum, though I hardly think the
children appreciated your goodness.

"Among the composers in Spain who have turned their gifts toward
operatic channels I can mention Pedrell, Morea, Falla, Vives and Breton.
Vives is now writing an opera for me, entitled _Abanico_. Gradually, no
doubt, the music of our country, especially its opera, will find its
way to other lands. Even in England, I am told, Spanish music is very
little known; our many distinguished modern musicians are hardly even
names. Of course the world knows our Toreador songs, our castanet
dances, and the like; perhaps they think we have little or no serious
music, because it is still unknown. Spanish music is peculiar to the
country; it is permeated with the national spirit and feeling."

Asked if she would sing in South America during the vacation, the singer

"I have sung there with great success. But I shall not be able to go
there this summer. My little boy has been placed in a school in France;
it is the first time we have been separated, and it has been very hard
for me to have the ocean between us. I shall sing at Atlanta, the first
week of May, and then sail the middle of the month for France. Yes,
indeed, I hope to return to America next season.

"I trust you have been able to understand my poor English," she said
smiling, as she parted with her visitor; "we speak several languages
here in my home--Spanish with my mother and friends, French and Italian
with others in the household. But there seems little necessity for using
English, even though I am living in the heart of the metropolis.
Perhaps next year, I shall master your language better."

And the picture of her, as she stood in her artistic, home-like salon,
with its lights, its pictures and flowers, is even more lasting than any
to be remembered on the operatic stage.




[Illustration: CLAUDIA MUZIO]

In tales of romance one reads sometimes of a gifted girl who lives in a
musical atmosphere all her life, imbibing artistic influences as
naturally and almost as unconsciously as the air she breathes. At the
right moment, she suddenly comes out into the light and blossoms into a
full fledged singer, to the surprise and wonder of all her friends. Or
she is brought up behind the scenes in some great Opera House of the
world, where, all unnoticed by her elders, she lives in a dream world of
her own, peopled by the various characters in the operas to which she
daily listens. She watches the stage so closely and constantly that she
unconsciously commits the rôles of the heroines she most admires, to
memory. She knows what they sing, how they act the various parts, how
they impersonate the characters. Again, at the right moment, the leading
prima donna is indisposed, there is no one to take her place; manager
is in despair, when the slip of a girl, who is known to have a voice,
but has never sung in opera, offers to go on in place of the absent one.
She is finally permitted to do so; result, a popular success.

Some pages of Claudia Muzio's musical story read like the romantic
experiences of a novel-heroine. She, too, was brought up in great opera
houses, and it seemed natural, that in due course of time, she should
come into her own, in the greatest lyric theater of the land of her

When she returned to America, a couple of years ago, after gaining
experience in Europe, she arrived toward the end of the season preceding
her scheduled début here, to prepare herself more fully for the coming
appearance awaiting her.

I was asked to meet and talk with the young singer, to ascertain her
manner of study, and some of her ideas regarding the work which lay
before her.

       *       *       *       *       *

"It was always my dream to sing at the Metropolitan, and my dream has
come true."

Claudia Muzio said the words with her brilliant smile, as her great soft
dark eyes gazed luminously at the visitor.

The day was cold and dreary without, but the singer's apartment was of
tropical warmth. A great bowl of violets on the piano exhaled delicious
fragrance; the young Italian in the bloom of her oriental beauty, seemed
like some luxuriant tropical blossom herself.

Claudia Muzio, who was just about to take her place among the personnel
of the Metropolitan, is truly to the manner born,--a real child of the
opera. She has lived in opera all her life, has imbibed the operatic
atmosphere from her earliest remembrance. It must be as necessary for a
singer who aspires to fill a high place in this field of artistic
endeavor, to live amid congenial surroundings, as for a pianist,
violinist or composer to be environed by musical influences.

"Yes, I am an Italian," she began, "for I was born in Italy; but when I
was two years old I was taken to London, and my childhood was passed in
that great city. My father was stage manager at Covent Garden, and has
also held the same post at the Manhattan and Metropolitan Opera Houses
in New York. So I have grown up in the theater. I have always listened
to opera--daily, and my childish imagination was fired by seeing the art
of the great singers. I always hoped I should one day become a singer,
so I always watched the artists in action, noting how they did
everything. As a result, I do not now have to study acting as a separate
branch of the work, for acting comes to me naturally. I am very
temperamental; I feel intuitively how the rôle should be enacted.

"All tiny children learn to sing little songs, and I was no exception. I
acquired quite a number, and at the age of six, exhibited my
accomplishments at a little recital. But I never had singing lessons
until I began to study seriously at about the age of sixteen. Although I
did not study the voice till I reached that age, I was always occupied
with music, for I learned as a little girl to play both harp and piano.

"We lived in London, of which city I am very fond, from the time I was
two, till I was fourteen, then we came to America. After residing here a
couple of years, it was decided I should make a career, and we went to
Italy. I was taken to Madame Anna Casaloni at Turino. She was quite
elderly at that time, but she had been a great singer. When she tried my
voice, she told me it was quite properly placed--so I had none of that
drudgery to go through.

"At first my voice was a very light soprano, hardly yet a coloratura. It
became so a little later, however, and then gradually developed into a
dramatic soprano. I am very happy about this fact, for I love to portray
tears as well as laughter--sorrow and tragedy as well as lightness and
gayety. The coloratura manner of singing is all delicacy and lightness,
and one cannot express deep emotion in this way.

"We subsequently went to Milano, where I studied with Madame Viviani, a
soprano who had enjoyed great success on the operatic stage.

"After several years of serious study I was ready to begin my career. So
I sang in Milan and other Italian cities, then at Covent Garden, and now
I am in the Metropolitan. In Italy I created the rôle of Fiora in _Amore
del tre Re_, and sang with Ferrari-Fontana. I also created Francesca in
_Francesca da Rimini_, under its composer, Zandonai. I have a repertoire
of about thirty operas, and am of course adding to it constantly, as one
must know many more than thirty rôles. Since coming to New York, I have
learned _Aïda_, which I did not know before, and have already appeared
in it. It was learned thoroughly in eight days. Now I am at work on
_Madame Butterfly_.


"I work regularly every morning on vocal technic. Not necessarily a
whole hour at a stretch, as some do; but as much time as I feel I need.
I give practically my whole day to study, so that I can make frequent
short pauses in technical practice. If technic is studied with complete
concentration and vigor, as it always should be, it is much more
fatiguing than singing an opera rôle.

"You ask about the special forms of exercises I use. I sing all the
scales, one octave each--once slow and once fast--all in one breath.
Then I sing triplets on each tone, as many as I can in one breath. I can
sing about fifteen now, but I shall doubtless increase the number. For
all these I use full power of tone. Another form of exercise is to take
one tone softly, then go to the octave above, which tone is also sung
softly, but there is a large crescendo made between the two soft tones.
My compass is three octaves--from C below middle C, to two octaves above
that point. I also have C sharp, but I do not practice it, for I know I
can reach it if I need it, and I save my voice. Neither do I work on the
final tones of the lowest octave, for the same reason--to preserve the


"Every singer knows how important is the management of the breath. I
always hold the chest up, taking as long breaths as I can conveniently
do. The power to hold the breath, and sing more and more tones with one
breath, grows with careful, intelligent practice. There are no rules
about the number of phrases you can sing with a single breath. A teacher
will tell you; if you can sing two phrases with one breath, do so; if
not, take breath between. It all rests with the singer.


"I learn words and music of a rôle at the same time, for one helps the
other. When I have mastered a rôle, I know it absolutely, words, music
and accompaniment. I can always play my accompaniments, for I understand
the piano. I am always at work on repertoire, even at night. I don't
seem to need very much sleep, I think, and I often memorize during the
night; that is such a good time to work, for all is so quiet and still.
I lie awake thinking of the music, and in this way I learn it. Or,
perhaps it learns itself. For when I retire the music is not yet
mastered, not yet my own, but when morning comes I really know it.

"Of course I must know the words with great exactness, especially in
songs. I shall do English songs in my coming song recital work, and the
words and diction must be perfect, or people will criticize my English.
I always write out the words of my rôles, so as to be sure I understand
them and have them correctly memorized.


"Most singers, I believe, need a couple of days--sometimes longer--in
which to review a rôle. I never use the notes or score when going over a
part in which I have appeared, for I know them absolutely, so there is
no occasion to use the notes. Other singers appear frequently at
rehearsal with their books, but I never take mine. My intimate knowledge
of score, when I assisted my father in taking charge of operatic scores,
is always a great help to me. I used to take charge of all the scores
for him, and knew all the cuts, changes and just how they were to be
used. The singers themselves often came to me for stage directions about
their parts, knowing I had this experience.

"Yes, as you suggest, I could sing here in winter, then in South America
in summer." (Miss Muzio accomplished this recently, with distinguished
success and had many thrilling adventures incident to travel.) "This
would mean I would have no summer at all, for that season with them is
colder than we have it here. No, I want my summer for rest and study.
During the season at the Metropolitan I give up everything for my art. I
refuse all society and the many invitations I receive to be guest of
honor here and there. I remain quietly at home, steadfastly at work. My
art means everything to me, and I must keep myself in the best condition
possible, to be ready when the call comes to sing. One cannot do both,
you know; art and society do not mix well. I have never disappointed an
audience; it would be a great calamity to be obliged to do so."





The story of Edward Johnson's musical development should prove an
incentive, nay more, a beacon light along the path of consistent
progress toward the goal of vocal and operatic achievement. Indeed as a
tiny child he must have had the desire to become a singer. A friend
speaks of musical proclivities which began to show themselves at an
early age, and describes visits of the child to their home, where, in a
little Lord Fauntleroy suit, he would stand up before them all and sing
a whole recital of little songs, to the delight of all his relatives.
The singer's progress, from the musical child on and up to that of an
operatic artist, has been rational and healthy, with nothing hectic or
overwrought about it; a constant, gradual ascent of the mountain. And
while an enviable vantage ground has been reached, such an artist must
feel there are yet other heights to conquer. For even excellence,
already achieved, requires constant effort to be held at high water
mark. And the desire for greater perfection, which every true artist
must feel, is a never-ending urge to continued struggle.

In a recent conversation with the tenor, Mr. Johnson spoke of early
days, when he desired above everything else to become a musician and
follow a musical career, though his family expected him to enter the
business world. He came to New York to look the ground over, hoping
there might be opportunity to continue his studies and make his way at
the same time. He was fortunate enough to secure a church position, and
sang subsequently in some of the best New York and Brooklyn churches.
After this period he did much concert work, touring through the Middle
West with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and singing in many Music
Festivals throughout the country.

[Illustration: Edward Johnson]

But church and concert singing did not entirely satisfy; he longed to
try his hand at opera,--in short to make an operatic career. He was well
aware that he would not find this field nor gain the necessary
experience in America; he must go to Italy, the land of song, to gain
the required training and experience. He was also fully aware of the
fact that there was plenty of hard work, and probably many
disappointments before him, but he did not shrink from either.

"Fortunately, I have a fund of humor," he said, and there was a twinkle
in his eye as he spoke. "It is a saving grace, as you say; without it I
believe I should have many times given up in sheer despair."

Mr. Johnson went to Italy in 1909, beginning at once his studies with
Lombardi, in Florence. In the ten years of his absence from his home
land he has built up a reputation and made a career in the great
operatic centers of Italy, Spain and South America. After his début in
Padua, he became leading tenor at La Scala, Milan, for five consecutive
seasons. In Rome he spent four seasons at the Costanzi Theater, in the
meantime making two visits to the Colon Theater, Buenos Aires, and
filling engagements in Madrid, Bologna, Florence and Genoa.

"How could I stay away from America for such a length of time? you ask.
For various reasons. I was getting what I had come to Italy for,
experience and reputation. I was comfortable and happy in my work. I
loved the beautiful country, and the life suited me. The people were
kind. I had my own home in Florence, which is still there and to which I
can return when my season is over here. Best of all I had the
opportunity of creating all the new tenor rôles in the recent operas of
Puccini, Montemezzi, Pizzetti and Gratico. I also created the rôle of
_Parsifal_ in Italian, and the first season at La Scala, it was
performed twenty-seven times."

"With your permission let us go a little into detail in regard to the
needs of the young singer and his method of study, so that he may
acquire vocal mastery. What do you consider the most important and
necessary subject for the young singer, or any one who wishes to enter
the profession, to consider?"

"A musical education," was the prompt, unhesitating reply. "So many
think if they have a good natural voice and take singing lessons, that
is quite sufficient; they will soon become singers. But a singer should
also be a musician. He should learn the piano by all means and have some
knowledge of theory and harmony. These subjects will be of the greatest
benefit in developing his musicianship; indeed he cannot well get on
without them. A beautiful voice with little musical education, is not of
as much value to its possessor as one not so beautiful, which has been
well trained and is coupled with solid musical attainments.


"If one goes in for a musical career, one should realize at the start,
something of what it means, what is involved, and what must go with it.
Singing itself is only a part, perhaps even the smaller part, of one's
equipment. If opera be the goal, there are languages, acting, make up,
impersonation, interpretation, how to walk, how to carry oneself, all to
be added to the piano and harmony we have already spoken of. The art of
the singer is a profession--yes, and a business too. You prepare
yourself to fill a public demand; you must prove yourself worthy, you
must come up to the standard, or there will not be a demand for what you
have to offer. And it is right this should be so. We should be willing
to look the situation fairly in the eye, divesting it of all those rose
colored dreams and fancies; then we should get right down to work.


"If you get right down to the bottom, there are in reality not so many
singing rules to learn. You sing on the five vowels, and when you can
do them loudly, softly, and with mezzo voce, you have a foundation upon
which to build vocal mastery. And yet some people study eight, ten years
without really laying the foundation. Why should it take the singer such
a long time to master the material of his equipment? A lawyer or doctor,
after leaving college, devotes three or four years only to preparing
himself for his profession, receives his diploma, then sets up in
business. It ought not to be so much more difficult to learn to sing
than to learn these other professions.


