By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Great Singers on the Art of Singing - Educational Conferences with Foremost Artists
Author: Cooke, James Francis, 1875-1960
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Great Singers on the Art of Singing - Educational Conferences with Foremost Artists" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.












INTRODUCTION                                                       5

THE TECHNIC OF OPERATIC PRODUCTION                                21

KNOW ABOUT AN OPERATIC CAREER         _Frances Alda_              31

MODERN VOCAL METHODS IN ITALY         _Pasquale Amato_            38

                                      _David Bispham_             45

SUCCESS IN CONCERT SINGING            _Dame Clara Butt_           58

TRAINING                              _Giuseppe Campanari_        68

ITALY, THE HOME OF SONG               _Enrico Caruso_             79

MODERN ROADS TO VOCAL SUCCESS         _Julia Claussen_            90

SELF-HELP IN VOICE STUDY              _Charles Dalmores_         100

GRAND OPERA                           _Andreas Dippel_           110

OPERA SINGERS                         _Emma Eames_               121

THE OPEN DOOR TO OPERA                _Florence Easton_          133

A PRIMA DONNA?                        _Geraldine Farrar_         144

SCHUMANN                              _Johanna Gadski_           154

TEACHING YOURSELF TO SING             _Amelita Galli-Curci_      166

                                      _Mary Garden_              176

BUILDING A VOCAL REPERTOIRE           _Alma Gluck_               185

SINGERS                               _Emilio de Gogorza_        191

                                      _Frieda Hempel_            200

PRESERVING THE VOICE                  _Dame Nellie Melba_        207

SECRETS OF BEL CANTO                  _Bernice de Pasquali_      217

EDUCATION                             _Marcella Sembrich_        227

KEEPING THE VOICE IN PRIME CONDITION  _Ernestine Schumann-Heink_ 235

ITALIAN OPERA IN AMERICA              _Antonio Scotti_           251

THE SINGER'S LARGER MUSICAL PUBLIC    _Henri Scott_              260

SINGING IN CONCERT AND WHAT IT MEANS  _Emma Thursby_             269

IN AMERICA                            _Reinald Werrenrath_       283

HOW I REGAINED A LOST VOICE           _Evan Williams_            292



Plutarch tells how a Laconian youth picked all the feathers from the
scrawny body of a nightingale and when he saw what a tiny thing was left

    "_Surely thou art all voice
    and nothing else!_"

Among the tens of thousands of young men and women who, having heard a
few famous singers, suddenly determine to follow the trail of the
footlights, there must be a very great number who think that the success
of the singer is "voice and nothing else." If this collection of
conferences serves to indicate how much more goes into the development
of the modern singer than mere voice, the effort will be fruitful.

Nothing is more fascinating in human relations than the medium of
communication we call speech. When this is combined with beautiful music
in song, its charm is supreme. The conferences collected in this book
were secured during a period of from ten to fifteen years; and in every
case the notes have been carefully, often microscopically, reviewed and
approved by the artist. They are the record of actual accomplishment and
not mere metempirical opinions. The general design was directed by the
hundreds of questions that had been presented to the writer in his own
experience in teaching the art of singing. Only the practical teacher of
singing has the opportunity to discover the real needs of the student;
and only the artist of wide experience can answer many of the serious
questions asked.

The writer's first interest in the subject of voice commenced with the
recollection of the wonderfully human and fascinating vocal organ of
Henry Ward Beecher, whom he had the joy to know in his early boyhood.
The memory of such a voice as that of Beecher is ineradicable. Once, at
the same age, he was taken to hear Beecher's rival pulpit orator, the
Rev. T. de Witt Talmage, in the Brooklyn Tabernacle. The harsh, raucous,
nasal, penetrating, rasping, irritating voice of that clergyman only
served to emphasize the delight in listening to Beecher. Then he heard
the wonderful orotund organ of Col. Robert J. Ingersoll and the
sonorous, mellow voice of Edwin Booth.

Shortly he found himself enlisted as a soprano in the boy choir of a
large Episcopal church. While there he became the soloist, singing many
of the leading arias from famous oratorios before he was able to
identify the musical importance of such works. Then came a long training
in piano and in organ playing, followed by public appearances as a
pianist and engagements as an organist and choirmaster in different
churches. This, coupled with song composition, musical criticism and
editing, experience in conducting, managing concerts, accompanying noted
singers and, later, in teaching voice for many years, formed a
background that is recounted here only to let the reader know that the
conferences were not put down by one unacquainted with the actual daily
needs of the student, from his earliest efforts to his platform


What must the singer have? A voice? Of course. But how good must that
voice be? "Ah, there's the rub!" It is this very point which adds so
much fascination to the chances of becoming a great singer; and it is
this very point upon which so many, many careers have been wrecked. The
young singer learns that Jenny Lind was first refused by Garcia because
he considered her case hopeless; he learns that Sir George Henschel told
Bispham that he had insufficient voice to encourage him to take up the
career of the singer; he learns dozens of similar instances; and then he
goes to hear some famous singer with slender vocal gifts who, by force
of tremendous dramatic power, eclipses dozens with finer voices. He
thereupon resolves that "voice" must be a secondary matter in the
singer's success.

There could not be a greater mistake. There must be a good vocal basis.
There must be a voice capable of development through a sufficient gamut
to encompass the great works written for such a voice. It must be
capable of development into sufficient "size" and power that it may fill
large auditoriums. It must be sweet, true to pitch, clear; and, above
all, it must have that kind of an individual quality which seems to
draw the musical interest of the average person to it.


Paradoxically enough, the public does not seem to want the "perfect"
voice, but rather, the "human" voice. A noted expert, who for many years
directed the recording laboratories of a famous sound reproducing
machine company, a man whose acquaintance with great singers of the time
is very wide, once told the writer of a singer who made records so
perfect from the standpoint of tone that no musical critic could
possibly find fault with them. Yet these records did not meet with a
market from the general public. The reason is that the public demands
something far more than a flawless voice and technically correct
singing. It demands the human quality, that wonderful something that
shines through the voice of every normal, living being as the soul
shines through the eyes. It is this thing which gives individuality and
identity to the voice and makes the widest appeal to the greatest number
of people.

Patti was not great because her dulcet tones were like honey to the ear.
Mere sweetness does not attract vast audiences time and again. Once, in
a mediæval German city, the writer was informed that a nightingale had
been heard in the _glacis_ on the previous night. The following evening
a party of friends was formed and wandered through the park whispering
with delight at every outburst from the silver throat. Never had bird
music been so beautiful. The next night someone suggested that we go
again; but no one could be found who was enthusiastic enough to repeat
the experience. The very perfection of the nightingale's song, once
heard, had been sufficient.


Certain performers in vaudeville owe their continued popularity to the
fascinating individuality of their voices. Albert Chevalier, once heard,
could never be forgotten. His pathetic lilt to "My Old Dutuch" has made
thousands weep. When he sings such a number he has a far higher artistic
control over his audience than many an elaborately trained singer
trilling away at some very complicated aria.

A second-rate opera singer once bemoaned his fate to the writer. He
complained that he was obliged to sing for $100.00 a week,
notwithstanding his years of study and preparation, while Harry Lauder,
the Scotch comedian, could get $1000 a night on his tours. As a matter
of fact Mr. Lauder, entirely apart from his ability as an actor, had a
far better voice and had that appealing quality that simply commandeers
his auditors the moment he opens his mouth.

Any method or scheme of teaching the art of singing that does not seek
to develop the inherent intellectual and emotional vocal complexion of
the singer can never approach a good method. Vocal perfection that does
not admit of the manifestation of the real individual has been the death
knell of many an aspiring student. Nordica, Jean de Reszke, Victor
Maurel, Plançon, Sims Reeves, Schumann-Heink, Garden, Dr. Wüllner, Evan
Williams, Galli-Curci, and especially our greatest of American singers,
David Bispham, all have manifested a vocal individuality as unforgetable
to the ear as their countenances are to the eye.

If the reader happens to be a young singer and can grasp the
significance of the previous paragraph, he may have something more
valuable to him than many lessons. The world is not seeking merely the
perfect voice but a great musical individuality manifested through a
voice developed to express that individuality in the most natural and at
the same time the most comprehensive manner possible. Therefore, young
man and young woman, does it not seem of the greatest importance to you
to develop, first of all, the _mind and the soul_, so that when the
great hour comes, your audience will hear through the notes that pour
from your throat something of your intellectual and emotional character?
They will not know how, nor will they ask why they hear it,--but its
manifestation will either be there or it will not be there. Upon this
will depend much of your future success. It can not be concealed from
the discerning critics in whose hands your progress rests. The high
intellectual training received in college by Ffrangçon Davies, David
Bispham, Plunkett Greene, Herbert Witherspoon, Reinald Werrenrath and
others, is just as apparent to the intelligent listener, in their
singing at recitals, as it would be in their conversation. Others have
received an equivalent intellectual training in other ways. The young
singer, who thinks that in the future he can "get by" without such a
training, is booked for disappointment. Get a college education if you
can; and, if you can not, fight to get its equivalent. No useful
experience in the singer's career is a wasted one. The early
instrumental training of Melba, Sembrich, Campanari, Hempel, Dalmores,
Garden, and Galli-Curci, shows out in their finished singing, in
wonderful manner. Every singer should be able to play the piano well. It
has a splendid effect in the musical discipline of the mind. In European
conservatories, in many instances, the study of the piano is compulsory.


The student of singing should be an inveterate reader of "worthwhile"
comments upon his art. In this way, if he has a discriminating mind, he
will be able to form a "philosophy of singing" of his own. Richard
Wagner prefaced his music dramas with lengthy essays giving his reasons
for pursuing a certain course. Whatever their value may be to the
musical public at this time, it could not have been less than that to
the great master when he was fighting to straighten out for his own
satisfaction in his own mind just what he should do and how he should do
it. Therefore, read interminably; but believe nothing that you read
until you have weighed it carefully in your own mind and determined its
usefulness in its application to your own particular case.

The student will find the following books of real value in his quest for
vocal truth: _The Philosophy of Singing_, Clara Kathleen Rogers; _The
Vocal Instructor_, E. J. Myer; _The Psychology of Singing_, David C.
Taylor; _How to Sing_, Lilli Lehmann; _Reminiscences of a Quaker
Singer_, David Bispham; _The Art of the Singer_, W. J. Henderson.

The student should also read the biographies of famous singers and keep
in touch with the progress of the art, through reading the best


The history of singing parallels the history of civilization. Egypt,
Israel, Greece and Rome made their contributions; but how they sang and
what they sang we can not definitely know because of the destruction of
the bridge between ancient and modern notation, and because not until
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, was there any tangible
means of recording the voices of the singers. The wisdom of Socrates,
Plato and Cæsar is therefore of trifling significance in helping us to
find out more than how highly the art was regarded. The absurd antics of
Nero, in his ambition to distinguish himself as a singer, indicated in
some more or less indefinite way the importance given to singing in the
heyday of Rome. The incessant references to singing, in Greek
literature, tell us that singing was looked upon not merely as an
accomplishment but as one of the necessary arts.

Coincident with the coming of Italian opera, about 1600, we find a
great revival of the art of singing; and many of the old Italian masters
have bequeathed us some fairly instructive comments upon the art of _bel
canto_. That these old Italian teachers were largely individualists and
taught empirically, with no set methods other than that which their own
ears determined, seems to be accepted quite generally by investigators
at this date. The _Osservazione sopra il Canto figurato_ of Pietro
Francesco Tosi (procurable in English), published in 1723, and the
_Reflessioni pratichi sul Canto figurato_, published in 1776, are
valuable documents for the serious student, particularly because these
men seemed to recognize that the so-called registers should be
equalized. With them developed an ever-expanding jargon of voice
directions which persist to this day among vocal teachers. Such
directions as "sing through the mask" (meaning the face); "sing with the
throat open"; "sing as though you were just about to smile"; "sing as
though you were just about to experience the sensation of swallowing"
(_come bere_); "support the tone"; etc., etc., are often more confusing
than helpful. Manual Garcia (1805-1906), who invented the laryngoscope
in 1855, made an earnest effort to bring scientific observation to the
aid of the vocal teacher, by providing a tiny mirror on the end of a
rod, enabling the teacher to see the vocal cords during the process of
phonation. How much this actually helped the singing teacher is still a
moot point; but it must be remembered that Garcia had many extremely
successful pupils, including the immortal Jenny Lind.

The writer again advises the serious student of singing to spend a great
deal of time in forming his own conception of the principles by which he
can get the most from his voice. Any progressive artist teacher will
encourage him in this course. In other words, it is not enough in these
days that he shall sing; but he must know how he produces his results
and be able to produce them time and time again with constantly
increasing success. Note in the succeeding conferences how many of the
great singers have given very careful and minute consideration to this.
The late Evan Williams spent years of thought and study upon it; and the
writer considers that his observations in this volume are among the most
important contributions to the literature of voice teaching. This was
the only form in which they appeared in print. Only one student in a
hundred thousand can dispense with a good vocal teacher, as did the
brilliant Galli-Curci or the unforgetable Campanari. A really fine
teacher of voice is practically indispensable to most students. This
does not mean that the best teacher is the one with the greatest
reputation. The reputation of a teacher only too often has depended upon
his good fortune early in life in securing pupils who have made
spectacular successes in a short time. There are hundreds of splendid
vocal teachers in America now, and it is very gratifying to see many of
their pupils make great successes in Europe without any previous
instruction "on the other side."

Surely nothing can be more helpful to the ambitious vocal student than
the direct advice, personal suggestions and hints of the greatest
singers of the time. It is with this thought that the writer takes
especial pride in being the medium of the presentation of the following
conferences. It is suggested that a careful study of the best
sound-reproducing-machine records of the great singers included will add
much to the interest of the study of this work.

The enormous incomes received from some vocal gold mines, such as
Caruso, John McCormack, Patti, Galli-Curci, and others, have made the
lure of the singer's career so great that many young vocalists are
inclined to forget that all of the great singers of the day have
attained their triumphs only after years of hard work. Galli-Curci's
overwhelmingly successful American début followed years of real labor,
when she was glad to accept small engagements in order to advance in her
art. John McCormack's first American appearances were at a side show at
the St. Louis World's Fair. Sacrifice is often the seed kernel of large
success. Too few young singers are willing to plant that kernel. They
expect success to come at the end of a few courses of study and a few
hundred dollars spent in advertising. The public, particularly the
American public, is a wary one. It may be possible to advertise
worthless gold mining stock in such a way that thousands may be swindled
before the crook behind the scheme is jailed. But it is impossible to
sell our public a so-called golden-voiced singer whose voice is really
nothing more than tin-foil and very thin tin-foil at that.

Every year certain kinds of slippery managers accept huge fees from
would-be singers, which are supposed to be invested in a mysterious
formula which, like the philosopher's stone, will turn a baser metal
into pure gold. No campaign of advertising spent upon a mediocrity or an
inadequately prepared artist can ever result in anything but a
disastrous waste. Don't spend a penny in advertising until you have
really something to sell which the public will want. It takes years to
make a fine singer known; but it takes only one concert to expose an
inadequate singer. Every one of the artists represented in this book has
been "through the mill" and every one has triumphed gloriously in the
end. There is one road. They have defined it in remarkable fashion in
these conferences. The sign-posts read, "Work, Sacrifice, Joy, Triumph."

With the multiplicity of methods and schemes for practice it is not
surprising that the main essentials of the subject are sometimes
obscured. That such discussions as those included in this book will
enable the thinking student to crystallize in his own mind something
which to him will become a method long after he has left his student
days, can not be questioned. One of the significant things which he will
have to learn is perfect intonation, keeping on the right pitch all the
time; and another thing is freedom from restriction, best expressed by
the word poise. William Shakespeare, greatest of English singing
teachers of his day, once expressed these important points in the
following words:

"The Foundations of the Art of Singing are two in number:

"First: (A) How to take breath and (B) how to press it out slowly. (The
act of slow exhalation is seen in our endeavor to warm some object with
the breath.)

"Second: How to sing to this controlled breath pressure.

"It may be interesting at this point to observe how the old singers
practiced when seeking a full tone while using little breath. They
watched the effect of their breath by singing against a mirror or
against the flame of a taper. If a note required too much pressure the
command over the breath was lost--the mirror was unduly tarnished or the
flame unduly puffed. 'Ah' was their pattern vowel, being the most
difficult on account of the openness of the throat--the vowel which, by
letting more breath out, demanded the greatest control. The perfect
poise of the instrument on the controlled breath was found to bring
about _three_ important results to the singer:

"_First result_--Unerring tuning. As we do not experience any sensation
of consciously using the muscles in the throat, we can only judge of the
result by listening. When the note sounds to the right breath control it
springs unconsciously and instantaneously to the tune we intended. The
freedom of the instrument not being interfered with, it follows through
our wishing it--like any other act naturally performed. This unerring
tuning is the first result of a right foundation.

"_Second result_--The throat spaces are felt to be unconscious and
arrange themselves independently in the different positions prompted by
the will and necessary to pronounciation, the factors being freedom of
tongue and soft palate, and freedom of lips.

"_Third result_--The complete freedom of the face and eyes which adapt
themselves to those changes necessary to the expression of the emotions.

"The artist can increase the intensity of his tone without necessarily
increasing its volume, and can thus produce the softest effect. By his
skill he can emit the soft note and cause it to travel as far as a loud
note, thus arousing emotions as of distance, as of memories of the past.
He produces equally well the more powerful gradations without
overstepping the boundary of noble and expressive singing. On the other
hand, an indifferent performer would scarcely venture on a soft effect,
the absence of breath support would cause him to become inaudible and
should he attempt to crescendo such a note the result would be throaty
and unsatisfactory."

Another most important subject is diction, and the writer can think of
nothing better than to quote from Mme. Lilli Lehmann, the greatest
Wagnerian soprano of the last century.

"Let us now consider some of the reasons why some American singers have
failed to succeed. How do American women begin their studies? Many
commence their lessons in December or January. They take two or three
half-hour lessons a week, even attending these irregularly, and ending
their year's instruction in March or, at the latest, in April. Surely
music study under such circumstances is little less than farcical. The
voice, above all things, needs careful and constant attention. Moreover,
many are lacking lamentably in the right preparations. Some are
evidently so benighted as to believe that preparation is unnecessary. Or
do they believe that the singing teacher must also provide a musical and
general education?

"Is there one among them, for instance, who can enunciate her own
language faultlessly; that is, as the stage demands? Many fail to
realize that they should, first of all, be taught elocution (diction) by
teachers who can show them how to pronounce vowels purely and
beautifully, and consonants correctly and distinctly, so as to give
words their proper sounds. How can anyone expect to sing in a foreign
language when he has no idea of his own language--no idea how this
wonderful member, the tongue, should be used--to say nothing of the
terrible faults in speaking? I endorse the study of elocution as a
preparatory study for all singing. No one can realize how much simpler
and how much more efficient it would make the work of the singing

Finally, the writer feels that there is much to be inferred from the
popular criticism of the man in the street--"There is no music in that
voice." Mr. Hoipolloi knows just what he means when he says that. As a
matter of fact, the average voice has very little music in it. By music
the man means that the pitch of the tones that he hears shall be so
unmistakable and so accurate, that the quality shall be so pure and the
thought of the singer so sincere and so worth-while, that the auditor
feels the wonderful human emotion that comes only from listening to a
beautiful human voice. Put real music in every tone and your success
will not be far distant.


Bala, Pa.



Even after one has mastered the art of singing there is still much that
the artist must learn about the actual working of the opera house
itself. This of course is best done by actual experience; but the writer
has found that much can be gained by insight into some of the conditions
that exist in the modern opera house.

In the childhood of hundreds of people now living opera was given with
scenery and costumes that would be ridiculed in vaudeville if seen
to-day. Pianos, lamps, chairs and even bird cages were often painted
right on the scenery. One set of costumes and properties was made to do
for the better part of the repertoire in such a way that even the most
flexible imagination was stretched to the breaking point several times
during the performance. Now, most of this has changed and the modern
opera house stage is often a mechanical and electrical marvel.

It is most human to want to peep behind the scenes and see something of
the machinery which causes the wonderful spectacle of the stage. We
remember how, as children, we longed to open the clock and see the
wheels go round. Behind the asbestos curtain there is a world of ropes,
lights, electrical and mechanical machinery, paints and canvas, which
is always a territory filled with interest to those who sit in the seats
in front.

Much of the success of the opera in New York, during the early part of
the present century, was due to the great efficiency of the Director,
Giulio Gatti-Casazza. Gatti-Casazza was a graduate of the Royal Italian
Naval Academy at Leghorn, and had been intended for a career as a naval
engineer before he undertook the management of the opera at Ferrara.
This he did because his father was on the board of directors of the
Ferrara opera house, and the institution had not been a great success.
His directorship was so well executed that he was appointed head
director of the opera at La Scala in Milan and astonished the musical
world with his wonderful Italian productions of Wagner's operas under
the conductorship of Toscanini. In New York many reforms were
instituted, and later took the New York company to Paris, giving
performances which made Europe realize that opera in New York is as fine
as that in any music center in the world, and in some particulars finer.
The New York opera is more cosmopolitan than that of any other country.
Its company included artists from practically every European country,
but fortunately includes more American singers and musicians to-day than
at any time in our operatic history. We are indebted to the staff of the
Metropolitan Opera House, experts who, with the kind permission of the
director, furnished the writer with the following interesting



Few people have any idea of how many persons and how many departments
are connected with the opera and its presentation. Considering them in
order, they might be classed as follows:

    The General Manager and his assistants.
    The Musical Director and his assistants.
    The Stage Director and his assistants.
    The Technical Director and his assistants.
    The Business Director and his assistants.
    The Wardrobe Director and his assistants.
    The Master of Properties and his assistants.
    The Head Engineer and his assistants.
    The Accountant and his assistants.
    The Advertising Manager and his assistants.
    The Press Representatives and his assistants.
    The Superintendent and his assistants.
    The Head Usher and his assistants.
    The Electrician and his assistants.

Few of these important and necessary factors in the production ever
appear before the public. Like the miners who supply us with the wealth
of the earth, they work, as it were, underground. No one is more
directly concerned with making the production than the Technical
Director. In that we are fortunate in having the views of Mr. Edward
Siedle, Technical Director of the Metropolitan Opera Company, of New
York. The complete picture that the public sees is made under the
supervision of Mr. Siedle, and during the actual production he is
responsible for all of the technical details. His experience has
extended over a great many years in different countries. He writes:


I understand you wish me to give you some idea of the technicalities
involved in producing the stage pictures which go to form an opera. Let
us suppose it is an opera by an American composer. My first procedure
would be to place myself in touch with the author and composer. After
having one or two talks with them I secure a libretto. When a mutual
understanding is agreed upon between us as to the character of the
scenes required and the positions of particular things in relation to
the business which has to take place during the performance, I make my
plans accordingly, and look up all the data available bearing upon the

It is now time to call in the scenic artist, giving him my views and
ideas, so that he can start upon the designing and painting of the
scenery. His first design would be in the form of a rough sketch and a
more clearly worked-out ground plan. After further discussion and
alterations we should definitely agree upon a scheme, and he would
proceed to make a scale model. When this model is finished it is a
perfect miniature scene of the opera as it will appear on the night the
opera is produced.

The author and composer are then called in to meet the impresario and
myself for a final consultation. We now finally criticize our plans,
making any alterations which may seem necessary to us. When these
alterations are completed the plans are handed over to the carpenter,
who immediately starts making his frames and covering them with canvas,
working from the scale model. The scenic artist is now able to commence
his work in earnest.

The "properties" are our next consideration. Sketches and patterns are
made, authorities are consulted, and everything possible is done to aid
the Property Master in doing his part of the work.

Unless the opera in question calls for special mechanical effects, or
special stage machinery, the scene is adapted to the stage as it is. If
anything exceptional has to be achieved, however, special machinery is

The designing of the costumes is gone over in much the same way as the
construction of the scenery. The period in which the opera is laid, the
various characters and their station in life, are all well talked over
by the composer, author and myself. The costume designer is then called
in, and after listening to what every one has to say and reading the
libretto, he submits his designs. These, when finished, are criticized
by the impresario, the composer, the author and myself, and any
suggestion which will improve them is accepted by the designer, and
alterations are made until everything is satisfactory. The designs are
then sent to the costume maker.

The important matter of lighting and electrical effects is not dealt
with until after the scenery has been completed, painted and set up on
the stage, except in the case when exceptional effects are demanded. The
matter is then carefully discussed and arranged so that the apparatus
will be ready by the time the earlier rehearsals are taking place.

The staff required by a Technical Director in such an institution as the
Metropolitan Opera House is necessarily a large one. He needs an able
scenic artist with his assistants and an efficient carpenter with his
assistants to complete the scenic arrangements as indicated in the
models. The completed scenery is delivered over to the stage carpenter
who has a large body of assistants, and is held responsible for the
running of the opera during rehearsals and performances. The stage
carpenter has also under his control a body of carpenters who work all
night, commencing their duties after the opera is over, removing all the
scenery used in the opera just finished from the opera house and
bringing from the various storehouses the scenery required for the next
performance or rehearsal. The electrician is an important member of my
staff, and he, of course, has a number of assistants. The Property
Master and his assistants and the Wardrobe Mistress and her assistants
also are extremely important. Then the active engineer who is
responsible for the heating and ventilating, and also for many of the
stage effects, is another necessary and important member. In all, the
Opera House, when in full swing, requires for the technical or stage
detail work alone about 185 people.


Thus far we have not considered the musical side of the production. This
is, of course, under the management of the General Director and the
leading Musical Director. Very little time at best is at the disposal of
the musical director. A director like Toscanini would, in a first-class
opera house, with a full and competent company, require about fifteen
days to complete the rehearsals, and other preparations for such a
production as _Aïda_, should such a work be brought out as a novelty. A
good conductor needs at least four orchestra rehearsals. _Pelleas et
Melisande_ would require more extensive rehearsing, as the music is of a
new order and is, in a sense, a new form of art.


While the head musical director is engaged with the principals and the
orchestra, the Chorus-master spends his time training the chorus. If his
work is not efficiently done, the entire production is greatly impeded.
The assistant conductors undertake the work of rehearsing the soloists
prior to their appearance in connection with the orchestra. They must
know the Head Director's ideas perfectly, and see that the soloists do
not introduce interpretations which are too much at variance with his
ideas and the accepted traditions. In all about ten rehearsals are given
to a work in a room set aside for that purpose, then there are five
stage rehearsals, and finally four full ensemble rehearsals with
orchestra. In putting on an old work, such as those in the standard
repertoire, no rehearsals are demanded.

The musical forces of the Metropolitan Opera House, for instance, make a
company of at least two leading conductors, twelve assistant conductors,
about ninety soloists, a chorus numbering at least one hundred and
twenty-five singers, thirty musicians for stage music, about twenty
stage attendants and an orchestra of from eighty to one hundred
performers, to say nothing of the costume, scenic and business staff,
making a little industry all in itself.

The General Director, the Stage Manager, and often the Musical Director
make innumerable suggestions to the singers regarding the proper
histrionic presentation of their rôles. As a rule singers give too
little attention to the dramatic side of their work and demand too much
of the stage manager. In recent years there has been a great improvement
in this. Prior to the time of Gluck, Weber and Wagner, acting in opera
was a matter of ridicule.


About seventy or one hundred persons make up the ballet of a modern
grand opera. At least ten years of continuous study are required to make
a finished ballet dancer in the histrionic sense. Many receive very
large fees for their services. The art of stage dancing also has
undergone many great reforms in recent years; and the ballets of to-day
are therefore much more popular than they were in the latter part of the
last century. The most popular ballets of to-day are the _Coppelia_ and
_Sylvia_ of Delibes. The ballets from the operas of _La Gioconda_,
_Samson et Delila_, _Armide_, _Mephistophele_, _Aïda_, _Orfeo_,
_L'Africaine_, and _The Damnation of Faust_ also are very popular.

At a modern opera house like the Metropolitan in New York City the
number of employees will be between six hundred and seven hundred, and
the cost of a season will be about one million dollars.




Mme. Frances Alda was born at Christ Church, New Zealand, May 31st,
1883. She was educated at Melbourne and studied singing with Mathilde
Marchesi in Paris. Her début was made in Massenet's _Manon_, at the
Opera Comique in Paris in 1904. After highly successful engagements in
Paris, Brussels, Parma and Milan (where she created the title rôle in
the Italian version of _Louise_), she made her American début at the
Metropolitan Opera House in New York as Gilda in Verdi's _Rigoletto_.
Since her initial success in New York she has been connected with the
Metropolitan stage every season. In 1910 she married Giulio
Gatti-Casazza, manager of the Metropolitan Opera House, and is probably
better able to speak upon the subject herewith discussed than any one in
America. She has also appeared with great success in London, Warsaw,
Buenos Aires and other cities, in opera and in concert. Many of the most
important leading rôles in modern opera have been created by her in

[Illustration: MME. FRANCES ALDA.

© Underwood & Underwood.]




To the girl who aspires to have an operatic career, who has the
requisite vocal gifts, physical health, stage presence and--most
important of all--a high degree of intelligence, the great essential is
regular daily work. This implies regular lessons, regular practice,
regular exercise, regular sleep, regular meals--in fact, a life of
regularity. The daily lesson in most cases seems an imperative
necessity. Lessons strung over a series of years merely because it seems
more economical to take one lesson a week instead of seven rarely
produce the expected results. Marchesi, with her famous wisdom on vocal
matters, advised twenty minutes a day and then not more than ten minutes
at a time.

For nine months I studied with the great Parisian maestra and in my
tenth month I made my début. Of course, I had sung a great deal before
that time and also could play both the piano and the violin. A thorough
musical knowledge is always valuable. The early years of the girl who is
destined for an operatic career may be much more safely spent with
Czerny exercises for the piano or Kreutzer studies for the violin than
with Concone Solfeggios for the voice. Most girls over-exercise their
voices during the years when they are too delicate. It always pays to
wait and spend the time in developing the purely musical side of study.


More voices collapse from over-practice and more careers collapse from
under-work than from anything else. The girl who hopes to become a prima
donna will dream of her work morning, noon and night. Nothing can take
it out of her mind. She will seek to study every imaginable thing that
could in any way contribute to her equipment. There is so much to learn
that she must work hard to learn all. Even now I study pretty regularly
two hours a day, but I rarely sing more than a few minutes. I hum over
my new rôles with my accompanist, Frank La Forge, and study them in that
way. It was to such methods as this that Marchesi attributed the
wonderful longevity of the voices of her best-known pupils. When they
followed the advice of the dear old maestra their voices lasted a long,
long time. Her vocal exercises were little more than scales sung very
slowly, single, sustained tones repeated time and again until her
critical ear was entirely satisfied, and then arpeggios. After that came
more complicated technical drills to prepare the pupil for the fioriture
work demanded in the more florid operas. At the base of all, however,
were the simplest kind of exercises. Through her discriminating sense of
tone quality, her great persistence and her boundless enthusiasm, she
used these simple vocal materials with a wizardry that produced great
_prime donne_.


Marchesi laid great stress upon the use of the head voice. This she
illustrated to all her pupils herself, at the same time not hesitating
to insist that it was impossible for a male teacher to teach the head
voice properly. (Marchesi herself carried out her theories by refusing
to teach any male applicants.) She never let any pupil sing above F on
the top line of the treble staff in anything but the head voice. They
rarely ever touched their highest notes with full voice. The upper part
of the voice was conserved with infinite care to avoid early breakdowns.
Even when the pupils sang the top notes they did it with the feeling
that there was still something in reserve. In my operatic work at
present I feel this to be of greatest importance. The singer who
exhausts herself upon the top notes is neither artistic nor effective.


The American girl who fancies that she has less chances in opera than
her sisters of the European countries is silly. Look at the lists of
artists at the Metropolitan, for instance. The list includes twice as
many artists of American nationality as of any other nation. This is in
no sense the result of pandering to the patriotism of the American
public. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. New Yorkers demand
the best opera in the world and expect the best voices in the world.
The management would accept fine artists with fine voices from China or
Africa or the North Pole if they were forthcoming. A diamond is a
diamond no matter where it comes from. The management virtually ransacks
the musical marts of Europe every year for fine voices. Inevitably the
list of American artists remains higher. On the whole, the American
girls have better natural voices, more ambition and are willing to study
seriously, patiently and energetically. This is due in a measure to
better physical conditions in America and in Australia, another free
country that has produced unusual singers. What is the result? America
is now producing the best and enjoying the best. There is more fine
music of all kinds now in New York during one week than one can get in
Paris in a month and more than one can get in Milan in six months. This
has made New York a great operatic and musical center. It is a wonderful
opportunity for Americans who desire to enter opera.