"Of course the ear is the most important factor, our greatest ally. It
helps us imitate. Imitation forms a large part of our study. We hear a
beautiful tone; we try to imitate it; we try in various ways, with
various placements, until we succeed in producing the sound we have been
seeking. Then we endeavor to remember the sensations experienced in
order that we may repeat the tone at will. So you see Listening,
Imitation and Memory are very important factors in the student's


"I have just spoken of a beautiful tone. The old Italian operas
cultivate the _bel canto_, that is--beautiful singing. Of course it is
well for the singer to cultivate this first of all, for it is excellent,
and necessary for the voice. But modern Italian opera portrays the real
men and women of to-day, who live, enjoy, suffer, are angry and
repentant. _Bel canto_ will not express these emotions. When a man is
jealous or in a rage, he will not stand quietly in the middle of the
stage and sing beautiful tones. He does not think of beautiful tones at
all. Hatred and jealousy should be expressed in the voice as well as in
action and gesture; they are far from lovely in themselves, and to be
natural and true to life, they will not make lovely tones in the voice.
We want singing actors to-day, men and women who can adequately portray
the characters they impersonate through both voice and action.


"In taking up a new part I vocalize the theme first, to get an idea of
the music; then I learn the words. After this I work with the
accompanist who comes to me every morning. Of course, besides this, I do
daily vocalizes and vocal exercises; one must always keep up one's
vocal technic.

"But learning words and music is only a part of the work to be done on a
rôle. It must then be interpreted; more than this it must be visualized.
This part of the work rests largely with the singer, and gives
opportunity for his individuality to assert itself. Of course the
general idea of the characterization is given us, the make-up, posturing
and so on. To work out these ideas, to make the part our own, to feel at
home in it, so that it shall not seem like acting, but appear perfectly
natural--all this takes a great deal of thought, time and study. It is
all a mental process, as every one knows; we must project our thought
out to the audience, we must 'get it over,' or it will never strike


On the subject of individuality in interpretation, Mr. Johnson was
convincing. "I feel that if I have worked out a characterization, I must
stick to my idea, in spite of what others say. It is my own conception,
and I must either stand or fall by it. At times I have tried to follow
the suggestions of this or that critic and have changed my
interpretation to suit their taste. But it always rendered me self
conscious, made my work unnatural and caused me speedily to return to my
own conception.


"The singer finds the stage a great teacher. Before the footlights he
has constant opportunity to try out this or that effect, to note which
placement of the voice best fits the tones he wishes to produce. Then,
too, he soon learns to feel whether he has made the impression he had
hoped, whether he has the audience with him. If he cannot win the
audience, he takes careful thought to see why. In order to win his
hearers, to get his work across the footlights, there are certain things
he must have, virtues he must possess. For instance,"--and the artist
counted them off on his finger tips,--"he must have Accent, Diction,
Characterization, and above all, Sincerity. No matter what other good
qualities he may possess, he must be sincere before anything else. If he
lack this the audience soon finds it out. There's nothing that wins its
way like the grace of sincerity. You see I give prominent place to
accent and diction. Whatever fault the critics found with me, they have
always conceded to me both these virtues.

"But time passes and soon the work of the night will begin. I trust that
our informal conference may contain a few points of personal experience
which may be helpful to those who are striving to enter the field of
opera." And with his pleasant smile and genial greeting, Mr. Johnson
closed the conference.




At the close of a recital by Reinald Werrenrath, the listener feels he
has something to carry away, a tangible impression, a real message. What
is the impression--can it be defined? Perhaps it is more the complete
effect as a whole that makes the deepest impression. The voice is always
agreeable, the diction so clear and distinct that every syllable can be
followed from the topmost corner of Carnegie Hall, so there is no need
to print a program book for this singer. Different qualities of voice
render the picture or mood more vivid, and all is accomplished with
perfect ease, in itself a charm. People settle in their seats as if
certain that a song recital by Werrenrath is sure to bring enjoyment and

And Mr. Werrenrath has proven, through season after season of concert
giving in America, that he is filling his own special niche in the
scheme of the country's musical life; that he has his own message of
the beautiful--the natural--in vocal art to deliver to the people all
over the land, and he is accomplishing this with ever increasing ability
and success.

To go through a season filled with concert tours, such as a popular
singer has laid out for him, means so many weeks and months of strenuous
toil and travel. There may be a few brief hours or days here and there,
when he can be at home among family and friends; but soon he is off
again--"on the road."

Mr. Werrenrath is the sort of singer who is generally on the wing, or if
not exactly that, is so rushed with work, record making and rehearsing
for occasional opera appearances, that it is very difficult to get a
word with him. I was exceedingly fortunate however, one day recently, to
catch a glimpse of him between a Metropolitan rehearsal on the one hand,
and some concert business on the other. He entered the room where I
waited, tall, vigorous, his fine face lighted by a rapid walk in the
fresh air; he seemed the embodiment of mental vigor and alertness.



I plunged at once into the subject I had come for, telling him I wanted
to know how he had worked to bring about such results as were noted in
his recent recital in Carnegie Hall; in what way he had studied, and
what, in his opinion, were the most important factors, from an
educational point of view, for the young singer to consider.

"That is entirely too difficult a question to be answered briefly, even
in a half hour, or in an hour's talk. There are too many angles;" his
clear gray eyes looked at me frankly as he spoke. "Voice culture, voice
mastery, what is it? It is having control of your instrument to such an
extent that you put it out of your thought completely when you sing. The
voice is your servant and must do your bidding. This control is arrived
at through a variety of means, and can be considered from a thousand
angles, any one of which would be interesting to follow up. I have been
on the concert stage for nearly a score of years, and ought to know
whereof I speak; yet I can say I have not learned it all even now, not
by any means. Vocal technic is something on which you are always
working, something which is never completed, something which is
constantly improving with your mental growth and experience--if you are
working along the right lines. People talk of finishing their vocal
technic; how can that ever be done? You are always learning how to do
better. If you don't make the effect you expected to, in a certain
place, when singing in public, you take thought of it afterward,
consider what was the matter, _why_ you couldn't put it over--why it had
no effect on the audience. Then you work on it, learn how to correct and
improve it.


"As you may know, my father was a great singer; he was my first teacher.
After I lost him I studied for several years with Dr. Carl Duft and
later with Arthur Mees. In all this time I had learned a great deal
about music from the intellectual and emotional sides, music in the
abstract and so on. In fact, I thought I knew about all there was to be
learned about the art of song; I settled back on my oars and let the
matter go at that. At last, however, I awoke to see that I didn't know
it all yet; I discovered I couldn't put the feeling and emotion which
surged within me across to others in the way I wanted to--in the way
which could move and impress them; I could not make the effects I
wanted; I was getting into a rut. This was seven years ago. At that time
I went to Percy Rector Stevens, who has done me an immense amount of
good, and with whom I constantly keep in touch, in case there should be
anything wrong with my instrument anywhere. Mr. Stevens understands the
mechanics of the voice perhaps better than any one I know of. If I go to
him and say: 'I made some tones last night that didn't sound right to
me,' or 'I couldn't seem to put over this or that effect; I want you to
tell me what is the matter.' He will say: 'Sing for me, show me the
trouble and we'll see what we can do for it.' So I sing and he will say:
'You are tightening your throat at that place,' or 'your diaphragm is
not working properly,' or there is some other defect. He can always put
his finger directly on the weak spot. He is my vocal doctor. Your whole
vocal apparatus must work together in entire harmony. We hear of
teachers who seem to specialize on some one part of the anatomy to the
exclusion of other parts. They are so particular about the diaphragm,
for instance; that must be held with exactly the right firmness to
support the tone. That is all very well; but what about the chest, the
larynx, the throat, the head and all the rest of the anatomy? The truth
is the whole trunk and head of the body are concerned in the act of tone
production; they form the complete instrument, so to say. When the
singer is well and strong and in good condition, all the parts respond
and do their work easily and efficiently.


"I do not go through a routine of scales and exercises daily--at least
not in the season, for I have no time. If you are going to take your
automobile out for a spin you don't ride it around for half an hour in
the yard to see whether it will go. No, you first look after the
machinery, to see if all is in working order, and then you start out,
knowing it will go. I do a lot of gymnastics each day, to exercise the
voice and limber up the anatomy. These act as a massage for the voice;
they are in the nature of humming, mingled with grunts, calls,
exclamations, shouts, and many kinds of sounds--indeed so many and
various they cannot be enumerated. But they put the voice in condition,
so there is no need for all these other exercises which most singers
find so essential to their vocal well-being. I will say right here that
I am working with two masters; the first for the mechanics of the voice,
the second who helps me from quite an opposite angle--interpretation and


"The master from whom I have learned so much that it cannot be estimated
is Victor Maurel. He is a most remarkable man, a great thinker and
philosopher. If he had turned his attention to any other art or science,
or if he had been but a day laborer, he would be a great man anywhere,
in any capacity.

"I have been with him, whenever possible, for two years now. He has
shown me the philosophy, the psychology of singing. He has taught me the
science of intense diction. By means of such diction, I can sing _mezza
voce_, and put it over with less effort and much more artistic effect
than I ever used to do, when I employed much more voice. You hear it
said this or that person has a big voice and can sing with great power.
A brass band can make a lot of noise. I have stood beside men, who in a
smaller space, could make much more noise than I could. But when they
got out on the stage you couldn't hear them at the back of the hall. It
is the knowing how to use the voice with the least possible effort,
coupled with the right kind of diction, that will make the greatest
effect. Now I can express myself, and deliver the message I feel I have
to give.


"You ask if I hear myself, when I am singing for an audience. In a
general way, yes. Of course I do not get the full effect of what I am
doing; a singer never does. It takes the records to tell me that, and I
have been making records for a good number of years. But I know the
sensations which accompany correct tone production, and if I feel they
are different in any place or passage, I try to make a mental note of
the fact and the passage, that I may correct it afterwards. But I must
emphasize the point that when I sing, I cast away all thought of _how_ I
do anything technical; I want to get away from the mechanics of the
voice; I must keep my thought clear for the interpretation, for the
message I have brought to the audience. To be constantly thinking--how
am I doing this or that--would hamper me terribly. I should never get
anywhere. I must have my vocal apparatus under such control that it goes
of itself. A pianist does not think of technic when playing in public,
neither should a singer think of his vocal technic. Of course there may
be occasions when adverse circumstances thrust conditions upon me. If I
have a slight cold, or tightness of throat, I have to bring all my
resources to bear, to rise above the seeming handicap, and sing as well
as I can in spite of it. I can say gratefully, without any desire to
boast, that during the past eleven years, I have never once missed an
engagement or disappointed an audience. Of course I have had to keep
engagements when I did not feel in the mood, either physically or
mentally. Many singers would have refused under like conditions. But it
does not seem fair to the audience to disappoint, or to the manager
either; it puts him in a very difficult and unpleasant position. It
seems to me the artist should be more considerate of both manager and
audience, than to yield to a slight indisposition and so break his


"It makes such a difference--in quality of tone and in effect--whether
you sing in a small or large space. Things you do in the studio and
which may sound well there, are quite different or are lost altogether
in a large hall. You really cannot tell what the effect will be in a
great space, by what you do in your studio. In rehearsing and study, I
use half voice, and only occasionally do I use full voice, that is when
I wish to get a better idea of the effect."


As we stood at the close of the conference, I asked the supreme
question--What do you understand by Vocal Mastery? The artist looked as
though I were making an impossible demand in requiring an answer to so
comprehensive a subject. He took a few strides and then came back.

"I can answer that question with one word--Disregard. Which means, that
if you have such control of your anatomy, such command of your vocal
resources that they will always do their work, that they can be depended
upon to act perfectly, then you can disregard mechanism, and think only
of the interpretation--only of your vocal message. Then you have
conquered the material--then you have attained Vocal Mastery!"




A fact, often overlooked when considering the career of some of our
great singers of to-day, is the fact that they started out to become an
instrumentalist rather than a singer. In other words they become
proficient on some instrument before taking up serious study of the
voice. In this connection one thinks of Mme. Sembrich, who was both
pianist and violinist before becoming known as a singer. It would be
interesting to follow up this idea and enumerate the vocalists who have
broadened their musicianship through the study of other instruments than
their own voices. But this delightful task must be reserved for future
leisure. For the present it can be set down here that Miss Sophie
Braslau, probably the youngest star in the constellation of the
Metropolitan artists, is an accomplished pianist, and intended to make
her career with the aid of that instrument instead of with her voice.

But we will let the young artist speak for herself. On the occasion in
question, she had just returned from a walk, her arms full of rosebuds.
"I never can resist flowers," she remarked, as she had them placed in a
big silver vase. Then she carried the visitor off to her own special
rooms, whose windows overlooked an inner garden, where one forgot one
was in the heart of New York. "Indeed it is not like New York at all,
rather like Paris," said Miss Braslau, answering my thought.

On a _chaise longue_ in this ivory and rose sanctum, reposed a big,
beautiful doll, preserved from childish days. The singer took it up; "I
don't play with it now," she said with a smile, "but I used to." She
placed it carefully in a chair, then settled herself to talk.

[Illustration: SOPHIE BRASLAU]

"Yes, I intended to make the piano my instrument and began my studies at
the age of six. Before long it was seen that I had something of a voice,
but no one gave it much thought, supposing I was to be a pianist; indeed
I have the hand of one," holding it up. "I don't think, in those early
years, I was so very anxious to become a player. I did not love
scales--do not now, and would quite as soon have sat at the piano with a
book in my lap, while my fingers mechanically did their stunts. But my
mother looked after my practice, and often sat near me. She required a
regular amount of time given to music study each day. I am so grateful
that she was strict with me, for my knowledge of piano and its
literature is the greatest joy to me now. To my thinking all children
should have piano lessons; the cost is trifling compared to the benefits
they receive. They should be made to study, whether they wish to or not.
They are not prepared to judge what is good for them, and if they are
given this advantage they will be glad of it later on.

"In due time I entered the Institute of Musical Art, taking the full
piano course. Arthur Hochmann was my teacher for piano, and I found him
an excellent master. He did a great deal for me; in interpretation, in
fineness of detail, in artistic finish I owe him very much. Later I
studied several years with Alexander Lambert.

"While at work with my piano, it grew more apparent that I had a voice
that should be cultivated. So I began. Afterwards I worked three years
with Signor Buzzi Peccia, who started me on an operatic career and
finally brought me to the Metropolitan.

"It was a great ordeal for a young singer, almost a beginner, to start
at our greatest Opera House! It meant unremitting labor for me. I worked
very hard, but I am not afraid of work. Toscanini held sway when I
began, and he was a marvelous musician and conductor. Such exactness,
such perfection of detail; he required perfection of every one. He did
not at first realize how much of a beginner I was, though I had really
learned a large number of rôles. He was so strict in every detail that I
wept many bitter tears for fear I would not come up to the mark. I knew
the music, but had not gained experience through routine. It seems to me
every singer should gain this experience in some smaller places before
attempting the highest. My advice would be to go and get experience in
Europe first. I have never been in Germany, but in Italy and France
there are many small opera houses where one may learn routine.

"Another thing. There is a mistaken notion that one cannot reach any
height in opera without 'pull' and great influence. I am sure this is
not true; for while a pull may help, one must be able to deliver the
goods. If one cannot, all the backing in the world will not make one a
success. The singer must have the ability to 'put it over.' Think of
the artists who can do it--Farrar, Gluck, Schumann-Heink. There is never
any doubt about them; they always win their audiences. What I have done
has been accomplished by hard work, without backing of any kind. Really
of what use is backing anyway? The public can judge--or at least it can
_feel_. I know very well that when my chance came to sing _Shanewis_, if
I had not been able to do it, no amount of influence would have helped
the situation. I had it in my own hand to make or mar my career. I often
wonder whether audiences really know anything about what you are trying
to do; whether they have any conception of what is right in singing, or
whether they are merely swayed by the temperament of the singer.

"Whether we are, or are not to be a musical nation should be a question
of deep interest to all music lovers. If we really become a great
musical people, it will be largely due to the work of the records. We
certainly have wonderful advantages here, and are doing a tremendous lot
for music.

"I had an interesting experience recently. It was in a little town in
North Carolina, where a song recital had never before been given. Can
you fancy a place where there had never even been a concert? The people
in this little town were busy producing tobacco and had never turned
their thought toward music. In the face of the coming concert what did
those people do? They got a program, studied what pieces I had sung on
the Victor, got the music of the others; so they had a pretty good idea
of what I was going to sing. When I stepped on the platform that night
and saw the little upright piano (no other instrument could be secured)
and looked into those eager faces, I wondered how they would receive my
work. My first number was an aria from _Orfeo_. When I finished, the
demonstration was so deafening I had to wait minutes before I could go
on. And so it continued all the evening.

"How do I work? Very hard, at least six hours a day. Of these I actually
sing perhaps three hours. I begin at nine and give the first hour to
memory work on repertoire. I give very thorough study to my programs;
for I must know every note in them, both for voice and piano. I make it
a point to know the accompaniments, for in case I am ever left without
an accompanist, I can play for myself, and it has a great effect on
audiences. They may not know or care whether you can play Beethoven or
Chopin, but the fact that you can play while you sing, greatly impresses

"In committing a song, I play it over and sing it sufficiently to get a
good idea of its construction and meaning; then I work in detail,
learning words and music at the same time, usually. Certain things are
very difficult for me, things requiring absolute evenness of passage
work, or sustained calm. Naturally I have an excess of temperament; I
feel things in a vivid, passionate way. So I need to go very slowly at
times. To-day I gave several hours to only three lines of an aria by
Haendel, and am not yet satisfied with it. Indeed, can we ever rest
satisfied, when there is so much to learn, and we can always improve?

"The second hour of my day is given to vocalizes. Of course there are
certain standard things that one must do; but there are others that need
not be done every day. I try to vary the work as much as I can.

"The rest of the day is given to study on repertoire and all the things
that belong to it. There is so much more to a singer's art than merely
to sing. And it is a sad thing to find that so many singers lack
musicianship. They seem to think if they can sing some songs, or even a
few operas, that is all there is to it. But one who would become an
artist must work most of the time. I am sure Charles Hackett knows the
value of work; so does Mabel Garrison and many other Americans. And when
you think of it, there are really a brave number of our own singers who
are not only making good, but making big names for themselves and
winning the success that comes from a union of talent and industry."




"A man who has risen to his present eminence through determined effort
and hard work, who has done it all in America, is a unique figure in the
world of art. He can surely give much valuable information to students,
for he has been through so much himself." Thus I was informed by one who
was in a position to understand how Morgan Kingston had achieved
success. The well known tenor was most kind in granting an audience to
one seeking light on his ideas and experiences. He welcomed the visitor
with simple, sincere courtesy, and discussed for an hour and a half
various aspects of the singer's art.

"In what way may I be of service to you?" began Mr. Kingston, after the
first greetings had been exchanged.

"There are many questions to ask," was the answer; "perhaps it were best
to propound the most difficult one first, instead of reserving it till
the last. What, in your opinion, goes into the acquiring of Vocal

"That is certainly a difficult subject to take up, for vocal mastery
includes so many things. First and foremost it includes vocal technic.
One must have an excellent technic before one can hope to sing even
moderately well. The singer can do nothing without technic, though of
course there are many people who try to sing without it. They, however,
never get anywhere when hampered by such a lack of equipment. Technic
furnishes the tools with which the singer creates his vocal art work;
just as the painter's brushes enable him to paint his picture.


[Illustration: MORGAN KINGSTON]

"I said the singer should have a finished technic in order to express
the musical idea aright, in order to be an artist. But technic is never
finished; it goes on developing and broadening as we ourselves grow and
develop. We learn by degrees what to add on and what to take away, in
our effort to perfect technic. Students, especially in America, are too
apt to depend on rules merely. They think if they absolutely follow the
rules, they must necessarily become singers; if they find that you
deviate from rule they tell you of it, and hold you up to the letter of
the law, rather than its meaning and spirit. I answer, rules should be
guides, not tyrants. Rules are necessary in the beginning; later we get
beyond them,--or rather we work out their spirit and are not hide-bound
by the letter.


"As you may know, I was born in Nottinghamshire, England. I always sang,
as a small boy, just for the love of it, never dreaming I would one day
make it my profession. In those early days I sang in the little church
where Lord Byron is buried. How many times I have walked over the slab
which lies above his vault. When I was old enough I went to work in the
mines, so you see I know what hardships the miners endure; I know what
it means to be shut away from the sun for so many hours every day. And I
would lighten their hardships in every way possible. I am sure, if it
rested with me, to choose between having no coal unless I mined it
myself, I would never dig a single particle. But this is aside from the
subject in hand.

"I always sang for the love of singing, and I had the hope that some day
I could do some good with the gift which the good God had bestowed on
me. Then, one day, the opportunity came for me to sing in a concert in
London. Up to that time I had never had a vocal lesson in my life; my
singing was purely a natural product. On this occasion I sang, evidently
with some little success, for it was decided that very night that I
should become a singer. Means were provided for both lessons and living,
and I now gave my whole time and attention toward fitting myself for my
new calling. The lady who played my accompaniments at that concert
became my teacher. And I can say, with gratitude to a kind Providence,
that I have never had, nor wished to have any other. When I hear young
singers in America saying they have been to Mr. S. to get his points,
then they will go to Mr. W. to learn his point of view, I realize afresh
that my experience has been quite different and indeed unique; I am
devoutly thankful it has been so.


"My teacher made a study of me, of my characteristics, mentality and
temperament. That should be the business of every real teacher, since
each individual has different characteristics from every other.

"It is now ten years since I began to study the art of singing. I came
to America soon after the eventful night which changed my whole career;
my teacher also came to this country. I had everything to learn; I could
not even speak my own language; my speech was a dialect heard in that
part of the country where I was brought up. I have had to cultivate and
refine myself. I had to study other languages, Italian, French and
German. I learned them all in America. So you see there is no need for
an American to go out of his own country for vocal instruction or
languages; all can be learned right here at home. I am a living proof of
this. What I have done others can do.


"As for technical material, I have never used a great quantity. Of
course I do scales and vocalizes for a short time each day; such things
are always kept up. Then I make daily use of about a dozen exercises by
Rubini. Beyond these I make technical studies out of the pieces. But,
after one has made a certain amount of progress on the technical side,
one must work for one's self--I mean one must work on one's moral


"I believe strongly that a singer cannot adequately express the
beautiful and pure in music while cherishing at the same time, a bad
heart and a mean nature behind it. Singing is such a personal thing,
that one's mentality, one's inner nature, is bound to reveal itself.
Each one of us has evil tendencies to grapple with, envy, jealousy,
hatred, sensuality and all the rest of the evils we are apt to harbor.
If we make no effort to control these natural tendencies, they will
permanently injure us, as well as impair the voice, and vitiate the good
we might do. I say it in all humility, but I am earnestly trying to
conquer the errors in myself, so that I may be able to do some good with
my voice. I have discovered people go to hear music when they want to be
soothed and uplifted. If they desire to be amused and enjoy a good
laugh, they go to light opera or vaudeville; if they want a soothing,
quieting mental refreshment, they attend a concert, opera or oratorio.
Therefore I want to give them, when I sing, what they are in need of,
what they are longing for. I want to have such control of myself that I
shall be fitted to help and benefit every person in the audience who
listens to me. Until I have thus prepared myself, I am not doing my
whole duty to myself, to my art or to my neighbor.

"We hear about the petty envy and jealousy in the profession, and it is
true they seem to be very real at times. Picture two young women singing
at a concert; one receives much attention and beautiful flowers, the
other--none of these things. No doubt it is human nature, so-called, for
the neglected one to feel horribly jealous of the favored one. Now this
feeling ought to be conquered, for I believe, if it is not, it will
prevent the singer making beautiful, correct tones, or from voicing the
beauty and exaltation of the music. We know that evil thoughts react on
the body and result in diseases, which prevent the singer from reaching
a high point of excellence. We must think right thoughts for these are
the worth while things of life. Singing teachers utterly fail to take
the moral or metaphysical side into consideration in their teaching.
They should do this and doubtless would, did they but realize what a
large place right thinking occupies in the development of the singer.

"One could name various artists who only consider their own
self-aggrandizement; one is compelled to realize that, with such low
aims, the artist is bound to fall short of highest achievement. It is
our right attitude towards the best in life and the future, that is of
real value to us. How often people greet you with the words: 'Well, how
is the world treating you to-day?' Does any one ever say to you--'How
are you treating the world to-day?' That is the real thing to consider.

"As I said a few moments ago, I have studied ten years on vocal technic
and repertoire. I have not ventured to say so before, but I say it
to-night--I can sing! Of course most of the operatic tenor rôles are in
my repertoire. This season I am engaged for fourteen rôles at the
Metropolitan. These must be ready to sing on demand, that is at a
moment's notice,--or say two hours' notice. That means some memory work
as well as constant practice.

"Would I rather appear in opera, recital or oratorio? I like them all. A
recital program must contain at least a dozen songs, which makes it as
long as a leading operatic rôle.

"The ten years just passed, filled as they have been with close study
and public work, I consider in the light of preparation. The following
ten years I hope to devote to becoming more widely known in various
countries. And then--" a pleasant smile flitted over the fine, clean-cut
features,--"then another ten years to make my fortune. But I hasten to
assure you the monetary side is quite secondary to the great desire I
have to do some good with the talent which has been given me. I realize
more and more each day, that to develop the spiritual nature will mean
happiness and success in this and in a future existence, and this is
worth all the effort and striving it costs."




There is no need to say that Frieda Hempel is one of the most admired
artists on the opera and concert stage to-day. Every one knows the fact.
Miss Hempel has endeared herself to all through her lovely voice, her
use of it, her charm of manner and the sincerity of her art.

[Illustration: _Photo by Alfred Chancy Johnston_ FRIEDA HEMPEL]

It is seven years since Miss Hempel first came to sing at the
Metropolitan. America has advanced very greatly in musical appreciation
during this period. Miss Hempel herself has grown in artistic stature
with each new character she has assumed. This season she has exchanged
the opera field for that of the concert room, to the regret of opera
patrons and all music lovers, who desired to see her at the
Metropolitan. Being so constantly on the wing, it has been extremely
difficult to secure a word with the admired artist. Late one afternoon,
however, toward the end of her very successful concert season, she was
able to devote an hour to a conference with the writer on the
principles of vocal art.

How fair, slender and girlish she looked, ensconced among the cushions
of a comfortable divan in her music room, with a favorite pet dog
nestling at her side.

"And you ask how to master the voice; it seems then, I am to give a
vocal lesson," she began, with an arch smile, as she caressed the little
creature beside her.


"The very first thing for the singer to consider is breath control;
always the breathing--the breathing. She thinks of it morning, noon and
night. Even before rising in the morning, she has it on her mind, and
may do a few little stunts while still reclining. Then, before beginning
her vocal technic in the morning, she goes through a series of breathing
exercises. Just what they are is unnecessary to indicate, as each
teacher may have his own, or the singer has learned for herself what
forms are most beneficial.


"The pianist before the public, or the player who hopes to master the
instrument in the future, never thinks of omitting the daily task of
scales and exercises; he knows that his chances for success would soon
be impaired, even ruined, if he should neglect this important and
necessary branch of study.

"It is exactly the same thing with the singer. She cannot afford to do
without scales and exercises. If she should, the public would soon find
it out. She must be in constant practice in order to produce her tones
with smoothness and purity; she must also think whether she is producing
them with ease. There should never be any strain, no evidence of effort.
Voice production must always seem to be the easiest thing in the world.
No audience likes to see painful effort in a singer's face or throat.


"The young singer should always practice with a mirror--do not forget
that; she must look pleasant under all circumstances. No one cares to
look at a singer who makes faces and grimaces, or scowls when she sings.
This applies to any one, young or older. Singing must always seem easy,
pleasant, graceful, attractive, winning. This must be the mental
concept, and, acted upon, the singer will thus win her audience. I do
not mean that one should cultivate a grin when singing; that would be
going to the other extreme.

"Let the singer also use a watch when she practices, in order not to
overdo. I approve of a good deal of technical study, taken in small
doses of ten to fifteen minutes at a time. I myself do about two hours
or more, though not all technic; but I make these pauses for rest, so
that I am not fatigued. After all, while we must have technic, there is
so much more to singing than its technic. Technic is indeed a means to
an end, more in the art of song than in almost any other form of art.
Technic is the background for expressive singing, and to sing
expressively is what every one should be striving for.