There was a time in the halcyon days of the old coloratura singers when
the opera singer was not expected to have very much more intelligence
than a parrot. Any singer who could warble away at runs and trills was a
great artist. The situation has changed entirely to-day. The modern
opera-goer demands great acting as well as great singing. The opera
house calls for brains as well as voices. There should properly be great
and sincere rivalry among fine singers. The singer must listen to other
singers with minute care and patience, and then try to learn how to
improve herself by self-study and intelligent comparison. Just as the
great actor studies everything that pertains to his rôle, so the great
singer knows the history of the epoch of the opera in which he is to
appear, he knows the customs, he may know something of the literature of
the time. In other words, he must live and think in another atmosphere
before he can walk upon the stage and make the audience feel that he is
really a part of the picture. Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree gave a
presentation that was convincing and beautiful, while the mediocre
actor, not willing to give as much brain work to his performance, falls
far short of an artistic performance.

A modern performance of any of the great works as they are presented at
the Metropolitan is rehearsed with great care and attention to
historical detail. Instances of this are the performances of _L'Amore di
Tre Re_, _Carmen_, _Bohême_, and _Lohengrin_, as well as such great
works as _Die Meistersinger_, and _Tristan und Isolde_.


Few singers seem to realize that an operatic career will be determined
in its success very largely through physical strength, all other factors
being present in the desired degree. That is, the singer must be strong
physically in order to succeed in opera. This applies to women as well
as to men. No one knows what the physical strain is, how hard the work
and study are. In front of you is a sea of highly intelligent, cultured
people, who for years have been trained in the best traditions of the
opera. They pay the highest prices paid anywhere for entertainment. They
are entitled to the best. To face such an audience and maintain the high
traditions of the house through three hours of a complicated modern
score is a musical, dramatic and intellectual feat that demands, first
of all, a superb physical condition. Every day of my life in New York I
go for a walk, mostly around the reservoir in Central Park, because it
is high and the air is pure and free. As a result I seldom have a cold,
even in mid-winter. I have not missed a performance in eight years, and
this, of course, is due to the fact that my health is my first daily

[Illustration: PASQUALE AMATO.

© Mishkin.]



Pasquale Amato, for so many years the leading baritone at the
Metropolitan Opera House in New York, was born at Naples March 21st,
1878. He was intended for the career of an engineer and was educated at
the Instituto Tecnico Domenico. He then studied at the Conservatory of
Naples from 1896 to 1899. His teachers there were Cucialla and Carelli.
He made his début as Germont in _La Traviata_ in the Teatro Bellini at
Naples in 1900. Thereafter his successes have been exceptionally great
in the music centers of South America, Italy, Russia, England, Egypt,
and Germany. He has created numerous rôles at the Metropolitan Opera
House, among them Jack Rance in the _Girl of the Golden West_; Golaud in
_Pelleas and Melisande_ (Milan); _L'Amore di Tre Re_; _Cyrano_
(Damrosch); _Lodoletta_ (Mascagni); _Madame Sans Gene_. He has visited
South America as an artist no less than ten times. His voice is
susceptible of fine dramatic feeling.



When I was about sixteen years of age my voice was sufficiently settled
to encourage my friends and family to believe that I might become a
singer. This is a proud discovery for an Italian boy, as
singing--especially operatic singing--is held in such high regard in
Italy that one naturally looks forward with joy to a career in the great
opera houses of one's native country and possibly to those over the sea.
At eighteen I was accordingly entered in the conservatory, but not
without many conditions, which should be of especial interest to young
American vocal students. The teachers did not immediately accept me as
good vocal material. I was recognized to have musical inclinations and
musical gifts and I was placed under observation so that it might be
determined whether the state-supported conservatory should direct my
musical education along vocal lines or along other lines.

This is one of the cardinal differences between musical education in
America and musical education in Italy. In America a pupil suddenly
determines that he is destined to become a great opera singer and
forthwith he hires a teacher to make him one. He might have been
destined to become a plumber, or a lawyer, or a comedian, but that has
little to do with the matter if he has money and can employ a teacher.
In Italy such a direction of talents would be considered a waste to the
individual and to the state. Of course the system has its very decided
faults, for a corps of teachers with poor or biased judgment could do a
great deal of damage by discouraging real talent, as was, indeed, the
case with the great Verdi, who at the age of eighteen was refused
admission to the Milan Conservatory by the director, Basili, on the
score of lack of talent.

However, for the most part the judges are experienced and skilful men,
and when a pupil has been under surveillance for some time the liability
of an error in judgment is very slight. Accordingly, after I had spent
some time in getting acquainted with music through the study of
Notation, Sight-singing, Theory, Harmony, Piano, etc., I was informed at
the end of two years that I had been selected for an operatic career. I
can remember the time with great joy. It meant a new life to me, for I
was certain that with the help of such conservative masters I should

On the whole, at this time, I consider the Italian system a very wise
one for it does not fool away any time with incompetence. I have met so
many young musicians who have shown indications of great study but who
seem destitute of talent. It seems like coaxing insignificant shrubs to
become great oak trees. No amount of coaxing or study will give them
real talent if they do not have it, so why waste the money of the state
and the money of the individual upon it. On the other hand, wherever in
the world there is real talent, the state should provide money to
develop it, just as it provides money to educate the young.


So much has been said about the Old Italian Vocal Method that the very
name brings ridicule in some quarters. Nothing has been the subject for
so much charlatanry. It is something that any teacher, good or bad, can
claim in this country. Every Italian is of course very proud indeed of
the wonderful vocal traditions of Italy, the centuries of idealism in
search of better and better tone production. There are of course certain
statements made by great voice teachers of other days that have been put
down and may be read in almost any library in large American cities. But
that these things make a vocal method that will suit all cases is too
absurd to consider. The good sense of the old Italian master would hold
such a plan up to ridicule. Singing is first of all an art, and an art
can not be circumscribed by any set of rules or principles.

The artist must, first of all, know a very great deal about all possible
phases of the technic of his art and must then adjust himself to the
particular problem before him. Therefore we might say that the Italian
method was a method and then again that it was no method. As a matter of
fact it is thousands of methods--one for each case or vocal problem. For
instance, if I were to sing by the same means that Mr. Caruso employs it
would not at all be the best thing for my voice, yet for Mr. Caruso it
is without question the very best method, or his vocal quality would
not be in such superb condition after constant years of use. He is the
proof of his own method.

I should say that the Italian vocal teacher teaches, first of all, with
his ears. He listens with the greatest possible intensity to every shade
of tone-color until his ideal tone reveals itself. This often requires
months and months of patience. The teacher must recognize the vocal
deficiencies and work to correct them. For instance, I never had to work
with my high tones. They are to-day produced in the same way in which I
produced them when I was a boy. Fortunately I had teachers who
recognized this and let it go at that.

Possibly the worst kind of a vocal teacher is the one who has some set
plan or device or theory which must be followed "willy-nilly" in order
that the teacher's theories may be vindicated. With such a teacher no
voice is safe. The very best natural voices have to follow some patent
plan just because the teacher has been taught in one way, is
inexperienced, and has not good sense enough to let nature's perfect
work alone. Both of my teachers knew that my high tones were all right
and the practice was directed toward the lower tones. They worked me for
over ten months on scales and sustained tones until the break that came
at E flat above the Bass Clef was welded from the lower tones to the
upper tones so that I could sing up or down with no ugly break audible.

I was drilled at first upon the vowel "ah." I hear American vocal
authorities refer to "ah" as in father. That seems to me too flat a
sound, one lacking in real resonance. The vowel used in my case in Italy
and in hundreds of other cases I have noted is a slightly broader vowel,
such as may be found half-way between the vowel "ah" as in father, and
the "aw" as in law. It is not a dull sound, yet it is not the sound of
"ah" in father. Perhaps the word "doff" or the first syllable of Boston,
when properly pronounced, gives the right impression.

I do not know enough of American vocal training to give an intelligent
criticism, but I wonder if American vocal teachers give as much
attention to special parts of the training as teachers in Italy do. I
hope they do, as I consider it very necessary. Consider the matter of
staccato. A good vocal staccato is really a very difficult
thing--difficult when it is right; that is, when on the pitch--every
time, clear, distinct, and at the same time not hard and stiff. It took
me weeks to acquire the right way of singing such a passage as _Un di,
quando le veneri_, from _Traviata_, but those were very profitable

[Illustration: musical notation

    Un di, quan-do le ve-ne-ri il
    tem-po a-vrà fu-ga-te

Accurate attack in such a passage is by no means easy. Anyone can sing
it--but _how it is sung_ makes the real difference.

The public has very odd ideas about singing. For instance, it would be
amazed to learn that _Trovatore_ is a much more difficult rôle for me to
sing and sing right than either _Parsifal_ or _Pelleas and Melisande_.
This largely because of the pure vocal demands and the flowing style.
The Debussy opera, wonderful as it is, does not begin to make the vocal
demands that such a work as _Trovatore_ does.

When the singer once acquires proficiency, the acquisition of new rôles
comes very easy indeed. The main difficulty is the daily need for
drilling the voice until it has the same quality every day. It can be
done only by incessant attention. Here are some of the exercises I do
every day with my accompanist:

[Illustration: musical notation

_First time forte second time piano._]



David Bispham, in many ways the most distinguished of all American
singers, was born in Philadelphia January 5th, 1857. Educated at
Haverford College, Pa. At first a highly successful amateur in
Philadelphia choirs and theatricals, he went to Milan in 1886, studying
with Vannuccini, Lamperti and later in London with Shakespeare and
Randegger. His operatic début was made in Messager's _Basoche_ at the
Royal English Opera House, 1891. In 1892 he appeared as Kurvenal and met
with great favor. His Wagnerian rôles have been especially distinctive
since the start. From 1896 to 1909 he sang alternately at the
Metropolitan in New York and at Covent Garden in London, and was
admittedly one of the foremost attractions of those great companies in
the golden era of our operatic past. He was also immensely in demand as
a recital and as an oratorio singer and as a dramatic reader. Few
singers have shown the versatility and mastery of David Bispham and few
have been so justly entitled to the academic honors LL.D., B.A., and
Mus. Doc., which he had earned. He was the author of numerous articles
on singing--the very successful autobiography, "A Quaker Singer's
Reminiscences," and the collections, "David Bispham's Recital Album,"
"The David Bispham Song Book" (for schools). He was also ever a strong
champion of the use of the English language in singing. He died in New
York City Oct. 2d, 1921.

[Illustration: DAVID BISPHAM.]



So many things enter into the great problem of interpretation in singing
that it is somewhat difficult to state definitely just what the young
singer should consider the most important. Generally speaking, the
following factors are of prime significance:

    1. Natural Aptitude.
    2. General Education and Culture.
    3. Good Musical Training.
    4. Accurate Vocal Training.
    5. Familiarity with Traditions.
    6. Freedom of Mind.
    7. Good Health.
    8. Life Experience.
    9. Personal Magnetism--one of the most essential,--and
    10. Idealism.

1. _Natural Aptitude._--You will notice that foremost consideration is
given to those broad general qualities without which all the technical
and musical training of the world is practically worthless. The success
of the art worker in all lines depends first upon the nature of the man
or woman. Technical training of the highest and best kind is essential,
but that which moves great audiences is not alone the mechanics of an
art, but rather the broad education, experience, ideals, culture, the
human sympathy and magnetism of the artist.

2. _The Value of Education and Culture._--I cannot emphasize too
strongly the value of a good general education and wide culture for the
singer. The day has passed when a pretty face or a well-rounded ankle
could be mistaken for art on the operatic stage. The public now demands
something more than the heroic looking young fellow who comes down to
the footlights with the assurance of youth and offers, for real vocal
art, a voice fresh but crudely trained, and a bungling interpretation.

Good education has often been responsible for the phenomenal success of
American singers in European opera houses. Before the last war, in
nearly all of the great operatic centers of the Continent, one found
Americans ranking with the greatest artists in Europe. This was a most
propitious condition, for it meant that American audiences have been
compelled to give the long-delayed recognition to our own singers, and
methods of general and vocal education.

In most cases the young people of America who aspire to operatic
triumphs come from a somewhat better class than singers do in Europe.
They have had, in most cases, better educational, cultural and home
advantages than the average European student. Their minds are trained to
study intelligently; they are acquainted with the history of the great
nations of the world; their tastes are cultivated, and they are filled
with the American energy which is one of the marvels of the centuries.
More than this, they have had a kind of moral uplift in their homes
which is of immense value to them. They have higher ideals in life, they
are more businesslike and they keep their purposes very clearly in view.
This has created jealousy in some European centers; but it is simply a
case of the survival of the fittest, and Europe was compelled to bow in
recognition of this. Vocal art in our own land is no longer to be
ignored, for our standards are as high as the highest in the world, and
we are educating a race of singers of which any country might be proud.

3. _Good Musical Training._--A thorough musical training--that is, a
training upon some musical instrument such as the piano--is extremely
desirable, but not absolutely essential; for the instrument called the
Human Voice can be played on as effectively as a violin. The singer who
is convinced of his ability, but who has not had such advantages in
early youth, should not be discouraged. He can acquire a thorough
knowledge of the essentials later on, but he will have to work very much
harder to get his knowledge--as I was obliged to do. Artistic ability is
by no means a certain quality. The famous art critic, Vassari, has
called our attention to the fact that one painter who produced wonderful
pictures had an exhaustive technical training, another arising at his
side who also achieved wonderful results had to secure them by means of
much bungling self-study. It is very hard to repress artistic ability.
As the Bible says: "Many waters cannot quench love." So it is with
music; if the ability is there, it will come to the front through fire
and water.

4. _Accurate and Rational Vocal Training._--I have added the word
rational for it seems a necessary term at a time when so much vocal
teaching is apparently in the hands of "faddists." There is only one way
to sing, that is _the right way_, the way that is founded upon natural
conditions. So much has been said in print about breathing, and placing
the voice, and resonance, that anything new might seem redundant at this
time. The whole thing in a nutshell is simply to make an effort to get
the breath under such excellent control that it will obey the will so
easily and fluently that the singer is almost unconscious of any means
he may employ to this end. This can come only through long practice and
careful observation. When the breath is once under proper control the
supply must be so adjusted that neither too much nor too little will be
applied to the larynx at one time. How to do this can be discovered only
by much practice and self-criticism. When the tone has been created it
must be reinforced and colored by passing through the mouth and nose,
and the latter is a very present help in time of vocal trouble. This
leads to a good tone on at least twenty-six steps and half-steps of the
scale and with twenty or more vowel sounds--no easy task by any means.
All this takes time, but there is no reason why it should take an
interminable amount of time. If good results are not forthcoming in from
nine months to a year, something is wrong with either the pupil or the

The matter of securing vocal flexibility should not be postponed too
long, but may in many instances be taken up in conjunction with the
studies in tone production, after the first principles have been
learned. Thereafter one enters upon the endless and indescribably
interesting field of securing a repertoire. Only a teacher with wide
experience and intimacy with the best in the vocal literature of the
world can correctly grade and select pieces suitable to the
ever-changing needs of the pupil.

No matter how wonderful the flexibility of the voice, no matter how
powerful the tones, no matter how extensive the repertoire, the singer
will find all this worthless unless he possesses a voice that is
susceptible to the expression of every shade of mental and emotional
meaning which his intelligence, experience and general culture have
revealed to him in the work he is interpreting. At all times his voice
must be under control. Considered from the mechanical standpoint, the
voice resembles the violin, the breath, as it passes over the vocal
cords, corresponding to the bow and the resonance chambers corresponding
to the resonance chambers in the violin.

5. _Familiarity With Vocal Traditions._--We come to the matter of the
study of the traditional methods of interpreting vocal masterpieces. We
must, of course, study these traditions, but we must not be slaves to
them. In other words, we must know the past in order to interpret
masterpieces properly in the present. We must not, however, sacrifice
that great quality--individuality--for slavery to convention. If the
former Italian method of rendering certain arias was marred by the
tremolo of some famous singers, there is no good artistic reason why any
one should retain anything so hideous as a tremolo solely because it is

There is a capital story of a young American singer who went to a
European opera house with all the characteristic individuality and
inquisitiveness of his people. In one opera the stage director told him
to go to the back of the stage before singing his principal number and
then walk straight down to the footlights and deliver the aria. "Why
must I go to the back first?" asked the young singer. The director was
amazed and blustered: "Why? Why, because the great Rubini did it that
way--he created the part; it is the tradition." But the young singer was
not satisfied, and finally found an old chorus man who had sung with
Rubini, and asked him whether the tradition was founded upon a custom of
the celebrated singer. "Yes," replied the chorus man, "da gretta Rubini
he granda man. He go waya back; then he comea front; then he sing. Ah,
grandissimo!" "But," persisted the young American, "_Why did he go to
the back before he sang?_" "Oh!" exclaimed the excited Italian; "Why he
go back? He go to spit!"

Farcical as this incident may seem, many musical traditions are founded
upon customs with quite as little musical or esthetic importance. Many
traditions are to-day quite as useless as the buttons on the sleeves of
our coats, although these very buttons were at one time employed by our
forefathers to fasten back the long cuffs. There are, however, certain
traditional methods of rendering great masterpieces, and particularly
those marked by the florid ornamentation of the days of Handel, Bach and
Haydn, which the singer must know. Unfortunately, many of these
traditions have not been preserved in print in connection with the
scores themselves, and the only way in which the young singer can
acquire a knowledge of them is through hearing authoritative artists, or
from teachers who have had wide and rich experience.

6. _Freedom of Mind._--Under ideal conditions the mind should be free
for music study and for public performance. This is not always possible;
and some artists under great mental pressure have done their best work
solely because they felt that the only way to bury sorrow and trouble
was to thrust themselves into their artistic life and thus forget the
pangs of misfortune. The student, however, should do everything possible
to have his mind free so that he can give his best to his work. One who
is wondering where the next penny is coming from is in a poor condition
to impress an audience. Nevertheless, if the real ability is there it is
bound to triumph over all obstacles.

7. _Good Health._--Good health is one of the great factors of success in
singing. Who needs a sounder mind than the artist? Good health comes
from good, sensible living. The singer must never forget that the
instrument he plays upon is a part of his body and that that instrument
depends for its musical excellence and general condition upon good
health. A $20,000 Stradivarius would be worthless if it were placed in a
tub of water; and a larynx that earns for its owner from $500 to $1,500
a night is equally valueless when saturated with the poisons that come
from intemperate or unwise living. Many of the singer's throat troubles
arise from an unhealthy condition of the stomach caused by excesses of
diet; but, aside from this, a disease localized in any other part of the
body affects the throat sympathetically and makes it difficult for the
singer to get good results. Recital work, with its long fatiguing
journeys on railroads, together with the other inconveniences of travel
and the responsibility and strain that come from knowing that one person
alone is to hold from 1,000 to 5,000 people interested for nearly two
hours, demands a very sound physical condition.

8. _Life Experience._--Culture does not come from the schoolroom alone.
The refining processes of life are long and varied. As the violin gains
in richness of tone and intrinsic value with age, so the singer's life
experience has an effect upon the character of his singing. He must have
seen life in its broadest sense, to place himself in touch with human
sympathy. To do this and still retain the freshness and sweetness of his
voice should be his great aim. The singer who lives a narrow and bigoted
existence rarely meets with wide popular approval. The public wants to
hear in a voice that wonderful something that tells them that it has
had opportunities to know and to understand the human side of song, not
giving parrot-like versions of some teacher's way of singing, but that
the understanding comes from the very center of the mind, heart and
soul. This is particularly true in the field of the song recital. Most
of the renowned recital singers of the last half century, including
Schumann-Heink, Sembrich, Wüllner, the Henschels and others, were
considerably past their youth when they made their greatest successes. A
painting fresh from the artist's brush is raw, hard and uninteresting,
till time, with its damp and dust, night and day, heat and cold, gives
the enriching touch which adds so wonderfully to the softness and beauty
of a picture. We singers are all living canvases. Time, and time only,
can give us those shades and tints which reveal living experience. The
young artist should hear many of the best singers, actors, and speakers,
should read many of the best books, should see many beautiful pictures
and wonderful buildings. But most of all, he should know and study many
people and learn of their joys and their sorrows, their successes and
their failures, their strength and their weaknesses, their loves and
their hates. In all art human life is reflected, and this is
particularly true in the case of vocal art. For years, in my youth, I
never failed to attend all of the musical events of consequence in my
native city. This was of immense value to me, since it gave me the means
of cultivating my own judgment of what was good or bad in singing. Do
not fear that you will become _blasé_. If you have the right spirit
every musical event you attend will spur you on.

You may say that it is expensive to hear great singers, and that you can
only attend recitals and the opera occasionally. If this is really the
case you still have a means of hearing singers which you should not
neglect. I refer to the reproducing machines which have grown to be of
such importance in vocal education. Phonograph records are nothing short
of marvelous, and my earnestness in this cause is shown by the fact that
I have long advocated their employment in the public schools, and have
placed the matter before the educational authorities of New York. I
earnestly urge the music teachers of this country, who are working for
the real musical development of our children, to take this matter up in
all seriousness. I can assure them that their efforts will bring them
rich dividends in increased interest in musical work of their pupils,
and the forming of a musical public. But nothing but the classics of
song must be used. The time for the scorning of "high-brow" songs is
past, and music must help this country to rid itself of the vogue of the
"low-brow" and the "tough." Let singers strive to become educated
ornaments of their lofty profession.

9. _Personal Magnetism._--One of the most essential. The subject of
"personal magnetism" is ridiculed by some, of course, but rarely laughed
at by the artist who has experienced the astonishing phenomena in the
opera house or the concert room. Like electricity it is intangible,
indefinable, indescribable, but makes its existence known by
manifestations that are almost uncanny. If personal magnetism does not
exist, how then can we account for the fact that one pianist can sit
down to the instrument and play a certain piece, and that another
pianist could play the same piece with the same technical effect but
losing entirely the charm and attractiveness with which the first
pianist imbued the composition? Personal magnetism does not depend upon
personal beauty nor erudition nor even upon perfect health. Henry Irving
and Sarah Bernhardt were certainly not beautiful, but they held the
world of the theater in the palm of their hand. Some artists have really
been in the last stages of severe illness but have, nevertheless,
possessed the divine electric spark to inspire hundreds, as did the
hectic Chopin when he made his last famous visit to England and

Personal magnetism is not a kind of hypnotic influence to be found
solely in the concert hall or the theater. Most artists possess it to a
certain degree. Without this subtle and mysterious force, success with
the public never comes.

10. _Idealism._--Ideals are the flowers of youth. Only too often they
are not tenderly cared for, and the result is that many who have been on
the right track are turned in the direction of failure by materialism.
It is absolutely essential for the young singer to have high ideals.
Direct your efforts to the best in whatever branch of vocal art you
determine to undertake. Do not for a moment let mediocrity or the
substitution of artificial methods enter your vision. Holding to your
ideal will mean costly sacrifices to you; but all sacrifices are worth
while if one can realize one's ideal. The ideal is only another term for
Heaven to me. If we could all attain to the ideal, we would all be in a
kind of earthly Paradise. It has always seemed to me that when our Lord
said "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," he meant that it is at hand for
us to possess now; that is the _ideal_ in life.

[Illustration: DAME CLARA BUTT.]



Dame Butt was born at Southwick, Sussex, February 1, 1873. Her first
lessons were with D. W. Rootham in Bristol.

In 1889 she won a scholarship at the Royal College of music where the
teacher was J. H. Blower. Later she studied for short periods with Bouhy
in Paris and Etelka Gerster in Berlin. Her début was made as Ursula in
Sullivan's setting of the Longfellow poem, _Golden Legend_. Her success
was immediate and very great. She became in demand at all of the great
English musical festivals and also sang before enormous audiences for
years in the great English cities. In 1900 she married the noted English
baritone R. Kennerly Rumford and together they have made many tours,
including a tour of the world, appearing everywhere with continued
success. Her voice is one of rich, full contralto quality with such
individual characteristics that great English composers have written
special works to reveal these great natural gifts. Dame Butt received
her distinction of "Dame" from King George in 1920. Her happy family
life with her children has won her endless admirers among musical people




It must be obvious to all aspiring vocal students that splendid good
health is well nigh indispensable to the singer. There have been
singers, of course, who have had physical afflictions that have made
their public appearances extremely painful, but they have succeeded in
spite of these unfortunate drawbacks. In fact, if the young singer is
ambitious and has that wonderful gift of directing her efforts in the
way most likely to bring fortunate results, even physical weakness may
be overcome. By this I mean that the singer will work out some plan for
bringing her physical condition to the standard that fine singing
demands. I believe most emphatically that the right spirit will conquer
obstacles that often seem impassable. One might safely say that
nine-tenths of the successes in all branches of artistic work are due to
the inextinguishable fire that burns in the heart and mind of the art
worker and incites him to pass through any ordeal in order to deliver
his message to the world.


The cruel part of it all is that many aspire to become great singers who
can never possibly have their hopes realized. Natural selection rather
than destiny seems to govern this matter. The ugly caterpillar seems
like an unpromising candidate for the brilliant career of the butterfly,
and it oftentimes happens that students who seem unpromising to some
have just the qualities which, with the right time, instruction and
experience, will entitle them to great success. It is the little ant who
hopes to grow iridescent wings, and who travels through conservatory
after conservatory, hoping to find the magic chrysalis that will do
this, who is to be pitied. Great success must depend upon special gifts,
intellectual as well as vocal. Oh, if we only had some instinct, like
that possessed by animals, that would enable us to determine accurately
in advance the safest road for us to take, the road that will lead us to
the best development of our real talents--not those we imagine we may
have or those which the flattery of friends have grafted upon us! Mr.
Rumford and I have witnessed so much very hard and very earnest work
carried on by students who have no rational basis to hope for success as
singers, that we have been placed in the uncomfortable position of
advising young singers to seek some other life work.


The eternal question, "At what age shall I commence to study singing?"
is always more or less amusing to the experienced singer. If the
singer's spirit is in the child, nothing will stop his singing. He will
sing from morning until night, and seems to be guided in most cases by
an all-providing Nature that makes its untutored efforts the very best
kind of practice. Unless the child is brought into contact with very bad
music he is not likely to be injured. Children seem to be trying their
best to prove the Darwinian theory by showing us that they can mimic
quite as well as monkeys. The average child comes into the better part
of his little store of wisdom through mimicry. Naturally if the little
vocal student is taken to the vaudeville theatre, where every imaginable
vocal law is smashed during a three-hour performance, and if the child
observes that the smashing process is followed by the enthusiastic
applause of the unthinking audience, it is only reasonable to suppose
that the child will discover in this what he believes to be the most
approved art of singing.

It is evident then that the first thing which the parent of the musical
child should consider is that of teaching him to appreciate what is
looked upon as good and what is looked upon as bad. Although many
singers with fine voices have appeared in vaudeville, the others must be
regarded as "horrible" examples, and the child should know that they are
such. On the other hand, it is quite evident that the more good singing
that the child hears in the impressionable years of its youth the
greater will be the effect upon the mind which is to direct the child's
musical future. This is a branch of the vocalist's education which may
begin long before the actual lessons. If it is carefully conducted the
teacher should have far less difficulty in starting the child with the
actual work. The only possible danger might be that the child's
imitative faculty could lead it to extremes of pitch in imitating some
singer. Even this is hardly more likely to injure it than the shouting
and screaming which often accompanies the play of children.

The actual time of starting must depend upon the individual. It is never
too early for him to start in acquiring his musical knowledge.
Everything he might learn of music itself, through the study of the
piano or any other instrument would all become a part of his capital
when he became a singer. Those singers are fortunate whose musical
knowledge commenced with the cradle and whose first master was that
greatest of all teachers, the mother. Speaking generally, it seems to be
the impression of singing teachers that voice students should not
commence the vocal side of their studies until they are from sixteen to
seventeen years of age. In this connection, consider my own case. My
first public appearance with orchestra was when I was fourteen. It was
in Bristol, England, and among other things I sang _Ora Pro Nobis_ from
Gounod's _Workers_.

I was fortunate in having in my first teacher, D. W. Rootham, a man too
thoroughly blessed with good British common sense to have any "tricks."
He had no fantastic way of doing things, no proprietary methods, that
none else in the world was supposed to possess. He listened for the
beautiful in my voice and, as his sense of musical appreciation was
highly cultivated, he could detect faults, explain them to me and show
me how to overcome them by purely natural methods. The principal part of
the process was to make me realize mentally just what was wrong and then
what was the more artistic way of doing it.


After all, singing is singing, and I am convinced that my master's idea
of just letting the voice grow with normal exercise and without excesses
in any direction was the best way for me. It was certainly better than
hours and hours of theory, interesting to the student of physiology, but
often bewildering to the young vocalist. Real singing with real music is
immeasurably better than ages of conjecture. It appears that some
students spend years in learning how they are going to sing at some
glorious day in the future, but it never seems to occur to them that in
order to sing they must really use their voices. Of course, I do not
mean to infer that the student must omit the necessary preparatory work.
Solfeggios, for instance, and scales are extremely useful. Concone,
tried and true, gives excellent material for all students. But why spend
years in dreaming of theories regarding singing when everyone knows that
the theory of singing has been the battleground for innumerable talented
writers for centuries? Even now it is apparently impossible to reconcile
all the vocal writers, except in so far as they all modestly admit that
they have rediscovered the real old Italian school. Perhaps they have.
But, admitting that an art teacher rediscovered the actual pigments
used by Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt or Raphael, he would have no little
task in creating a student who could duplicate _Mona Lisa_, _The Night
Watch_ or the _Sistine Madonna_.

After leaving Rootham, I won the four hundred guinea scholarship at the
Royal College of Music and studied with Henry Blower. This I followed
with a course with Bouhy in Paris and Etelka Gerster in Berlin. Mr.
Rumford and I both concur in the opinion that it is necessary for the
student who would sing in any foreign language to study in the country
in which the language is spoken. In no other way can one get the real
atmosphere. The preparatory work may be done in the home country, but if
one fails to taste of the musical life of the country in which the songs
came into being, there seems to be an indefinable absence of the right
flavor. I believe in employing the native tongue for songs in recital
work. It seems narrow to me to do otherwise. At the same time, I have
always been a champion for songs written originally with English texts,
and have sung innumerable times with programs made from English lyrics.


The idea that concert and recital work is not as difficult as operatic
work has been pretty well exploded by this time. In fact, it is very
much more difficult to sing a simple song well in concert than it is to
sing some of the elaborate Wagnerian recitatives in which the very
complexities of the music make a convenient hiding place for the
artist's vocal shortcomings. In concert everything is concentrated upon
the singer. Convention has ever deprived him of the convenient gestures
that give ease to the opera singer.

The selection of useful material for concert purposes is immensely
difficult. It must have artistic merit, it must have human interest, it
must suit the singer, in most cases the piano must be used for
accompaniment and the song must not be dependent upon an orchestral
accompaniment for its value. It must not be too old, it must not be too
far in advance of popular tastes. It is a bad plan to wander
indiscriminately about among countless songs, never learning any really
well. The student should begin to select numbers with great care,
realizing that it is futile to try to do everything. Lord Bolingbroke,
in his essay on the shortness of human life, shows how impossible it is
for a man to read more than a mere fraction of a great library though he
read regularly every day of his life. It is very much the same with
music. The resources are so vast and time is so limited that there is no
opportunity to learn everything. Far better is it for the vocalist to do
a little well than to do much ineffectually.

Good music well executed meets with very much the same appreciation
everywhere. During our latest tour we gave almost the very same programs
in America as those we have been giving upon the European Continent. The
music-loving American public is likely to differ but slightly from that
of the great music centers of the old world. Music has truly become a
universal language.