"A beautiful voice is a gift from heaven, but the cultivation of it
rests with its possessor. Here in America, girls do not realize the
amount of labor and sacrifice involved, or they might not be so eager to
enter upon a career. They are too much taken up with teas, parties and
social functions to have sufficient time to devote to vocal study and
all that goes with it. There are many other things to study; some piano
if possible, languages of course, physical culture and acting, to make
the body supple and graceful. I say some piano should be included, at
least enough to play accompaniments at sight. But when she has mastered
her song or rôle, she needs an accompanist, for she can never play the
music as it should be played while she endeavors to interpret the song
as that should be sung. One cannot do complete justice to both at the
same time.

"In order to study all the subjects required, the girl with a voice must
be willing to give most of her day to the work. This means sacrificing
the social side and being willing to throw herself heart and soul into
the business of adequately preparing for her career.


"I find there are quantities of lovely voices here in America. The
quality of the American female voice is beautiful; in no country is it
finer, not even in Italy. You have good teachers here, too. Then why are
there so few American singers who are properly prepared for a career?
Why do we hear of so few who make good and amount to something? If the
girl has means and good social connections, she is often not ready to
sacrifice social gayeties for the austere life of the student. If she
is a poor girl, she frequently cannot afford to take up the subjects
necessary for her higher development. Instruction is expensive here, and
training for opera almost impossible. The operatic coach requires a
goodly fee for his services. And when the girl has prepared several
rôles where shall she find the opportunity to try them out?
Inexperienced singers cannot be accepted at the Metropolitan; that is
not the place for them. At the prices charged for seats the management
cannot afford to engage any but the very best artists. Until there are
more opera houses throughout the country, the American girl will still
be obliged to go to Europe for experience and routine. In Europe it is
all so much easier. Every little city and town has its own opera house,
where regular performances are given and where young singers can try
their wings and gain experience. The conductor will often help and coach
the singer and never expect a fee for it.


"The singer who wishes to make a career in concert, should constantly
study to do things easily and gracefully. She is gracious in manner,
and sings to the people as though it gave her personal pleasure to stand
before them. She has a happy expression of countenance; she is simple,
unaffected and sincere. More than all this her singing must be filled
with sentiment and soul; it must be deeply felt or it will not touch
others. Of what use will be the most elaborate technic in the world if
there is no soul back of it. So the young singer cultivates this power
of expression, which grows with constant effort. The artist has learned
to share her gift of song with her audience, and sings straight across
into the hearts of her listeners. The less experienced singer profits by
her example.

"Shall the singer carry her music in a song recital, is a much discussed
question. Many come on with nothing in hand. What then happens? The
hands are clasped in supplication, as though praying for help. This
attitude becomes somewhat harrowing when held for a whole program. Other
singers toy with chain or fan, movements which may be very inappropriate
to the sentiment of the song they are singing. For myself I prefer to
hold in hand a small book containing the words of my songs, for it seems
to be more graceful and Jess obtrusive than the other ways I have
mentioned. I never refer to this little book, as I know the words of my
songs backward; I could rise in the middle of the night and go through
the program without a glance at words or music, so thoroughly do I know
what I am singing. Therefore I do not need the book of words, but I
shall always carry it, no matter what the critics may say. And why
should not the executive artist reassure himself by having his music
with him? It seems to me a pianist would feel so much more certain of
himself if he had the notes before him; he of course need not look at
them, but their presence would take away the fear that is often an
obsession. With the notes at hand he could let himself go, give free
reign to fancy, without the terrible anxiety he must often feel.


"People often ask whether I prefer to sing in opera or concert. I always
answer, I love both. I enjoy opera for many reasons; I love the concert
work, and I am also very fond of oratorio. Of course in the opera I am
necessarily restrained; I can never be Frieda Hempel, I must always be
some one else; I must always think of the others who are playing with
me. In concert I can be myself and express myself. I get near the
people; they are my friends and I am theirs. I am much in spirit with
oratorio also.


"Do I think the coloratura voice will ever become dramatic? It depends
on the quality of the voice. I think every dramatic singer should
cultivate coloratura to some extent--should study smooth legato scales
and passages. To listen to some of the dramatic rôles of to-day, one
would think that smooth legato singing was a lost art. Nothing can take
its place, however, and singers should realize this fact."

Miss Hempel believes that every singer, no matter how great, should
realize the advantage of constant advice from a capable teacher, in
order to prevent the forming of undesirable habits. She also considers
Vocal Mastery implies the perfection of everything connected with
singing; that is to say, perfect breath control, perfect placement of
the voice, perfect tone production, together with all requisite grace,
feeling and expressiveness.





If we were asked to name one of the best known, and best loved of
American singers, the choice would surely fall on David Bispham. This
artist, through his vocal, linguistic and histrionic gifts, his serious
aims and high ideals, has endeared himself to musicians and music lovers
alike. We are all proud of him as an American, and take a sort of
personal pride in his achievements.

Mr. Bispham has been before the public as actor-singer for many years.
There is no other artist in the English-speaking world who has had
greater experience in all kinds of vocal work than this "Quaker Singer,"
as he calls himself, for he comes from Philadelphia, and is of old
English, Quaker, Colonial stock. His professional début was made in
London, in 1891, with the Royal English Opera Company, as the Duc De
Longueville, in the beautiful Opera Comique, _The Basoche_, by Messager.
The following year he appeared in Wagnerian Music Drama at the Royal
Opera, Covent Garden, performing the part of Kurwenal, in _Tristan and
Isolde_, without rehearsal. His adaptability to music in English,
French, Italian and German, caused him to be at once accepted as a
member of that distinguished company.

In 1896, Mr. Bispham joined the forces of the Metropolitan Opera House,
New York, and remained there for a number of years, singing each season
alternately on both sides of the ocean. Of recent years he has devoted
most of his time to concerts, though he is one of the founders and
officers of the Society of American Singers, with which artistic body he
frequently appears in the classic operas of Mozart, Pergolesi, Donizetti
and others.

My first conference with Mr. Bispham was held in his New York studio.
Here, in this artistic retreat where absolute quiet reigns, though
located in the heart of the great city's busy life, the noted singer
teaches and works out his programs and various characterizations.


"The singer should breathe as easily and naturally as animals and people
do when they sleep," he began. "But we are awake when we sing; correct
breath control, therefore, must be carefully studied, and is the result
of understanding and experience. The best art conceals art. The aim is
to produce tones with the utmost ease and naturalness, though these must
be gained with patient toil. A child patting the keyboard with his tiny
hands, is _unconsciously_ natural and at ease, though he does not know
what he is doing; the great pianist is _consciously_ at ease because he
understands principles of ease and relaxation, and has acquired the
necessary control through years of training.

"The singer acquires management of the breath through correct position
and action of his anatomy. The body is held erect, chest active; the
network of abdominal muscles constantly gain strength as they learn to
push, push, push the air up through the lungs to the windpipe, then
through the mouth and nasal cavities." Mr. Bispham illustrated each
point in his own person as he described it.

"When the manner of taking breath, and the way to develop the diaphragm
and abdominal muscles, is understood, that is only a beginning.
Management of the breath is an art in itself. The singer must know what
to do with the breath once he has taken it in, or he may let it out in
quarts the moment he opens his mouth. He has to learn how much he needs
for each phrase. He learns how to conserve the breath; and while it is
not desirable to hold one tone to attenuation, that the gallery may gasp
with astonishment, as some singers do, yet it is well to learn to do all
one conveniently can with one inhalation, provided the phrase permits


"I give many vocalizes and exercises, which I invent to fit the needs of
each pupil. I do not require them to be written down, simply remembered.
At the next lesson quite a different set of exercises may be
recommended. I also make exercises out of familiar tunes or themes from
operatic airs. It will be found that technical material in the various
manuals is often chosen from such sources, so why not use them in their
original form. Thus while the student is studying technic he is also
acquiring much beautiful material, which will be of great value to him
later on.


"Repertoire is a wide subject and offers a fascinating study to the
vocal student. He must have both imagination and sentiment, also the
ability to portray, through movement and facial expression, the various
moods and states of feeling indicated by words and music.

"In taking up a new rôle, I read the story to get at the kernel or plot,
and see what it means. The composer first saw the words of poem or
libretto, and these suggested to him suitable music. So the singer
begins his work by carefully reading the words.

"I then have the music of the whole work played for me on the piano, so
as to discover its trend and meaning--its content. If the composer is
available I ask him to do this. I next begin to study my own part in
detail, not only the important sections but the little bits, which seem
so small, but are often so difficult to remember."


Under this head the singer spoke at length of the difficulty some
singers encounter when they endeavor to portray character, or
differentiate emotions. There is endless scope in this line, to exercise
intelligence and imagination.

"Some singers," continued the artist, "seem incapable of characterizing
a rôle or song. They can do what I call 'flat work,' but cannot
individualize a rôle. A singer may have a beautiful voice yet not be
temperamental; he may have no gift for acting, nor be able to do
character work.

"At the present moment I am preparing several new rôles, three of them
are of old men. It rests with me to externalize these three in such a
way that they shall all be different, yet consistent with the characters
as I understand them. Each make-up must be distinctive, and my work is
to portray the parts as I see and feel them. I must get into the skin of
each character, so to say, then act as I conceive that particular person
would behave under like circumstances. Many singers cannot act, and most
actors cannot sing. When the two are combined we have a singing actor,
or an actor-singer. Once there was a popular belief that it was not
necessary for the singer to know much about acting--if he only had a
voice and could sing. The present is changing all that. Many of us
realize how very much study is required to perfect this side of our art.

"In this connection I am reminded of my London début. I was to make it
with the Royal English Opera Company. They heard me three times before
deciding to take me on. With this formality over, rehearsals began. I
soon found that my ideas of how my rôle--an important one--was to be
acted, did not always coincide with the views of the stage director, and
there were ructions. The manager saw how things were going, and advised
me to accept seemingly the ideas of the stage director during
rehearsals, but to study acting with the highest authorities and then
work out the conception after my own ideas. Accordingly, I spent an hour
daily, before the morning rehearsal, with one of the finest actors of
comedy to be found in London. Later in the day, after rehearsal, I spent
another hour with a great tragic actor. Thus I worked in both lines, as
my part was a mixture of the tragic and the comic. I put in several
weeks of very hard work in this way, and felt I had gained greatly. Of
course this was entirely on the histrionic side, but it gives an idea of
the preparation one needs.

"When the day of the dress rehearsal arrived, I appeared on the scene in
full regalia, clean shaven (I had been wearing a beard until then), and
performed my rôle as I had conceived it, regardless of the peculiar
ideas of the stage director. At the first performance I made a hit, and
a little later was engaged for grand opera at Covent Garden, where I
remained for ten years.


"While I believe in understanding one's anatomy sufficiently for proper
tone production, and all that goes with it, there are many peculiar and
unnecessary fads and tricks resorted to by those who call themselves
teachers of singing. The more fantastic the theories inculcated by these
people, the more the unwary students seem to believe in them. People
like to be deluded, you know. But I am not able to gratify their desires
in this direction; for I can't lie about music!

"I was present at a vocal lesson given by one of these so-called
instructors. 'You must sing in such a way that the tone will seem to
come out of the back of your head,' he told the pupil, and he waved his
arms about his head as though he were drawing the tone out visibly.
Another pupil was placed flat on his back, then told to breathe as
though he were asleep, and then had to sing in that position. Another
teacher I know of makes pupils eject spit-balls of tissue paper at the
ceiling, to learn the alleged proper control of the breath. What
criminal nonsense this is!

"As I have said, I believe in knowing what is necessary about anatomy,
but not in too great measure. A new book will soon be issued, I am told,
which actually dissects the human body, showing every bone and muscle in
any way connected with breath or voice. All this may be of interest as a
matter of research, but must one go into such minutiae in order to teach
singing? I think the answer must ever be in the negative. You might as
well talk to a gold-fish in a bowl-and say: 'If you desire to proceed
laterally to the right, kindly oscillate gently your sinister dorsal
fin, and you will achieve the desired result.' Oh, Art, what sins are
committed in thy name!"


It is often affirmed that an artist finds experience the best teacher.
It must be equally true that the artist-teacher of wide experience in
both performance and instruction, should be a safe guide, just because
of this varied experience.

I was impressed with this fact when I recently had the privilege of
visiting Mr. Bispham's studio during lesson hours, and listening to his
instruction. A most interesting sanctum is this studio, filled as it is
with souvenirs and pictures of the artist's long career on the operatic
stage. Here hangs a drawing in color of Bispham as Telramund, in shining
chain armor; there a life-size portrait as "Beethoven," and again as
himself. In the midst of all is the master, seated at a table. In front
of him, at the piano, stands the student. It is an English song she is
at work on, for Mr. Bispham thoroughly believes in mastering English as
well as other languages.

How alert he is as he sits there; how keen of eye and ear. Not the
slightest fault escapes him. He often sings the phrase himself, then
calls for its repetition.

"Sing that passage again; there is a tone in it that is not
pleasant--not well-sounding; make it beautiful!" "Careful of your
consonants there, they are not distinct; let them be clearer, but don't
make them over distinct." "Don't scoop up the ends of the phrases; make
the tones this way"; and he illustrates repeatedly. "Sing this phrase in
one breath if you can, if not, breathe here--" indicating the place.

The student now takes up an Italian aria. Of course the master teacher
has no need of printed score; he knows the arias by heart. He merely
jots down a few remarks on a slip of paper, to be referred to later.

The aria goes quite well. At its close the singer goes to her seat and
another takes her place. A voice of rich, warm timbre. More English--and
it must be most exact, to suit Mr. Bispham's fastidious ear.

"Make the word _fire_ in _one_ syllable, not _two_. Do not open the
mouth quite so wide on the word _desire_, for, by doing so you lose the
balance and the tone is not so good."


Another student--with a fine tenor--was asked to vocalize for a number
of minutes. He sang ascending and descending tone-figures, sometimes
doing them in one breath, at others taking a fresh breath at top. Some
of the syllables used were: la, ma, may, and mi. He then sang single
tones, swelling and diminishing each. It was found that passing from
_forte_ to _piano_ was much more difficult than swelling from soft to

The aria "Be not afraid," was now taken up; it was pronounced one of the
most difficult solos ever written, and a very valuable composition for
vocal training.

"You sing that phrase too loud," cautioned the instructor. "This is not
a human being who is speaking, rather it is a heavenly voice. That high
note of the phrase should be made softer, more ethereal. Make it a
_young tone_--put the quality of Spring into it. The whole thing should
be more spiritual or spiritualized. Now go through it again from
beginning to end."

When this was finished a halt was called; there had been enough work
done for that day. Soon the class was dismissed. The young singers--some
if not all of them known upon the concert stage--filed out. One young
woman remained; she was to have a drama lesson. The master of singing
showed himself equally efficient as master of English diction for the
spoken drama.

And here, for a time, we must leave him at his work.




Mr. Oscar Saenger has been termed "maker of artists," since a number of
our great singers have come from under his capable hands. He has a rare
gift for imparting instruction in a way that is concise and convincing.
A man of wide experience, profound knowledge of his subject, commanding
personality and winning courtesy, he impresses all who come within his
radius that he knows whereof he speaks. A man who "knows what he knows"
is one to be followed.

Mr. Saenger had just returned from a season of travel over America as
far as the Coast. A most profitable trip he called it, filled with many
interesting and unique experiences. He had been lecturing also, in a
number of cities, on his new method of vocal study with the aid of the
Victor Talking Machine. When he learned I had come expressly to ask for
his ideas on vocal technic and study, he said:

"I think you will be interested to hear about my latest hobby, the
study of singing with the aid of records." Then he plunged at once into
the most absorbingly interesting account of his ideas and achievements
in this line I had ever listened to.


"This is my own idea, of combining the teacher, artist and accompanist
in one trinity," he began. "And, by the way, my idea is now patented in
Washington. It is the result of nine years' thought and labor, before
the idea could be brought out in its finished form. The design has been
to make the method and its elucidation so simple that the girl from a
small town can understand it.

"The method consists of twenty lessons for each of the five kinds of
voices: Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Baritone and Bass. Each portfolio
holds twenty records, together with a book containing minute directions
for studying and using the records. I believe that any one, with good
intelligence, who wishes to learn to sing, can take the book and records
and begin his studies, even though he has never sung before. He can thus
prepare himself for future lessons. For you must understand this method
is not meant to replace the teacher, but to aid the teacher. I can
assure you it aids him in ways without number. It gives him a perfect
exemplar to illustrate his principles. If he be fatigued, or unable to
sing the passage in question, here is an artist who is never wearied,
who is always ready to do it for him. I myself constantly use the
records in my lessons. If I have taught a number of consecutive hours,
it is a relief to turn to the artist's record and save my own voice.


"As I have said, the design has been to make everything plain and
simple. I wrote the book and sent it to the Victor people. They returned
it, saying I had written an excellent book, but it was not simple
enough. They proposed sending a man to me who was neither a musician nor
a singer. If I could make my meaning clear enough for him to understand,
it was likely the girl from a little Western town could grasp it.

"So this man came and we worked together. If I talked about head tones,
he wanted to know what I meant; if about throaty tones, I had to make
these clear to him. When he understood, I was sure any one could

"Thus the books as they stand came into being. The records themselves
represent an immense amount of care and effort. Will you believe we had
to make over two thousand in order to secure the one hundred needed for
the present series? The slightest imperfection is enough to render an
otherwise perfect record useless. Even the artists themselves would
sometimes become discouraged at the enormous difficulties. It is
nerve-racking work, for one must be on tension all the time.


"If you are interested, I will go a little more into detail. The main
idea of this unique method of study, is imitation. Every human being
likes to imitate--from the tiny child to the adult. Acting upon this
idea, we take the artist as model. Everything the model does, the
student strives to imitate. By means of the record, it is possible for
the student to do this over and over again, until he has learned to copy
it as accurately as it is possible. And here is where the knowledge and
experience of the teacher come in. During the lesson he tests each tone,
each phrase, advising the pupil how nearly he approaches the perfect
model, or showing him his faults and why he does not succeed in
imitating the model more correctly."


"Do you mean to say, Mr. Saenger, that this method of vocal study can be
taken up by one who knows really nothing of the voice, or singing, and
can be used with success; that such a person can become a singer through

"It is indeed possible," was the answer; "and it is being done every
day. If the student has much intelligence, determination and
concentration, she can learn to sing from these directions and these
records. They are a great boon to young aspirants in small towns, where
there are really no good teachers. In such places local teachers can
study and teach from these records.

"Again, you often find people too shy, or too ashamed to go to a teacher
for a voice trial or lessons. They want to sing--every one would like to
do that; but they don't know how to go at it. With these records they
can begin to study, and thus get ready for later lessons. With these
records those who are far from a music center can have the benefit of
expert instruction at small cost. I might work with a pupil for several
months in the ordinary way--without the records--and not be able to
teach him even with half the accuracy and quickness obtainable by the
new method.


"All singers know how important, how necessary it is to have services of
an expert accompanist. The student of this method has one at hand every
hour of the day; a tireless accompanist, who is willing to repeat
without complaint, as often as necessary.


"A very important branch of the work, for the would-be singer, is to
cultivate the speaking voice. Tones in speaking should always be made
beautiful and resonant. Even in children a pleasant quality of voice in
speaking can be acquired. Mothers and teachers can be trained to know
and produce beautiful tones. The ear must be cultivated to know a pure,
beautiful tone and to love it.


"The management of the breath is a most important factor, as the life of
the tone depends on the continuance of the breath. The student must
cultivate the power of quickly inhaling a full breath and of exhaling it
so gradually that she can sing a phrase lasting from ten to twenty
seconds. This needs months of arduous practice. In all breathing, inhale
through the nose. The lower jaw during singing should be entirely

"The tone should be focused just back of the upper front teeth. The way
to place the tone forward is to _think_ it forward. The student must
think the tone into place.

"To 'attack' a tone is to sing it at once, without any scooping, and
with free open throat. When the throat is tightened the student loses
power to attack her tones in the right way.


"Phrasing, in a limited sense, is simply musical punctuation. In its
broader sense it is almost synonymous with interpretation. For it has to
do not only with musical punctuation but with the grouping of tones and
words in such a way that the composition is rendered intelligible as a
whole, so as to express the ideas of the composer. This is where the
intellectual and musical qualities of the singer are brought into
requisition. She must grasp the content, whether it be song or aria, in
order to effect this grouping intelligently. _Accent, crescendo_ and
_diminuendo_ are the most important factors in phrasing. From the very
beginning the student should be careful how and where she takes breath
and gives accent; there must always be a reason, and thought will
generally make the reason clear.


"The first thing to be considered is the position of the body; for
beauty of tone cannot be obtained unless all efforts harmonize to
produce the desired result. An easy, graceful, buoyant position is
essential; it can be cultivated in front of a mirror, from the first

"Tone production is the result of thought. Picture to yourself a
beautiful tone; sing it on the vowel Ah. If you stood in rapture before
an entrancing scene you would exclaim, Ah, how beautiful. Producing a
beautiful tone rests on certain conditions. First, breath control;
Second, Freedom of throat; Third, Correct focus of tone.

"We know that a stiff jaw and tongue are the greatest hindrances to the
emission of good tone. Muscles of chin and tongue must be trained to
become relaxed and flexible. Do not stiffen the jaw or protrude the
chin, else your appearance will be painful and your tones faulty.

"To think the tone forward is quite as important as to sing it forward.
Without the mental impression of correct placing, the reality cannot
exist. It is much better to think the tone forward for five minutes and
sing one minute, than to practice the reverse. One should practice in
fifteen-minute periods and rest at least ten minutes between. The
student should never sing more than two hours a day--one in the morning
and one in the afternoon. As most singers love their work, many are
inclined to overdo.

"Do not tamper with the two or three extreme upper or lower tones of
your voice lest you strain and ruin it permanently. Never practice when
suffering from a cold.

"Ideal attack is the tone which starts without any scooping, breathiness
or explosiveness. Breathe noiselessly, the secret of which is to breathe
from down, up. Faulty emissions of tone are: nasal, guttural, throaty
and tremulous. I will give you examples of all these from the record No.
33, which will show you first the fault and then the perfect example. If
the pupil studies these perfect emissions of tone and tries to imitate
them, there is no need for her to have the common faults mentioned.


"The next step is to study sustained tones. As you see the artist begins
in the middle of her voice--always the best way--and sings a whole tone
on A, with the syllable Ah, always waiting a whole measure for the pupil
to imitate the tone. Next she sings A flat and so on down to lower A,
the pupil imitating each tone. She now returns to middle A and ascends
by half steps to E natural, the pupil copying each tone after it is sung
by the artist.

"The tone should be free, round and full, but not loud, and the aim be
to preserve the same quality throughout. Do not throw or push the tone,
_but spin it_.


"We first begin by uniting two tones, smoothly and evenly, then three in
the same way. After each pair or group of tones, the accompaniment is
repeated and the pupil imitates what the artist has just sung. Now comes
the uniting of five tones, up and down; after this the scale of one
octave. The scale should be sung easily with moderate tone quality. A
slight accent can be given to the first and last tones of the scale. We
all realize the scale is one of the most important exercises for the
building of the voice; the preceding exercises have prepared for it.


"For imparting flexibility to the voice, nothing can exceed the
Arpeggio, but like all vocal exercises, it must be produced with
precision of tone, singing each interval clearly, with careful
intonation, always striving for beauty of tone.

"There are various forms of arpeggios to be used. The second form is
carried a third above the octave; the third form a fifth above. This
makes an exercise which employs every tone in the scale save one, and
gives practice in rapid breathing. Remember, that the note before,
taking breath is slightly shortened, in order to give time for taking
breath, without disturbing the rhythm.


"The trill is perhaps the most difficult of all vocal exercises, unless
the singer is blessed with a natural trill, which is a rare gift. We
begin with quarter notes, then add eighths and sixteenths. This
exercise, if practiced daily, will produce the desired result. It is
taken on each tone of the voice--trilling in major seconds.


"The purpose of vocalizes is to place and fix the voice accurately and
to develop taste, while singing rhythmically and elegantly. The records
give some Concone exercises, ably interpreted by one of our best known
voices. You hear how even and beautiful are the tones sung, and you note
the pauses of four measures between each phrase, to allow the student to
repeat the phrase, as before.

"I firmly believe this method of study is bound to revolutionize vocal
study and teaching. You see it goes to the very foundation, and trains
the student to imitate the best models. It even goes farther back, to
the children, teaching them how to speak and sing correctly, always
making beautiful tones, without harshness or shouting. Young children
can learn to sing tones and phrases from the records. Furthermore, I
believe the time is coming when the _technic and interpretation of every
instrument will be taught in this way_.

"It is my intention to follow up this set of foundational records by
others which will demonstrate the interpretation of songs and arias as
they are sung by our greatest artists. The outlook is almost limitless.

"And now, do you think I have answered your questions about tone
production, breath control and the rest? Perhaps I have, as convincingly
as an hour's talk can do."




No doubt the serious teacher, who may be occupied in any branch of
musical activity, has often pictured to himself what an ideal
institution of musical art might be like, if all students assembled
should study thoroughly their particular instrument, together with all
that pertained to it. They should by all means possess talent,
intelligence, industry, and be far removed from a superficial attitude
toward their chosen field. The studio used for instruction in this
imagined institution, should also be ideal, quiet, airy, home-like,

Some such vision perhaps floats before the minds of some of us teachers,
when we are in the mood to dream of ideal conditions under which we
would like to see our art work conducted.

It has been possible for Mr. Herbert Witherspoon, the distinguished
basso and teacher, to make such a dream-picture come true. For he has
established an institution of vocal art--in effect if not in
name--where all the subjects connected with singing, are considered and
taught in the order of their significance. Not less ideal is the
building which contains these studios, for Mr. Witherspoon has fitted up
his private home as a true abiding place for the muse.

At the close of a busy day, marked like all the rest with a full
complement of lessons, the master teacher was willing to relax a little
and speak of the work in which he is so deeply absorbed. He apologized
for having run over the time of the last lesson, saying he never could
teach by the clock.

"I do not like to call this a school," he began, "although it amounts to
one in reality, but only in so far as we take up the various subjects
connected with vocal study. I consider languages of the highest
importance; we have them taught here. There are classes in analysis, in
pedagogy--teaching teachers how to instruct others. We have an excellent
master for acting and for stage deportment: I advise that students know
something of acting, even if they do not expect to go in for opera; they
learn how to carry themselves and are more graceful and self-possessed
before an audience.

"The work has developed far beyond my expectations. There are over two
hundred students, and I have eight assistants, who have been trained by
me and know my ways and methods. Some of these give practice lessons to
students, who alternate them with the lessons given by me. These lessons
are quite reasonable, and in combination with my work, give the student
daily attention.

"My plan is not to accept every applicant who comes, but to select the
most promising. The applicants must measure up to a certain standard
before they can enter. To this one fact is due much of our success."

"And what are these requirements?"

"Voice, to begin with; youth (unless the idea is to teach), good looks,
musical intelligence, application. If the candidate possesses these
requisites, we begin to work. In three months' time it can be seen
whether the student is making sufficient progress to come up to our
standard. Those who do not are weeded out. You can readily see that as a
result of this weeding process, we have some very good material and fine
voices to work with.

"We have many musicals and recitals, both public and private, where
young singers have an opportunity to try their wings. There is a most
generous, unselfish spirit among the students; they rejoice in each
others' success, with never a hint of jealousy. We have had a number of
recitals in both Aeolian and Carnegie Halls, given by the artist
students this season. On these occasions the other students always
attend and take as much interest as though they were giving the recital


"You have remarked lately that 'singers are realizing that the lost art
of _bel canto_ is the thing to strive for and they are now searching for
it.' Can you give a little more light on this point?"