In developing a repertoire the student might look upon the musical
public as though it were a huge circle filled with smaller circles, each
little circle being a center of interest. One circle might insist upon
old English songs, such as the delightful melodies of Arne, Carey,
Monroe. Another circle might expect the arias of the old Italian
masters, Carissimi, Jomelli, Sacchini or Scarlatti. Another circle would
want to hear the German Lieder of such composers as Schumann, Schubert,
Brahms, Franz and Wolf. Still another circle might go away disappointed
if they could not hear something of the ultra modern writers, such as
Strauss, Debussy or even that freak of musical cacophony, Schoenberg.
However diverse may be the individual likings of these smaller circles,
all of the members of your audience are united in liking music as a

The audience will demand variety in your repertoire but at the same time
it will demand certain musical essentials which appeal to all. There is
one circle in your audience that I have purposely reserved for separate
discussion. That is the great circle of concert goers who are not
skilled musicians, who are too frank, too candid, to adopt any of the
cant of those social frauds who revel in Reger and Schoenberg, and just
because it might stamp them as real connoisseurs, but who really can't
recognize much difference between the _Liebestod_ of _Tristan und
Isolde_ and _Rule Britannia_,--but the music lovers who are too honest
to fail to state that they like the _Lost Chord_ or the lovely folk
songs of your American composer, Stephen Foster. Mr. Plunkett Greene, in
his work upon song interpretation, makes no room for the existence of
songs of this kind. Indeed, he would cast them all into the discard.
This seems to me a huge mistake. Surely we can not say that music is a
monopoly of the few who have schooled their ears to enjoy outlandish
disonances with delight. Music is perhaps the most universal of all the
arts and with the gradual evolution of those who love it, a natural
audience is provided for music of the more complicated sort. We learn to
like our musical caviar with surprising rapidity. It was only yesterday
that we were objecting to the delightful piano pieces of Debussy, who
can generate an atmosphere with a single chord just as Murillo could
inspire an emotion with a stroke of the brush.

It is not safe to say that you do not like things in this way. I think
that even Schoenberg is trying to be true to his muse. We must remember
that Haydn, Beethoven, Wagner and Brahms passed through the fire of
criticism in their day. The more breadth a singer puts into her work the
more likely is she to reap success. Time only can produce the
accomplished artist. The best is to find a joy in your work and think of
nothing but large success. If you have the gift, triumph will be


© Dupont.]



Giuseppe Campanari was born at Venice, Italy, Nov. 17th, 1858. His
parents were not particularly musical but were very anxious for the boy
to become a musician. At the age of nine he commenced to study the piano
and later he entered the Conservatory of Milan, making his principal
instrument the violoncello. Upon his graduation he secured a position in
the 'cello section of the orchestra at "La Scala." Here for years he
heard the greatest singers and the greatest operas, gaining a musical
insight into the works through an understanding of the scores which has
seldom if ever been possessed by a great opera singer. His first
appearance as singer was at the Teatro dal Verme in Milan. Owing to
voice strain he was obliged to give up singing and in the interim he
took a position as a 'cellist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra,
remaining with that organization some years. He then made appearances
with the Emma Juch Opera Company, the Heinrichs Opera Company, and
eventually at the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York, where he
achieved his greatest triumphs as leading baritone. Mr. Campanari long
since became an American citizen and has devoted his attention to
teaching for years.

His conference which follows is particularly interesting, as from the
vocal standpoint he is almost entirely self taught.



So much has been written upon the futility of applying one method to all
cases in vocal instruction that it seems useless for me to say anything
that would add to the volume of testimony against the custom of trying
to teach all pupils in the same manner. No one man ever has had, has, or
ever will have, a "method" superior to all others, for the very simple
reason that the means one vocalist might employ to reach artistic
success would be quite different from that which another singer, with an
entirely different voice, different throat and different intellect,
would be obliged to employ. One of the great laws of Nature is the law
of variation; that is, no two children of any parents are ever exactly
alike. Even in the case of twins there is often a great variation. The
great English philosopher, Darwin, made much of this principle. It is
one which all voice students and teachers should consider, for although
there are, from the nature of things, many foundation principles which
must remain the same in all cases, the differences in individual cases
are sufficient to demand the greatest keenness of observation, the
widest experience and an inexhaustible supply of patience upon the part
of the teacher.

Please understand, I am not decrying the use of books of exercises such
as those of Concone, Marchesi, Regine, Panofka and others. Such books
are necessary. I have used these and others in teaching, suiting the
book to the individual case. The pupil needs material of this kind, and
it should be chosen with the greatest care and consideration not only of
the pupil's voice, but of his intellectual capacity and musical
experience. These books should not be considered "methods." They are the
common property of all teachers, and most teachers make use of them. My
understanding of a "method" is a set of hard and fast rules, usually
emanating from the mind of some one person who has the effrontery to
pass them off upon an all too gullible public as the one road to a vocal
Parnassus. Only the singer with years of experience can realize how
ridiculous this course is and how large is the percentage of failure of
the pupils of teachers whose sole claim to fame is that they teach
the---- method. Proud as I am of the glorious past of vocal art in the
country of my birth, I cannot help being amused and at the same time
somewhat irritated when I think of the many palpable frauds that are
classed under the head of the "Real Old Italian Method" by inexperienced
teachers. We cannot depend upon the past in all cases to meet present
conditions. The singers of the olden day in Italy were doubtless great,
because they possessed naturally fine voices and used them in an
unaffected, natural manner. In addition to this they were born speaking
a tongue favorable to beautiful singing, led simple lives and had
opportunities for hearing the great operas and the great singers
unexcelled by those of any other European country. That they became
great through the practice of any set of rules or methods is
inconceivable. There were great teachers in olden Italy, very great
teachers, and some of them made notes upon the means they employed, but
I cannot believe that if these teachers were living to-day they would
insist upon their ideas being applied to each and every individual case
in the same identical manner.


This leads us to the subject at hand. The students in Italy in the past
have had advantages for self-study that were of greatest importance. On
all sides good singing and great singing might be heard conveniently and
economically. Opera was and is one of the great national amusements of
Italy. Opera houses may be found in all of the larger cities and in most
of the smaller ones. The prices of admission are, as a rule, very low.
The result is that the boys in the street are often remarkably familiar
with some of the best works. Indeed, it would not be extravagant to say
that they were quite as familiar with these musical masterpieces as some
of the residents of America are with the melodramatic doings of Jesse
James or the "Queen of Chinatown." Thus it is that the average Italian
boy with a fair education and quick powers of observation reaches his
majority with a taste for singing trained by many opportunities to hear
great singers. They have had the best vocal instruction in the world,
providing, of course, they have exercised their powers of judgment. Thus
it is that it happens that such a singer as Caruso, certainly one of the
greatest tenors of all time, could be accidentally heard by a manager
while singing and receive an offer for an engagement upon the spot.
Caruso's present art, of course, is the result of much training that
would fall under the head of "coaching," together with his splendid
experience upon the operatic stage itself.

I trust that I have not by this time given the reader of this page the
impression that teachers are unnecessary. This is by no means the case.
A good teacher is extremely desirable. If you have the good fortune to
fall into the hands of a careful, experienced, intelligent teacher, much
may be accomplished; but the teacher is by no means all that is
required. The teacher should be judged by his pupils, and by nothing
else. No matter what he may claim, it is invariably the results of his
work (the pupil's) which must determine his value. Teachers come to me
with wonderful theories and all imaginable kinds of methods. I always
say to them: "Show me a good pupil who has been trained by your methods
and I will say that you are a good teacher."

Before our national elections I am asked, "Which one of the candidates
do you believe will make the best President?" I always reply, "Wait four
years and I will pass my opinion upon the ability of the candidate the
people select." In other words, "the proof of the pudding is in the


We often hear the trite expression, "Singers are born, not made." This,
to my mind, is by no means the case. One may be born with the talent and
deep love for music, and one may be born with the physical
qualifications which lead to the development of a beautiful voice, but
the singer is something far more than this. Given a good voice and the
love for his music, the singer's work is only begun. He is at the
outstart of a road which is beset with all imaginable kinds of
obstacles. In my own case I was extremely ambitious to be a singer.
Night after night I played 'cello in the orchestra at La Scala, in
Milan, always wishing and praying that I might some day be one of the
actors in the wonderful world behind the footlights. I listened to the
famous singers in the great opera house with the minutest attention,
making mental notes of their manner of placing their voices--their
method of interpretation, their stage business, and everything that I
thought might be of any possible use to me in the career of the singer,
which was dearest to my heart. I endeavored to employ all the common
sense and good judgment I possessed to determine what was musically and
vocally good or otherwise. I was fortunate in having the training of the
musician, and also in having the invaluable advantage of becoming
acquainted with the orchestral scores of the famous operas. Finally the
long-awaited opportunity came and I made my début at the Teatro dal
Verme, in Milan. I had had no real vocal instruction in the commonly
accepted sense of the term; but I had really had a kind of instruction
that was of inestimable value.


Success brought with it its disadvantages. I foolishly strained my voice
through overwork. But this did not discourage me. I realized that many
of the greatest singers the world has ever known were among those who
had met with disastrous failure at some time in their careers. I came to
America and played the violoncello in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. All
the time I was practicing with the greatest care and with the sole
object of restoring my voice. Finally it came back better than ever and
I sang for Maurice Grau, the impresario of the Metropolitan Opera House,
in New York. He engaged me and I sang continuously at the Metropolitan
for several years. Notwithstanding this varied experience, I will seek
to learn, and to learn by practical example, not theory. The only opera
school in the world is the opera house itself. No school ever "made" a
great singer or a great artist. The most they have done has been to lay
the foundation. The making of the artist comes later.

In order to do without instruction one must be very peculiarly
constituted. One must be possessed of the pedagogical faculty to a
marked degree. One must have within oneself those qualities for
observing and detecting the right means leading to an artistic end which
every good teacher possesses. In other words, one must be both teacher
and pupil. This is a rare combination, since the power to teach, to
impart instruction, is one that is given to very few. It is far better
to study alone or not at all than with a poor teacher. The teacher's
responsibility, particularly in the case of vocal students, is very
great. So very much depends upon it. A poor teacher can do incalculable
damage. By poor teachers I refer particularly to those who are carried
away by idiotic theories and quack methods. We learn to sing by singing
and not by carrying bricks upon our chest or other idiotic antics.
Consequently I say that it is better to go all through life with a
natural or "green" voice than to undergo the vocal torture that is
sometimes palmed off upon the public as voice teaching. At best, all the
greatest living teacher can do is to put the artist upon the right track
and this in itself is responsibility enough for one man or one woman to


As I have already said, most every singer makes a method unto himself.
It is all the same in the end. The Chinese may, for instance, have one
name for God, the Persians another, the Mohammedans another, and the
people of Christian lands another. But the God principle and the worship
principle are the same with all. It is very similar in singing. The
means that apply to my own case may apparently be different from those
of another, but we are all seeking to produce beautiful tones and
interpret the meaning of the composer properly.

One thing, however, the student should seek to possess above all things,
and this is a thorough foundation training in music itself. This can not
begin too early. In my own home we have always had music. My children
have always heard singing and playing and consequently they become
critical at a very early age.

I can not help repeating my advice to students who hope to find a vocal
education in books or by the even more ridiculous correspondence method.
Books may set one's mental machinery in motion and incite one to observe
singers more closely, but teach they can not and never can. The
sound-reproducing machines are of assistance in helping the student to
understand the breathing, phrasing, etc., but there is nothing really to
take the place of the living singer who can illustrate with his voice
the niceties of placing and _timbre_.

My advice to the voice students of America is to hear great singers.
Hear them as many times as possible and consider the money invested as
well placed as any you might spend in vocal instruction. The golden
magnet, as well as the opportunities in other ways offered artists in
America, has attracted the greatest singers of our time to this country.
It is no longer necessary to go abroad to listen to great singers. In
no country of the world is opera given with more lavish expenditure of
money than in America. The great singers are now by no means confining
their efforts to the large Eastern cities. Many of them make regular
tours of the country, and students in all parts of this land are offered
splendid opportunities for self-help through the means of concerts and
musical festivals. After all, the most important thing for any singer is
the development of the critical sense. Blind imitation is, of course,
bad, but how is the student to progress unless he has had an opportunity
to hear the best singers of the day? In my youth I heard continually
such artists as La Salle, Gayarre, Patti, De Reszke and others. How
could I help profiting by such excellent experiences?


One may be sure that in these days few, if any, great voices go
undiscovered. A remarkable natural voice is so rare that some one is
sure to notice it and bring it to the attention of musicians. The
trouble is that so many people are so painfully deluded regarding their
voices. I have had them come to me with voices that are obviously
execrable and still remain unconvinced when I have told them what seemed
to me the truth. This business of hearing would-be singers is an
unprofitable and an uncomfortable one; and most artists try to avoid the
ordeal, although they are always very glad to encourage real talent.
Most young singers, however, have little more than the bare ambition to
sing, coupled with what can only be described by the American term, "a
swelled head." Someone has told them that they are wonderfully gifted,
and persons of this kind are most always ready to swallow flattery
indiscriminately. Almost everyone, apparently, wants to go into opera
nowadays. To singers who have not any chance whatever I have only to say
that the sooner this is discovered the better. Far better put your money
in bank and let compound interest do what your voice can not.



Enrico Caruso was born at Naples, February 25th, 1873. His fondness for
music dates from his earliest childhood; and he spent much of his spare
money in attending the opera at San Carlo and hearing the foremost
singers of his time in many of the rôles in which he appeared later on.
His actual study, however, did not start until he was eighteen, when he
came under the tuition of Guglielmo Vergine. In 1895 he made his début
at the Teatro Cimarosa in _Caserta_. His first appearances drew
comparatively little attention to his work and his future greatness was
hardly suspected by many of those who heard him. However, by dint of
long application to his art he gained more and more recognition. In 1902
he made his début in London. The following year he came to New York,
where the world's greatest singers had found an El Dorado for nearly a
quarter of a century. There he was at once proclaimed the greatest of
all tenors and from that time his success was undeviating. Indeed his
voice was so wonderful and so individual that it is difficult to compare
him with any of his great predecessors; Tamagno, Campanini, de Reszke
and others. In Europe and in America he was welcomed with acclaim and
the records of his voice are to be found in thousands of homes of music
lovers who have never come in touch with him in any other way. Signor
Caruso had a remarkable talent for drawing and for sculpture. His death,
August 2d, 1921, ended the career of the greatest male singer of

[Illustration: ENRICO CARUSO.]




Anyone who has traveled in Italy must have noticed the interest that is
manifested at the opening of the opera season. This does not apply only
to the people with means and advanced culture but also to what might be
called the general public. In addition to the upper classes, the same
class of people in America who would show the wildest enthusiasm over
your popular sport, base-ball, would be similarly eager to attend the
leading operatic performances in Italy. The opening of the opera is
accompanied by an indescribable fervor. It is "in the air." The whole
community seems to breathe opera. The children know the leading
melodies, and often discuss the features of the performances as they
hear their parents tell about them, just as the American small boy
retails his father's opinions upon the political struggles of the day or
upon the last ball game.

It should not be thought that this does not mean a sacrifice to the
masses, for opera is, in a sense, more expensive in Italy than in
America; that is, it is more expensive by comparison in most parts of
the country. It should be remembered that monetary values in Italy are
entirely different from those in America. The average Italian of
moderate means looks upon a lira as a coin far more valuable than its
equivalent of twenty cents in United States currency. His income is
likely to be limited, and he must spend it with care and wisdom. Again,
in the great operatic centers, such as Milan, Naples or Rome, the prices
are invariably adjusted to the importance of the production. In
first-class productions the prices are often very high from the Italian
standpoint. For instance, at La Scala in Milan, when an exceptionally
fine performance is given with really great singers, the prices for
orchestra chairs may run as high as thirty lira or six dollars a seat.
Even to the wealthy Italian this amount seems the same as a much larger
amount in America.

To give opera in Italy with the same spectacular effects, the same casts
composed almost exclusively of very renowned artists, the same _mise en
scene_, etc., would require a price of admission really higher than in
America. As a matter of fact, there is no place in the world where such
a great number of performances, with so many world-renowned singers, are
given as at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. There is no
necessity for any one to make a special trip to Europe to hear excellent
performances in these days. Of course such a trip would be interesting,
as the performances given in many European centers are wonderfully fine,
and they would be interesting to hear if only from the standpoint of
comparing them with those given at the Metropolitan. However, the most
eminent singers of the world come here constantly, and the performances
are directed by the ablest men obtainable, and I am at loss to see why
America should not be extremely proud of her operatic advantages. In
addition to this the public manifests a most intelligent appreciation of
the best in music. It is very agreeable to sing in America, as one is
sure that when he does well the public will respond at once.


Perhaps the fact that in Italy the audiences may understand the
performances better because of their knowledge of their native language
may add to the pleasure of opera-going. This, however, is a question,
except in the case of some of the more modern works. The older opera
librettos left much to be desired from the dramatic and poetic
standpoints. Italian after all is the language of music. In fact it is
music in itself when properly spoken. Note that I say "when properly
spoken." American girls go to Italy to study, and of course desire to
acquire a knowledge of the language itself, for they have heard that it
is beneficial in singing. They get a mere smattering, and do not make
any attempt to secure a perfect accent. The result is about as funny as
the efforts of the comedians who imitate German emigrants on the
American stage.

If you start the study of Italian, persist until you have really
mastered the language. In doing this your ear will get such a drill and
such a series of exercises as it has never had before. You will have to
listen to the vowel sounds as you have never listened. This is
necessary because in order to understand the grammar of the language you
must hear the final vowel in each word and you must hear the consonants

There is another peculiar thing about Italian. If the student who has
always studied and sung in English, German or French or Russian,
attempts to sing in Italian, he is really turning a brilliant
searchlight upon his own vocal ability. If he has any faults which have
been concealed in his singing in his own language, they will be
discovered at once the moment he commences to study in Italian. I do not
know whether this is because the Italian of culture has a higher
standard of diction in the enunciation of the vowel sounds, or whether
the sounds themselves are so pure and smooth that they expose the
deficiencies, but it is nevertheless the case. The American girl who
studies Italian for six months and then hopes to sing in that language
in a manner not likely to disturb the sense of the ridiculous is
deceiving herself. It takes years to acquire fluency in a language.


Audiences are as sensitive as individuals. Italy is known as "the home
of the opera"; but I find that, as far as manifesting enthusiasm goes,
the world is getting pretty much the same. If the public is pleased, it
applauds no matter whether it be in Vienna, Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires,
New York, or Oshkosh. An artist feels his bond with his audience very
quickly. He knows whether his auditors are delighted, whether they are
merely interested or whether they are indifferent a few seconds after he
has been upon the stage. I can judge my own work at once by the attitude
of the audience. No artist sings exactly alike on two successive nights.
That would be impossible. Although every sincere artist tries to do his
best at all times, there are, nevertheless, occasions when one sings
better than at others. If I sing particularly well the audience is
particularly enthusiastic; if I am not feeling well and my singing
indicates it, the audience will let me know at once by not being quite
so enthusiastic. It is a barometer which is almost unfailing. This is
also an important thing for the young singer to consider. Audiences
judge by real worth and not by reputation.

Reputation may attract money to the box office, but once the people are
inside the opera house the artist must really please them or suffer.
Young singers should not be led to think that anything but real worth is
of any lasting value. If the audience does not respond, do not blame the
audience. It would respond if you could sing so beautifully that you
could compel a response that you know should follow real artistic
achievement. Don't blame your teacher or your lack of practice or
anything or anybody but yourself. The verdict of the audience is better
than the examination of a hundred so-called experts. There is something
about an audience that makes it seem like a great human individual,
whether in Naples or in San Francisco. If you touch the heart or please
the sense of beauty, the appetite for lovely music--common to all
mankind--the audience is yours, be it Italian, French, German or


The American student with a really good voice and a really fine vocal
and musical training, would have more opportunities for engagements in
the smaller Italian opera houses, for the simple reason that there are
more of these opera houses and more of these opera companies. Bear in
mind, however, that opera in Italy depends to a large extent upon the
standing of the artists engaged to put on the opera. In some cities of
the smaller size the municipality makes an appropriation, which serves
as a guarantee or subsidy. An impresario is informed what operas the
community desires and what singers. He tries to comply with the demand.
Often the city is very small and the demand very slightly indicated in
real money. As a result the performances are comparatively mediocre. The
American student sometimes fails to secure engagements with the big
companies and tries to gain experience in these small companies.
Sometimes he succeeds, but he should remember before undertaking this
work that many native Italian singers with realty fine voices are
looking for similar opportunities and that only a very few stand any
chance of reaching really noteworthy success.


He should, of course, endeavor to seek engagements with the big
companies if his voice and ability will warrant it. Where the most money
is, there will be the salaried artists and the finest operatic
spectacle. That is axiomatic. Opera is expensive and will always be
expensive. The supply of unusual voices has always been limited and the
services of their possessors have always commanded a high reward. This
is based upon an economic law which applies to all things in life. The
young singer should realize that, unless he can rise to the very top of
his profession, he will be compelled to enlist in a veritable army of
singers with little talent and less opportunity.

One thing exists in Italy which is very greatly missed in America. Even
in small companies in Italy a great deal of time is spent in rehearsals.
In America rehearsals are tremendously expensive and sometimes first
performances have suffered thereby. In fact, I doubt whether the public
realizes what a very expensive thing opera is. The public has little
opportunity to look behind the scenes. It sees only the finished
performance, which runs smoothly only when a tremendous amount of
mental, physical and financial oil has been poured upon the machinery. I
often hear men say here in New York, "I had to pay fifty dollars for my
seat to-night." That is absurd--the money is going to speculators
instead of into the rightful channels. This money is simply lost as far
as doing any service whatever to art is concerned. It does not go into
the opera house treasury to make for better performances, but simply
into the hands of some fellow who had been clever enough to deprive the
public of its just opportunity to purchase seats. The public seems to
have money enough to pay an outrageous amount for seats when necessary.
Would it not be better to do away with the speculator at the door and
pay say $10.00 for a seat that now costs $7.00? This would mean more
rehearsals and better opera and no money donated to the undeserving
horde at the portals of the temple.


I am told that many people in America have the impression that my vocal
ability is kind of a "God-given" gift; that is, something that has come
to me without effort. This is so very absurd that I can hardly believe
that sensible people would give it a moment's credence. Every voice is
in a sense the result of a development, and this is particularly so in
my own case. The marble that comes from the quarries of Carrara may be
very beautiful and white and flawless, but it does not shape itself into
a work of art without the hand, the heart, and the intellect of the

Just to show how utterly ridiculous this popular opinion really is, let
me cite the fact that at the age of fifteen everybody who heard me sing
pronounced me a bass. When I went to Vergine I studied hard for four
years. During the first three years the work was for the most part
moulding and shaping the voice. Then I studied repertoire for one year
and made my début. Even with the experience I had had at that time it
was unreasonable to expect great success at once. I kept working hard
and worked for at least seven years more before any really mentionable
success came to me. All the time I had one thing on my mind and that was
never to let a day pass without seeing some improvement in my voice. The
discouragements were frequent and bitter; but I kept on working and
waiting until my long awaited opportunities came in London and in New
York. The great thing is, not to stop. Do not think that, because these
great cities gave me a flattering reception, my work ceased. Quite on
the contrary, I kept on working and am working still. Every time I go
upon the stage I am endeavoring to discover something that will make my
art more worthy of public acceptance. Every act of each opera is a new


It is difficult to invest a rôle with individuality. I have no favorite
rôles. I have avoided this, because the moment one adopts a favorite
rôle he becomes a specialist and ceases to be an artist. The artist does
all rôles equally well. I have had the unique experience of creating
many rôles in operas such as _Fedora_, _Adrienne_, _Germania_, _Girl of
the Golden West_, _Maschera_. This is a splendid experience, as it
always taxes the inventive faculties of the singing actor. This is
particularly the case in the Italian opera of the newer composers, or
rather the composers who have worked in Italy since the reformation of
Wagner. Whatever may be said, the greatest influence in modern Italian
opera is Wagner. Even the great Verdi was induced to change his methods
in _Aïda_, _Otello_, and _Falstaff_--all representing a much higher art
than his earlier operas. However, Wagner did nothing to rob Italy of its
natural gift of melody, even though he did institute a reform. He also
did not influence such modern composers as Puccini, Mascagni, and
Leoncavallo to the extent of marring their native originality and

[Illustration: MME. JULIA CLAUSSEN.]



Mme. Julia Claussen was born at Stockholm, Sweden, the land of Jenny
Lind and Nilsson. Her voice is a rich, flexible mezzo-soprano, with a
range that has enabled her to assume some contralto rôles with more
success than the average so-called contralto. In her childhood she
studied piano, but did not undertake the serious study of voice until
she was eighteen, when she became a student at the Royal Academy of
Music, under Professor Lejdstrom (studying harmony and theory under the
famous Swedish composer Sjogren). Her début was made at the Royal Opera,
at the age of twenty-two, in _La Favorita_, singing the rôle in Swedish.
Later she went to Berlin, where she was coached in German opera by
Professor Friedrich at the Royal High School of Music. Her American
début was made in 1912, in Chicago, where she made an immediate success
in such rôles as _Ortrud_, _Brünnhilde_ and _Carmen_. She was then
engaged at Covent Garden and later sang at the Champs Elysée Theatre,
under Nikisch, in Paris. For two years she appeared at the Metropolitan.
She has received the rare distinction of being awarded the Jenny Lind
Medal from her own government and also of being admitted to the Royal
Academy of Sweden, the youngest member ever elected to that august
scientific and artistic body. She has also been decorated by King
Gustavus V of Sweden with Literis et Artibus. In America she has made an
immense success as a concert singer.




The question, "Why does Sweden produce so many singers?" is often asked
me. First it is a matter of climate, then a matter of physique, and
lastly, because the Swedish children do far more singing than any one
finds in many other countries. The air in Sweden is very rarefied, clear
and exhilarating. Owing to frugal living and abundant systematic
exercise, the people become very robust. This is not a matter of one
generation or so, but goes back for centuries. The Swedes are a strong,
energetic, thorough race; and the same attributes of industry and
precision which have made them famous in science are applied to the
study of music.

The Swedish child is made to understand that singing is a needful,
serious part of his life. His musical training begins very early in the
schools, with a definite scheme. All schools have competent, experienced
teachers of singing. In my childhood another factor played a very
important part. There was never the endless round of attractions, toys,
parties, theatres and pastimes (to say nothing of the all-consuming
movies). Life was more tranquil and therefore the pursuit of good music
was far more enjoyable. American life moves at aeroplane speed. The poor
little children hardly have time to breathe, let alone time to study
music. Ragtime is the musical symptom of this American craving for speed
and incessant excitement. In a blare and confusion of noises, like
bedlam broken loose, what chance has a child to develop good taste? It
is admittedly fascinating at times; but is without rhyme, reason or
order. I never permit my children to pollute my piano with it. They may
have it on the talking machine, but they must not be accomplices in
making it.

Of course, things have changed in Sweden, too; and American ragtime,
always contagious, has now infected all Europe. This makes the music
teacher's task in this day far more difficult than formerly. I hear my
daughters practicing, and now and then they seem to be putting a dash of
ragtime into Bach. If I stop them I find that "Bach is too slow, I don't
like Bach!" This is almost like saying, "I don't like Rubens, Van Dyke
or Millet; please, teacher, give me Mutt and Jeff or the Katzenjammer
Kids!" American children need to be constantly taught to reverence the
great creators of the land. Why, Jenny Lind is looked upon as a great
national heroine in Sweden, much as one might regard George Washington
in America. Before America can go about musical educational work
properly, the teachers must inculcate this spirit, a proper appreciation
of what is really beautiful, instead of a kind of wild, mob-like orgy of
blare, bang, smash and shriek which so many have come to know as ragtime
and jazz.


If one should ask me what is the first consideration in becoming a
success as a singer, I should say the ability to criticise one's self.
In my own case I had a very competent musician as a teacher. He told me
that my voice was naturally placed and did very little to help place it
according to his own ideas. Perhaps that was well for me, because I knew
myself what I was about. He used to say, "That sounds beautiful," but
all the time I knew that it sounded terrible. It was then that I learned
that my ear must be my best teacher. My teacher, for instance, told me
that I would never be able to trill. This was very disheartening; but he
really believed, according to his conservative knowledge, that I should
never succeed in getting the necessary flexibility.

By chance I happened to meet a celebrated Swedish singer, Mme. Östberg,
of the old school. I communicated to her the discouraging news that I
could never hope to trill. "Nonsense, my dear," she said, "someone told
me that too, but I determined that I was going to learn. I did not know
how to go about it exactly, but I knew that with the proper patience and
will-power I would succeed. Therefore I worked up to three o'clock one
morning, and before I went to bed I was able to trill."

I decided to take Mme. Östberg's advice, and I practiced for several
days until I knew that I could trill, and then I went back to my teacher
and showed him what I could do. He had to admit it was a good trill,
and he couldn't understand how I had so successfully disproved his
theories by accomplishing it. It was then that I learned that the singer
can do almost anything within the limits of the voice, if one will only
work hard enough. Work is the great producer, and there is no substitute
for it. Do not think that I am ungrateful to my teacher. He gave me a
splendid musical drilling in all the standard solfeggios, in which he
was most precise; and in later years I said to him, "I am not grateful
to you for making my voice, but because you did not spoil it."

After having sung a great deal and thought introspectively a great deal
about the voice, one naturally begins to form a kind of philosophy
regarding it. Of course, breathing exercises are the basis of all good
singing methods, but it seems to me that singing teachers ask many of
their pupils to do many queer impractical things in breathing, things
that "don't work" when the singer is obliged to stand up before a big
audience and make everyone hear without straining.

If I were to teach a young girl right at this moment I would simply ask
her to take a deep breath and note the expansion at the waist just above
the diaphragm. Then I would ask her to say as many words as possible
upon that breath, at the same time having the muscles adjacent to the
diaphragm to support the breath; that is, to sustain it and not collapse
or try to push it up. The trick is to get the most tone, not with the
most breath but with the least breath, and especially the very least
possible strain at the throat, which must be kept in a floating,
gossamer-like condition all the time. I see girls, who have been to
expensive teachers, doing all sorts of wonderful calisthenics with the
diaphragm, things that God certainly did not intend us to do in learning
to speak and to sing.

Any attempt to draw in the front walls of the abdomen or the intercostal
muscles during singing must put a kind of pneumatic pressure upon the
breath stream, which is sure to constrict the throat. Therefore, in my
own singing, I note the opposite effect. That is, there is rather a
sensation of expansion instead of contraction during the process of
expiration. This soon becomes very comfortable, relieves the throat of
strain, relieves the tones of breathiness or all idea of forcing. There
is none of the ugly heaving of the chest or shoulders; the body is in
repose, and the singer has a firm grip upon the tone in the right way.
The muscles of the front wall of the abdomen and the muscles between the
lower ribs become very strong and equal to any strain, while the throat
is free.

In the emission of the actual tone itself I would advise the sensation
of inhaling at first. The beginner should blow out the tone. Usually
instead of having a lovely floating character, with the impression of
control, the tone starts with being forced, and it always remains so.
The singer oversings and has nothing in reserve. When I am singing I
feel as though the farther away from the throat, the deeper down I can
control the breath stream, the better and freer the tone becomes.
Furthermore, I can sing the long, difficult Wagnerian rôles, with their
tremendous demands upon the vocal organs, without the least sensation of
fatigue. Some singers, after such performances, are "all in." No wonder
they lose their voices when they should be in their prime.

For me the most difficult vowel is "ah." The throat then is most open
and the breath stream most difficult to control properly. Therefore I
make it a habit to begin my practice with "oo, oh, ah, ay, ee" in
succession. I never start with sustained tones. This would give my
throat time to stiffen. I employ quick, soft scales, always remembering
the basic principle of breath control I have mentioned, and always as
though inhaling. This is an example of what I mean. To avoid shrillness
on the upper tone I take the highest note with oo and descend with oo.

[Illustration: musical notation: Ex. 1]

The same thought applied to an arpeggio would be:

[Illustration: musical notation: Ex. 2]

These I take within comfortable limits of my voice, always remembering
that the least strain is a backward step. These exercises are taken
through all possible keys. There can never be too much practice of a
scale or arpeggio exercise. Many singers, I know, who wonder why they do
not succeed, cannot do a good scale, the very first thing they should be
able to do. Every one should be like perfect pearls on a thread.


One of the great troubles in America is the irrepressible ambition of
both teachers and pupils. Europe is also not untinged with this.
Teachers want to show results. Some teachers, I am told, start in with
songs at the first or second lesson, with the sad knowledge that if they
do not do this they may lose the pupil to some teacher who will peddle
out songs. After four or five months I was given an operatic aria; and,
of course, I sang it. A year of scales, exercises and solfeggios would
have been far more time-saving. The pupils have too much to say about
their education in this way. The teacher should be competent and then
decide all such questions. American girls do not want this. They expect
to step from vocal ignorance to a repertoire over night. When you study
voice, you should study not for two years, but realize you will never
stop studying, if you wish to keep your voice. Like any others, without
exercise, the singing muscles grow weak and inefficient. There are so
many, many things to learn.

Of course, my whole training was that of the opera singer, and I was
schooled principally in the Wagnerian rôles. With the coming of the war
the prejudice against the greatest anti-imperialist (with the possible
exception of Beethoven) which music ever has known--the immortal
Wagner--became so strong that not until now has the demand for his
operas become so great that they are being resumed with wonderful
success. Therefore, with the exception of a few Italian and French
rôles, my operatic repertoire went begging.

It was necessary for me to enter the concert field, as the management of
the opera company with which I had contracts secured such engagements
for me. It was like starting life anew. There is very little opportunity
to show one's individuality in opera. One must play the rôle. Therefore
I had to learn a repertoire of songs, every one of which required
different treatment and different individuality. With eighteen members
on the program, the singer has a musical, mental and vocal task which
devolves entirely upon herself without the aid of chorus, co-singers,
orchestra, costumes, scenery and the glamour of the footlights. It was
with the greatest delight that I could fulfill the demands of the
concert platform. American musical taste is very exacting. The audiences
use their imagination all the time, and like romantic songs with an
atmospheric background, which accounts for my great success with songs
of such type as Lieurance's _By the Waters of Minnetonka_. One of the
greatest tasks I ever have had is that of singing my rôles in many
different languages. I learned some of them first in Swedish, then in
Italian, then in French, then in German, then in English; as I am
obliged to re-learn my Wagnerian rôles now.

The road to success in voice study, like the road to success in
everything else, has one compass which should be a consistent guide, and
that is common sense. Avoid extremes; hold fast to your ideals; have
faith in your possibilities, and work! work!! work!!!


© Mishkin.]



M. Charles Dalmores was born at Nancy, France, December 31st, 1871. His
musical education was received at the Nancy Conservatoire under
Professor Dauphin, and it was his intention to become a specialist in
French horn. He also played the 'cello. When he applied to the Paris
Conservatoire he was refused admission to the singing course because "he
was too good a musician to waste his time with singing." He became
professor of French horn at the Lyons Conservatory; but his love for
opera led him to study by himself until he made his début at Rouen in
1899. He then sang at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Covent
Garden, Bayreuth, New York, and Chicago, with ever-increasing success.
Dalmores is a dramatic tenor, and his musicianship has enabled him to
take extremely difficult rôles of the modern type and achieve real
artistic triumphs. He is one of the finest examples of the self-trained



It is always a pleasure to talk upon self-help and not self-study,
because I believe most implicitly in the former and very much doubt the
efficacy of the latter in actual voice study. The voice, of all things,
demands the assistance of a good teacher, although in the end the
results all come from within and not from without. That is, the voice is
an organ of expression; and what we make of it depends upon our own
thought a thousand times more than what we take in from the outside.

It is the teacher who stimulates the right kind of thinking who is the
best teacher. The teacher who seeks to make his pupils parrots rarely
meets with success. My whole career is an illustration of this, and when
I think of the apparently insurmountable obstacles over which I have
been compelled to climb I cannot help feeling that the relation of a few
of my own experiences in the way of self-help could not fail to be


I was born at Nancy on the 31st of December, 1871. I gave evidences of
having musical talent and my musical instruction commenced at the age of
six years. I studied first at the Conservatory at Nancy, intending to
make a specialty of the violin. Then I had the misfortune of breaking my
arm. It was decided thereafter that I had better study the French horn.
This I did with much success and attribute my control of the breath at
this day very largely to my elementary struggles with that most
difficult of instruments. At the age of fourteen I played the second
horn at Nancy. Finally, I went, with a purse made up by some citizens of
my home town, to enter the great Conservatory at Paris. There I studied
very hard and succeeded in winning my goal in the way of receiving the
first prize for playing the French horn.

For a time I played under Colonne, and between the ages of seventeen and
twenty-three in Paris I played with the Lamoureaux Orchestra. All this
time I had my heart set upon becoming a singer and paid particular
attention to all of the wonderful orchestral works we rehearsed. The
very mention of the fact that I desired to become a singer was met with
huge ridicule by my friends, who evidently thought that it was a form of
fanaticism. For a time I studied the 'cello and managed to acquire a
very creditable technic upon that instrument.


Notwithstanding the success I had with the two instruments, I was
confronted with the fact that I had before me the life of a poor
musician. My salary was low, and there were few, if any, opportunities
to increase it outside of my regular work with the orchestra. I was
told that I had great talent, but this never had the effect of swelling
my pocketbook. In my military service I played in the band of an
infantry regiment; and when I told my companions that I aspired to be a
great singer some day they greeted my declaration with howls of
laughter, and pointed out the fact that I was already along in years and
had an established profession.

At the sedate age of twenty-three I was surprised to find myself
appointed Professor of French Horn at the Conservatory of Lyons. Lyons
is the second city of France from the standpoint of population. It is a
busy manufacturing center, but is rich in architectural, natural and
historical interest; and the position had its advantages, although it
was away from the great French center, Paris. The opera at Nancy was
exceedingly good, and I had an opportunity to go often. Singing and the
opera were my life. My father had been manager at Nancy and I had made
my first acquaintance with the stage as one of the boys in _Carmen_.


I have omitted to say that at Paris I tried to enter the classes for
singing. My voice was apparently liked, but I was refused admission upon
the basis that I was too good a musician to waste my time in becoming an
inferior singer. Goodness gracious! Where is musicianship needed more
than in the case of the singer? This amused me, and I resolved to bide
my time. I played in opera orchestras whenever I had a chance, and thus
became acquainted with the famous rôles. One eye was on the music and
the other was on the stage. During the rests I dreamt of the time when I
might become a singer like those over the footlights.

Where there is a will there is usually a way. I taught solfeggio as well
as French horn in the Lyons Conservatory. I devised all sorts of
"home-made" exercises to improve my voice as I thought best. Some may
have done me good, others probably were injurious. I listened to singers
and tried to get points from them. Gradually I was unconsciously paving
the way for the great opportunity of my life. It came in the form of an
experienced teacher, Dauphin, who had been a basso for ten years at the
leading theatre of Belgium, fourteen years in London, and later director
at Geneva and Lyons. He also received the appointment of Professor at
the Lyons Conservatory.


One day Dauphin heard me singing and inquired who I was. Then he came in
the room and said to me, "How much do you get here for teaching and
playing?" I replied, proudly, "six thousand francs a year." He said,
"You shall study with me and some day you shall earn as much as six
thousand francs a month." Dauphin, bless his soul, was wrong. I now earn
six thousand francs every night I sing instead of every month.

I could hardly believe that the opportunity I had waited for so long had
come. Dauphin had me come to his house and there he told me that my
success in singing would depend quite as much upon my own industry as
upon his instruction. Thus one professor in the conservatory taught
another in the art he had long sought to master. Notwithstanding
Dauphin's confidence in me, all of the other professors thought that I
was doing a perfectly insane thing, and did all in their power to
prevent me from going to what they thought was my ruin.


Nevertheless, I determined to show them that they were all mistaken.
During the first winter I studied no less than six operas, at the same
time taking various exercises to improve my voice. During the second
winter I mastered one opera every month, and at the same time did all my
regular work--studying in my spare hours. At the end of my course I
passed the customary examination, receiving the least possible
distinction from my colleagues who were still convinced that I was
pursuing a course that would end in complete failure.

This brought home the truth that if I was to get ahead at all I would
have to depend entirely upon myself. The outlook was certainly not
propitious. Nevertheless I studied by myself incessantly and disregarded
the remarks of my pessimistic advisers. I sang in a church and also in a
big synagogue to keep up my income. All the time I had to put up with
the sarcasm of my colleagues who seemed to think, like many others, that
the calling of the singer was one demanding little musicianship, and
tried to make me see that in giving up the French horn and my
conservatory professorship I would be abandoning a dignified career for
that of a species of musician who at that time was not supposed to
demand any special musical training. Could not a shoemaker or a
blacksmith take a few lessons and become a great singer? I, however,
determined to become a different kind of a singer. I believed that there
was a place for the singer with a thorough musical training, and while I
kept up my vocal work amid the rain of irony and derogatory remarks from
my mistaken colleagues, I did not fail to keep up my interest in the
deeper musical studies. I had a feeling that the more good music I knew
the better would be my work in opera. I wish that all singers could see
this. Many singers live in a little world all of their own. They know
the music of the footlights, but there their experience ends. Every
symphony I have played has been molded into my life experience in such a
way that it cannot help being reflected in my work.


Finally the time came for my début in 1899. It was a most serious
occasion for me; for the rest of my career as a singer depended upon it.
It was in Rouen, and my fee was to be fifteen hundred francs a month. I
thought that that would make me the richest man in the world. It was the
custom of the town for the captain of the police to come before the
audience at the end and inquire whether the audience approved of the
artist's singing or whether their vocal efforts were unsatisfactory.
This was to be determined by a public demonstration. When the captain
held up the sign "Approved," I felt as though the greatest moment in my
life had arrived. I had worked so long and so hard for success and had
been obliged to laugh down so much scorn that you can imagine my
feelings. Suddenly a great volume of applause came from the house and I
knew in a second what my future should be.

Then it was that I realized that I was only a little way along my
journey. I wanted to be the foremost French tenor of my time. I knew
that success in France alone, while gratifying, would be limited, so I
set out to conquer new worlds. Wagner, up to that time, had never been
sung by any French tenor, so I determined to master German and become a
Wagner singer. This I did, and it fell to me to receive that most
coveted of Wagnerian distinctions, "soloist at Beyreuth," the citadel of
the highest in German operatic art. In after years I sang in all parts
of Germany with as much success as in France. Later I went to London and
then to America, where I sang for many seasons. It has been no small
pleasure for me to return to Paris, where I once lived in penury, and to
receive the highest fee ever paid to a French singer in the French


I don't know what more I can say upon the subject of self-help for the
singer. I have simply told my own story and have related some of the
obstacles that I have overcome. I trust that no one who has not a voice
really worth while will be misled by what I have had to say. The voice
is one of the most intricate and wonderful of the human organs. Properly
exercised and cared for, it may be developed to a remarkable degree; but
there are cases, of course, where there is not enough voice at the start
to warrant the aspirant making the sacrifices that I have made to reach
my goal. This is a very serious matter and one which should be
determined by responsible judges. At the same time, the singers may see
how possible it is for even experienced musicians, like my colleagues in
Lyons, to be mistaken. If I had depended upon them and not fought my own
way out, I would probably be an obscure teacher in the same old city
earning the munificent salary of one hundred dollars a month.


The student who has to fight his own way has a much harder battle of it;
but he has a satisfaction which certainly does not come to the one who
has all his instruction fees and living expenses paid for him. He feels
that he has earned his success; and, by the processes of exploration
through which the self-help student must invariably pass, he becomes
invested with a confidence and "I know" feeling which is a great asset
to him. The main thing is for him to keep busy all the time. He has not
a minute to spare upon dreaming. He has no one to carry his burden but
himself; and the exercise of carrying it himself is the thing which will
do most to make him strong and successful.

The artists who leap into success are very rare. Hundreds who have held
mediocre positions come to the front, while those who appear most
favored stay in the background. Do not seek to gain eminence by any
influence but that of real earnest work; and if you do not intend to
work and to work hard, drop all of your aspirations for operatic

[Illustration: ANDREAS DIPPEL.

© Dupont.]



Andreas Dippel was born at Cassel, 1866. His father was a manufacturer
who had the boy educated at the local gymnasium, with the view to making
him a banker. After five years in a banking house he decided to become a
singer and studied with Mme. Zottmayr. Later he went to Berlin, Milan
and Vienna, where he studied with Julius Hey, Alberto Leoni and Johann
Ress. In 1887 he made his début at Bremen, in _The Flying Dutchman_. He
remained with that company until 1892. In the meantime, however, he had
appeared at the Metropolitan in New York, with such success that he
toured America as a concert singer with Anton Seidl, Arthur Nikisch, and
Theodore Thomas. From 1893 to 1898 he was a member of the Imperial Court
Opera at Vienna. In 1898 he returned to America to the Metropolitan. In
1908 he was appointed administrative manager of the Metropolitan
Company, later becoming the manager of the Philadelphia-Chicago Opera
Company. Mr. Dippel is a fine dramatic tenor with the enormous
repertoire of 150 works in four different languages. He is a fine actor
and has been equally successful in New York, London, and Beyreuth. He
also has a repertoire of 60 oratorios.



The training of the girl designed to become a great prima donna is one
of the most complex problems imaginable. You ask me to consider the case
of an imaginary daughter designed for the career in order to make my
opinions seem more pertinent. Very well. If my daughter were studying
for grand opera, and if she were a very little girl, I should first
watch her very carefully to see whether she manifested any
uncontrollable desire or ambition to become a great singer. Without such
a desire she will never become great. Usually this ambition becomes
evident at a very early age. Then I should realize that the mere desire
to become a great singer is only an infinitesimal part of the actual

She must have, first of all, fine health, abundant vitality and an
artistic temperament. She must show signs of being industrious. She
should have the patience to wait until real results can be accomplished.
In fact, there are so many attributes that it is difficult to enumerate
them all. But they are all worth considering seriously. Why? Simply
because, if they are not considered, she may be obliged to spend years
of labor for which she will receive no return except the most bitter
disappointment conceivable. Of the thousands of girls who study to
become prima donnas only a very few can succeed, from the nature of
things. The others either abandon their ambitions or assume lesser rôles
from little parts down to the chorus.

You will notice that I have said but little about her voice. During her
childhood there is very little means of judging of the voice. Some
girls' voices that seem very promising when they are children turn out
in a most disappointing manner. So you see I would be obliged to
consider the other qualifications before I even thought of the voice. Of
course, if the child showed no inclination for music or did not have the
ability to "hold a tune," I should assume that she was one of those
frequent freaks of nature which no amount of musical training can save.

Above all things I should not attempt to force her to take up a career
against her own natural inclinations or gifts. The designing mother who
desires to have her own ambitions realized in her daughter is the bane
of every impresario. With a will power worthy of a Bismarck she maps out
a career for the young lady and then attempts to force the child through
what she believes to be the proper channels leading to operatic success.
She realizes that great singers achieve fame and wealth and she longs to
taste of these. It is this, rather than any particular love for her
child, that prompts her to fight all obstacles. No amount of advice or
persuasion can make her believe that her child cannot become another
Tetrazzini, or Garden, or Schumann-Heink, if only the impresario will
give her a chance. In nine cases out of ten Fate and Nature have a
conspiracy to keep the particular young lady in the rôle of a
stenographer or a dressmaker; and in the battle with Fate and Nature
even the most ambitious mother must be defeated.


Once determined that she stood a fair chance of success in the operatic
field I should take the greatest possible care of her health, both
physically and intellectually. Note that I lay particular stress upon
her physical training. It is most important, as no one but the
experienced singer can form any idea of what demands are made upon the
endurance and strength of the opera singer.

Her general education should be conducted upon the most approved lines.
Anything which will develop and expand the mind will be useful to her in
later life. The later operatic rôles make far greater demands upon the
mentality of the singer than those of other days. The singer is no
longer a parrot with little or nothing to do but come before the
footlights and sing a few beautiful tones to a few gesticulations. She
is expected to act and to understand what she is acting. I would lay
great stress upon history--the history of all nations--she should study
the manners, the dress, the customs, the traditions, and the thought of
different epochs. In order to be at home in _Pelleas and Melisande_, or
_Tristan und Isolde_, or _La Bohême_ she must have acquainted her mind
with the historical conditions of the time indicated by the composer and


Her first musical training should be musical. That is, she should be
taught how to listen to beautiful music before she ever hears the word
technic. She should be taught sight reading, and she ought to be able to
read any melody as easily as she would read a book. The earlier this
study is commenced with the really musical child, the better. Before it
is of any real value to the singer her sight reading should become
second nature. She should have lost all idea of the technic of the art
and read with ease and naturalness. This is of immense assistance. Then
she should study the piano thoroughly. The piano is the door to the
music of the opera. The singer who is dependent upon some assistant to
play over the piano scores is unfortunate. It is not really necessary
for her to learn any of the other instruments; but she should be able to
play readily and correctly. It will help her in learning scores, more
than anything else. It will also open the door to much other beautiful
music which will elevate her taste and ennoble her ideals.

She should go to the opera as frequently as possible in order that she
may become acquainted with the great rôles intuitively. If she cannot
attend the opera itself she can at least gain an idea of the great
operatic music through the talking machines. The "repertory" of records
is now very large, but of course does not include all of the music of
all of the scenes.

She should be taught the musical traditions of the different historical
musical epochs and the different so-called music schools. First she
should study musical history itself and then become acquainted with the
music of the different periods. The study of the violin is also an
advantage in training the ear to listen for correct intonation; but the
violin is by no means absolutely necessary.


All educators recognize the fact that languages are attained best in
childhood. The child's power of mimicry is so wonderful that it acquires
a foreign language quite without any suggestion of accent, in a time
which will always put their elders to shame. Foreign children, who come
to America before the age of ten, speak both then-native tongue and
English with equal fluency.

The first new language to be taken up should be Italian. Properly
spoken, there is no language so mellifluous as Italian. The beautiful
quantitative value given to the vowels--the natural quest for euphony
and the necessity for accurate pronunciation of the last syllable of a
word in order to make the grammatical sense understandable--is a
training for both the ear and the voice.

Italy is the land of song; and most of the conductors give their
directions in Italian. Not only the usual musical terms, but also the
other directions are denoted in Italian by the orchestral conductors;
and if the singer does not understand she must suffer accordingly.

After the study of Italian I would recommend, in order, French and
German. If my daughter were studying for opera, I should certainly leave
nothing undone until she had mastered Italian, French, German and
English. Although she would not have many opportunities to sing in
English, under present operatic conditions, the English-speaking people
in America, Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, and Australia are great
patrons of musical art; and the artist must of course travel in some of
these countries.


Her actual voice study should not commence before she is seventeen or
eighteen years of age. In the hands of a very skilled and experienced
teacher it might commence a little earlier; but it is better to wait
until her health becomes more settled and her mature strength develops.
At first the greatest care must be taken. The teacher has at best a
delicate flower which a little neglect or a little over training may
deform or even kill. I can not discuss methods, as that is not pertinent
to this conference. There is no one absolutely right way; and many
famous singers have traveled what seem quite different roads to reach
the same end. However, it is a historic fact that few great singers have
ever acquired voices which have had beautiful quality, perfect
flexibility and reliability, who have not sung for some years in the old
Italian style. Mind you, I am not referring to an old Italian school of
singing here, but more to that class of music adopted by the old Italian
composers--a style which permitted few vocal blemishes to go by
unnoticed. Most of the great Wagnerian singers have been proficient in
coloratura rôles before they undertook the more complicated parts of the
great master at Beyreuth.

It is better to leave the study of repertoire until later years; that
is, until the study of voice has been pursued for a sufficient time to
insure regular progress in the study of repertoire. Personally, I am
opposed to those methods which take the student directly to the study of
repertoire without any previous vocal drill. The voice, to be valuable
to the singer, must be able to stand the wear and tear of many seasons.
It is often some years before the young singer is able to achieve real
success and the profits come with the later years. A voice that is not
carefully drilled and trained, so that the singer knows how to get the
most out of it, with the least strain and the least expenditure of
effort, will not stand the wear and tear of many years of opera life.

After all, the study of repertoire is the easiest thing. Getting the
voice properly trained is the difficult thing. In the study of
repertoire the singer often makes the mistake of leaping right into the
more difficult rôles. She should start with the simpler rôles; such as
those of some of the lesser parts in the old Italian operas. Then, she
may essay the leading rôles of, let us say, _Traviata_, _Barber of
Seville_, _Norma_, _Faust_, _Romeo and Juliet_, and _Carmen_.

Instead of simple rôles, she seems inclined to spend her time upon
_Isolde_, _Mimi_, _Elsa_ or _Butterfly_. It has become so, that now,
when a new singer comes to me and wants to sing _Tosca_ or some rôle
that (sic) the so-called new or _verissimo_ Italian school, I almost
invariably refuse to listen. I ask them to sing something from _Norma_
or _Puritani_ or _Dinorah_ or _Lucia_ in which it is impossible for them
to conceal their vocal faults. But no, they want to sing the big aria
from the second act of _Madama Butterfly_, which is hardly to be called
an aria at all but rather a collection of dramatic phrases. When they
are done, I ask them to sing some of the opening phrases from the same
rôle, and ere long they discover that they really have nothing which an
impresario can purchase. They are without the voice and without the
complete knowledge of the parts which they desire to sing.

Then they discover that the impresario knows that the tell-tale pieces
are the old arias from old Italian operas. They reveal the voice in its
entirety. If the breath control is not right, it becomes evident at
once. If the quality is not right, it becomes as plain as the features
of the young lady's face. There is no dramatic--emotional--curtain under
which to hide these shortcomings. Consequently, knowing what I do, I
would insist upon my daughter having a thorough training in the old
Italian arias.


Her training in acting would depend largely upon her natural talent.
Some children are born actors--natural mimics. They act from their
childhood right up to old age. They can learn more in five minutes than
others can learn in years. Some seem to require little or no training in
the art of acting. As a rule they become the most forceful acting
singers. Others improve wonderfully under the direction of a clever

The new school of opera demands higher histrionic ability from the
singer. In fact, we have come to a time when opera is a real drama set
to music which is largely recitative and which does not distract from
the action of the drama. The librettos of other days were, to say the
least, ridiculous. If the music had not had a marvelous hold upon the
people they could not have remained in popular favor. To my mind it is
an indication of the wonderful power of music that these operas retain
their favor. There is something about the melodies which seems to
preserve them for all time; and the public is just as anxious to hear
them to-day as it was twenty-five and fifty years ago.

Richard Wagner turned the tide of acting in opera by his music dramas.
Gluck and von Weber had already made an effort in the right direction;
but it remained for the mighty power of Wagner to accomplish the final
work. Now we are witnessing the rise of a school of musical dramatic
actors such as Garden, Maurel, Renaud, and others which promises to
raise the public taste in this matter and which will add vastly to the
pleasure of opera going, as it will make the illusion appear more real.

This also imposes upon the impresario a new contingency which threatens
to make opera more and more expensive. Costumes, scenery and all the
settings nowadays must be both historically authentic and costly. The
collection of wigs, robes, and armor, together with a few sets of
scenery, often with the chairs and other furniture actually painted on
the scenes, which a few years ago were thought adequate for the
equipment of an opera company, have now given way to equipment more
elaborate than that of a Belasco or a Henry Irving. Nothing is left
undone to make the picture real and beautiful. In fact operatic
productions, as now given in America, are as complete and luxurious as
any performances given anywhere in the world.



Mme. Emma Eames was born at Shanghai, China. Her father, a graduate of
Harvard Law School, had been a sea-captain and had been in business in
the Chinese city. At the age of five she was brought back to the home of
her parents at Bath, Maine. Her mother was an accomplished amateur
singer who supervised her early musical training. At sixteen she went to
Boston to study with Miss Munger. At nineteen she became a pupil of
Marchesi in Paris and remained with the celebrated teacher for two
years. At twenty-one she made her début at the Grand Opera in Paris in
_Romeo et Juliette_. Two years later she appeared at Covent Garden,
London, with such success that she was immediately engaged for the
Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Few singers ever gained such a
strong hold upon the American and English public. Her voice is a fine
flexible soprano, capable of doing _Marguerite_ or _Elisabeth_ equally
well. Her husband, Emilio de Gogorza, with whom it is our privilege to
present a conference later in this book, is one of the foremost
baritones of our time.

[Illustration: MME. EMMA EAMES.]




One does not need to review the works of Charles Gounod to any great
extent before discovering that above all things he was an idealist. His
whole aspect of life and art was that of a man imbued with a sense of
the beautiful and a longing to actualize some noble art purpose. He was
of an age of idealists. Coming at the artificial period of the Second
Empire, he was influenced by that artistic atmosphere, as were such
masters of the brush as Jean August Ingres and Eugène Delacroix. This,
however, was unconscious, and in no way affected his perfect sincerity
in all he did.


I was taken to Gounod by my master, Mme. Mathilde Marchesi, who,
perhaps, had some reason to regret her kindness in introducing me, since
Gounod did not favor what he conceived as the Italian method of singing.
He had a feeling that the Italian school, as he regarded it, was too
obvious, and that French taste demanded more sincerity, more subtlety,
better balance and a certain finesse which the purely vocal Italian
style slightly obscured. Mme. Marchesi was very irate over Gounod's
attitude, which she considered highly insulting; whereas, as a matter of
fact, Gounod was doing the only thing that a man of his convictions
could do, and that was to tell what he conceived as the truth.

Gounod's study was a room which fitted his character perfectly. His very
pronounced religious tendencies were marked by the stained glass windows
which cast a delicate golden tint over the little piano he occasionally
used when composing. On one side was a pipe organ upon which he was very
fond of playing. In fact, the whole atmosphere was that of a chapel,
which, together with the beautiful and dignified appearance of the
master himself, made an impression that one could not forget. His great
sincerity, his lofty aims, his wonderful earnestness, his dramatic
intensity, were apparent at once. Many composers are hopelessly
disappointing in their appearance, but when one saw Gounod, it was easy
to realize whence come the beautiful musical colors which make _Romeo et
Juliette_, _Faust_ and _The Redemption_ so rich and individual. His
whole artistic character is revealed in a splendid word of advice he
gave to me when I first went to him: "Anyone who is called to any form
of musical expression must reveal himself only in the language that God
has given him to speak with. Find this language yourself and try, above
all things, to be sincere--never singing down to your public."

Gounod had a wonderful power of compelling attention. While one was with
him his personality was so great that it seemed to envelop you,
obliterating everything else. This can be attributed not only to
magnetism or hypnotism, but also to his own intense, all-burning
interest in whatever he was engaged upon. Naturally the relationship of
teacher and pupil is different from that of comradeship, but I was
impressed that Gounod, even in moments of apparent repose, never seemed
to lose that wonderful force which virtually consumed the entire
attention of all those who were in his presence.

He had remarkable gifts in painting word-pictures. His imagination was
so vigorous that he could make one feel that which he saw in his mind's
eye as actually present. I attribute this to the fact that he himself
was possessed by the subject at hand and spoke from the fountains of his
deepest conviction. First he made you see and then he made you express.
He taught one that to convince others one must first be convinced.
Indeed, he allowed a great variety of interpretations in order that one
might interpret through one's own power of conception rather than
through following blindly his own.

During my lessons with Gounod he revealed not only his very pronounced
histrionic ability, but also his charming talent as a singer. I had an
accompanist who came with me to the lessons and when I was learning the
various rôles, Gounod always sang the duets with me. Although he was
well along in years, he had a small tenor voice, exquisitely sweet and
sympathetic. He sang with delightful ease and with invariably perfect
diction, and perfect vision. If some of our critics of musical
performances were more familiar with the niceties of pronunciation and
accentuation of different foreign languages, many of our present-day
singers would be called upon to suffer some very severe criticisms. I
speak of this because Gounod was most insistent upon correct
pronunciation and accent, so that the full meaning of the words might be
conveyed to every member of the audience.


When I went to the opera for my hearing or _audition_, Gounod went with
me and we sang the duets together. The director, M. Gailhard, refused my
application, claiming that I was a debutante and could not expect an
initial performance at the Grand Opéra despite my ability and musical
attainments. It may be interesting for aspiring vocal students to learn
something of the various obstacles which still stand in the way of a
singer, even after one has had a very thorough training and acquired
proficiency which should compel a hearing. Alas! in opera, as in many
other lines of human endeavor, there is a political background that is
often black with intrigue and machinations. I was determined to fight my
way on the merit of my art, and accordingly I was obliged to wait for
nearly two years before I was able to make my début. These were years
filled with many exasperating circumstances.

I went to Brussels after two years' study with Marchesi, having been
promised my début there. I was kept for months awaiting it and was
finally prevented from making an appearance by one who, pretending to be
my friend and to be doing all in her power to further my career, was in
reality threatening the directors with instant breaking of her contract
should I be allowed to appear. I had this on the authority of Mr.
Gevaërt, the then director of the Conservatoire and my firm friend. The
artist was a great success and her word was law. It was on my return
that I was taken to Gounod and I waited a year for a hearing.

Gounod's opera, _Romeo et Juliette_, had been given at the Opéra Comique
many times but there was a demand for performances at the Grand Opéra.
Accordingly Gounod added a ballet, which fitted it for performance at
the Opéra. Apropos of this ballet, Gounod said to me, with no little
touch of cynicism, "Now you shall see what kind of music a _Ga Ga_ can
write" (Ga Ga is the French term for a very old man, that is, a man in
his dotage). He was determined that I should be heard at the Grand Opera
as Juliette, but even his influence could not prevent the director from
signing an agreement with one he personally preferred, which required
that she should have the honor of making her début at the Grand Opéra in
the part. Then it was that I became aware that it was not only because I
was a debutante that I had been denied. Gounod would not consent to this
arrangement, insisting on her making her début previously in _Faust_,
and fortunate it was, since the singer in question never attained more
than mediocre success. Gounod still demanded as a compromise that the
first six performances of the opera should be given to Adelina Patti,
and that they should send for me for the subsequent ones.

In the meantime I was engaged at the Opéra Comique. There Massenet
looked with disfavor upon my début before that of Sybil Sanderson.
Massenet had brought fortunes to the Opéra Comique through his immensely
popular and theatrically effective operas. Consequently his word was
law. I waited for some months and no suggestion of an opportunity for a
performance presented itself. All the time I was engaged in extending my
repertoire and becoming more and more indignant at the treatment I was
receiving in not being allowed to sing the operas thus acquired. My
year's contract had still three months to run when I received an offer
from St. Petersburg. Shortly thereafter I received a note from M.
Gailhard announcing that he wished to see me. I went and he informed me
that Gounod was still insistent upon my appearance in the rôle of
_Juliette_. I was irritated by the whole long train of aggravating
circumstances, but said, "Give me the contract, I'll sign it." Then I
went directly to the Opéra Comique and asked to see the director. I was
towering with indignation--indeed, I felt myself at least seven feet
tall and perhaps quite as wide. I demanded my contract. To his "Mais,
Mademoiselle--" I commanded, "Send for it." He brought the contract and
tore it up in my presence, only to learn next morning to his probable
chagrin that I was engaged and announced for an important rôle at the
Grand Opéra. The first performance of a debutante at the Grand Opéra is
a great ordeal, and it is easy to imagine that the strain upon a young
singer might deprive her of her natural powers of expression. The
outcome of mine was most fortuitous and with success behind me I found
my road very different indeed. However, if I had not had a friend at
court, in the splendid person of Charles Gounod, I might have been
obliged to wait years longer, and perhaps never have had an opportunity
to appear in Paris, where only a few foreigners in a generation get such
a privilege. It is a great one, I consider, as there is no school of
good taste and restraint like the French, which is also one where one
may acquire the more intellectual qualities in one's work and a sense of
proportion and line.


I have continually called attention to Gounod's idealism. There are some
to-day who might find the works of Gounod artificial in comparison with
the works of some very modern writers. To them I can only say that the
works of the great master gave a great deal of joy to audiences fully as
competent to judge of their artistic and æsthetic beauty as any of the
present day. Indeed, their flavor is so delicate and sublimated that the
subsequent attempts at interpreting them with more realistic methods
only succeeds in destroying their charm.