"I hardly meant to say that in any sense the art of bel canto was lost;
how could it be? Many singers seem to attach some uncanny significance
to the term. Bel canto means simply _beautiful singing_. When you have
perfect breath control, and distinct, artistic enunciation, you will
possess bel canto, because you will produce your tones and your words

"Because these magic words are in the Italian tongue does not mean that
they apply to something only possessed by Italians. Not at all. Any one
can sing beautifully who does so with ease and naturalness, the American
just as well as those of any other countries. In fact I consider
American voices, in general, better trained than those of Italy, Germany
or France. The Italian, in particular, has very little knowledge of the
scientific side; he usually sings by intuition.

"We ought to have our own standards in judging American voices; until we
do so, we will be constantly comparing them with the voices of foreign
singers. The quality of the American voice is different from the quality
found in the voices of other countries. To my mind the best women's
voices are found right here in our midst.


"I have also said that there are three great factors which should form
the foundation stones upon which the singer should rear his structure of
musical achievement. These factors are Memory, Imagination, Analysis. I
have put memory first because it is the whole thing, so to say. The
singer without memory--a cultivated memory--does not get far. Memory
lies at the very foundation of his work, and must continue with it the
whole journey through, from the bottom to the top. In the beginning you
think a beautiful tone, you try to reproduce it. When you come to it
again you must remember just how you did it before. Each time you repeat
the tone this effort of memory comes in, until at last it has become
second nature to remember and produce the result; you now begin to do so

"As you advance there are words to remember as well as notes and tones.
Memory, of course, is just as necessary for the pianist. He must be able
to commit large numbers of notes, phrases and passages. In his case
there are a number of keys to grasp at once, but the singer can sing but
one tone at a time. Both notes and words should be memorized, so the
singer can come before the audience without being confined to the
printed page. When acting is added there is still more to remember. Back
of memory study lies concentration; without concentration little can be
accomplished in any branch of art.


"The central factor is imagination; what can be done without it! Can you
think of a musician, especially a singer, without imagination? He may
acquire the letter--that is, execute the notes correctly, but the
performance is dead, without life or soul. With imagination he
comprehends what is the inner meaning of the text, the scene; also what
the composer had in mind when he wrote. Then he learns to express these
emotions in his own voice and action, through the imaginative power,
which will color his tones, influence his action, render his portrayal
instinct with life. Imagination in some form is generally inherent in
all of us. If it lies dormant, it can be cultivated and brought to bear
upon the singer's work. This is absolutely essential.


"I have put analysis last because it is the crowning virtue, the prime
necessity. We study analysis here in the studios, learning how to
separate music into its component parts, together with simple chord
formations, general form and structure of the pieces, and so on. Can you
comprehend the dense ignorance of many music students on these subjects?
They will come here to me, never having analyzed a bit of music in their
lives, having not an inkling of what chord structure and form in music
mean. If they played piano even a little, they could hardly escape
getting a small notion of chord formation. But frequently vocal
students know nothing of the piano. They are too apt to be superficial.
It is an age of superficiality--and cramming: we see these evils all the
way from the college man down. I am a Yale man and don't like to say
anything about college government, yet I cannot shut my eyes to the fact
that men may spend four years going through college and yet not be
educated when they come out. Most of us are in too much of a hurry, and
so fail to take time enough to learn things thoroughly; above all we
never stop to analyze.

"Analysis should begin at the very outset of our vocal or instrumental
study. We analyze the notes of the music we are singing, and a little
later its form. We analyze the ideas of the composer and also our own
thoughts and ideas, to try and bring them in harmony with his. After
analyzing the passage before us, we may see it in a totally different
light, and so phrase and deliver it with an entirely different idea from
what we might have done without this intelligent study."


"Do you advise conscious action of the parts comprising the vocal
instrument, or do you prefer unconscious control of the instrument, with
thought directed to the ideal quality in tone production and delivery?"
was asked.

"By all means unconscious control," was the emphatic answer. "We wish to
produce beautiful sounds; if the throat is open, the breathing correct,
and we have a mental concept of that beautiful sound, we are bound to
produce it. It might be almost impossible to produce correct tones if we
thought constantly about every muscle in action. There is a great deal
of nonsense talked and written about the diaphragm, vocal chords and
other parts of the anatomy. It is all right for the teacher who wishes
to be thoroughly trained, to know everything there is to know about the
various organs and muscles; I would not discourage this. But for the
young singer I consider it unnecessary. Think supremely of the beautiful
tones you desire to produce; listen for them with the outer ear--and the
inner ear--that is to say--mentally--and you will hear them. Meanwhile,
control is becoming more and more habitual, until it approaches
perfection and at last becomes automatic. When that point is reached,
your sound producing instrument does the deed, while your whole
attention is fixed on the interpretation of a master work, the
performance of which requires your undivided application. If there is
action, you control that in the same way until it also becomes
automatic; then both singing and acting are spontaneous."


This question was put to Mr. Witherspoon, who answered:

"The singer of course hears himself, and with study learns to hear
himself better. In fact I believe the lack of this part of vocal
training is one of the greatest faults of the day, and that the singer
should depend more upon hearing the sound he makes than upon feeling the
sound. In other words, train the _ear_, the court of ultimate resort,
and the only judge--and forget sensation as much as possible, for the
latter leads to a million confusions.

"Undoubtedly a singer hears in his own voice what his auditors do not
hear, for he also hears with his inner ear, but the singer must learn to
hear his own voice as others hear it, which he can do perfectly well.
Here we come to analysis again.

"The phonograph records teach us much in this respect, although I never
have considered that the phonograph reproduces the human voice. It
comes near it in some cases, utterly fails in others, and the best
singers do not always make the best or most faithful reproductions."




"The causation of beautiful singing can only be found through a pure and
velvety production of the voice, and this is acquired in no other way
than by a thorough understanding of what constitutes a perfect
beginning--that is the attack or start of the tone. If the tone has a
perfect beginning it must surely have a perfect ending."

Thus Mr. Yeatman Griffith began a conference on the subject of vocal
technic and the art of song. He had had a day crowded to the brim with
work--although all days were usually alike filled--yet he seemed as
fresh and unwearied as though the day had only just begun. One felt that
here was a man who takes true satisfaction in his work of imparting to
others; his work is evidently not a tiresome task but a real joy. Mrs.
Griffith shares this joy of work with her husband. "It is most ideal,"
she says; "we have so grown into it together; we love it."

As is well known, this artist pair returned to their home land at the
outbreak of the war, after having resided and taught for five years in
London, and previous to that for one year in Florence, Italy. Of course
they were both singers, giving recitals together, like the Henschels,
and appearing in concert and oratorio. But constant public activity is
incompatible with a large teaching practice. One or the other has to
suffer. "We chose to do the teaching and sacrifice our public career,"
said Mr. Griffith. During the five years in which these artists have
resided in New York, they have accomplished much; their influence has
been an artistic impulse toward the ideals of beautiful singing. Among
their many artist pupils who are making names for themselves, it may be
mentioned that Florence Macbeth, a charming coloratura soprano, owes
much of her success to their careful guidance.

"Michael Angelo has said," continued Mr. Griffith, "that 'a perfect
start is our first and greatest assurance of a perfect finish.' And
nowhere is this precept more truly exemplified than in vocal tone
production. The tone must have the right beginning, then it will be
right all through. A faulty beginning is to blame for most of the vocal
faults and sins of singers. Our country is full of beautiful natural
voices; through lack of understanding many of them, even when devoting
time and money to study, never become more than mediocre, when they
might have developed into really glorious voices if they had only had
the right kind of treatment.


"We hear a great deal about tone placement in these days; the world
seems to have gone mad over the idea. But it is an erroneous idea. How
futile to attempt to place the tone in any particular spot in the
anatomy. You can focus the tone, but you cannot place it. There is but
one place for it to come from and no other place. It is either emitted
with artistic effect or it is not. If not, then there is stiffness and
contraction, and the trouble ought to be remedied at once.

"Every one agrees that if the vocal instrument were something we could
see, our task would be comparatively easy. It is because the instrument
is hidden that so many false theories about it have sprung up. One
teacher advocates a high, active chest; therefore the chest is held high
and rigid, while the abdominal muscles are deprived of the strength
they should have. Another advises throwing the abdomen forward; still
another squares the shoulders and stiffens the neck. These things do not
aid in breath control in the least; on the contrary they induce rigidity
which is fatal to easy, natural tone emission.


"When the pupil comes to me, we at once establish natural, easy
conditions of body and an understanding of the causes which produce good
tone. We then begin to work on the vowels. They are the backbone of good
singing. When they become controlled, they are then preceded by
consonants. Take the first vowel, A; it can be preceded by all the
consonants of the alphabet one after another, then each vowel in turn
can be treated in the same way. We now have syllables; the next step is
to use words. Here is where difficulties sometimes arise for the
student. The word becomes perfectly easy to sing if vowels and
consonants are properly produced. When they are not, words become
obstacles. Correct understanding will quickly obviate this.


"Breath control is indeed a vital need, but it should not be made a
bugbear to be greatly feared. The young student imagines he must inflate
the lungs almost to bursting, in order that he may take a breath long
enough to sing a phrase. Then, as soon as he opens his lips, he allows
half the air he has taken in to escape, before he has uttered a sound.
With such a beginning he can only gasp a few notes of the phrase. Or he
distends the muscles at the waist to the fullest extent and fancies this
is the secret of deep breathing. In short, most students make the
breathing and breath control a very difficult matter indeed, when it is,
or should be an act most easy and natural. They do not need the large
quantity of breath they imagine they do; for a much smaller amount will
suffice to do the work. I tell them, 'Inhale simply and naturally, as
though you inhaled the fragrance of a flower. And when you open your
lips after this full natural breath, do not let the breath escape; the
vocal chords will make the tone, if you understand how to make a perfect
start. If the action is correct, the vocal chords will meet; they will
not be held apart nor will they crowd each other. Allow the diaphragm
and respiratory muscles to do their work, never forcing them; then you
will soon learn what breath control in singing means. Remember again,
not a particle of breath should be allowed to escape. Every other part
of the apparatus must be permitted to do its work, otherwise there will
be interference somewhere.'


"Everything pertaining to the study of vocal technic and the art of
singing may be summed up in the one word--Causation. A cause underlies
every effect. If you do not secure the quality of tone you desire, there
must be a reason for it. You evidently do not understand the cause which
will produce the effect. That is the reason why singers possessing
really beautiful voices produce uneven effects and variable results.
They may sing a phrase quite perfectly at one moment. A short time after
they may repeat the same phrase in quite a different way and not at all
perfectly. One night they will sing very beautifully; the next night you
might hardly recognize the voice, so changed would be its quality. This
would not be the case if they understood causation. A student, rightly
taught, should know the cause for everything he does, how he does thus
and so and why he does it. A singer should be able to produce the voice
correctly, no matter in what position the rôle he may be singing may
require the head or body to be in. In opera the head or body may be
placed in difficult unnatural positions, but these should not interfere
with good tone production.


"I am asked sometimes if I teach registers of the voice. I can say
decidedly no, I do not teach registers. The voice should be one and
entire, from top to bottom, and should be produced as such, no matter in
what part of the voice you sing. Throughout the voice the same
instrument is doing the work. So, too, with voices of different caliber,
the coloratura, lyric and dramatic. Each and all of these may feel the
dramatic spirit of the part, but the lighter quality of the voice may
prevent the coloratura from expressing it. The world recognizes the
dramatic singer in the size of the voice and of the person. From an
artistic point of view, however, there are two ways of looking at the
question, since the lyric voice may have vivid dramatic instincts, and
may be able to bring them out with equal or even greater intensity than
the purely dramatic organ.


"Vocal Mastery is acquired through correct understanding of what
constitutes pure vowel sounds, and such control of the breath as will
enable one to convert every atom of breath into singing tone. This
establishes correct action of the vocal chords and puts the singer in
possession of the various tints of the voice.

"When the diaphragm and respiratory muscles support the breath
sufficiently and the vocal chords are permitted to do their work, you
produce pure tone. Many singers do not understand these two vital
principles. They either sing with too much relaxation of the diaphragm
and respiratory muscles, or too much rigidity. Consequently the effort
becomes local instead of constitutional, which renders the tone hard and
strident and variable to pitch. Again the vocal chords are either forced
apart or pinched together, with detriment to tone production.

"The real value of control is lost when we attempt to control the
singing instrument and the breath by seeking a place for the tone the
singing instrument produces. When the vocal chords are allowed to
produce pure vowels, correct action is the result and with proper breath
support, Vocal Mastery can be assured."




A young French girl had just sung a group of songs in her own language
and had won acclaim from the distinguished company present. They admired
the rich quality of her voice, her easy, spontaneous tone production and
clear diction. A brilliant future was predicted for the young singer.
One critic of renown remarked: "It is a long time since I have heard a
voice so well placed and trained."

"And who is your teacher?" she was asked.

"It is Mr. Duval; I owe everything to him. He has really made my voice;
I have never had another teacher and all my success will be due to him,"
she answered.

We at once expressed a desire to meet Mr. Duval and hear from his own
lips how such results were attained.

A meeting was easily arranged and we arrived at the appointed hour, just
in time to hear one of the brilliant students of this American-French
singing master.

Mr. Duval is young, slim and lithe of figure, with sensitive, refined
features, which grow very animated as he speaks. He has a rich fund of
humor and an intensity of utterance that at once arrests the listener.
He came forward to greet the visitor with simple cordiality, saying he
was pleased we could hear one of his latest "finds."

The young tenor was at work on an air from _Tosca_. His rich, vibrant
voice, of large power and range and of real Caruso-like quality, poured
forth with free and natural emission. With what painstaking care this
wise teacher aided him to mold each tone, each phrase, till it attained
the desired effect. Being a singer himself, Mr. Duval is able to show
and demonstrate as well as explain. He does both with the utmost
clearness and with unfailing interest and enthusiasm. Indeed his
interest in each pupil in his charge is unstinted.

The lesson over, Mr. Duval came over to us. "There is a singer I shall
be proud of," he said. "Several years ago I taught him for a few months,
giving him the principles of voice placement and tone production. This
was in Europe. I had not seen him since then till recently, when
circumstances led him to New York. He never forgot what he had
previously learned with me. He now has a lesson every day and is a most
industrious worker. I believe he has a fortune in that voice. Next
season will see him launched, and he will surely make a sensation."