It may be difficult for some who are saturated with the ultra-modern
tendencies in music to look upon Gounod as a modernist, but thus he was
regarded by his own friends. One of my most amusing recollections of
Gounod was his telling me--himself much amused thereby--of the first
performance of _Faust_. His friends had attended in large numbers to
assist at the expected "success," only to be witnesses of a huge
failure. Gounod told me that the only numbers to have any success
whatsoever were the "Soldiers' Chorus," and that of the old men in the
second part of the first act. He said that all his friends avoided him
and disappeared or went on the other side of the street. Some of the
more intimate told him that he must change his manner of writing as it
was so "unmelodious" and "advanced." This seems to me a most interesting
recollection, in view of the "cubist" music of Stravinsky and Co. of

In thinking of Gounod we must not forget his period and his public. We
must realize that his operatic heroes and heroines must be approached
from an altogether idealistic attitude--never a materialistic one. See
the manner in which Gounod has taken Shakespeare's _Juliette_ and
translated her into an atmosphere of poetry. Nevertheless he constantly
intensifies his dramatic situations as the dramatic nature of the
composition demands.

His _Juliette_, though consistent with his idea of her throughout, is
not the _Juliet_ of Shakespeare. As also his _Marguerite_ is that of
Kaulbach and not the Gretchen of Goethe.

Of course, a great deal depends upon the training and school of the
artist interpreting the rôle. In my own interpretations I am governed by
certain art principles which seem very vital indeed to me. The figure of
the Mediæval Princess _Elsa_ has to be represented with a restraint
quite opposed to that of the panting savage _Aïda_. Also, the
palpitating, elemental _Tosca_ calls for another type of character
painting than, for instance, the modest, gestureless, timid and womanly
Japanese girl in Mascagni's _Iris_. These things are not taught in
schools by teachers. They come only after the prolonged study which
every conscientious artist must give to her rôles. Gounod felt this very
strongly and impressed it upon me. All music had a meaning to him--an
inner meaning which the great mind invariably divines through a kind of
artistic intuition difficult to define. I remember his playing to me the
last act of _Don Giovanni_, which in his hands gained the grandeur and
depth of Greek tragedy. He had in his hands the power to thrill one to
the very utmost. Again he was keenly delighted with the most joyous
passages in music. He was exceptionally fond of Mozart. _Le Nozze di
Figaro_ was especially appreciated. He used to say, after accompanying
himself in the aria of Cherubino the Page, from the 1st act, "Isn't that
Spring? Isn't that youth? Isn't that the joy of life? How marvelously
Mozart has crystallized this wonderful exuberant spirit in his music!"


One reason for Gounod's eminence lay in his great reverence for his art.
He believed in the cultivation of reverence for one's art, as the
religious devotee has reverence for his cult. To Gounod his art was a
religion. To use a very expressive colloquialism, "He never felt himself
above his job." Time and again we meet men and women who make it a habit
to look down upon their work as though they were superior to it. They
are continually apologizing to their friends and depreciating their
occupation. Such people seem foreordained for failure. If one can not
regard the work one is engaged upon with the greatest earnestness and
respect--if one can not feel that the work is worthy of one's deepest
_reverence_, one can accomplish little. I have seen so much of this with
students and aspiring musicians that I feel that I would be missing a
big opportunity if I did not emphasize this fine trait in Gounod's
character. I know of one man in particular who has been going down and
down every year largely because he has never considered anything he has
had to do as worthy of his best efforts. He has always been "above his
job." If you are dissatisfied with your work, seek out something that
you think is really deserving of your labor, something commensurate with
your idea of a serious dignified occupation in which you feel that you
may do your best work. In most cases, however, it is not a matter of
occupation but an attitude of mind--the difference between an earnest
dignified worker and one who finds it more comfortable to evade work.
This is true in music as in everything else. If you can make your
musical work a cult as Gounod did, if you have talent--vision--ah! how
few have vision, how few can really and truly see--if you have the
understanding which comes through vision, there is no artistic height
which you may not climb.

One can not hope to give a portrait of Gounod in so short an interview.
One can only point out a few of his most distinguishing features. One
who enjoyed his magnificent friendship can only look upon it as a
hallowed memory. After all, Gounod has written himself into his own
music and it is to that we must go if we would know his real nature.



Mme. Florence Easton was born at Middleborough, Yorkshire, England, Oct.
25, 1887. At a very early age she was taken to Toronto, Canada, by her
parents, who were both accomplished singers. She was given a musical
training in youth with the view of making her a concert pianist. Her
teacher was J. A. D. Tripp, and at the age of eleven she appeared in
concert. Her vocal talents were discovered and she was sent to the Royal
Academy at London, England, where her teachers were Reddy and Mme. Agnes
Larkom, a pupil of Garcia. She then went to Paris and studied under
Eliot Haslam, an English teacher resident in the French metropolis. She
then took small parts in the well-known English Opera organization, the
Moody-Manners Company, acquiring a large repertoire in English. With her
husband, Francis Maclennen, she came to America to take the leading
rôles in the Savage production of _Parsifal_, remaining to sing the next
season in _Madama Butterfly_. The couple were then engaged to sing for
six years at the Berlin Royal Opera and became wonderfully successful.
After three years at Hamburg and two years with the Chicago Opera
Company she was engaged for dramatic rôles at the Metropolitan, and has
become a great favorite.

[Illustration: MME. FLORENCE EASTON.

© Mishkin.]



What is the open door to opera in America? Is there an open door, and if
not, how can one be made? Who may go through that door and what are the
terms of admission? These are questions which thousands of young
American opera aspirants are asking just now.

The prospect of singing at a great opera house is so alluring and the
reward in money is often so great that students center their attentions
upon the grand prize and are willing to take a chance of winning, even
though they know that only one in a very few may succeed and then often
at bitter sacrifice.

The question is a most interesting one to me, as I think that I know
what the open door to opera in this country might be--what it may be if
enough patriotic Americans could be found to cut through the hard walls
of materialism, conventionalism and indifference. It lies through the
small opera company--the only real and great school which the opera
singer of the future can have.


In European countries there are innumerable small companies capable of
giving good opera which the people enjoy quite as thoroughly as the
metropolitan audiences of the world enjoy the opera which commands the
best singers of the times. For years these small opera companies have
been the training schools of the great singers. Not to have gone through
such a school was as damaging an admission as that of not having gone
through a college would be to a college professor applying for a new
position. Lilli Lehmann, Schumann-Heink, Ruffo, Campanini, Jenny Lind,
Patti, all are graduates of these schools of practice.

In America there seems to have existed for years a kind of prejudice,
bred of ignorance, against all opera companies except those employing
all-star casts in the biggest theatres in the biggest cities. This
existed, despite the fact that these secondary opera companies often put
on opera that was superior to the best that was to be heard in some
Italian, German and French cities which possessed opera companies that
stood very high in the estimation of Americans who had never heard them.
It was once actually the case that the fact that a singer had once sung
in a smaller opera company prevented her from aspiring to sing in a
great opera company. America, however, has become very much better
informed and much more independent in such matters, and our opera goers
are beginning to resemble European audiences in that they let their ears
and their common sense determine what is best rather than their
prejudices and their conventions regarding reputation. It was actually
the case at one time in America that a singer with a great reputation
could command a large audience, whereas a singer of far greater ability
and infinitely better voice might be shut out because she had once sung
in an opera company not as pretentious as those in the big cities. This
seemed very comic indeed to many European singers, who laughed in their
coat sleeves over the real situation.

In the first place, the small companies in many cities would provide
more singers with opportunities for training and public appearances. The
United States now has two or three major opera companies. Count up on
your fingers the greatest number of singers who could be accommodated
with parts: only once or twice in a decade does the young singer, at the
age when the best formative work must be done, have a chance to attain
the leading rôles. If we had in America ten or twenty smaller opera
companies of real merit, the chances would be greatly multiplied.

The first thing that the singer has to fight is stage fright. No matter
how well you may know a rôle in a studio, unless you are a very
extraordinary person you are likely to take months in acquiring the
stage freedom and ease in working before an audience. There is only one
cure for stage fright, and that is to appear continually until it wears
off. Many deserving singers have lost their great chances because they
have depended upon what they have learned in the studio, only to find
that when they went before a great and critical audience their ability
was suddenly reduced to 10 per cent., if not to zero. Even after years
of practice and experience in great European opera houses where I
appeared repeatedly before royalty, the reputation of the Metropolitan
Opera House in New York was so great that at the time I made my début
there I was so afflicted by stage fright that my voice was actually
reduced to one-half of its force and my other abilities accordingly.
This is the truth, and I am glad to have young singers know it as it
emphasizes my point.

Imagine what the effect would have been upon a young singer who had
never before sung in public on the stage. Footlight paralysis is one of
the most terrifying of all acute diseases and there is no cure for it
but experience.


In the Moody Manners Company in England, the directors wisely understood
this situation and prepared for it. All the singers scheduled to take
leading rôles (and they were for the most part very young singers, since
when the singer became experienced enough she was immediately stolen by
companies paying higher salaries) were expected to go for a certain time
in the chorus (not to sing, just to walk off and on the stage) until
familiar with the situation. Accordingly, my first appearance with the
Moody Manners Company was when I walked out with the chorus. I have
never heard of this being done deliberately by any other managers, but
think how sensible it is!

Again, it is far more advantageous for the young singer to appear in the
smaller opera house at first, so that if any errors are made the opera
goers will not be unforgiving. There is no tragedy greater than throwing
a young girl into an operatic situation far greater than her experience
and ability can meet, and then condemning her for years because she did
not rise to the occasion. This has happened many times in recent years.
Ambition is a beautiful thing; but when ambition induces one to walk
upon a tight rope over Niagara, without having first learned to walk
properly on earth, ambition should be restrained. I can recollect
several singers who were widely heralded at their first performances by
enthusiastic admirers, who are now no longer known. What has become of
them? Is it not better to learn the profession of opera singing in its
one great school, and learn it so thoroughly that one can advance in the
profession, just as one may advance in every other profession? The
singer in the small opera company who, night after night, says to
herself, "To-morrow it must be better," is the one who will be the Lilli
Lehmann, the Galli-Curci, or the Schumann-Heink of to-morrow; not the
important person who insists upon postponing her début until she can
appear at the Metropolitan or at Covent Garden.

Colonel Henry W. Savage did America an immense service, as did the Aborn
Brothers and Fortune Gallo, in helping to create a popular taste for
opera presented in a less pretentious form. America needs such companies
and needs them badly, not merely to educate the public up to an
appreciation of the fact that the finest operatic performances in the
world are now being given at the Metropolitan Opera House, but to help
provide us with well-schooled singers for the future.


Nothing can take the place of routine in learning operas. Many, many
opera singers I have known seem to be woefully lacking in it. In
learning a new opera, I learn all the parts that have anything to do
with the part I am expected to sing. In other words, I find it very
inadvisable to depend upon cues. There are so many disturbing things
constantly occurring on the stage to throw one off one's track. For
instance, when I made my first appearance in Mascagni's _Lodoletta_ I
was obliged to go on with only twenty-four hours' notice, without
rehearsal, in an opera I had seen produced only once. I had studied the
rôle only two weeks. While on the stage I was so entranced with the
wonderful singing of Mr. Caruso that I forgot to come in at the right
time. He said to me quickly _sotto voce_--

    "_Canta! Canta! Canta!_"

And my routine drill of the part enabled me to come in without letting
the audience know of my error.

The mere matter of getting the voice to go with the orchestra, as well
as that of identifying cues heard in the unusual quality of the
orchestral instruments (so different from the tone quality of the
piano), is most confusing, and only routine can accustom one to being
ready to meet all of these strange conditions.

One is supposed to keep an eye on the conductor practically all of the
time while singing. The best singers are those who never forget this,
but do it so artfully that the audience never suspects. Many singers
follow the conductor's baton so conspicuously that they give the
appearance of monkeys on a string. This, of course, is highly ludicrous.
I don't know of any way of overcoming it but experience. Yes, there is
another great help, and that is musicianship. The conductor who knows
that an artist is a musician in fact, is immensely relieved and always
very appreciative. Singers should learn as much about the technical side
of music as possible. Learning to play the violin or the piano, and
learning to play it well is invaluable.


The singer must be ever on the alert for opportunities to advance. This
is largely a matter of preparation. If one is capable, the opportunities
usually come. I wonder if I may relate a little incident which occurred
to me in Germany long before the war. I had been singing in Berlin, when
the impresario of the Royal Opera approached me and asked me if I could
sing _Aïda_ on a following Monday. I realized that if I admitted that I
had never sung _Aïda_ before, the thoroughgoing, matter-of-fact German
Intendant would never even let me have a chance. Emmy Destinn was then
the prima donna at the Royal Opera, and had been taken ill. The post was
one of the operatic plums of all Europe. Before I knew it, I had said
"Yes, I can sing _Aïda_." It was a white lie, and once told, I had to
live up to it. I had never sung _Aïda_, and only knew part of it.
Running home I worked all night long to learn the last act. Over and
over the rôle hundreds and hundreds of times I went, until it seemed as
though my eyes would drop out of my head. Monday night came, and thanks
to my routine experience in smaller companies, I had learned _Aïda_ so
that I was perfectly confident of it. Imagine the strain, however, when
I learned that the Kaiser and the court were to be present. At the end I
was called before the Kaiser, who, after warmly complimenting me, gave
me the greatly coveted post in his opera house. I do not believe that he
ever found out that the little Toronto girl had actually fibbed her way
into an opportunity.


Strauss was one of the leading conductors while I was at the Royal Opera
and I sang under his baton many, many times. He was a real genius,--in
that once his art work was completed, his interest immediately centered
upon the next. Once while we were performing _Rosenkavalier_ he came
behind the scenes and said:

"Will this awfully _long_ opera never end? I want to go home." I said to
him, "But Doctor, you composed it yourself," and he said, "Yes, but I
never meant to conduct it."

Let it be explained that Strauss was an inveterate player of the German
card game, Scat, and would far rather seek a quiet corner with a few
choice companions than go through one of his own works night after
night. However, whenever the creative instinct was at work he let
nothing impede it. I remember seeing him write upon his cuffs (no doubt
some passing theme) during a performance of _Meistersinger_ he was


The singer's greatest need, or his greatest asset if he has one, is an
honest critic. My husband and I have made it a point never to miss
hearing one another sing, no matter how many times we have heard each
other sing in a rôle. Sometimes, after a big performance, it is very
hard to have to be told about all the things that one did not do well,
but that is the only way to improve. There are always many people to
tell one the good things, but I feel that the biggest help that I have
had through my career has been the help of my husband, because he has
always told me the places where I could improve, so that every
performance I had something new to think about. An artist never stands
still. He either goes forward or backward and, of course, the only way
to get to the top is by going forward.

The difficulty in America is in giving the young singers a chance after
their voices are placed. If only we could have a number of excellent
stock opera companies, even though there had to be a few traveling stars
after the manner of the old dramatic companies, where everybody had to
start at the bottom and work his way up, because with a lovely voice,
talent and perseverance anyone can get to the top if one has a chance to
work. By "work" I mean singing as many new rôles as possible and as
often as possible and not starting at a big opera house singing perhaps
two or three times during a season. Just think of it,--the singer at a
small opera house has more chance to learn in two months than the
beginner at a big opera house might have in five years. After all, the
thing that is most valuable to a singer is time, as with time the voice
will diminish in beauty. Getting to the top via the big opera house is
the work of a lifetime, and the golden tones are gone before one really
has an opportunity to do one's best work.

[Illustration: GERALDINE FARRAR.]



Although one of the youngest of the noted American singers, none has
achieved such an extensive international reputation as Miss Farrar. Born
February 28, 1882, in Melrose, Mass., she was educated at the public
schools in that city. At the school age she became the pupil of Mrs. J.
H. Long, in Boston. After studying with several teachers, including Emma
Thursby, in New York, and Trabadello, in Paris, she went to Lilli
Lehmann in Berlin, and under this, the greatest of dramatic singers of
her time, Miss Farrar received a most thorough and careful training in
all the elements of her art. She made her début as Marguerite in _Faust_
at the Royal Opera in Berlin, October 15th, 1901. Later, after touring
European cities with ever increasing successes, she was engaged at the
Opera Comique and Grand Opera, Paris, and then at the Metropolitan Opera
House in New York, where she has been the leading soprano for many
seasons. The many enticing offers made for appearances in moving
pictures led to a new phase of her career. In many pictures she has
appeared with her husband, M. Lou Tellegen, one of the most
distinguished actors of the French school, who at one time was the
leading man for Sarah Bernhardt.

The following conference is rich in advice to any young woman who
desires to know what she must do in order to become a prima donna.



What must I do to become a prima donna? Let us reverse the usual method
of discussing the question and begin with the artist upon the stage in a
great opera house like the Metropolitan in New York, on a gala night,
every seat sold and hundreds standing. It is a modern opera with a
"heavy" score. What is the first consideration of the singer?

Primarily, an artist in grand opera must _sing_ in some fashion to
insure the proper projection of her rôle across the large spaces of the
all-too-large auditoriums. Those admirable requisites of clear diction,
facial expression and emotional appeal will be sadly hampered unless the
medium of sound carries their message. It is only from sad experience
that one among many rises superior to some of the disadvantages of our
modern opera repertoire. Gone are the days when the facile vocalist was
supported by a small group of musicians intent upon a discreet
accompaniment for the benefit of the singer's vocal exertions. Voices
trained for the older repertoire were not at the mercy of an enlarged
orchestra pit, wherein the over-zealous gentlemen now fight--_furioso ad
libitum_--for the supremacy of operatic effects.

An amiable musical observer once asked me why we all shouted so in
opera. I replied by a question, asking if he had ever made an
after-dinner speech. He acquiesced. I asked him how many times he rapped
on the table for attention and silence. He admitted it was rather often.
I asked him why. He said, so that he might be heard. He answered his own
question by conceding that the carrying timbre of a voice cannot compete
successfully against even banquet hall festivities unless properly
focused out of a normal speaking tone. The difference between a small
room and one seating several hundred is far greater than the average
auditor realizes. If the mere rattling of silver and china will eclipse
this vocal effort in speech I leave to your imagination what must
transpire when the singer is called upon to dominate with one thread of
song the tremendous onslaught of an orchestra and to rise triumphant
above it in a theater so large that the faithful gatherers in the
gallery tell me we all look like pigmies, and half the time are barely
heard. Since the recesses where we must perform are so exaggerated
everything must be in like proportion, hence we are very often too
noisy, but how can it be otherwise if we are to influence the eager
taxpayer in row X? After all, he has not come to hear us _whisper_, and
his point of vantage is not so admirable as if he were sitting at a
musical comedy in a small theater. For this condition the size of the
theater and the instrumentation imposed by the composer are to be
censured, and less blame placed upon the overburdened shoulders of the
vocal competitor against these odds. Little shading in operatic tone
color is possible unless an accompanying phrase permits it or the
trumpeter swallows a pin!


If your repertoire is _The Barber_, _Lucia_, _Somnambula_ and all such
Italian dainties, well and good. Nothing need disturb the complete
enjoyment of this lace-work. But if your auditors weep at _Butterfly_
and _Zaza_ or thrill to _Pagliacci_, they demand you use a quite
different technic, which comes to the point of my story.

I believe it was Jean de Reszke who advocated the voice "in the mask"
united to breath support from the diaphragm. From personal observation I
should say our coloratura charmers lay small emphasis on that highly
important factor and use their head voices with a freedom more or less
God given. But the power and life-giving quality of this fundamental
cannot be too highly estimated for us who must color our phrases to suit
modern dramatics and evolve a carrying quality that will not only
eliminate the difficulty of vocal demands, but at the same time insure
immunity from harmful after-effects. This indispensable twin of the head
voice is the dynamo which alone must endure all the necessary fatigue,
leaving the actual voice phrases free to float unrestricted with no
ignoble distortions or possible signs of distress. Alas! it is not easy
to write of this, but the experience of years proves how vital a point
is its saving grace and how, unfortunately, it remains an unknown factor
to many.

To note two of our finest examples of greatness in this marvelous
profession, Lilli Lehmann and Jean de Reszke, neither of whom had
phenomenal vocal gifts, I would point out their remarkable mental
equipment, unceasing and passionate desire for perfection, paired with
an unerring instinct for the noble and distinguished such as has not
been found in other exponents of purely vocal virtuosity, with a few
rare exceptions, as Melba and Galli-Curci, for instance, to mention two
beautiful instruments of our generation.

The singing art is not a casual inspiration and it should never be
treated as such. The real artist will have an organized mental strategy
just as minute and reliable as any intricate machinery, and will under
all circumstances (save complete physical disability) be able to control
and dominate her gifts to their fullest extent. This is not learned in a
few years within the four walls of a studio, but is the result of a
lifetime of painstaking care and devotion.

There was a time when ambition and overwork so told upon me that
mistakenly I allowed myself to minimize my vocal practice. How wrong
that was I found out in short time and I have returned long since to my
earlier precepts as taught me by Lilli Lehmann.


In her book, _How to Sing_, there is much for the student to digest with
profit, though possible reservations are advisable, dependent upon one's
individual health and vocal resistance. Her strong conviction was, and
is, that a voice requires daily and conscientious exercise to keep it
strong and flexible. Having successfully mastered the older Italian
rôles as a young singer, her incursion into the later-day dramatic and
classic repertoire in no wise became an excuse to let languish the
fundamental idea of beautiful sound. How vitally important and admirably
_bel canto_ sustained by the breath support has served her is readily
understood when one remembers that she has outdistanced all the
colleagues of her earlier career and now well over sixty, she is as
indefatigable in her daily practice as we younger singers should be.

This brief extract about Patti (again quoting Lilli Lehmann) will
furnish an interesting comparison:

In Adelina Patti everything was united--the splendid voice paired with
great talent for singing, and the long oversight of her studies by her
distinguished teacher, Strakosch. She never sang rôles that did not suit
her voice; in her earlier years she sang only arias and duets or single
solos, never taking part in ensembles. She never sang even her limited
repertory when she was indisposed. She never attended rehearsals, but
came to the theater in the evening and sang triumphantly, without ever
having seen the persons who sang or acted with her. She spared herself
rehearsals, which, on the day of the performance or the day before,
exhaust all singers because of the excitement of all kinds attending
them, and which contribute neither to the freshness of the voice nor to
the joy of the profession.

Although she was a Spaniard by birth and an American by early adoption,
she was, so to speak, the greatest Italian singer of my time. All was
absolutely good, correct and flawless, the voice like a bell that you
seemed to hear long after its singing had ceased. Yet she could give no
explanation of her art, and answered all her colleagues' questions
concerning it with "Ah, je n'en sais rien!" She possessed unconsciously,
as a gift of nature, a union of all those qualities that other singers
must attain and possess consciously. Her vocal organs stood in the most
favorable relations to each other. Her talent and her remarkably trained
ear maintained control over the beauty of her singing and her voice.
Fortunate circumstances of her life preserved her from all injury. The
purity and flawlessness of her tone, the beautiful equalization of her
whole voice constituted the magic by which she held her listeners
entranced. Moreover, she was beautiful and gracious in appearance. The
accent of great dramatic power she did not possess, yet I ascribe this
more to her intellectual indolence than to her lack of ability.

But how few of us would ever make a career if we waited for such favors
from Nature!


Bearing in mind the absolute necessity and real joy in vocal work, it
confounds and amazes me that teachers of this art feel their duty has
been accomplished when they donate twenty minutes or half an hour to a
pupil! I do not honestly believe this is a fair exchange, and it is
certainly not within reason to believe that within so short a time a
pupil can actually benefit by the concentration and instruction so
hastily conferred upon her. If this be very plain speaking, it is said
with the object to benefit the pupil only, for it is, after all, _they_
who must pay the ultimate in success or failure. An hour devoted to the
minute needs of one pupil is not too much time to devote to so delicate
a subject. An intelligent taskmaster will let his pupil demonstrate ten
or fifteen minutes and during the same period of rest will discuss and
awaken the pupil's interest from an intelligent point of view, that some
degree of individuality may color even the drudgery of the classroom. A
word of counsel from such a mistress of song as Lehmann or Sembrich is
priceless, but the sums that pour into greedy pockets of vocal
mechanics, not to say a harsher word, is a regretable proceeding. Too
many mediocrities are making sounds. Too many of the same class are
trying to instruct, but, as in politics, the real culprit is the people.
As long as the public forbear an intelligent protest in this direction,
just so long will the studios be crowded with pathetic seekers for fame.
What employment these infatuated individuals enjoyed before the advent
of grand opera and the movies became a possible exhaust pipe for their
vanity is not clear, but they certainly should be discouraged. New York
alone is crowded with aspirants for the stage, and their little bag of
tricks is of very slender proportions. Let us do everything in our power
to help the really worthy talent; but it is a mistaken charity, and not
patriotic, to shove singers and composers so called, of American birth,
upon a weary public which perceives nothing except the fact that they
are of native birth and have no talent to warrant such assumption.

I do not think the musical observers are doing the cause of art in this
country a favor when columns are written about the inferior works of the
non-gifted. An ambitious effort is all right in its way, but that is no
reason to connect the ill-advised production with American hopes. On the
contrary, it does us a bad turn. I shall still contend that the English
language is not a pretty one for our vocal exploitations, and within my
experience of the past ten years I have heard but one American work
which I can sincerely say would have given me pleasure to create, that
same being Mr. Henry Hadley's recently produced _Cleopatra's Night_. His
score is rich and deserving of the highest praise.

In closing I should like to quote again from Mme. Lehmann's book an
exercise that would seem to fulfill a long-felt want:

"The great scale is the most necessary exercise for all kinds of voices.
It was taught me by my mother. She taught it to all her pupils and to

Here is the scale as Lehmann taught it to me.

[Illustration: musical notation: Breath Breath Breath Breath]

It was sung upon all the principal vowels. It was extended stepwise
through different keys over the entire range of the two octaves of the
voice. It was not her advice to practice it too softly, but it was done
with all the resonating organs well supported by the diaphragm, the tone
in a very supple and elastic "watery" state. She would think nothing of
devoting from forty minutes to sixty minutes a day to the slow practice
of this exercise. Of course, she would treat what one might call a heavy
brunette voice quite differently from a bright blonde voice. These terms
of blonde and brunette, of course, have nothing to do with the
complexion of the individual, but to the color of the voice.


Lehmann said of this scale: "It is the only cure for all injuries, and
at the same time the most excellent means of fortification against all
over-exertion. I sing it every day, often twice, even if I have to sing
one of the heaviest rôles in the evening. I can rely absolutely upon its
assistance. I often take fifty minutes to go through it once, for I let
no tone pass that is lacking in any degree in pitch, power, duration or
in single vibration of the propagation form."

Personally I supplement this great scale often with various florid
legato phrases of arias selected from the older Italians or Mozart,
whereby I can more easily achieve the vocal facility demanded by the
tessitura of _Manon_ or _Faust_ and change to the darker-hued phrases
demanded in _Carmen_ or _Butterfly_.

But the open secret of all success is patient, never-ending,
conscientious _work_, with a forceful emphasis on the _WORK_.

[Illustration: JOHANNA GADSKI.]



Mme. Gadski was born at Anclam, Prussia, June 15, 1872. Her studies in
singing were principally with Mme. Schroeder-Chaloupha. When she was ten
years old she sang successfully in concert at Stettin. Her operatic
début was made in Berlin, in 1889, in Weber's _Der Freischütz_. She then
appeared in the opera houses of Bremen and Mayence. In 1894 Dr. Walter
Damrosch organized his opera company in New York and engaged Mme. Gadski
for leading rôles. In 1898 she became high dramatic soprano with the
Metropolitan Opera Company in New York, and the following year appeared
at Covent Garden. She was constantly developing as a singer of Wagner
rôles, notably _Brunhilde_ and _Isolde_. Her repertoire included forty
rôles in all, and the demand for her appearance at festivals here and
abroad became more and more insistent. She sang at the Metropolitan
Opera House in New York until 1917, when the notoriety caused by the
activities of her husband, Captain Hans Tauscher, American agent for
large German weapon manufacturers, forced her to resign. Mme. Gadski
made a close study of the Schumann Songs for years; and the following
can not fail to be of artistic assistance to the singer.




One cannot delve very far into the works of Schumann without discovering
that his gifts are peculiarly lyric. His melodic fecundity is all the
more remarkable because of his strong originality. Even in many of his
piano pieces, such as _Warum?_, _Träumerei_ or the famous _Slumber
Song_, the lyric character is evident. Beautiful melodies which seem to
lend themselves to the peculiar requirements of vocal music crop up
every now and then in all his works. This is by no means the case with
many of the other great masters. In some of Beethoven's songs, for
instance, one can never lose sight of the fact that they are
instrumental pieces. It was Schumann's particular privilege to be gifted
with the acute sense of proportion which enabled him to estimate just
what kind of an accompaniment a melody should have. Naturally some of
his songs stand out far above others; and in these the music lover and
vocal student will notice that there is usually a beautiful artistic
balance between the accompaniment and the melody.

Another characteristic is the sense of propriety with which Schumann
connected his melodies with the thought of the poems he employed. This
is doubtless due to the extensive literary training he himself enjoyed.
It was impossible for a man of Schumann's life experience to apply an
inappropriate melody to any given poem. With some song writers, this is
by no means the case. The music of one song would fit almost any other
set of words having the same poetic metre. Schumann was continually
seeking after a distinctive atmosphere, and this it is which gives many
of his works their lasting charm.


Most of the greater Schumann songs are of a deliciously ultimate and
delicate character. By this no one should infer that they are weak or
spineless. Schumann was a deep student of psychology and of human life.
In the majority of cases he eschewed the melodramatic. It is true that
we have at least one song, _The Two Grenadiers_, which is melodramatic
in the extreme; but this, according to the greatest judges, is not
Schumann at his best. It was the particular delight of Schumann to take
some intense little poem and apply to it a musical setting crowded full
of deep poetical meaning. Again, he liked to paint musical pastels such
as _Im wunderschönen Monat Mai_, _Frühlingsnacht_ and _Der Nussbaum_.
These songs are redolent with the fragrance of out-of-doors. There is
not one jarring note. The indefinable beauty and inspiration of the
fields and forests have been caught by the master and imprisoned forever
in this wonderful music.

_Im wunderschönen Monat Mai_, which comes from the _Dichterliebe_ cycle,
is indescribably delicate. It should be sung with great lightness and
simplicity. Any effort toward a striving for effect would ruin this
exquisite gem. _Frühlingsnacht_ with its wonderful accompaniment, which
Franz Liszt thought so remarkable that he combined the melody and the
accompaniment, with but slight alterations, and made a piano piece of
the whole--is a difficult song to sing properly. If the singer does not
catch the effervescent character of the song as a whole, the effect is
lost. Any "dragging" of the tones destroys the wonderful exuberance
which Schumann strove to connote. The balance between the singer and the
accompanist must be perfect, and woe be to the singer who tries to sing
_Frühlingsnacht_ with a lumbering accompanist.

_Der Nussbaum_ is one of the most effective and "thankful" of all the
Schumann songs. Experienced public singers almost invariably win popular
appreciation with this song. It is probably my favorite of all the
Schumann songs. Here again delicacy and simplicity reign supreme. In
fact simplicity in interpretation is the great requirement of all the
art songs. The amateur singer seems to be continually trying to secure
"effect" with these songs and the only result of this is affectation. If
amateurs could only realize how hard the really great masters tried to
avoid results that were to be secured by the cheap methods of
"affectation" and "show," they would make their singing more simple.
Success in singing art songs comes through the ability of the artist to
bring out the psychic, poetical and musical meaning of the song. There
is no room for cheap vocal virtuosity. The great songs bear the sacred
message of the best and finest in art. They represent the conscientious
devotion of their composers to their loftiest ideals.

I have mentioned three songs which are representative, but there are
numberless other songs which reveal the intimate and personal character
of Schumann's works. One popular mistake regarding these songs which is
quite prevalent is that of thinking that they can only be sung in tiny
rooms and never in large auditoriums. Time and again I have achieved
some of the best results I have ever secured on the concert stage with
delicate intimate works sung before audiences of thousands of people.
The size of the auditorium has practically nothing to do with the song.
The method of delivery is everything. If the song is properly and
thoughtfully delivered, the audience, though it be one of thousands,
will sit "quiet as mice" and listen reverently to the end. However, if
one of these songs were to be sung in a flamboyant, bombastic manner, by
some singer infected with the idea that in order to impress a multitude
of people an exaggerated style is necessary, the results would be
ruinous. If overdone, they are never appreciated. Art is art. Rembrandt
in one of his master paintings exhibits just the right artistic balance.
A copy of the same painting might become a mere daub, with a few twists
of some bungling amateur's brush. Let the young singer remember that
the results that are the most difficult to get in singing the art song
are not those by which she may hope to make a sensational impression by
means of show, but those which depend first and always upon sincerity,
simplicity and a deep study of the real meaning of the masterpiece.


Up to the time Schumann was thirty years of age (1840), his compositions
were confined to works for the piano. These piano works include some of
the very greatest and most inspired of his compositions for the
instrument. In 1840 Schumann married Clara Wieck, daughter of his former
pianoforte teacher. This marriage was accomplished only after the most
severe opposition imaginable upon the part of the irate father-in-law,
who was loath to see his daughter, whom he had trained to be one of the
foremost pianists of her sex, marry an obscure composer. The effect of
this opposition was to raise Schumann's affection to the condition of a
kind of fanaticism. All this made a pronounced impression upon his art
and seemed to make him long for expression through the medium of his
love songs. He wrote to a friend at this time, "I am now writing nothing
but songs great and small. I can hardly tell you how delightful it is to
write for the voice, as compared with instrumental composition; and what
a tumult and strife I feel within me as I sit down to it. I have brought
forth quite new things in this line." In letters to his wife he is quite
as impassioned over his song writing as the following quotations
indicate: "Since yesterday morning, I have written twenty-seven pages of
music (something new of which I can tell you nothing more than that I
have laughed and wept for joy in composing them). When I composed them
my soul was within yours. Without such a bride, indeed no one could
write such music; once more I have composed so much that it seems almost
uncanny. Alas! I cannot help it: I could sing myself to death like a

During the first year of his marriage Schumann wrote one hundred of the
two hundred and forty-five songs that are attributed to him. In the
published collections of his works, there are three songs attributed to
Schumann which are known to be from the pen of his talented wife. As in
his piano compositions Schumann avoided long pieces and preferred
collections of comparatively short pieces, such as those in the
_Carnaval_, _Kreisleriana_, _Papillons_, so in his early works for the
voice Schumann chose to write short songs which were grouped in the form
of cycles. Seven of these cycles are particularly well known. They are
here given together with the best known songs from each group.

        Cycle                            Songs

    _Liederkreis_               {_Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen._
                                {_Mit Myrthen und Rosen._

                                {_Die Lotusblume._
    _Myrthen_                   {_Lass mich ihm am Busen hangen._
                                {_Du bist wie eine Blume._
                                {_Der Nussbaum._

    _Eichendorff Liederkreis_   {_Waldesgespräch._

    _Kerner Cycle_              {_Frage._
                                {_Stille Thränen._

                                {_O, Ring an meinem Finger._
    _Frauenliebe und Leben_     {_Er, der Herrlichste von Allen._

                                {_Ich grolle nicht._
    _Dichterliebe_              {_Im wunderschönen Mai._
                                {_Ich hab' im Traum geweinet._

                                {_Three of the songs in this_
    _Liebesfrühling_            {_Cycle are attributed to_
                                {_Clara Schumann._

Critics seem to be agreed that Schumann's talent gradually deteriorated
as his mental disease increased. Consequently, with but few exceptions
his best song works are to be found among his early vocal compositions.
I have tried repeatedly to bring forth some of the lesser known songs of
Schumann and have time and again devoted long periods to their study,
but apparently the public, by an unmistakable indication of lack of
approval, will have none of them.

Evidently, the songs by which Schumann is now best known are his best
works from the standpoint of popular appreciation. Popular approval
taken in the aggregate is a mighty determining factor. The survival of
the fittest applies to songs as well as to other things in life. This is
particularly so in the case of the four famous songs, _Die beiden
Grenadiere_, _Widmung_, _Der Nussbaum_ and _Ich grolle nicht_, which
never seem to diminish in popularity.


Schumann's fervid imagination readily led to a love for the romantic.
His early fondness for the works of Jean Paul developed into a kind of
life tendency, which resulted in winning him the title of the "Tone-Poet
of Romanticism." Few of his songs, however, are really dramatic.
_Waldesgespräch_, which Robert Franz called a pianoforte piece with a
voice part added, is probably the best of Schumann's dramatic-romantic
songs. I have always found that audiences are very partial to this song;
and it may be sung by a female voice as well as the male voice. The _Two
Grenadiers_ is strictly a man's song. _Ich grolle nicht_, while sung
mostly by men, may, like the _Erl-King_ of Schubert, be sung quite as
successfully by women singers possessing the qualities of depth and
dramatic intensity.


I have already mentioned the necessity for simplicity in connection with
the interpretation of the Schumann songs. I need not tell the readers of
these pages that the proper interpretation of these songs requires a
much more extensive and difficult kind of preparatory work than the more
showy coloratura works which to the novice often seem vastly more
difficult. The very simplicity of the Schubert and Schumann songs makes
them more difficult to sing properly than the works of writers who
adopted a somewhat more complicated style. The smallest vocal
discrepancies become apparent at once and it is only by the most intense
application and great attention to detail that it is possible for the
singer to bring her art to a standard that will stand the test of these
simple, but very difficult works. Too much coloratura singing is liable
to rob the voice of its fullness and is not to be recommended as a
preparation for the singer who would become a singer of the modern art
songs. This does not mean that scales and arpeggios are to be avoided.
In fact the flexibility and control demanded of the singers of art songs
are quite as great as that required of the coloratura singer. The
student must have her full quota of vocal exercises before she should
think of attempting the Schumann Lieder.


Americans seem to be particularly fond of Schumann. When artists are
engaged for concert performances it is the custom in this country to
present optional programs to the managers of the local concert
enterprises. These managers represent all possible kinds of taste. It is
the experience of most concert artists that the Schumann selections are
almost invariably chosen. This is true of the West as well as of the
South and East. One section of the program is without exception devoted
to what they call classical songs and by this they mean the best songs
rather than the songs whose chief claim is that they are from the old
Italian schools of Carissimi, Scarlatti, etc. I make it a special point
to present as many songs as possible with English words. The English
language is not a difficult language in which to sing; and when the
translation coincides with the original I can see no reason why American
readers who may not be familiar with a foreign tongue should be denied
the privilege of understanding what the song is about. If they do not
understand, why sing words at all? Why not vocalize the melodies upon
some vowel? Songs, however, were meant to combine poetry and music; and
unless the audience has the benefit of understanding both, it has been
defrauded of one of its chief delights.

Some German poems, however, are almost untranslatable. It is for this
reason that many of the works of Löwe, for instance, have never attained
wide popularity. The legends which Löwe employed are often delightful,
but the difficulties of translation are such that the original meaning
is either marred or destroyed. The songs or ballads of Löwe, without the
words, do not seem to grasp American audiences and singers find it a
thankless task to try to force them upon the public.

I have been so long in America that I feel it my duty to share in
popularizing the works of the many talented American composers. I
frequently place MacDowell's beautiful songs on my programs; and the
works of many other American composers, including Mrs. H. H. A. Beach,
Sidney Homer, Frank Le Forge and others make fine concert numbers. It
has seemed to me that America has a large future in the field of lyric
composition. American poets have long since won their place in the
international Hall of Fame. The lyrical spirit which they have expressed
verbally will surely be imbued in the music of American composers. The
opportunity is already here. Americans demand the best the world can
produce. It makes no difference what the nationality of the composer.
However, Americans are first of all patriotic; and the composer who
produces real lyric masterpieces is not likely to be asked to wait for
fame and competence, as did Schubert and Schumann.


© Victor Georg.]



Mme. Galli-Curci was born at Milan, November 18th, 1889, of a family
distinguished in the arts and in the professions. She entered the Milan
Conservatory, winning the first prize and diploma in piano playing in
1903. For a time after her graduation she toured as a pianist and then
resolved to become a singer. She is practically self-taught in the vocal
art. Her début was made in Rome at the Teatro Constanzi, in the rôle of
_Gilda_ in _Rigoletto_. She was pronouncedly successful from the very
start. During the next six years she sang principally in Italy, South
America (Three Tours), and in Spain, her success increasing with every
appearance. In 1916 she appeared at Chicago with the Chicago Opera
Company, creating a furore. The exceptionally beautiful records of her
interpretations created an immense demand to hear her in concert, and
her successes everywhere have been historic. Not since Patti has there
been a singer upon whom such wide-spread critical comment has been made
in praise of her exquisite velvety quality of tone, vocal technic and
interpretative intelligence. Hailed as "Patti's only successor," she has
met with greater popular success in opera and concert than any of the
singers of recent years. In 1921 she married the gifted American
composer, Homer Samuels, who for many years had been the pianist upon
her tours.



Just what influence heredity may have upon the musical art and upon
musicians has, of course, been a much discussed question. In my own
case, I was fortunate in having a father who, although engaged in
another vocation, was a fine amateur musician. My grandfather was a
conductor and my grandmother was an opera singer of distinction in
Italy. Like myself, she was a coloratura soprano, and I can recollect
with joy her voice and her method of singing. Even at the age of
seventy-five her voice was wonderfully well preserved, because she
always sang with the greatest ease and with none of the forced throat
restrictions which make the work of so many singers insufferable.

My own musical education began at the age of five, when I commenced to
play the piano. Meanwhile I sang around the house, and my grandmother
used to say in good humor: "Keep it up, my dear; perhaps some day you
may be a better singer than I am." My father, however, was more
seriously interested in instrumental music, and desired that I should
become a pianist. How fortunate for me! Otherwise, I should never have
had that thorough musical drill which gave me an acquaintance with the
art which I cannot believe could come in any other way. Mascagni was a
very good friend of our family and took a great interest in my playing.
He came to our house very frequently, and his advice and inspiration
naturally meant much to a young, impressionable girl.


My general education was very carefully guarded by my father, who sent
me to the best schools in Milan, one of which was under the management
of Germans, and it was there that I acquired my acquaintance with the
German language. I was then sent to the Conservatorio, and graduated
with a gold medal as a pianist. This won me some distinction in Italy
and enabled me to tour as a pianist. I did not pretend to play the big,
exhaustive works, but my programs were made up of such pieces as the
_Abeg_ of Schumann, studies by Scharwenka, impromptus of Chopin, the
four scherzos of Chopin, the first ballade, the nocturnes (the fifth in
the book was my favorite) and works of Bach. (Of course, I had been
through the Wohltemperiertes Clavier.) In those days I was very frail,
and I had aspired to develop my repertoire so that later I could include
the great works for the piano requiring a more or less exhaustive
technic of the bravura type.

Once I went to hear Busoni, and after the concert, came to me like a
revelation, "You can never be such a pianist as he. Your hand and your
physical strength will not permit it." I went home in more or less
sadness, knowing that despite the success I had had in my piano playing,
my decision was a wise one. Figuratively, I closed the lid of my piano
upon my career as a pianist and decided to learn how to sing. The memory
of my grandmother's voice singing Bellini's _Qui la Voce_ was still
ringing in my ears with the lovely purity of tone that she possessed.
Mascagni called upon us at that time, and I asked him to hear me sing.
He did so, and threw up his hands, saying, "Why in the world have you
been wasting your time with piano playing when you have a natural voice
like that? Such voices are born. Start to work at once to develop your
voice." Meanwhile, of course, I had heard a great deal of singing and a
great deal of so-called voice teaching. I went to two teachers in Milan,
but was so dissatisfied with what I heard from them and from their
pupils that I was determined that it would be necessary for me to
develop my own voice. Please do not take this as an inference that all
vocal teachers are bad or are dispensable. My own case was peculiar. I
had been saturated with musical traditions since my babyhood. I had had,
in addition, a very fine musical training. Of course, without this I
could not have attempted to do what I did in the way of self-training.
Nevertheless, it is my firm conviction that unless the student of
singing has in his brain and in his soul those powers of judging for
himself whether the quality of a tone, the intonation (pitch), the
shading, the purity and the resonance are what they should be to insure
the highest artistic results, it will be next to impossible for him to
secure these. This is what is meant by the phrase--"singers are born and
not made." The power of discrimination, the judgment, etc., must be
inherent. No teacher can possibly give them to a pupil, except in an
artificial way. That, possibly, is the reason why so many students sing
like parrots: because they have the power of mimicry, but nothing comes
from within. The fine teacher can, of course, take a fine sense of tonal
values, etc., and, provided the student has a really good natural voice,
lead him to reveal to himself the ways in which he can use his voice to
the best advantage. Add to this a fine musical training, and we have a
singer. But no teacher can give to a voice that velvety smoothness, that
liquid fluency, that bell-like clarity which the ear of the educated
musician expects, and which the public at large demands, unless the
student has the power of determining for himself what is good and what
is bad.


It was no easy matter to give up the gratifying success which attended
my pianistic appearances to begin a long term of self-study,
self-development. Yet I realized that it would hardly be possible for me
to accomplish what I desired in less than four years. Therefore, I
worked daily for four years, drilling myself with the greatest care in
scales, arpeggios and sustained tones. The colorature facility I seemed
to possess naturally, to a certain extent; but I realized that only by
hard and patient work would it be possible to have all my runs, trills,
etc., so that they always would be smooth, articulate and free--that
is, unrestricted--at any time. I studied the rôles in which I aspired
to appear, and attended the opera faithfully to hear fine singing, as
well as bad singing.

As the work went on it became more and more enjoyable. I felt that I was
upon the right path, and that meant everything. If I had continued as a
pianist I could never have been more than a mediocrity, and that I could
not have tolerated.

About this time came a crisis in my father's business; it became
necessary for me to teach. Accordingly, I took a number of piano pupils
and enjoyed that phase of my work very much indeed. I gave lessons for
four years, and in my spare time worked with my voice, all by myself,
with my friend, the piano. My guiding principles were:

     _There must be as little consciousness of effort in the throat as

     _There must always be the Joy of Singing._

     _Success is based upon sensation, whether it feels right to me in
     my mouth, in my throat, that I know, and nobody else can tell me._

I remember that my grandmother, who sang _Una voce poco fa_ at
seventy-five, always cautioned me to never force a single tone. I did
not study exercises like those of Concone, Panofka, Bordogni, etc.,
because they seemed to me a waste of time in my case. I did not require
musical knowledge, but needed special drill. I knew where my weak spots
were. What was the use of vocal studies which required me to do a lot
of work and only occasionally touched those portions of my voice which
needed special attention? Learning a repertoire was a great task in
itself, and there was no time to waste upon anything I did not actually
need. Because of the natural fluency I have mentioned, I devoted most of
my time to slower exercises at first. What could be simpler than this?

[Illustration: musical notation: Ex. 1]

These, of course, were sung in the most convenient range in my voice.
The more rapid exercises I took from C to F above the treble staff.

[Illustration: musical notation: Ex. 2]

Even to this day I sing up to high F every day, in order that I may be
sure that I have the tones to E below in public work. Another exercise
which I used very frequently was this, in the form of a trill. Great
care was taken to have the intonation (pitch) absolutely accurate in the
rapid passages, as well as in the slow passages.

[Illustration: musical notation: Ex. 3]

When I had reached a certain point, I determined that it might be
possible for me to get an engagement. I was then twenty, and my dear
mother was horrified at the idea of my going on the stage so young. She
was afraid of evil influences. In my own mind I realized that evil was
everywhere, in business, society, everywhere, and that if one was to
keep out of dirt and come out dean, one must make one's art the object
first of all. Art is so great, so all-consuming, that any one with a
deep reverence for its beauties, its grandeur, can have but little time
for the lower things of life. All that an artist calls for in his soul
is to be permitted to work at his best in his art. Then, and then only,
is he happiest. Because of my mother's opposition, and because I felt I
was strong enough to resist the temptations which she knew I might
encounter, I virtually eloped with a copy of _Rigoletto_ under my arm
and made my way for the Teatro Constanzi, the leading Opera House of

I might readily have secured letters from influential musical friends,
such as Mascagni and others, but I determined that it would be best to
secure an engagement upon my own merits, if I could, and then I would
know whether or not I was really prepared to make my début, or whether I
had better study more. I went to the manager's office and, appealing to
his business sense, told him that, as I was a young unknown singer, he
could secure my services for little money, and begged for permission to
sing for him. I knew he was beset by such requests, but he immediately
gave me a hearing, and I was engaged for one performance of
_Rigoletto_. The night of the début came, and I was obliged to sing
_Caro Nome_ again in response to a vociferous encore. This was followed
by other successes, and I was engaged for two years for a South American
tour, under the direction of my good friend and adviser, the great
operatic director, Mugnone. In South America there was enthusiasm
everywhere, but all the time I kept working constantly with my voice,
striving to perfect details.

At the end of the South American tour I desired to visit New York and
find out what America was like. Because of the war Europe was
operatically impossible (it was 1916), but I had not the slightest idea
of singing in the United States just then. By merest accident I ran into
an American friend (Mr. Thorner) on Broadway. He had heard me sing in
Italy, and immediately took me to Maestro Campanini, who was looking
then for a coloratura soprano to sing for only two performances in
Chicago, as the remainder of his program was filled for the year. This
was in the springtime, and it meant that I was to remain in New York
until October and November. The opportunity seemed like an unusual
accident of fate, and I resolved to stay, studying my own voice all the
while to improve it more and more. October and the début in _Rigoletto_
came. The applause astounded me; it was electric, like a thunderstorm.
No one was more astonished than I. Engagements and offers came from
everywhere, but not enough, I hope, to ever induce me not to believe
that in the vocal art one must continually strive for higher and higher
goals. Laziness, indifference and lassitude which come with success are
the ruin of Art and the artist. The normal healthy artist with the right
ideals never reaches his Zenith. If he did, or if he thought he did, his
career would come to a sudden end.

[Illustration: MARY GARDEN.

© Mishkin.]



Mary Garden was born February 20th, 1877, in Aberdeen, Scotland. She
came to America with her parents when she was eight years of age and was
brought up in Chicopee, Massachusetts, Hartford, Connecticut, and
Chicago, Illinois. She studied the violin when she was six and the piano
when she was twelve. It was the ambition of her parents to make her an
instrumental performer. She studied voice with Mrs. S. R. Duff, who in
time took her to Paris and placed her under the instruction of
Trabadello and Lucien Fugére. Her operatic début was made in
Charpentier's _Louise_ at the Opera Comique in 1900. Her success was
immediate both as an actress and as a singer. She was chosen by Debussy
and others for especially intricate rôles. She created the rôle of
_Melisande_; also, _Fiammette_ in Laroux's _La Reine Fiammette_. In 1907
she made her American début in _Thaïs_ at the Manhattan Opera House in
New York City. Later she accepted leading rôles with the
Philadelphia-Chicago Opera Co. She is considered by many the finest
singing actress living--her histrionic gifts being in every way equal to
her vocal gifts. In 1921 she was made the manager of the Chicago Opera



The modern opera singer cannot content herself merely with the "know
how" of singing. That is, she must be able to know so much more than the
mere elemental facts of voice production that it would take volumes to
give an intimation of the real requirements.

The girl who wants to sing in opera must have one thought and one
thought only--"what will contribute to my musical, histrionic and
artistic success?"

Unless the "career" comes first there is not likely to be any "career."

I wonder if the public ever realizes what this sacrifice means to an
artiste--to a woman.

Of course, there are great recompenses--the thrill that comes with
artistic triumphs--the sensations that accompany achievement--who but
the artist can know what this means--the joy of bringing to life some
great masterpiece?

Music manifests itself in children at a very early age. It is very rare
indeed that it comes to the surface later in life. I was always musical.
Only the media changed--one time it was violin, then piano, then voice.
The dolls of my sisters only annoyed me because I could not tolerate
dolls. They seemed a waste of time to me, and when they had paper
dolls, I would go into the room when nobody was looking and cut the
dolls' heads off. I have never been able to account for my delight in
doing this.

My father was musical. He wanted me to be a musician, but he had little
thought at first of my being a singer. Accordingly, at eight I was
possessed of a fiddle. This meant more to me than all the dolls in the
world. Oh, how I loved that violin, which I could make speak just by
drawing a bow over it! There was something worth while.

I was only as big as a minute, and, of course, as soon as I could play
the routine things of de Beriot, variations and the like, I was
considered one of those abominable things, "an infant prodigy."

I was brought out to play for friends and any musical person who could
stand it. Then I gave a concert, and my father saw the finger of destiny
pointing to my career as a great violinist.

To me the finger of destiny pointed the other way; because I immediately
sickened of the violin and dropped it forever. Yes, I could play now if
I had to, but you probably wouldn't want to hear me.

Ah, but I do play. I play every time I sing. The violin taught me the
need for perfect intonation, fluency in execution, ever so many things.

Then came the piano. Here was a new artistic toy. I worked very hard
with it. My sister and I went back to Aberdeen for a season of private
school, and I kept up my piano until I could play acceptably many of
the best-known compositions, Grieg, Chopin, etc., being my favorites. I
was never a very fine pianist, understand me, but the piano unlocked the
doors to thousands of musical treasure houses--admitted me to musical
literature through the main gate, and has been of invaluable aid to me
in my career. See my fingers, how long and thin they are--of course, I
was a capable pianist--long, supple fingers, combined with my musical
experience gained in violin playing, made that certain.

Then I dropped the piano. Dropped it at once. Its possibilities stood
revealed before me, and they were not to be the limit of my ambitions.

For the girl who hopes to be an operatic "star" there could be nothing
better than a good drilling in violin or piano. The girl has no business
to sing while she is yet a child--and she is that until she is sixteen
or over. Better let her work hard getting a good general education and a
good musical education. The voice will keep, and it will be sweeter and
fresher if it is not overused in childhood.

Once, with my heart set upon becoming a singer, my father fortunately
took me to Mrs. Robinson Duff, of Chicago. To her, my mentor to this
day, I owe much of my vocal success. I was very young and very
emotional, with a long pigtail down my back. At first the work did not
enrapture me, for I could not see the use of spending so much time upon
breathing. Now I realize what it did for me.

What should the girl starting singing avoid? First, let her avoid an
incompetent teacher. There are teachers, for instance, who deliberately
teach the "stroke of the glottis" (coup de glotte).

What is the stroke of the glottis? The lips of the vocal cords in the
larynx are pressed together so that the air becomes compressed behind
them and instead of coming out in a steady, unimpeded stream, it causes
a kind of explosion. Say the word "up" in the throat very forcibly and
you will get the right idea.

This is a most pernicious habit. Somehow, it crept into some phases of
vocal teaching, and has remained. It leads to a constant irritation of
the throat and ruin to the vocal organs.

When I went to Paris, Mrs. Duff took me to many of the leading vocal
teachers of the city, and said, "Now, Mary, I want you to use your own
judgment in picking out a teacher, because if you don't like the teacher
you will not succeed."

Thus we went around from studio to studio. One asked me to do this--to
hum--to make funny, unnatural noises, anything but sing. Finally,
Trabadello, now retired to his country home, really asked me to sing in
a normal, natural way, not as a freak. I said to myself, "This is the
teacher for me." I could not have had a better one.

Look out for teachers with freak methods--ten to one they are making you
one of their experiments. There is nothing that any voice teacher has
ever found superior to giving simple scales and exercises sung upon the
syllables Lah (ah, as in harbor), Leh (eh, as in they), Lee (ee, as in
me). With a good teacher to keep watch over the breathing and the
quality, "what more can one have?"

I have always believed in a great many scales and in a great deal of
singing florid rôles in Italian. Italian is inimitable for the singer.
The dulcet, velvet-like character of the language gives something which
nothing else can impart. It does not make any difference whether you
purpose singing in French, German, English, Russian or Soudanese, you
will gain much from exercising in Italian.

Staccato practice is valuable. Here is an exercise which I take nearly
every day of my life:

[Illustration: musical notation]

The staccato must be controlled from the diaphragm, however, and this
comes only after a great deal of work.

Three-quarters of an hour a day practice suffices me. I find it
injurious to practice too long. But I study for hours. Such a rôle as
_Aphrodite_ I take quietly and sing it over mentally time and time again
without making a sound. I study the harmonies, the nuances, the
phrasing, the breathing, so that when the time for singing it comes I
know it and do not waste my voice by going over it time and again, as
some singers do. In the end I find that I know it better for this kind
of study.

The study of acting has been a very personal matter with me. I have
never been through any courses of study, such as that given in dramatic
schools. This may do for some people, but it would have been impossible
for me. There must be technic in all forms of art, but it has always
seemed to me that acting was one of the arts in which the individual
must make his own technic. I have seen many representatives of the
schools of acting here and abroad. Sometimes their performances, based
upon technical studies of the art, result in superb acting. Again, their
work is altogether indifferent. Technic in acting is more likely to
suppress than to inspire. If acting is not inspired, it is nothing. I
study the human emotions that would naturally underlie the scene in
which I am placed--then I think what one would be most likely to do
under such conditions. When the actual time of appearance on the stage
arrives, I forget all about this and make myself the person of the rôle.

This is the Italian method rather than the French. There are, to my
mind, no greater actors living than Duse and Zacchona, and they are both
exponents of the natural method that I employ.

Great acting has always impressed me wonderfully. I went from Paris to
London repeatedly to see Beerbohm Tree in his best rôles. Sir Herbert
was not always uniformly fine, but he was a great actor and I learned
much from watching him. Once I induced Debussy to make the trip to see
him act. Debussy was delighted.

Debussy! Ah, what a rare genius--my greatest friend in Art! Everything
he wrote we went over together. He was a terribly exacting master. Few
people in America realize what a transcendent pianist he was. The piano
seemed to be thinking, feeling, vibrating while he was at the keyboard.
Time and again we went over his principal works, note for note. Now and
then he would stop and clasp his hands over his face in sudden silence,
repeating, "It is all wrong--it is all wrong." But he was too good a
teacher to let it go at that. He could tell me exactly what was wrong
and how to remedy it. When I first sang for him, at the time when they
were about to produce _Pelleas and Melisande_ at the Opera Comique, I
thought that I had not pleased him. But I learned later that he had said
to M. Carré, the director: "Don't look for anyone else." From that time
he and his family became my close friends. The fatalistic side of our
meeting seemed to interest him very much. "To think," he used to say,
"that you were born in Aberdeen, Scotland, lived in America all those
years and should come to Paris to create my _Melisande_!"

As I have said, Debussy was a gorgeous pianist. He could play with the
greatest delicacy and could play in the leonine fashion of Rubinstein.
He was familiar with Beethoven, Bach, Handel and the classics, and was
devoted to them. Wagner he could not abide. He called him a "griffe
papier"--a scribbler. He thought that he had no importance in the world
of music, and to mention Wagner to him was like waving a red flag
before a bull.

It is difficult to account for such an opinion. Wagner, to me, is the
great tone colorist, the master of orchestral wealth and dramatic
intensity. Sometimes I have been so Wagner-hungry that I have not known
what to do. For years I went every year to Munich to see the wonderful
performances at the Prinzregenten Theater.

In closing let me say that it seems to me a great deal of the failure
among young singers is that they are too impatient to acquire the "know
how." They want to blossom out on the first night as great prima donnas,
without any previous experience. How ridiculous this is! I worked for a
whole year at the Opera Comique, at $100 a month, singing such a trying
opera as _Louise_ two and three times a week. When they raised me to
$175 a month I thought that I was rich, and when $400 a month came, my
fortune had surely been made! All this time I was gaining precious
experience. It could not have come to me in any other way. As I have
said, the natural school--the natural school, like that of the
Italians--stuffed as it is with glorious red blood instead of the white
bones of technic in the misunderstood sense, was the only possible
school for me. If our girls would only stop hoping to make a début at
$1,000 a night and get down to real hard work, the results would come
much quicker and there would be fewer broken hearts.



Mme. Alma Gluck was born at Jassy, Roumania. Her father played the
violin, but was not a professional musician. At the age of six she was
brought to America. She was taught the piano and sang naturally, but had
no idea of becoming a singer. Her vocal training was not begun until she
was twenty years of age. Her teacher, at that time, was Signor
Buzzi-Peccia, with whom she remained for three years, going directly
from his studio to the Metropolitan Opera House of New York. She
remained there for three years, when the immense success of her concert
work drew her away from opera. She then studied with Jean de Reszke, and
later with Mme. Sembrich for four or five years. Since then she has
appeared in all parts of the United States with unvarying success. Her
records have been among the most popular of any ever issued. Together
with her husband, Efrem Zimbalist, the distinguished violinist, she has
appeared before immense audiences in joint recitals.

[Illustration: MME. ALMA GLUCK.

© Mishkin.]



Many seem surprised when I tell them that my vocal training did not
begin until I was twenty years of age. It seems to me that it is a very
great mistake for any girl to begin the serious study of singing before
that age, as the feminine voice, in most instances, is hardly settled
until then. Vocal study before that time is likely to be injurious,
though some survive it in the hands of very careful and understanding

The first kind of a repertoire that the student should acquire is a
repertoire of solfeggios. I am a great believer in the solfeggio. Using
that for a basis, one is assured of acquiring facility and musical
accuracy. The experienced listener can tell at once the voice that has
had such training. Always remember that musicianship carries one much
further than a good natural voice. The voice, even more than the hands,
needs a kind of exhaustive technical drill. This is because in this
training you are really building the instrument itself. In the piano,
one has the instrument complete before he begins; but in the case of the
voice, the instrument has to be developed and sometimes _made_ by study.
When the pupil is practicing, tones grow in volume, richness and

There are exercises by Bordogni, Concone, Vaccai, Lamperti, Marchesi,
Panofka, Panserson and many others with which I am not familiar, which
are marvelously beneficial when intelligently studied. These I sang on
the syllable "Ah," and not with the customary syllable names. It has
been said that the syllables Do, Re, Mi, Fa, etc., aid one in reading.
To my mind, they are often confusing.


After a thorough drilling in solfeggios and technical exercises, I would
have the student work on the operatic arias of Bellini, Rossini,
Donizetti, Verdi, and others. These men knew how to write for the human
voice! Their arias are so vocal that the voice develops under them and
the student gains vocal assurance. They were written before modern
philosophy entered into music--when music was intended for the ear
rather than for the mind. I cannot lay too much stress on the importance
of using these arias. They are a tonic for the voice, and bring back the
elasticity which the more subdued singing of songs taxes.

When one is painting pictures through words, and trying to create
atmosphere in songs, so much repression is brought into play that the
voice must have a safety-valve, and that one finds in the bravura arias.
Here one sings for about fifty bars, "The sky is clouded for me," "I
have been betrayed," or "Joy abounds"--the words being simply a vehicle
for the ever-moving melody.

When hearing an artist like John McCormack sing a popular ballad it all
seems so easy, but in reality songs of that type are the very hardest to
sing and must have back of them years of hard training or they fall to
banality. They are far more difficult than the limpid operatic arias,
and are actually dangerous for the insufficiently trained voice.


Then when the student has her voice under complete control, it is safe
to take up the lyric repertoire of Mendelssohn, Old English Songs, etc.
How simple and charming they are! The works of the lighter French
composers, Hahn, Massenet, Chaminade, Gounod, and others. Then Handel,
Haydn, Mozart, Löwe, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. Later the student
will continue with Strauss, Wolf, Reger, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Mousorgsky,
Borodin and Rachmaninoff. Then the modern French composers, Ravel,
Debussy, Georges, Köchlin, Hue, Chausson, and others. I leave French for
the last because it is, in many ways, more difficult for an
English-speaking person to sing. It is so full of complex and trying
vowels that it requires the utmost subtlety to overcome these
difficulties and still retain clarity in diction. For that reason the
student should have the advice of a native French coach.

When one has traveled this long road, then he is qualified to sing
English songs and ballads.


In this country we are rich in the quantity of songs rather than in the
quality. The singer has to go through hundreds of compositions before he
finds one that really says something. Commercialism overwhelms our
composers. They approach their work with the question, "Will this go?"
The spirit in which a work is conceived is that in which it will be
executed. Inspired by the purse rather than the soul, the mercenary side
fairly screams in many of the works put out by every-day American
publishers. This does not mean that a song should be queer or ugly to be
novel or immortal. It means that the sincerity of the art worker must
permeate it as naturally as the green leaves break through the dead
branches in springtime. Of the vast number of new American composers,
there are hardly more than a dozen who seem to approach their work in
the proper spirit of artistic reverence.


Nothing annoys me quite so much as the hysterical hypocrites who are
forever prating about "art for art's sake." What nonsense! The student
who deceives himself into thinking that he is giving his life like an
ascetic in the spirit of sacrifice for art is the victim of a deplorable
species of egotism. Art for art's sake is just as iniquitous an attitude
in its way as art for money's sake. The real artist has no idea that he
is sacrificing himself for art. He does what he does for one reason and
one reason only--he can't help doing it. Just as the bird sings or the
butterfly soars, because it is his natural characteristic, so the artist

Time and again a student will send me an urgent appeal to hear her,
saying she is poor and wants my advice as to whether it is worth while
to continue her studies. I invariably refuse such requests, saying that
if the student could give up her work on my advice she had better give
it up without it. One does not study for a goal. One sings because one
can't help it! The "goal" nine times out of ten is a mere accident.