"Will you give some idea of the means by which you accomplish such

"The means are very simple and natural. So many students are set on the
wrong track by being told to do a multitude of things that are
unnecessary, even positively harmful. For instance, they are required to
sing scales on the vowels, A, E, I, O, U. I only use the vowel Ah, for
exercises, finding the others are not needed, especially excluding E and
U as injurious. Indeed one of the worst things a young voice can do is
to sing scales on E and U, for these contract the muscles of the lips.
Another injurious custom is to sing long, sustained tones in the
beginning. This I do not permit.

"After telling you the things I forbid, I must enlighten you as to our
plan of study.

"The secret of correct tone emission is entire relaxation of the lips. I
tell the pupil, the beginner, at the first lesson, to sing the vowel Ah
as loudly and as deeply as possible, thinking constantly of relaxed lips
and loose lower jaw. Ah is the most natural vowel and was used
exclusively in the old Italian school of Bel Canto. Long sustained tones
are too difficult. One should sing medium fast scales at first. If we
begin with the long sustained tone, the young singer is sure to hold the
voice in his throat, or if he lets go, a tremolo will result. Either a
throaty, stiff tone or a tremolo will result from practicing the single
sustained tone.

"Singing pianissimo in the beginning is another fallacy. This is one of
the most difficult accomplishments and should be reserved for a later
period of development.

"The young singer adds to scales various intervals, sung twice in a
breath, beginning, not at the extreme of the lower voice, but carried up
as high as he can comfortably reach. I believe in teaching high tones
early, and in showing the pupil how to produce the head voice. Not that
I am a high tone specialist," he added smiling, "for I do not sacrifice
any part of the voice to secure the upper notes. But after all it is the
high portion of the voice that requires the most study, and that is
where so many singers fail.

"The young student practices these first exercises, and others, two half
hours daily, at least two hours after eating, and comes to me three
times a week. I suggest she rest one day in each week, during which she
need not sing at all, but studies other subjects connected with her art.
As the weeks go by, the voice, through relaxed lips and throat and
careful training, grows richer and more plentiful. One can almost note
its development from day to day.


"When the time comes to use words, the important thing is to put _the
words in the voice, not the voice in the words_, to quote Juliani, the
great teacher, with whom I was associated in Paris. More voices have
been ruined by the stiff, exaggerated use of the lips in pronouncing,
than in any other way. When we put the words in the voice, in an easy,
natural way, we have bel canto.

"Another thing absolutely necessary is breath support. Hold up the
breath high in the body, for high tones, though always with the throat
relaxed. This point is not nearly enough insisted upon by teachers of

"The points I have mentioned already prove that a vocal teacher who
desires the best results in his work with others, must know how to sing
himself; he should have had wide experience in concert and opera before
attempting to lead others along these difficult paths. Because a man can
play the organ and piano and has accompanied singers is not the
slightest cause for thinking he can train voices in the art of song. I
have no wish to speak against so-called teachers of singing, but say
this in the interests of unsuspecting students.

"It is impossible," continued Mr. Duval, "to put the whole method of
vocal training into a few sentences. The student advances gradually and
naturally, but surely, from the beginnings I have indicated, to the
trill, the pizzicati, to more rapid scales, to learning the attack, and
so on. Of course diction plays a large part in the singer's development.
With the first song the student learns to put other vowels in the same
voice with which the exercises on Ah have been sung, and to have them
all of the same size, easily and loosely pronounced. Never permit the
pronunciation to be too broad for the voice. The pronunciation should
never be mouthed, but should flow into the stream of the breath without
causing a ripple. This is bel canto!

"In teaching I advise two pupils sharing the hour, for while one is
singing the other can rest the voice and observe what is being taught.
It is too fatiguing to a young voice to expect it to work a full half
hour without rest.

"I was teaching in my Paris studio for a number of months after the war
started, before coming to America. It is my intention, in future, to
divide my time between New York and Paris. I like teaching in the French
capital for the reason I can bring out my pupils in opera there. I am
also pleased to teach in my own land, for the pleasant connections I
have made here, and for the fresh, young American voices which come to
me to be trained."


"What is Vocal Mastery? There are so many kinds! Every great artist has
his own peculiar manner of accomplishing results--his own vocal mastery.
Patti had one kind, Maurel another, Lehmann still another. Caruso also
may be considered to have his own vocal mastery, inasmuch as he commands
a vocal technic which enables him to interpret any rôle that lies within
his power and range. The greatest singer of to-day, Shalyapin, has also
his individual vocal mastery, closely resembling the sort that enabled
Maurel to run such a gamut of emotions with such astonishing command and

"In fine, as every great artist is different from his compeers, there
can be no fixed and fast standard of vocal mastery, except the mastery
of doing a great thing convincingly."




The student, seeking light on the many problems of vocal technic, the
training for concert and opera, how to get started in the profession,
and kindred subjects of vital importance, has doubtless found, in the
foregoing talks a rich fund of help and suggestion. It is from such high
sources that a few words of personal experience and advice, have often
proved to be to the young singer a beacon light, showing what to avoid
and what to follow. It were well to gather up these strands of
suggestion from great artists and weave them into a strong bulwark of
precept and example, so that the student may be kept within the narrow
path of sound doctrine and high endeavor.

At the very outset, two points must be borne in mind:

1. Each and every voice and mentality is individual.

2. The artist has become a law unto himself; it is not possible for him
to make rules for others.

First, as to difference in voices. When it is considered that the human
instrument, unlike any fabricated by the hand of man, is a purely
personal instrument, subject to endless variation through variety in
formation of mouth and throat cavities, also physical conditions of the
anatomy, it is no cause for wonder that the human instrument should
differ in each individual. Then think of all sorts and conditions of
mentality, environment, ambitions and ideals. It is a self evident fact
that the vocal instrument must be a part of each person, of whom there
are "no two alike."

Artists in general have strongly expressed themselves on this point:
most of them agree with Galli-Curci, when she says: "There are as many
kinds of voices as there are persons; therefore it seems to me each
voice should be treated in the manner best suited to its possessor."
"Singing is such an individual thing, after all," says Anna Case; "it is
a part of one's very self." "Each person has a different mentality and a
different kind of voice," says Martinelli; "indeed there are as many
qualities of voice as there are people."

Granting, then, that there are no two voices and personalities in the
world, exactly alike, it follows, as a natural conclusion, that the
renowned vocalist, who has won his or her way from the beginning up to
fame and fortune, realizes that her instrument and her manner of
training and handling it are peculiarly personal. As she has won success
through certain means and methods, she considers those means belong to
her, in the sense that they especially suit her particular instrument.
She is then a law unto herself and is unwilling to lay down any laws for
others. Geraldine Farrar does not imply there is only one right way to
train the voice, and she has found that way. In speaking of her method
of study, she says: "These things seem best for my voice, and this is
the way I work. But, since each voice is different, my ways might not
suit any one else. I have no desire to lay down rules for others; I can
only speak of my own experience."

Galli-Curci says: "The singer who understands her business must know
just how she produces tones and vocal effects. She can then do them at
all times, even under adverse circumstances, when nervous or not in the
mood. I have developed the voice and trained it in the way that seemed
to me best for it. How can any other person tell you how that is to be

"It rests with the singer what she will do with her voice--how she will
develop it," remarks Mme. Homer. Martinelli says: "The voice is a hidden
instrument and eventually its fate must rest with its possessor. After
general principles are understood, a singer must work them out according
to his ability." Florence Easton remarks: "Each singer who has risen,
who has found herself, knows by what path she climbed, but the path she
found might not do for another."

Instead of considering this reticence on the part of the successful
singer, to explain the ways and means which enabled him to reach
success, in the light of a selfish withholding of advice which would
benefit the young student, we rather look upon it as a worthy and
conscientious desire not to lead any one into paths which might not be
best for his or her instrument.

In the beginning the student needs advice from an expert master, and is
greatly benefited by knowing how the great singers have achieved. Later
on, when principles have become thoroughly understood, the young singers
learn what is best for their own voices; they, too, become a law unto
themselves, capable of continuing the development of their own voices in
the manner best suited to this most individual of all instruments.


We often hear slighting things said of the quality of American voices,
especially the speaking voice. They are frequently compared to the
beauty of European voices, to the disparagement of those of our own
country. Remembering the obloquy cast upon the American voice, it is a
pleasure to record the views of some of the great singers on this point.
"There are quantities of girls in America with good voices, good looks
and a love for music," asserts Mme. Easton. Mme. Hempel says: "I find
there are quantities of lovely voices here in America. The quality of
the American female voice is beautiful; in no country is it finer, not
even in Italy." Herbert Witherspoon, who has such wonderful experience
in training voices, states: "We ought to have our own standards in
judging American voices; until we do so, we will be constantly comparing
them with the voices of foreign singers. The quality of the American
voice is different from the quality found in the voices of other
countries. To my mind, the best women's voices are found right here in
our midst." And he adds: "Any one can sing beautifully who does so with
ease and naturalness, the American just as well as those of any other
country. In fact I consider American voices, in general, better trained
than those of Italy, Germany or France. The Italian, in particular, has
very little knowledge of the scientific side; he usually sings by


If this be accepted, that American voices are better trained than those
of other countries, and there is no reason to doubt the statement of
masters of such standing, it follows there must be competent instructors
in the art of song right in our own land. Mme. Easton agrees with this.
"There are plenty of good vocal teachers in America," she says, "not
only in New York City, but in other large cities of this great country.
There is always the problem, however, of securing just the right kind of
a teacher. For a teacher may be excellent for one voice but not for
another." Morgan Kingston asserts: "There is no need for an American to
go out of his own country for vocal instruction or languages; all can be
learned right here at home. I am a living proof of this. What I have
done others can do." "You have excellent vocal teachers right here in
America," says Mme. Hempel. Then she marvels, that with all these
advantages at her door, there are not more American girls who make good.
She lays it to the fact that our girls try to combine a social life with
their musical studies, to the great detriment of the latter.


It is doubtless a great temptation to the American girl who possesses a
voice and good looks, who is a favorite socially, to neglect her studies
at times, for social gaiety. She is in such haste to make something of
herself, to get where she can earn a little with her voice; yet by
yielding to other calls she defeats the very purpose for which she is
striving by a lowered ideal of her art. Let us see how the artists and
teachers view this state of things. Lehmann says:

"The trouble with American girls is they are always in a hurry. They are
not content to sit down quietly and study till they have developed
themselves into something before they ever think of coming to Europe.
They think if they can only come over here and sing for an artist, that
fact alone will give them prestige in America. With us American girls
are too often looked upon as superficial because they come over here
quite unprepared. I say to them: Go home and study; there are plenty of
good teachers of voice and piano in your own land. Then, when you can
_sing_, come here if you wish."

Frieda Hempel speaks from close observation when she says: "Here in
America, girls do not realize the amount of labor and sacrifice
involved, or they might not be so eager to enter upon a musical career.
They are too much taken up with teas, parties, and social functions to
have sufficient time to devote to vocal study and to all that goes with
it. In order to study all the subjects required, the girl with a voice
must be willing to give most of her day to work. This means sacrificing
the social side, and being willing to throw herself heart and soul into
the business of adequately preparing herself for her career."


In the words of Caruso's message to vocal students, they must be willing
"to work--to work always--and to sacrifice." But Geraldine Farrar does
not consider this in the light of sacrifice. Her message to the young
singer is:

"Stick to your work and study systematically, whole-heartedly. If you do
not love your work enough to give it your best thought, to make
sacrifices for it, then there is something wrong with you. Better choose
some other line of work, to which you can give undivided attention and
devotion. For music requires both. As for sacrifices, they really do not
exist, if they promote the thing you honestly love most. You must never
stop studying, for there is always so much to learn." "I have developed
my voice through arduous toil," to quote Mme. Galli-Curci. Raisa says:
"One cannot expect to succeed in the profession of music without giving
one's best time and thought to the work of vocal training and all the
other subjects that go with it. A man in business gives his day, or the
most of it, to his office. My time is devoted to my art, and indeed I
have not any too much time to study all the necessary sides of it."

"I am always studying, always striving to improve what I have already
learned and trying to acquire the things I find difficult, or have not
yet attained to," testifies Mme. Homer.


Those who have been through the necessary drudgery and struggle and have
won out, should be able to give an authoritative answer to this all
important question. They know what they started with, what any singer
must possess at the beginning, and what she must acquire.

Naturally the singer must have a voice, for there is no use trying to
cultivate something which does not exist. All artists subscribe to this.
They also affirm she should have good looks, a love for music and a
musical nature. Let us hear from Mme. Homer on this subject.

"1. Voice, first of all. 2. Intelligence; for intelligence controls,
directs, shines through and illumines everything. What can be done
without it? 3. Musical nature. 4. Capacity for Work. Without
application, the gifts of voice, intelligence and a musical nature will
not make an artist. 5. A cheerful optimism, which refuses to yield to
discouragement. 6. Patience. It is only with patient striving, doing the
daily vocal task, and trying to do it each day a little better than the
day before, that anything worth while is accomplished. The student must
have unlimited patience to labor and wait for results."

Mr. Witherspoon states, that students coming to him must possess "Voice,
to begin with; youth, good looks, musical intelligence and application.
If the candidate possess these requisites, we begin to work." Anna Case
answers the question as to the vital requisites necessary to become a
singer: "Brains, Personality, Voice."

Quotations could be multiplied to prove that all artists fully concur
with those already mentioned. There must be a promising voice to
cultivate, youth, good looks, (for a public career) and the utmost
devotion to work.


All agree there are many other subjects to study besides singing; that
alone is far from sufficient. Edward Johnson says: "Singing itself is
only a part, perhaps the smaller part of one's equipment. If opera be
the goal, there are languages, acting, make up, impersonation,
interpretation, how to walk, all to be added to piano, harmony and
languages. The most important of all is a musical education."