Art for art's sake is the mask of studio idlers. The task of acquiring a
repertoire in these days, when the vocal literature is so immense, is so
overwhelming, that the student with sense will devote all his energies
to work, and not imagine himself a martyr to art.



Emilio Edoardo de Gogorza was born in Brooklyn, New York, May 29th,
1874, of Spanish parents. His boyhood was spent in Spain, France and
England. In the last named country he became a boy soprano and sang with
much success. Part of his education was received at Oxford. He returned
to America, where his vocal teachers were C. Moderati and E. Agramonte.
His début was made in 1897 in a concert with Mme. Marcella Sembrich. His
rich fluent baritone voice made him a great favorite at musical
festivals in America. He has sung with nearly all of the leading
American orchestras. The peculiar quality of his voice is especially
adapted to record making and his records have been immensely popular. He
married Emma Eames, July 13th, 1911.

[Illustration: EMILIO DE GOGORZA.

© Dupont]



There has never been a time or a country presenting more inviting
opportunities to the concert and the oratorio singer than the America of
to-day. As a corollary to this statement there is the obvious fact that
the American public, taken as a whole, is now the most discriminating
public to be found anywhere in the world. Every concert is adequately
reviewed by able writers; and singers are continually on their mettle.
It therefore follows that while there are opportunities for concert and
oratorio singers, there is no room for the inefficient, the talentless,
brainless aspirants who imagine that a great vocal career awaits them
simply because they have a few good tones and a pleasing stage presence.

This is the age of the brain. In singing, the voice is only a detail. It
is the mentality, the artistic feeling, the skill in interpretation that
counts. Some of the greatest artists are vocally inferior to singers of
lesser reputation. Why? Because they read, because they study, because
they broaden their intellects and extend their culture until their
appreciation of the beautiful is so comprehensive that every degree of
human emotion may be effectively portrayed. In a word they become
artists. Take the case of Victor Maurel, for instance. If he were ninety
years old and had only the shred of a voice but still retained his
artistic grasp, I would rather hear him than any living singer. I have
learned more from hearing him sing than from any other singer. Verdi
chose him to sing in _Otello_ against the advice of several friends,
saying: "He has more brain than any five singers I know."

Some people imagine that when an artist is embarked upon his
professional work study ceases. It is a great mistake. No one works
harder than I do to broaden my culture and interpretative skill. I am
constantly studying and trust that I may never cease. The greater the
artist the more incessant the study. It is one of the secrets of large


People imagine that the opera requires a higher kind of vocal
preparation than the concert or oratorio stage. This is also a great
misconception. The operatic singers who have been successful as concert
singers at once admit that concert singing is much more difficult.
Comparatively few opera singers succeed as concert singers. Why? Because
in opera the voice needs to be concentrated and more or less uniform. An
opera house is really two buildings, the auditorium and the stage. The
stage with its tall scene-loft is frequently as large from the
standpoint of cubic feet as the auditorium. Sometimes it is larger. To
fill these two immense buildings the voice must be strong and
continually concentrated, _dans le Masque_. The delicate little effects
that the concert singer is obliged to produce would not be heard over
the footlights. In order to retain interest without the assistance of
scenery and action the concert singer's interpretative work must be
marked by an attention to details that the opera singer rarely
considers. The voice, therefore, requires a different treatment. It must
be so finely trained that it becomes susceptible to the most delicate
change of thought in the singer's mind. This demands a really enormous
amount of work.

The successful concert singer must also have an endurance that enables
her to undergo strains that the opera singer rarely knows. The grand
opera singer in the great opera houses of the world rarely sings more
than two or three times a week. The concert singer is often obliged to
sing every night for weeks. They must learn how to relax and save the
voice at all times, otherwise they will lose elasticity and sweetness.

A young woman vocal student, with talent, a good natural voice,
intelligence, industry, sufficient practice time, a high school
education, and a knowledge of the rudiments of music, might complete a
course of study leading to a successful concert début in three years.
More frequently four or five years may be required. With a bungling
teacher she may spend six or seven. The cost of her instruction, with a
good teacher in a great metropolis, will be more per year than if she
went to almost any one of the leading universities admitting women. She
will have to work harder than if she took a regular college course.
Progress depends upon the individual. One girl will accomplish more in
two years than another will accomplish in five years. Again, the rate of
progress depends upon personal development. Sometimes a course of study
with a good teacher will awaken a latent energy and mental condition
that will enable the student to make great strides.

My most important work has been done by self-study with the assistance
and advice of many singers and teachers who have been my friends. No
pupil who depends entirely upon a teacher will succeed. She must work
out her own salvation. It is the private thought, incessant effort and
individual attitude that lead to success.


I honestly believe that the young vocal student can do far better by
studying in America than by studying abroad. European residence and
travel are very desirable, but the study may be done to better advantage
right here in our own country. Americans want the best and they get it.
In Europe they have no conception whatever of the extent of musical
culture in America. It is a continual source of amazement to me. In the
West and Northwest I find audiences just as intelligent and as
appreciative as in Boston. There is the greatest imaginable catholicity
of taste. Just at present the tendency is away from the old German
classics and is leading to the modern works of French, German and
American composers. Still I find that I can sing a song like Schumann's
"Widmung" in Western cities that only a few years ago were mere
collections of frontier huts and shacks, and discover that the genius of
Schumann is just as potent there as in New York City. I have recently
been all over Europe, and I have seen no such condition anywhere as that
I have just described. It is especially gratifying to note in America a
tremendous demand for the best vocal works of the American composers.

The young concert singer must have a very comprehensive repertoire.
Every new work properly mastered is an asset. In oratorio she should
first of all learn those works that are most in demand, like the
_Messiah_, the _Elijah_, the _Creation_ and the _Redemption_. Then
attention may be given to the modern works and works more rarely
performed, like those of Elgar, Perosi and others. After the young
singer has proven her worth with the public she may expect an income of
from $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 a year. That is what our first-class
singers have received for high-class concert work. Some European prima
donnas like Schumann-Heink and others have commanded much higher

You ask me what influence the sound reproducing machines have had upon
the demand for good vocal music in America. They have unquestionably
increased the demand very greatly. They have even been known to make
reputations for singers entirely without any other road to publicity.
Take the case of Madame Michaelowa, a Russian prima donna who has never
visited America. Thousands of records of her voice have been sold in
America, and now the demand for her appearance in this country has been
so great that she has been offered huge sums for an American tour. I
believe that if used intelligently the sound reproducing machine may
become a great help to the teacher and student. It is used in many of
the great opera houses of the world as an aid in determining the
engagement of new singers who cannot be personally heard. Some of the
records of my own voice have been so excellent that they seem positively
uncanny to me when I hear them reproduced.

I have no patent exercises to offer to singing students. There are a
thousand ways of learning to breathe properly and they all lead to one
end. Breathing may best be studied when it is made coincident with the
requirements of singing. I have no fantastic technical studies to offer.
My daily work simply consists of scales, arpeggios and the simplest kind
of exercises, the simpler the better. I always make it a point to
commence practicing very softly, slowly and surely. I never sing notes
outside my most comfortable range at the start. Taking notes too high or
too low is an extremely bad plan at first. Many young students make this
fault. They also sing much too loud. The voice should be exercised for
some considerable time on soft exercises before loud notes are even
attempted. It is precisely the same as with physical exercises. The
athlete who exerts himself to his fullest extent at first is working
toward ultimate exhaustion. I have known students who sang "at the top
of their lungs" and called it practice. The next day they grew hoarse
and wondered why the hoarseness came.


Never sing when out of sorts, tired or when the throat is sore. It is
all very well to try to throw such a condition off as if it were a state
of mind. My advice is, DON'T. I have known singers to try to sing off a
sore throat and secure as a result a loss of voice for several days.

Our American climate is very bad for singers. The dust of our
manufacturing cities gets in the throat and irritates it badly. The
noise is very nerve racking, and I have a theory that the electricity in
the air is injurious.

As I have said, the chances in the concert and operatic field are
unlimited for those who deserve to be there. Don't be misled. Thousands
of people are trying to become concert and oratorio singers who have not
talent, temperament, magnetism, the right kind of intelligence nor the
true musical feeling. It is pitiful to watch them. They are often
deluded by teachers who are biased by pecuniary necessity. It is safe to
say that at the end of a year's good instruction the teacher may safely
tell what the pupil's chances are. Some teachers are brutally frank.
Their opinions are worth those of a thousand teachers who consider their
own interests first. Secure the opinions of as many artists as possible
before you determine upon a professional career. The artist is not
biased. He does not want you for a pupil and has nothing to gain in
praising you. If he gives you an unfavorable report, thank him, because
he is probably thinking of your best interests.

As I have said, progress depends upon the individual. One man can go
into a steel foundry and learn more in two years than another can in
five. If you do not become conscious of audible results at the end of
one or two years' study do some serious thinking. You are either on the
wrong track or you have not the natural qualifications which lead to
success on the concert and oratorio stage.

[Illustration: MME. FRIEDA HEMPEL.

© Mitzi]



Frieda Hempel was born at Leipzig, June 26, 1885. She studied piano for
a considerable time at the Leipzig Conservatory and the Stern
Conservatory. Later she studied singing with Mme. Nicklass Kempner, to
whom she is indebted for her entire vocal education up to the time of
her début in opera. Her first appearance was in the _Merry Wives of
Windsor_, at the Royal Opera in Berlin. After many very successful
appearances in leading European Opera Houses she was engaged for the
Metropolitan Opera House in New York where she immediately became very
popular in stellar rôles. Her repertoire runs from the _Marriage of
Figaro_ to _Die Meistersinger_. Her voice is a clear, pure, sweet
soprano; and, like Mme. Sembrich and Mme. Galli-Curci, she clearly shows
the value of her instrumental training in the accuracy, precision and
clarity of her coloratura work. She has made many successful concert
tours of the United States. In addition to being a brilliant singer she
is an excellent actress. She is now an American citizen and the wife of
an American business man.




In every thousand girls who aspire to Grand Opera probably not more than
one ever succeeds. This is by no means because of lack of good voices.
There are great numbers of good voices; although many girls who want to
be opera singers either deceive themselves or are deceived by others
(often charlatan teachers) into believing that they have fine natural
voices when they have not. There is nothing more glorious than a
beautiful human voice--a voice strong, resonant, if necessary, but
velvety and luscious if needs be. There are many girls with really
beautiful natural voices who have lost their chances in Grand Opera
largely because they have either not had the personal persistence
necessary to carry them to the point where their services are in demand
by the public or they have had the misfortune not to have the right kind
of a vocal or musical drill master--a really good teacher.

Teachers in these days waste a fearful amount of time in what they
consider to be their methods. They tell you to sing in the back, or on
the side or through the mask or what not, instead of getting right down
to the real work. My teacher in Berlin, at the Conservatory, insisted
first of all upon having me sing tones and scales--mostly long sustained
tones--for at least one entire year. These were sung very softly, very
evenly, until I could employ every tone in my voice with sureness and
certainty. I don't see how it could possibly have been accomplished in
less time. Try that on the American girl and she will think that she is
being cheated out of something. Why should she wait a whole year with
silly tones when she knows that she can sing a great aria with only a
little more difficulty?

The basis of all fine singing, whether in the opera house or on the
concert stage, is a good legato. My teacher (Nicklass Kempner) was very
insistent upon this. In working with such studies as those of Concone,
Bordogni, Lütgen, Marchesi or Garcia--the best part of the attention of
the teacher was given to the simple yet difficult matter of a beautiful
legato. After one has been through a mass of such material, the matter
of legato singing becomes more or less automatic. The tendency to slide
from one tone to another is done away with. The connection between one
tone and another in good legato is so clean, so free from blurs that
there is nothing to compare it with. One tone takes the place of another
just as though one coin or disk were placed directly on top of another
without any of the edges showing. The change is instantaneous and
imperceptible. If one were to gradually slide one coin over another coin
you would have a graphic illustration of what most people think is
legato. The result is that they sound like steam sirens, never quite
definitely upon any tone of the scale.


A good legato can only be acquired after an enormous amount of thorough
training. The tendency to be careless is human. Habits of carefulness
come only after much drill. The object of the student and the teacher
should be to make a singer--not to acquire a scanty repertoire of a few
arias. Very few of the operas I now sing were learned in my student
days. That was not the object of my teacher. The object was to prepare
me to take up anything from _Martha_ to _Rosenkavalier_ and know how to
study it myself in the quickest and most thorough manner. Woe be to the
pupil of the teacher who spends most of the time in teaching songs,
arias, etc., before the pupil is really ready to study such things.


Everything is in a good foundation. If you expect a building to last
only a few weeks you might put up a foundation in a day or so--but if
you watch the builders of the great edifices here in American cities you
will find that more time is often spent upon the foundation than upon
the building itself. They dig right down to the bed rock and pile on so
much stone, concrete and steel that even great earthquakes are often


With such a thorough foundation as I had it has not been difficult to
acquire a repertoire of some seventy-five operas. That is, by learning
one at a time and working continually over a number of years the operas
come easily. In learning a new work I first read the work through as a
whole several times to get the character well fixed in my mind. Then I
play the music through several times until I am very familiar with it.
Then I learn the voice part, never studying it as a voice part by
itself, but always in relation to the orchestra and the other rôles.
Finally, I learn the interpretation--the dramatic presentation. One gets
so little help from the orchestra in modern works that many rehearsals
are necessary. In some passages it is just like walking in a dark night.
Only a true ear and thorough training can serve to keep one on the key
or anywhere near the key. It is therefore highly necessary that vocal
students should have a good musical training in addition to the vocal
training. In most European conservatories the study of piano and harmony
are compulsory for all vocal students. Not to have had this musical
training that the study of the piano brings about, not to have had a
good course in theory or in training for sight-singing (ear training) is
to leave out important pillars in a thorough musical foundation.


It would be a great gratification for all who are interested in opera to
see more fine opera houses erected in America with more opportunities
for the people. The performances at the Metropolitan are exceedingly
fine, but only a comparatively few people can possibly hear them and
there is little opportunity for the performance of a wide variety of
operas. The opera singer naturally gets tired of singing a few rôles
over and over again. The American people should develop a taste for more
and more different operas. There is such a wonderful field that it
should not be confined to the performance of a very few works that
happen to be in fashion. This is not at all the case in Europe--there
the repertoires are very much more extensive--more interesting for the
public and the artists alike.


Opera has always seemed to me a very necessary thing in the State. It
has a strong educational value in that it develops the musical taste of
the public as well as teaching lessons in history and the humanities in
a very forceful manner. Children should be taken to opera as a regular
part of their education. Opera makes a wonderful impression upon the
child's imagination--the romance, the color, the music, the action are
rarely forgotten. Many of the operas are beautiful big fairy stories and
the little folks glory in them. Parents who desire to develop the taste
of their children and at the same time stimulate their minds along
broader lines can do no better than to take them to opera. Little towns
in Europe often have fine opera houses, while many American cities
several times their size have to put up with moving picture theatre
houses. Why does not some enthusiastic American leader take up a
campaign for more opera in America? With the taste of the public
educated through countless talking machine records, it should not prove
a bad business venture if it is gone about in a sensible manner.



Dame Nellie Melba (stage name for Mrs. Nellie Porter Armstrong, née
Mitchell) is described in Grove's Dictionary as "the first singer of
British birth to attain such an exalted position upon the lyric stage as
well as upon the concert platform." Dame Melba was born at Burnley near
Melbourne, May 19, 1861, of Scotch ancestry. She sang at the Town Hall
at Richmond when she was six years of age. She studied piano, harmony,
composition and violin very thoroughly. At one time she was considered
the finest amateur pianist in Melbourne. She also played the church
organ in the local church with much success. In 1882 she married Captain
Charles Armstrong, son of Sir Andrew Armstrong, Baronet (of Kings
County, Ireland). In 1886 she sang at Queens Hall in London. After
studying with Mme. Marchesi for twelve months she made her début as
Gilda (_Rigoletto_) at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. Her
success was instantaneous. Her London début was made in _Lucia_ in 1888.
One year later she made her Parisian début in Thomas' _Hamlet_. In 1894
she created the rôle of Nedda in _I Pagliacci_. Petrograd "went wild"
over her in 1892. In 1892 she repeated her successes and in 1893 she
began her long series of American triumphs. The fact that her voice,
like that of Patti, has remained astonishingly fresh and silvery despite
the enormous amount of singing she has done attests better than anything
else to the excellence of her method of singing. In the following
conference she gives the secret of preserving the voice.

[Illustration: DAME NELLIE MELBA.]




The young singer's first anxiety is usually to learn whether her voice
is sufficiently good to make it worth while to go through the enormous
work of preparing herself for the operatic stage. How is she to
determine this? Surely not upon the advice of her immediate friends, nor
upon that of those to whom she would naturally turn for spiritual
advice, medical advice or legal advice. But this is usually just what
she does. Because of the honored positions held by her rector, her
physician, or her family lawyer, their services are all brought to bear
upon her, and after an examination of her musical ability their
unskilled opinion is given a weight it obviously does not deserve. The
only one to judge is a skilled musician, with good artistic taste and
some experience in voice matters. It is sometimes difficult to approach
a singing teacher for this advice, as even the most honest could not
fail to be somewhat influenced where there is a prospect of a pupil. I
do not mean to malign the thousands of worthy teachers, but such a
position is a delicate one, and the pupil should avoid consulting with
any adviser except one who is absolutely disinterested.

In any event the mere possession of a voice that is sweet and strong by
no means indicates that the owner has the additional equipment which the
singer must possess. Musical intelligence is quite as great an asset as
the possession of a fine voice. By musical intelligence I mean something
quite different from general intelligence. People seem to expect that
the young person who desires to become a fine pianist or a fine
violinist, or a fine composer, should possess certain musical talents.
That is, they should experience a certain quickness in grasping musical
problems and executing them. The singer, however, by some peculiar
popular ruling seems to be exempted from this. No greater mistake could
possibly be made. Very few people are musically gifted. When one of
these people happens to possess a good voice, great industry, a love for
vocal art, physical strength, patience, good sense, good taste and
abundant faith in her possibilities, the chances of making a good singer
are excellent. I lay great stress upon great determination and good
health. I am often obliged to sing one night, then travel a thousand
miles to sing the next night. Notwithstanding such journeys, the singer
is expected to be in prime condition, look nice, and please a veritable
multitude of comparative strangers all expecting wonderful things from
her. Do you wonder that I lay stress upon good health?

The youthful training of the singer should be confined quite strictly to
that of obtaining a good general and musical education. That is, the
vocal training may be safely postponed until the singer is seventeen or
eighteen years of age. Of course there have been cases of famous singers
who have sung during their childhood, but they are exceptions to all
rules. The study of singing demands the direction of an intelligent,
well-ordered mind. It is by no means wholly a matter of imitation. In
fact, without some cultivation of the taste, that is, the sense of
discriminating between what is good and bad, one may imitate with
disastrous results.


I remember well an incident in my own youth. I once went to a concert
and heard a much lauded singer render an aria that was in turn
vociferously applauded by the audience. This singer possessed a most
wonderful tremolo. Every tone went up and down like the teeth of a saw.
It was impossible for her to sing a pure even tone without wobbling up
and down. But the untrained audience, hungry to applaud anything
musical, had cheered the singer despite the tremolo. Consequently I went
home and after a few minutes' work I found that it was possible for me
to produce a very wonderful tremolo. I went proudly to my teacher and
gave an exhibition of my new acquirement. "Who on earth have you been
listening to?" exclaimed my teacher. I confessed and was admonished not
to imitate.

The voice in childhood is a very delicate organ despite the wear and
tear which children give it by unnecessary howling and screaming. More
than this, the child-mind is so susceptible to impressions and these
impressions become so firmly fixed that the best vocal training for the
child should be that of taking the little one to hear great singers. All
that the juvenile mind hears is not lost, although much will be
forgotten. However, the better part will be unconsciously stowed away in
the subconscious mind, to burst forth later in beautiful song through no
different process than that by which the little birds store away the
song of the older birds. Dealers in singing birds place them in rooms
with older and highly developed singing birds to train them. This is not
exactly a process of imitation, but rather one of subconscious
assimilation. The bird develops his own song later on, but has the
advantage of the stored-up impressions of the trained birds.


I have known many singers to fail dismally because they were simply
singers. The idea that all the singer needs to know is how to produce
tones resonantly and sweetly, how to run scales, make gestures and smile
prettily is a perfectly ridiculous one. Success, particularly operatic
success, depends upon a knowledge of a great many things. The general
education of the singer should be as well rounded as possible. Nothing
the singer ever learns in the public schools, or the high schools, is
ever lost. History and languages are most important. I studied Italian
and French in my childhood and this knowledge was of immense help to me
in my later work. When I first went to Paris I had to acquire a
colloquial knowledge of the language, but in all cases I found that the
drill in French verbs I had gone through virtually saved me years of
work. The French pronunciation is extremely difficult to acquire and
some are obliged to reside in France for years before a fluent
pronunciation can be counted on.

I cannot speak too emphatically upon the necessity for a thorough
musical education. A smattering is only an aggravation. Fortunately, my
parents saw to it that I was taught the piano, the organ, the violin and
thoroughbass. At first it was thought that I would become a professional
pianist; and many were good enough to declare that I was the finest
amateur pianist in Melbourne. My Scotch-Presbyterian parents would have
been horrified if they had had any idea that they were helping me to a
career that was in any way related to the footlights. Fortunately, my
splendid father, who is now eighty-five years old, has long since
recovered from his prejudices and is the proudest of all over my
achievements. But I can not be too grateful to him for his great
interest in seeing that my early musical training was comprehensive.
Aside from giving me a more musicianly insight into my work, it has
proved an immense convenience. I can play any score through. I learn all
my operas myself. This enables me to form my own conception, that is, to
create it, instead of being unconsciously influenced by the tempos and
expression of some other individual. The times that I have depended upon
a _repititeur_ have been so few that I can hardly remember them. So
there, little girl, when you get on your mother's long train and sing
to an imaginary audience of thousands, you will do better to run to the
keyboard and practice scales or study your études.


The first vocal practice should be very simple. There should be nothing
in the way of an exercise that would encourage forcing of any kind. In
fact the young singer should always avoid doing anything beyond the
normal. Remember that a sick body means a sick voice. Again, don't
forget your daily outdoor exercise. Horseback riding, golf and tennis
are my favorites. An hour's walk on a lovely country road is as good for
a singer as an hour's practice. I mean that.

In avoiding strain the pupil must above all things learn to sing the
upper notes without effort or rather strain. While it is desirable that
a pupil should practice all her notes every day, she should begin with
the lower notes, then take the middle notes and then the so-called upper
notes or head notes which are generally described as beginning with the
F sharp on the top line of the treble staff. This line may be regarded
as a danger line for singers young and old. It is imperative that when
the soprano sings her head notes, beginning with F sharp and upward,
they shall proceed very softly and entirely without strain as they
ascend. I can not emphasize this too strongly.


Let me give you one of my greatest secrets. Like all secrets, it is
perfectly simple and entirely rational. _Never give the public all you
have._ That is, the singer owes it to herself never to go beyond the
boundaries of her vocal possibilities. The singer who sings to the
utmost every time is like the athlete who exhausts himself to the state
of collapse. This is the only way in which I can account for what the
critics term "the remarkable preservation" of my own voice. I have been
singing for years in all parts of the musical world, growing richer in
musical and human experience and yet my voice to-day feels as fresh and
as dear as when I was in my teens. I have never strained, I have never
continued rôles that proved unsuited to me, I have never sung when I
have not been in good voice.

This leads to another very important point. I have often had students
ask me how they can determine whether their teachers are giving them the
kind of method or instruction they should have. I have always replied,
"If you feel tired after a lesson, if your throat is strained after a
little singing, if you feel exhausted, your teacher is on the wrong
track, no matter what he labels his method or how wonderful his
credentials are."

Isn't that very simple? I have known young girls to go on practicing
until they couldn't speak. Let them go to a physician and have the
doctor show them by means of a laryngoscope just how tender and
delicate their vocal organs are. I call them my "little bits of
cotton"; they seem so frail and so tiny. Do you wonder that I guard them
carefully? This practice consists of the simplest imaginable
exercises--sustained scales, chromatic scales and trills. It is not so
much _what_ one practices, but _how_ one practices.


We continually hear critics complain that the art of singing is dying.
It is easy enough to be a pessimist, and I do not want to class myself
with the pessimists; but I can safely say that, unless more attention is
paid to the real art of singing, there must be a decadence in a short
time. By this I mean that the voice seems to demand a kind of exercise
leading to flexibility and fluent tone production that is not found in
the ultra-dramatic music of any of the modern composers. Young singers
begin with good voices and, after an altogether inadequate term of
preparation, they essay the works of Strauss and Wagner. In two years
the first sign of a breakup occurs. Their voices become rough,--the
velvet vanishes and note after note "breaks" disagreeably. The music of
the older Italian composers, from Scarlatti or Carissimi to Donizetti
and Bellini, despite the absurd libretti of their operas, demanded first
of all dulcet tones and limpid fluency. The singers who turned their
noses up at the florid arabesques of old Italy for the more rugged
pageantry of modern Germany are destined to suffer the consequences. Let
us have the masterpieces of the heroic Teutons, by all means, but let
them be sung by vocalists trained as vocalists and not merely by actors
who have only taken a few steps in vocal art.

The main point of all operatic work must be observed if opera is to
continue successfully. Delibes chose me to sing a performance of his
_Lakmé_ at Brussels. It was to be my début in French. I had not then
mastered the French pronunciation so that I could sing acceptably at the
Paris Grand Opera, the scene of my later triumphs. Consequently I was
permitted to sing in Brussels. There the directors objected to my
pronunciation, calling it "abominable." Delibes replied, "_Qu'elle
chante en chinois, si elle veut, mais qu'elle chante mon opera_" ("Even
if she sang in Chinese, I would be glad to have her sing my opera").

I am asked what has been my greatest incentive. I can think of nothing
greater than opposition. The early opposition from my family made me
more and more determined to prove to them that I would be successful. If
I heard some singer who sang successfully the rôles I essayed, then I
would immediately make up my mind to excel that singer. This is a human
trait I know; but I always profited by it. Never be afraid of
competition or opposition. The more you overcome, the greater will be
your ultimate triumph.



Mme. Bernice de Pasquali, who succeeded Marcella Sembrich as coloratura
soprano at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, is not an
Italian, as her name suggests, but an American. She was born in Boston
and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Practically
all of her musical training was received in New York City where she
became a pupil of Oscar Saenger. Her successes, however, are not limited
to America as she has appeared in Mexico, Cuba, South Africa and Europe,
in many places receiving great ovations. Her voice is a clear, high,
flexible soprano, equally fine for concert or opera. Her husband, Signor
Pasquali, made a lifetime study of the principles of the "Bel Canto"
school of singing, and the following conference is the result of long
experiment and study in the esthetic, philosophical and physiological
factors in the most significant of the so-called methods of voice





In no land is song so much a part of the daily life of the individual as
in Italy. The Italian peasant literally wakes up singing and goes to bed
singing. Naturally a kind of respect, honor and even reverence attaches
to the art of beautiful voice production in the land of Scarlatti,
Palestrina and Verdi, that one does not find in other countries. When
the Italian singing teachers looked for a word to describe their vocal
methods they very naturally selected the most appropriate, "Bel Canto,"
which means nothing more or less than "Beautiful Singing."

Probably no words have been more abused in music teaching than "bel
canto," and probably no words have a more direct meaning or a wider
significance. What then is "good singing" as the Italians understand it?
Principally the production of a perfectly controlled and exquisitely
beautiful tone. Simple as this may seem and simple as it really is, the
laws underlying the best way of teaching how to secure a beautiful tone
are the evolution of empirical experiences coming down through the

It is a significant fact that practically all of the great singers in
Wagner rôles have first been trained in what is so loosely termed "bel
canto" methods. Lilli Lehmann, Schumann-Heink, Nordica and others were
capable of singing fine coloratura passages before they undertook the
works of the great master of Beyreuth.


In the mass of traditions, suggestions and advice which go to make the
"bel canto" style, probably nothing is so important to American students
as that which pertains to conserving the voice. Whether our girls are
inordinately fond of display or whether they are unable to control their
vocal organs I do not know, but one is continually treated to instances
of the most ludicrous prodigality of voice. The whole idea of these
young singers seems to be to make a "hit" by shouting or even
screeching. There can be no milder terms for the straining of the tones
so frequently heard. This prodigality has only one result--loss of

The great Rubini once wrote to his friend, the tenor Duprez, "You lost
your voice because you always sang with your capital. I have kept mine
because I have used only the interest." This historical epigram ought to
be hung in all the vocal studios of America. Our American voices are too
beautiful, too rare to be wasted, practically thrown away by expending
the capital before it has been able to earn any interest.

Moreover, the thing which has the most telling effect upon any audience
is the beauty of tone quality. People will stop at any time to listen
to the wonderful call of the nightingale. In some parts of Europe it is
the custom to make parties to go at nights to the woods to hear that
wonderful singer of the forests. Did you ever hear of any one forming a
party for the express purpose of listening to the crowing of a rooster?
One is a treat to the ear, the other is a shock. When our young singers
learn that people do not attend concerts to have their ears shocked but
to have them delighted with beautiful sound, they will be nearer the
right idea in voice culture.

The student's first effort, then, should be to preserve the voice. From
the very first lesson he must strive to learn how to make the most with

How is the student to know when he is straining the voice? This is
simple enough to ascertain. At the very instant that the slightest
constriction or effort is noticed strain is very likely to be present.
Much of this depends upon administering exactly the right amount of
breath to the vocal cords at the moment of singing. Too much breath or
too little breath is bad. The student finds by patient experiment under
the direction of the experienced teacher just how much breath to use.
All sorts of devices are employed to test the breath, but it is probable
that the best devices of all are those which all singers use as the
ultimate test, the ear and the feeling of delightful relaxation
surrounding the vocal organs during the process of singing.


Much of the student's early work is marred by fear. He fears to do this
and he fears to do that, until he feels himself walled in by a set of
rules that make his singing stilted. From the very start the singer,
particularly the one who aspires to become an operatic singer, should
endeavor to discard fear entirely. Think that if you fail in your
efforts, thousands of singers have failed in a similar manner in their
student days. Success in singing is at the end of a tall ladder, the
rungs of which are repeated failures. We climb up over our failures to
success. Learn to fear nothing, the public least of all. If the singer
gives the audience the least suspicion that she is in fear of their
verdict, the audience will detect it at once and the verdict will be
bad. Also do not fear the criticism of jealous rivals.

Affirm success. Say to yourself, "I will surely succeed if I persevere."
In this way you will acquire those habits of tranquillity which are so
essential for the singer to possess.


There are abundant opportunities just now for finely trained singers. In
fact there is a real dearth of "well-equipped" voices. Managers are
scouring the world for singers with ability as well as the natural
voice. Why does this dearth exist? Simply because the trend of modern
musical work is far too rapid. Results are expected in an impossible
space of time. The pupil and the maestro work for a few months and, lo
and behold! a prima donna! Can any one who knows anything about the art
of singing fail to realize how absurd this is? More voices are ruined by
this haste than by anything else. It is like expecting the child to do
the feats of the athlete without the athlete's training. There are
singers in opera now who have barely passed the, what might be called,
rudimentary stage.

With the decline of the older operas, singers evidently came to the
conclusion that it was not necessary to study for the perfection of
tone-quality, evenness of execution and vocal agility. The modern
writers did not write such fioratura passages, then why should it be
necessary for the student to bother himself with years of study upon
exercises and vocalises designed to prepare him for the operas of
Bellini, Rossini, Spontini, Donizetti, Scarlatti, Carissimi or other
masters of the florid school? What a fatuous reasoning. Are we to
obliterate the lessons of history which indicate that voices trained in
such a school as that of Patti, Jenny Lind, Sembrich, Lehmann, Malibran,
Rubini and others, have phenomenal endurance, and are able to retain
their freshness long after other voices have faded? No, if we would have
the wonderful vitality and longevity of the voices of the past we must
employ the methods of the past.