Most of the great singers have emphatically expressed themselves in
favor of piano study. Indeed, many were pianists in the beginning,
before they began to develop the voice. Among those who had this
training are: Galli-Curci, Lehmann, Raisa, D'Alvarez, Barrientos,
Braslau, Case. Miss Braslau says: "I am so grateful for my knowledge of
the piano and its literature; it is the greatest help to me now. To my
thinking all children should have piano lessons; the cost is trifling
compared with the benefits they receive. They should be made to study,
whether they wish it or not, for they do not know what is best for

Mme. Raisa says: "There are so many sides to the singer's equipment
besides singing itself. The piano is a necessity; the singer is greatly
handicapped without a knowledge of that instrument, for it not only
provides accompaniment but cultivates musical sense." "The vocal student
should study piano as well as languages," asserts Mme. Homer; "both are
the essentials. Not that she need strive to become a pianist; that would
not be possible if she is destined to be a singer. But the more she
knows of the piano and its literature, the more this will cultivate her
musical sense and develop her taste."

Florence Easton is even more emphatic. "If a girl is fond of music, let
her first study the piano, for a knowledge of the piano and its music is
at the bottom of everything. All children should have this opportunity,
whether they desire it or not. The child who early begins to study
piano, will often unconsciously follow the melody with her voice. Thus
the love of song is awakened in her, and a little later it is discovered
she has a voice worth cultivating."

On the subject of languages, artists are equally specific. Languages are
an absolute necessity, beginning with one's mother tongue. The student
should not imagine that because he is born to the English language, it
does not require careful study. Galli-Curci remarks: "The singer can
always be considered fortunate who has been brought up to more than one
language. I learned Spanish and Italian at home. In school I learned
French, German and English, not only a little smattering of each, but
how to write and speak them."

Rosa Raisa speaks eight languages, according to her personal statement.
Russian, of course, as she is Russian, then French, Italian, German,
Spanish, Polish, Roumanian and English.

"The duty is laid upon Americans to study other languages, if they
expect to sing," says Florence Easton. "I know how often this study is
neglected by the student. It is only another phase of that haste which
is characteristic of the young student and singer."


Following the subject of requirements for a vocal career, let us get
right down to the technical side, and review the ideas of artists on
Breath Control, How to Practice, What are the Necessary Exercises, What
Vowels Should be Used, and so on.

All admit that the subject of Breath Control is perhaps the most
important of all. Lehmann says: "I practice many breathing exercises
without using tone. Breath becomes voice through effort of will and by
use of vocal organs. When singing, emit the smallest quantity of breath.
Vocal chords are breath regulators; relieve them of all overwork."

Mme. Galli-Curci remarks: "Perhaps, in vocal mastery, the greatest
factor of all is the breathing. To control the breath is what each
student is striving to learn, what every singer endeavors to perfect,
what every artist should master. It is an almost endless study and an
individual one, because each organism and mentality is different."

Marguerite d'Alvarez: "In handling and training the voice, breathing is
perhaps the most vital thing to be considered. To some breath control
seems second nature; others must toil for it. With me it is intuition.
Breathing is such an individual thing. With each person it is different,
for no two people breathe in just the same way."

Claudia Muzio: "Every singer knows how important is the management of
breath. I always hold up the chest, taking as deep breaths as I can
conveniently. The power to hold the breath and sing more and more tones
with one breath, grows with careful, intelligent practice."

Frieda Hempel: "The very first thing for a singer to consider is breath
control--always the breathing, the breathing. She thinks of it morning,
noon and night. Even before rising in the morning she has it on her
mind, and may do a few little stunts while still reclining. Then, before
beginning vocal technic in the morning, she goes through a series of
breathing exercises."

David Bispham: "Correct breath control must be carefully studied and is
the result of understanding and experience. When the manner of taking
breath and the way to develop the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, is
understood, that is only a beginning. Management of the breath is an art
in itself. The singer must know what to do with the breath once he has
taken it in, or he may let it out in quarts when he opens his mouth. He
learns how much he needs for each phrase; he learns how to conserve the

Oscar Saenger: "The management of the breath is a most important factor,
as the life of the tone depends on a continuance of the breath. The
student must cultivate the power of quickly inhaling a full breath, and
exhaling it so gradually that she can sing a phrase lasting from ten to
twenty seconds. This needs months of arduous practice. In all breathing,
inhale through the nose."

Yeatman Griffith: "Breath control is indeed a vital need, but should not
be made a bugbear to be greatly feared. Most students make breathing and
breath control a difficult matter, when it should be a natural and easy
act. They do not need the large amount of breath they imagine they do,
for a much smaller quantity will suffice. When you open the lips after a
full, natural breath, do not let the breath escape; the vocal chords
will make the tone, if you understand how to make a perfect start."


Great singers are chary of giving out vocal exercises which they have
discovered, evolved, or have used so constantly as to consider them a
part of their own personal equipment, for reasons stated earlier in this
chapter. However, a few artists have indicated certain forms which they
use. Mme. d'Alvarez remarks: "When I begin to study in the morning, I
give the voice what I call a massage. This consists of humming
exercises, with closed lips. Humming is the sunshine of the voice. One
exercise is a short figure of four consecutive notes of the diatonic
scale, ascending and descending several times; on each repetition of the
group of phrases, the new set begins on the next higher note of the
scale. This exercise brings the tone fully forward."

Lehmann counsels the young voice to begin in the middle and work both
ways. Begin single tones piano, make a long crescendo and return to
piano. Another exercise employs two connecting half tones, using one or
two vowels. During practice stand before a mirror.

Raisa assures us she works at technic every day. "Vocalizes, scales,
broken thirds, long, slow tones in mezza di voce--that is beginning
softly, swelling to loud, then diminuendo to soft, are part of the daily
régime." Farrar works on scales and single tones daily. Muzio says: "I
sing all the scales, one octave each, once slow and once fast--all in
one breath. Then I sing triplets on each tone, as many as I can in one
breath. Another exercise is to take one tone softly, then go to the
octave above; this tone is always sung softly, but there is a large
crescendo between the two soft tones." Kingston says: "As for technical
material, I have never used a great quantity. I do scales and vocalizes
each day. I also make daily use of about a dozen exercises by Rubini.
Beyond these I make technical exercises out of the pieces." De Luca
sings scales in full power, then each tone alone, softly, then swelling
to full strength and dying away. Bispham: "I give many vocalizes and
exercises, which I invent to fit the need of each student. They are not
written down, simply remembered. I also make exercises out of familiar
tunes or themes from opera. Thus, while the student is studying technic,
he is acquiring much beautiful material."

Oscar Saenger: "We begin by uniting two tones smoothly and evenly, then
three in the same way; afterwards four and five. Then the scale of one
octave. Arpeggios are also most important. The trill is the most
difficult of all vocal exercises. We begin with quarter notes, then
eighths and sixteenths. The trill is taken on each tone of the voice, in
major seconds." Werrenrath: "I do a lot of gymnastics each day, to
exercise the voice and limber up the anatomy. These act as a massage for
the voice; they are in the nature of humming, mingled with grunts,
calls, exclamations, shouts, and many kinds of sounds. They put the
voice in condition, so there is no need for all these other exercises
which most singers find so essential to their vocal well being."

Duval asserts: "Long, sustained tones are too difficult for the young
voice. One should sing medium fast scales at first."


It may be helpful to know about how much time the artists devote to
daily study, especially to technical practice. It is understood all
great singers work on vocalizes and technical material daily.

Caruso is a constant worker. Two or three hours in the forenoon, and
several more later in the day, whenever possible. Farrar devotes between
one and two hours daily to vocalizes, scales and tone study, Lehmann
counsels one hour daily on technic. Galli-Curci gives a half hour or so
to vocalizes and scales every morning. Martinelli practices exercises
and vocalizes one hour each morning; then another hour on repertoire. In
the afternoon an hour more--three hours daily. Easton says: "It seems to
me a young singer should not practice more than an hour a day, at most,
beginning with two periods of fifteen or twenty minutes each." Anna Case
says: "I never practice when I am tired, for then it does more harm than
good. One must be in good condition to make good tones. I can study and
not sing at all, for the work is all mental anyway." Muzio states she
gives practically her whole day to study, dividing it into short
periods, with rest between.

Frieda Hempel says: "I do about two hours or more, though not all of
this for technic. I approve of a good deal of technical study, taken in
small doses of ten to fifteen minutes at a time. Technic is a means to
an end, more in the art of song than in almost any other form of art.
Technic is the background of expressive singing."

Sophie Braslau is an incessant worker,--"at least six hours a day. Of
these I actually sing three hours. The first hour to memory work on
repertoire. The second hour to vocalizes. The rest of the time is given
to repertoire and the things that belong to it." Barrientos states she
gives about three-quarters of an hour to vocal technic--scales and
exercises--each day. Duval advises the young student to practice two
half hours daily, two hours after eating, and rest the voice one day
each week, during which she studies other subjects connected with her
art. Oscar Saenger says: "One should practice in fifteen-minute periods,
and rest at least ten minutes between. Sing only two hours a day, one in
the morning and one in afternoon."


There seems a divergence of opinion as to what vowels are most
beneficial in technical practice and study. Galli-Curci says: "In my own
study I use them all, though some are more valuable than others. The Ah
is the most difficult of all. The O is good; E needs great care. I have
found the best way is to use mixed vowels, one melting into the other.
The tone can be started with each vowel in turn, then mingled with the
rest of the vowels." Mme. d'Alvarez often starts the tone with Ah, which
melts into O and later changes to U, as the tone dies away. Bispham has
the student use various vowel syllables, as: Lah, Mah, May, and Mi. With
Oscar Saenger the pupil in early stages at least, uses Ah for vocalizes.
Duval requires students to use the vowel Ah, for exercises and scales,
finding the others are not needed, especially excluding E and U as
injurious. Griffith uses each vowel in turn, preceded by all the
consonants of the alphabet, one after another.


Shall the young singer practice with half or full voice seems a matter
depending on one's individual attainments. De Luca uses full power
during practice, while Raisa sings softly, or with medium, tone, during
study hours, except occasionally when she wishes to try out certain
effects. Martinelli states he always practices with full voice, as with
half voice he would not derive the needed benefit. Mme. Easton admits
she does not, as a rule, use full voice when at work; but adds, this
admission might prove injurious to the young singer, for half voice
might result in faulty tone production. Anna Case says when at work on
a song in her music room, she sings it with the same power as she would
before an audience. She has not two ways of doing it, one for a small
room and another for a large one. Mr. Duval advises the young pupil to
sing tones as loudly and deeply as possible. Singing pianissimo is
another fallacy for a young voice. This is one of the most difficult
accomplishments, and should be reserved for a later period. Oscar
Saenger: "The tone should be free, round and full, but not loud."


Does the singer really hear himself is a question which has been put to
nearly every artist. Many answered in a comparative negative, though
with qualifications. Miss Farrar said:

"No, I do not actually hear my voice, except in a general way, but we
learn to know the sensations produced in throat, head, face, lips and
other parts of the anatomy, which vibrate in a certain manner to correct
tone production. We learn the _feeling_ of the tone." "I can tell just
how I am singing a tone or phrase," says De Luca, "by the feeling and
sensation; for of course I cannot hear the full effect; no singer can
really hear the effect of his work, except on the records." "The singer
must judge so much from sensation, for she cannot very well hear
herself, that is, she cannot tell the full effect of what she is doing,"
says Anna Case. Mr. Witherspoon says: "The singer of course hears
himself and with study learns to hear himself better. The singer should
depend more on hearing the sound he makes than on feeling the sound. In
other words, train the _ear_, the court of ultimate resort, and the only
judge, and forget sensation as much as possible, for the latter leads to
a million confusions."


Farrar: "A thing that is mastered must be really perfect. To master
vocal art, the singer must have so developed his voice that it is under
complete control; then he can do with it what he wishes. He must be able
to produce all he desires of power, pianissimo, accent, shading,
delicacy and variety of color."

Galli-Curci: "To sum up: the three requirements of vocal mastery are:
Management of the Larynx; Relaxation of the Diaphragm; Control of the
Breath. To these might be added a fourth: Mixed Vowels. But when these
are mastered, what then? Ah, so much more it can never be put into
words. It is self-expression through the medium of tone, for tone must
always be a vital part of the singer's individuality, colored by feeling
and emotion. To perfect one's own instrument, must always be the
singer's joy and satisfaction."

Raisa: "If I have developed perfect control throughout the two and a
half octaves of my voice, can make each tone with pure quality and
perfect evenness in the different degrees of loud and soft, and if I
have perfect breath control as well, I then have an equipment that may
serve all purposes of interpretation. For together with vocal mastery
must go the art of interpretation, in which all the mastery of the vocal
equipment may find expression. In order to interpret adequately one
ought to possess a perfect instrument, perfectly trained. When this is
the case one can forget mechanism, because confident of the ability to
express any desired emotion."

Homer: "The singer must master all difficulties of technic, of tone
production in order to be able to express the thought of the composer,
and the meaning of the music."

Werrenrath: "I can answer the question in one word--Disregard. For if
you have complete control of your anatomy and such command of your
vocal resources that they will always do their work; that they can be
depended on to act perfectly, then you can disregard mechanism and think
only of the interpretation--only of your vocal message. Then you have
conquered the material and have attained Vocal Mastery."

Kingston: "Vocal Mastery includes so many things. First and foremost,
vocal technic. One must have an excellent technic before one can hope to
sing even moderately well. Technic furnishes the tool with which the
singer creates his vocal art work. Then the singer must work on his
moral nature so that he shall express the beautiful and pure in music.
Until I have thus prepared myself, I am not doing my whole duty to
myself, my art or to my neighbor."

Griffith: "Vocal Mastery is acquired through correct understanding of
what constitutes pure vowel sounds, and such control of the breath as
will enable one to convert every atom of breath into singing tone. This
establishes correct action of the vocal chords and puts the singer in
possession of the various tints of the voice.

"When the vocal chords are allowed to produce pure vowels, correct
action is the result, and with proper breath support, Vocal Mastery can
be assured."

Duval: "What is Vocal Mastery? Every great artist has his own peculiar
manner of accomplishing results--has his own vocal mastery. Patti had
one kind, Maurel another, Lehmann still another. Caruso may also be said
to have his own vocal mastery.

"In fine, as every great artist is different from his compeers, there
can be no fixed and fast standard of vocal mastery, except the mastery
of doing a great thing greatly and convincingly."


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Vocal Mastery - Talks with Master Singers and Teachers" ***

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