Of all instruments the human voice is by far the most delicate and the
most fragile. The wonder is that it will stand as much "punishment" as
is constantly given to it. Some novices seem to treat it with as little
respect as though it were made out of brass like a tuba or a trombone.
The voice is subject to physical and psychical influences. Every singer
knows how acutely all human emotions are reflected in the voice; at the
same time all physical ailments are immediately active upon the voice of
the singer.

There is a certain freshness or "edge" which may be worn off the voice
by ordinary conversation on the day of the concert or the opera. Some
singers find it necessary to preserve the voice by refraining from all
unnecessary talking prior to singing. Long-continued practice is also
very bad. An hour is quite sufficient on the day of the concert. During
the first years of study, half an hour a day is often enough practice.
More practice should only be done under special conditions and with the
direction of a thoroughly competent teacher.

Singing in the open air, when particles of dust are blowing about, is
particularly bad. The throat seems to become irritated at once. In my
mind tobacco smoke is also extremely injurious to the voice,
notwithstanding the fact that some singers apparently resist its effects
for years. I once suffered severely from the effects of being in a room
filled with tobacco smoke and was unable to sing for at least two
months. I also think that it is a bad plan to sing immediately after
eating. The peristaltic action of the stomach during the process of
digestion is a very pronounced function and anything which might tend to
disturb it might affect the general health.

The singer must lead an exceedingly regular life, but the exaggerated
privations and excessive care which some singers take are quite
unnecessary. The main thing is to determine what is a normal life and
then to live as close to this as possible. If you find that some article
of diet disagrees with you, remember to avoid that food; for an upset
stomach usually results in complete demoralization of the entire vocal


No matter how great the artist, daily practice, if even not more than
forty minutes a day, is absolutely necessary. There is a deep
philosophical and physiological principle underlying this and it applies
particularly to the vocal student. Each minute spent in intelligent
practice makes the voice better and the task easier. The power to do
comes with doing. Part of each day's practice should be devoted to
singing the scale softly and slowly with perfect intonation. Every tone
should be heard with the greatest possible acuteness. The ears should
analyze the tone quality with the same scrutiny with which a botanist
would examine the petals of a newly discovered specimen. As the singer
does this he will notice that his sense of tone color will develop; and
this is a very vital part of every successful singer's equipment. He
will become aware of beauties as well as defects in his voice which may
never have been even suspected if he will only listen "microscopically"

Much of the singer's progress depends upon the mental model he keeps
before him. The singer who constantly hears the best of singing
naturally progresses faster than one surrounded by inferior singing.
This does not recommend that the student should imitate blindly but that
he should hear as much fine singing as possible. Those who have not the
means to attend concerts and the opera may gain immensely from hearing
fine records. Little Adelina Patti, playing as a child on the stage of
the old Academy of Music in New York, was really attending the finest
kind of a conservatory unawares.

The old Italian teachers and writers upon voice, knowing the florid
style in which their pupils would be expected to sing, did not have much
to do with fanciful exercises. They gave their lives to the quest of the
"bel canto"; and many of them had difficulty in convincing their pupils
that the simplest exercises were often the hardest. Take for instance
this invaluable scale exercise sung with the marks of expression
carefully observed.

This exercise is one of the most difficult to sing properly.
Nevertheless, some student will rush on to florid exercises before he
can master this exercise. To sing it right it must be regarded with
almost devotional reverence. Indeed, it may well be practiced
diligently for years. Every tone is a problem, a problem which must be
solved in the brain and in the body of the singer and not in the mind of
any teacher. The student must hold up every tone for comparison with his
ideal tone. Every note must ring sweet and clear, pure and free. Every
tone must be even more susceptible to the emotions than the expression
upon the most mobile face. Every tone must be made the means of
conveying some human emotion. Some singers practice their exercises in
such a perfunctory manner that they get as a result voices so stiff and
hard that they sound as though they came from metallic instruments which
could only be altered in a factory instead of from throats lined with a
velvet-like membrane.

[Illustration: musical notation: Sing with great attention to

Flexibility, mobility and susceptibility to expression are quite as
important as mere sweetness. After the above exercise has been mastered
the pupil may pass to the chromatic scale (scala semitonata sostenuto);
and this scale should be sung in the same slow sustained manner as the
foregoing illustration.



Mme. Marcella Sembrich (Praxede Marcelline Kochanska) was born in
Wisnewczyk, Galicia, February 15, 1858. Sembrich was her mother's name.
Her father was a music teacher and she tells with pleasure how she
watched her father make a little violin for her to practice upon. At the
age of seven she was taken to Wilhelm Stengel at Lemberg for further
instruction. Later she went to study with the famous pedagogue, Julius
Epstein, at Vienna, who was amazed by the child's prodigious talent as a
pianist and as a violinist. He asked, "Is there anything else she can
do?" "Yes," replied Stengel, "I think she can sing." Sing she did; and
Epstein was not long in determining that she should follow the career of
the singer. Her other teachers were Victor Rokitansky, Richard Lewy and
G. B. Lamperti and a few months with the elder Francesco Lamperti. Her
début was made in Athens in 1877, in _I Puritani_. Thereafter she toured
all of the European art centers with invariable success. Her first
American appearance was in 1883. She came again in 1898 and for years
sang with immense success in all parts of America. America has since
become her home, where she has devoted much time to teaching.


© Dupont.]




Few accomplishments are more delight-giving than that of being able to
sing. I would most enthusiastically advise anyone possessing a fair
voice to have it trained by some reliable singing teacher. European
peoples appreciate the great privilege of being able to sing for their
own amusement, and the pleasure they get from their singing societies is

If Americans took more time for the development of accomplishments of
this kind their journey through life would be far more enjoyable and
perhaps more profitable. I believe that all should understand the art of
singing, if only to become amateurs.

That music makes the soul more beautiful I have not the least doubt.
Because some musicians have led questionable lives does not prove the
contrary. What might these men have been had they not been under the
benign influence of music?

One has only to watch people who are under the magic spell of beautiful
music to understand what a power it has for the good. I believe that
good vocal music should be a part of all progressive educational work.
The more music we have, the more beautiful this world will be, the more
kindly people will feel toward each other and the more life will be
worth living.


But when I say that everyone who possesses a voice should learn to sing
I do not by any means wish to convey the idea that anyone who desires
may become a great singer. That is a privilege that is given to but a
very few fortunate people. So many things go together to make a great
singer that the one who gives advice should be very circumspect in
encouraging young people to undertake a professional career--especially
an operatic career. Giving advice under any conditions is often

I have been appealed to by hundreds of girls who have wanted me to hear
them sing. I have always told them what seemed to me the truth, but I
have been so dismayed at the manner in which this has been received that
I hesitate greatly before hearing aspiring singers.

It is the same way with the teachers. I know that some teachers are
blamed for taking voiceless pupils, but the pupils are more often to
blame than the teacher. I have known pupils who have been discouraged by
several good teachers to persist until they finally found a teacher who
would take them.

Most teachers are conscientious--often too conscientious for their
pocketbooks. If a representative teacher or a prominent singer advises
you not to attempt a public career you should thank him, as he is
doubtless trying to save you from years of miserable failure. It is a
very serious matter for the pupil, and one that should be given almost
sacred consideration by those who have the pupil's welfare at heart.

Wise, indeed, is the young singer who can so estimate her talents that
she will start along the right path. There are many positions which are
desirable and laudable which can be ably filled by competent singers. If
you have limitations which will prevent your ever reaching that
"will-o'-the-wisp" known as "fame," do not waste money trying to achieve
what is obviously out of your reach.

If you can fill the position of soloist in a small choir creditably, do
so and be contented. Don't aspire for operatic heights if you are
hopelessly shackled by a lack of natural qualifications.

It is a serious error to start vocal instruction too early. I do not
believe that the girl's musical education should commence earlier than
at the age of sixteen. It is true that in the cases of some very healthy
girls no very great damage may be done, but it is a risk I certainly
would not advise.

Much money and time are wasted upon voice training of girls under the
age of sixteen. If the girl is destined for a great career she will have
the comprehension, the grasp, the insight that will lead her to learn
very rapidly. Some people can take in the whole meaning of a picture at
a glance; others are obliged to regard the picture for hours to see the
same points of artistic interest. Quick comprehension is a great asset,
and the girl who is of the right sort will lose nothing by waiting until
she reaches the above age.


Ambition, faithfulness to ideals and energy are the only hopes left open
to the singer who is not gifted with a wonderfully beautiful natural
voice. It is true that some singers of great intelligence and great
energy have been able to achieve wide fame with natural voices that
under other conditions would only attract local notice. These singers
deserve great credit for their efforts.

While the training of the voice may be deferred to the age of sixteen,
the early years should by no means be wasted. The general education of
the child, the fortification of the health and the study of music
through the medium of some instrument are most important. The young girl
who commences voice study with the ability to play either the violin or
the piano has an enormous advantage over the young girl who has had no
musical training.

I found the piano training of my youth of greatest value, and through
the study of the violin I learned certain secrets that I later applied
to respiration and phrasing. Although my voice was naturally flexible, I
have no doubt that the study of these instruments assisted in intonation
and execution in a manner that I cannot over-estimate.

A beautiful voice is not so great a gift, unless its possessor knows
how to employ it to advantage. The musical training that one receives
from the study of an instrument is of greatest value. Consequently, I
advise parents who hope to make their children singers to give them the
advantage of a thorough musical training in either violin study or the
piano. Much wasted money and many blasted ambitions can be spared by
such a course.


The singer whose general education has been neglected is in a most
unfortunate plight. And by general education I do not mean only those
academic studies that people learn in schools. The imagination must be
stimulated, the heartfelt love for the poetical must be cultivated, and
above all things the love for nature and mankind must be developed.

I can take the greatest joy in a walk through a great forest. It is an
education to me to be with nature. Unfortunately, only too many
Americans go rushing through life neglecting those things which make
life worth living.


There has been a most marvelous advance in this respect, however, in
America. Not only in nature love but in art it has been my pleasure to
watch a wonderful growth. When I first came here in 1883 things were
entirely different in many respects. Now the great operatic novelties of
Europe are presented here in magnificent style, and often before they
are heard in many European capitals.

In this respect America to-day ranks with the best in the world. Will
you not kindly permit me to digress for a moment and say to the music
lovers of America that I appreciate in the deepest manner the great
kindnesses that have been shown to me everywhere? For this reason, I
know that my criticisms, if they may be called such, will be received as
they are intended.

The singer should make a serious study of languages. French, German,
English and Italian are the most necessary ones. I include English as I
am convinced that it is only a matter of a short time when a school of
opera written by English-speaking composers will arise. The great
educational and musical advance in America is an indication of this.

As for voice exercises, I have always been of the opinion that it is
better to leave that matter entirely to the discretion of the teacher.
There can be no universal voice exercise that will apply to all cases.
Again, it is more a matter of how the exercise is sung than the exercise

The simplest exercise can become valuable in the hands of the great
teacher. I have no faith in the teachers who make each and every pupil
go through one and the same set of exercises in the same way. The voice
teacher is like the physician. He must originate and prescribe certain
remedies to suit certain cases. Much money is wasted by trying to do
without a good teacher. If the pupil really has a great voice and the
requisite talent, it is economical to take her to the best teacher

American women have wonderful voices. Moreover, they have great energy,
talent and temperament. Their accomplishments in the operatic world are
matters of present musical history. With such splendid effort and such
generosity, it is easy to prophesy a great future for musical America.
This is the land of great accomplishments.

With time Americans will give more attention to the cultivation of
details in art, they will acquire more repose perhaps, and then the
tremendous energy which has done so much to make the country what it is
will be a great factor in establishing a school of music in the new
world which will rank with the greatest of all times.



Mme. Ernestine Schumann-Heink (née Roessler) was born near the city of
Prague, July 15, 1861. She relates that her father was a Czech and her
mother was of Italian extraction. She was educated in Ursuline Convent
and studied singing with Mme. Marietta von Leclair in Graz. Her first
appearance was at the age of 15, when she is reported to have taken a
solo part in a performance of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony, at an
important concert in Graz. Her operatic début was made at the Royal
Opera, Dresden, in _Trovatore_. There she studied under Krebs and Franz
Wüllner. It is impossible to detail Mme. Schumann-Heink's operatic
successes here, since her numerous appearances at the leading operatic
houses of the world have been followed by such triumphs that she is
admittedly the greatest contralto soloist of her time. At Bayreuth,
Covent Garden, and at the Metropolitan her appearances have drawn
multitudes. In concert she proved one of the greatest of all singers of
art songs. In 1905 she became an American citizen, her enthusiasm for
this country leading her to name one of her sons George Washington.
During the great war (in which four of her sons served with the American
colors) she toured incessantly from camp to camp, giving her services
for the entertainment of the soldiers and winning countless admirers in
this way. Her glorious voice extends from D on the third line of the
bass clef to C on the second leger line above the treble clef.





Would you have me give the secret of my success at the very outstart? It
is very simple and centers around this subject of the artist's
responsibility to the audience. My secret is absolute devotion to the
audience. I love my audiences. They are all my friends. I feel a bond
with them the moment I step before them. Whether I am singing in blasé
New York or before an audience of farmer folk in some Western
Chautauqua, my attitude toward my audience is quite the same. I take the
same care and thought with every audience. This even extends to my
dress. The singer, who wears an elaborate gown before a Metropolitan
audience and wears some worn-out old rag of a thing when singing at some
rural festival, shows that she has not the proper respect in her mind.
Respect is everything.

Therefore it is necessary for me to have my voice in the best of
condition every day of the year. It is my duty to my audience. The woman
who comes to a country Chautauqua and brings her baby with her and
perchance nurses the little one during the concert gets a great deal
closer to my heart than the stiff-backed aristocrat who has just left a
Pekingese spaniel outside of the opera house door in a $6000.00
limousine. That little country woman expects to hear the singer at her
best. Therefore, I practice just as carefully on the day of the
Chautauqua concert as I would if I were to sing _Ortrud_ the same night
at the Metropolitan in New York.

American audiences are becoming more and more discriminating. Likewise
they are more and more responsive. As an American citizen, I am devoted
to all the ideals of the new world. They have accepted me in the most
whole-souled manner and I am grateful to the land of my adoption.


Whether or not the voice keeps in prime condition to-day depends largely
upon the early training of the singer. If that training is a good one, a
sound one, a sensible one, the voice will, with regular practice, keep
in good condition for a remarkably long time. The trouble is that the
average student is too impatient in these days to take time for a
sufficient training. The voice at the outstart must be trained lightly
and carefully. There must not be the least strain. I believe that at the
beginning two lessons a week should be sufficient. The lessons should
not be longer than one-half an hour and the home practice should not
exceed at the start fifty minutes a day. Even then the practice should
be divided into two periods. The young singer should practice _mezza
voce_, which simply means nothing more or less than "half voice." Never
practice with full voice unless singing under the direction of a
well-schooled teacher with years of practical singing experience.

It is easy enough to shout. Some of the singers in modern opera seem to
employ a kind of megaphone method. They stand stock still on the stage
and bawl out the phrases as though they were announcing trains in a
railroad terminal. Such singers disappear in a few years. Their voices
seem torn to shreds. The reason is that they have not given sufficient
attention to _bel canto_ in their early training. They seem to forget
that voice must first of all be beautiful. _Bel canto_,--beautiful
singing,--not the singing of meaningless Italian phrases, as so many
insist, but the glorious _bel canto_ which Bach, Haydn and Mozart
demand,--a _bel canto_ that cultivates the musical taste, disciplines
the voice and trains the singer technically to do great things. Please
understand that I am not disparaging the good and beautiful in Italian
masterpieces. The musician will know what I mean. The singer can gain
little, however, from music that intellectually and vocally is better
suited to a parrot than a human being.

Some of the older singers made _bel canto_ such an art that people came
to hear them for their voices alone, and not for their intellectual or
emotional interpretations of a rôle. Perhaps you never heard Patti in
her prime. Ah! Patti--the wonderful Adelina with the glorious golden
voice. It was she who made me ambitious to study breathing until it
became an art. To hear her as she trippingly left the stage in Verdi's
_Traviata_ singing runs with ease and finish that other singers slur or
stumble over,--ah! that was an art!

[Illustration: musical notation: Ex. 1

    il mio pen sier, il mio pen-sier___

    il mio pen-sier.

Volumes have been written on breathing and volumes more could be
written. This is not the place to discuss the singer's great fundamental
need. Need I say more than that I practice deep breathing every day of
my life?


It is my opinion that no girl who wishes to keep her voice in the prime
of condition all the time in after years should start to study much
earlier than seventeen or eighteen years of age. In the case of a man I
do not believe that he should start until he is past twenty or even
twenty-two. I know that this is contrary to what many singers think, but
the period of mutation in both sexes is a much slower process than most
teachers realize, and I have given this matter a great deal of serious


Can I digress long enough to say that I think that everybody should
sing? That is, they should learn to sing under a good singing
instructor. This does not mean that they should look forward toward a
professional career. God forbid! There are enough half-baked singers in
the world now who are striving to become professionals. But the public
should know that singing is the healthiest kind of exercise imaginable.
When one sings properly one exercises nearly all of the important
muscles of the torso. The circulation of the blood is improved, the
digestion bettered, the heart promoted to healthy action--in fact,
everything is bettered. Singers as a rule are notoriously healthy and
often very long lived. The new movement for community singing in the
open air is a magnificent one. Let everybody sing!

A great singing teacher with a reputation as big as Napoleon's or George
Washington's is not needed. There are thousands and thousands of unknown
teachers who are most excellent. Often the advice or the instruction is
very much the same. What difference does it make whether I buy Castile
soap in a huge Broadway store or a little country store, if the soap is
the same? Many people hesitate to study because they can not study with
a great teacher. Nonsense! Pick out some sensible, well-drilled teacher
and then use your own good judgment to guide yourself. Remember that
Schumann-Heink did not study with a world-famed teacher. Whoever hears
of Marietta von Leclair in these days? Yet I do not think that I could
have done any more with my voice if I had had every famous teacher from
Niccolo Antonio Porpora down to the present day. The individual singer
must have ideals, and then leave nothing undone to attain those ideals.
One of my ideals was to be able to sing pianissimo with the kind of
resonance that makes it carry up to the farthest gallery. That is one of
the most difficult things I had to learn, and I attained it only after
years of faithful practice.


To keep the voice in prime condition the singer's first consideration is
physical and mental health. If the body or the mind is over-taxed
singing becomes an impossibility. It is amazing what the healthy body
and the busy mind can really stand. I take but three weeks' vacation
during the year and find that I am a great deal better for it. Long
terms of enforced indolence do not mean rest. The real artist is
happiest when at work, and I want to work. Fortunately I am never at
loss for opportunity. The ambitious vocal student can benefit as much by
studying a good book on hygiene or the conservation of the health as
from a book on the art of singing.

First of all comes diet. Americans as a rule eat far too much. Why do
some of the good churchgoing people raise such an incessant row about
over-drinking when they constantly injure themselves quite as much by
over-eating? What difference does it make whether you ruin your stomach,
liver or kidneys by too much alcohol or too much roast beef? One vice is
as bad as another. The singer must live upon a light diet. A heavy diet
is by no means necessary to keep up a robust physique. I am rarely ill,
am exceedingly strong in every way, and yet eat very little indeed. I
find that my voice is in the best of condition when I eat very
moderately. My digestion is a serious matter with me, and I take every
precaution to see that it is not congested in any way. This is most
important to the singer. Here is an average ménu for my days when I am
on tour:

    Two or more glasses of Cold Water
          (not ice water)
             Ham and Eggs

           _MID-DAY DINNER
           Some Meat Order
             A Vegetable
           Plenty of Salad

             A Sandwich

Such a ménu I find ample for the heaviest kind of professional work. If
I eat more, my work may deteriorate, and I know it.

Fresh air, sunshine, sufficient rest and daily baths in tepid water
night and morning are a part of my regular routine. I lay special
stress upon the baths. Nothing invigorates the singer as much as this.
Avoid very cold baths, but see to it that you have a good reaction after
each bath. There is nothing like such a routine as this to avoid colds.
If you have a cold try the same remedies to try to get rid of it. To me,
one day at Atlantic City is better for a cold than all the medicine I
can take. I call Atlantic City my cold doctor. Of course, there are many
other shore resorts that may be just as helpful, but when I can do so I
always make a bee line for Atlantic City the moment I feel a serious
cold on the way.

Sensible singers know now that they must avoid alcohol, even in limited
quantities, if they desire to be in the prime of condition and keep the
voice for a long, long time. Champagne particularly is poison to the
singer just before singing. It seems to irritate the throat and make
good vocal work impossible. I am sorry for the singer who feels that
some spur like champagne or a cup of strong coffee is desirable before
going upon the stage.

It amuses me to hear girls say, "I would give anything to be a great
singer"; and then go and lace themselves until they look like Jersey
mosquitoes. The breath is the motive power of the voice. Without it
under intelligent control nothing can be accomplished. One might as well
try to run an automobile without gasoline as sing without breath. How
can a girl breathe when she has squeezed her lungs to one-half their
normal size?


The voice can never be kept in prime condition if it is obliged to carry
a load that it has not been prepared to carry. Most voices that wear out
are voices that have been overburdened. Either the singer does not know
how to sing or the rôle is too heavy. I think that I may be forgiven for
pointing out that I have repeatedly sung the heaviest and most exacting
rôles in opera. My voice would have been shattered years ago if I had
not prepared myself for these rôles and sung them properly. A man may be
able to carry a load of fifty pounds for miles if he carries it on his
back, but he will not be able to carry it a quarter of a mile if he
holds it out at arm's length from the body, with one arm. Does this not
make the point clear?

Some rôles demand maturity. It is suicidal for the young singer to
attempt them. The composer and the conductor naturally think only of the
effect at the performance. The singer's welfare with them is a secondary
consideration. I have sung under the great composers and conductors,
from Richard Wagner to Richard Strauss. Some of the Strauss rôles are
even more strenuous than those of Wagner. They call for great energy as
well as great vocal ability. Young singers essay these heavy rôles and
the voices go to pieces. Why not wait a little while? Why not be

The singer is haunted by the delusion that success can only come to her
if she sings great rôles. If she can not ape Melba in _Traviata_, Emma
Eames as Elizabeth in _Tannhäuser_ or Geraldine Farrar in _Butterfly_,
she pouts and refuses to do anything. Offer her a small part and she
sneers at it. Ha! Ha! All my earliest successes were made in the
smallest kinds of parts. I realized that I had only a little to do and
only very little time to do it in. Consequently, I gave myself heart and
soul to that part. It must be done so artistically, so intelligently, so
beautifully that it would command success. Imagine the rôles of Erda and
Norna, and Marie in _Flying Dutchman_. They are so small that they can
hardly be seen. Yet these rôles were my first door to success and fame.
Wagner did not think of them as little things. He was a real master and
knew that in every art-work a small part is just as important as a great
part. It is a part of a beautiful whole. Don't turn up your nose at
little things. Take every opportunity, and treat it as though it were
the greatest thing in your life. It pays.

Everything that amounts to anything in my entire career has come through
struggle. At first a horrible struggle with poverty. No girl student in
a hall bedroom to-day (and my heart goes out to them now) endures more
than I went through. It was work, work, work, from morning to night,
with domestic cares and worries enough all the time to drive a woman
mad. Keep up your spirits, girls. If you have the right kind of fight in
you, success will surely come. Never think of discouragement, no matter
what happens. Keep working every day and always hoping. It will come
out all right if you have the gift and the perseverance. Compulsion is
the greatest element in the vocalist's success. Poverty has a knout in
its hand driving you on. Well, let it,--and remember that under that
knout you will travel twice as fast as the rich girl possibly can with
her fifty-horse-power automobile. Keep true to the best. _Muss_--"I
MUST," "I will," the mere necessity is a help not a hindrance, if you
have the right stuff in you. Learn to depend upon yourself, and know
that when you have something that the public wants it will not be slow
in running after you. Don't ask for help. I never had any help. Tell
that to the aspiring geese who think that I have some magic power
whereby I can help a mediocre singer to success by the mere twist of the


[Illustration: musical notation]

Daily vocal exercises are the daily bread of the singer. They should be
practiced just as regularly as one sits down to the table to eat, or as
one washes one's teeth or as one bathes. As a rule the average
professional singer does not resort to complicated exercises and great
care is taken to avoid strain. It is perfectly easy for me, a contralto,
to sing C in alt but do you suppose I sing it in my daily exercises? It
is one of the extreme notes in my range and it might be a strain.
Consequently I avoid it. I also sing most of my exercises _mezza voce_.

There should always be periods of intermission between practice. I often
go about my routine work while on tour, walking up and down the room,
packing my trunk, etc., and practicing gently at the same time. I enjoy
it and it makes my work lighter.

Of course I take great pains to practice carefully. My exercises are for
the most part simple scales, arpeggios or trills. For instance, I will
start with the following:

[Illustration: musical notation]

This I sing in middle voice and very softly. Thereby I do not become
tired and I don't bother the neighborhood. If I sang this in the big,
full lower tones and sang loud, my voice would be fatigued rather than
benefited and the neighbors would hate me. This I continue up to _D_ or
_E_ flat.

[Illustration: musical notation]

Above this I invariably use what is termed the head tone. Female singers
should always begin the head tone on this degree of the staff and not on
_F_ and _F#_, as is sometimes recommended.

I always use the Italian vowel _ah_ in my exercises. It seems best to
me. I know that _oo_ and _ue_ are recommended for contraltos, but I
have long had the firm conviction that one should first perfect the
natural vocal color through securing good tones by means of the most
open vowel. After this is done the voice may be further colored by the
judicious employment of other vowels. Sopranos, for instance, can help
their head tones by singing _ee_ (Italian _i_).

I know nothing better for acquiring a flexible tone than to sing trills
like the following:

[Illustration: musical notation]

and at the same time preserve a gentle, smiling expression. Smile
naturally, as though you were genuinely amused at something,--smile
until your upper teeth are uncovered. Then, try these exercises with the
vowel _ah_. Don't be afraid of getting a trivial, colorless tone. It is
easy enough to make the tone sombre by willing it so, when the occasion
demands. You will be amazed what this smiling, genial, _liebenswürdig_
expression will do to relieve stiffness and help you in placing your
voice right. The old Italians knew about it and advocated it strongly.
There is nothing like it to keep the voice youthful, fresh and in the
prime of condition.


Probably more voices are ruined by strain than through any other cause.
The singer must relax all the time. This does not mean flabbiness. It
does not mean that the singer should collapse before singing. Relaxation
in the singer's sense is a delicious condition of buoyancy, of
lightness, of freedom, of ease and entire lack of tightening in any
part. When I relax I feel as though every atom in my body were floating
in space. There is not one single little nerve on tension. The singer
must be particularly careful when approaching a climax in a great work
of art. Then the tendency to tighten up is at its greatest. This must be

Take such a case as the following passage from the famous aria from
Saint-Saëns' _Samson et Delila_, "_Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix_." The
climax is obviously on the words "Ah!--verse moi." The climax is the
note marked by a star (_f_ on the top line).

[Illustration: musical notation:

Reponds a ma ten-dres-se, Re-ponds a ma ten-dress-s!

Ah!--ver-se-moi--ver-se-moi.. l-i-vres-se!]

When I am singing the last notes of the previous phrase to the word
"tendresse," anyone who has observed me closely will notice that I
instinctively let my shoulders drop,--that the facial muscles become
relaxed as when one is about to smile or about to yawn. I am then
relaxing to meet the great melodic climax and meet it in such a manner
that I will have abundant reserve force after it has been sung. When one
has to sing before an audience of five or six thousand people such a
climax is immensely important and it requires great balance to meet it
and triumph in it.



Antonio Scotti was born at Naples, Jan. 25, 1866, and did much of his
vocal study there with Mme. Trifari Paganini. His début was made at the
Teatro Reale, in the Island of Malta, in 1889. The opera was _Martha_.
After touring the Italian opera houses he spent seven seasons in South
America at a time when the interest in grand opera on that continent was
developing tremendously. He then toured Spain and Russia with great
success and made his début at Covent Garden, London, in 1899. His
success was so great that he was immediately engaged for the
Metropolitan in New York, where he has sung every season since that
time. His most successful rôles have been in _La Tosca_, _La Bohême_, _I
Pagliacci_, _Carmen_, _Falstaff_, _L'Oracolo_ and _Otello_. His voice is
a rich and powerful baritone. He is considered one of the finest actors
among the grand opera singers. During recent years he has toured with an
opera company of his own, making many successful appearances in some of
the smaller as well as the larger American cities.




So closely identified is Italy with all that pertains to opera, that the
question of the future of Italian opera in America is one that interests
me immensely. It has been my privilege to devote a number of the best
years of my life to singing in Italian opera in this wonderful country,
and one cannot help noticing, first of all, the almost indescribable
advance that America has made along all lines. It is so marvelous that
those who reside continually in this country do not stop to consider it.
Musicians of Europe who have never visited America can form no
conception of it, and when they once have had an opportunity to observe
musical conditions in America, the great opera houses, the music
schools, the theatres and the bustling, hustling activity, together with
the extraordinary casts of world-famous operatic stars presented in our
leading cities, they are amazed in the extreme.

It is very gratifying for me to realize that the operatic compositions
of my countrymen must play a very important part in the operatic future
of America. It has always seemed to me that there is far more variety in
the works of the modern Italian composers than in those of other
nations. Almost all of the later German operas bear the unmistakable
stamp of Wagner. Those which do not, show decided Italian influences.
The operas of Mozart are largely founded on Italian models, although
they show a marvelous genius peculiar to the great master who created


The Italian opera of the future will without doubt follow the lead of
Verdi, that is, the later works of Verdi. To me _Falstaff_ seems the
most remarkable of all Italian operas. The public is not well enough
acquainted with this work to demand it with the same force that they
demand some of the more popular works of Verdi. Verdi was always
melodious. His compositions are a beautiful lace-work of melodies. It
has seemed to me that some of the Italian operatic composers who have
been strongly influenced by Wagner have made the mistake of supposing
that Wagner was not a master of melody. Consequently they have
sacrificed their Italian birthright of melody for all kinds of
cacophony. Wagner was really wonderfully melodious. Some of his melodies
are among the most beautiful ever conceived. I do not refer only to the
melodies such as "Oh, Thou Sublime Evening Star" of _Tannhäuser_ or the
"Bridal March" of _Lohengrin_, but also to the inexhaustible fund of
melodies that one may find in most every one of his astonishing works.
True, these melodies are different in type from most melodies of Italian
origin, but they are none the less melodies, and beautiful ones. Verdi's
later operas contain such melodies and he is the model which the young
composers of Italy will doubtless follow. Puccini, Mascagni,
Leoncavallo, and others, have written works rich in melody and yet not
wanting in dramatic charm, orchestral accompaniment and musicianly


When the Italian student leaves the conservatory, in ninety-nine cases
out of a hundred his ambitions are solely along the line of operatic
composition. This seems his natural bent or mould. Of course he has
written small fugues and perhaps even symphonies, but in the majority of
instances these have been mere academic exercises. I regret that this is
the case, and heartily wish that we had more Bossis, Martuccis and
Sgambattis, but, again, would it not be a great mistake to try to make a
symphonist out of an operatic composer? In the case of Perosi I often
regret that he is a priest and therefore cannot write for the theatre,
because I earnestly believe that notwithstanding his success as a
composer of religious music, his natural bent is for the theatre or the


Of the great Italian opera composers of to-day, I feel that Puccini is,
perhaps, the greatest because he has a deeper and more intimate
appreciation of theatrical values. Every note that Puccini writes smells
of the paint and canvas behind the proscenium arch. He seems to know
just what kind of music will go best with a certain series of words in
order to bring out the dramatic meaning. This is in no sense a
depreciation of the fine things that Mascagni, Leoncavallo and others
have done. It is simply my personal estimate of Puccini's worth as an
operatic composer. Personally, I like _Madama Butterfly_ better than any
other Italian opera written in recent years. Aside from _Falstaff_, my
own best rôle is probably in _La Tosca_. The two most popular Italian
operas of to-day are without doubt _Aïda_ and _Madama Butterfly_. That
is, these operas draw the greatest audiences at present. It is
gratifying to note a very much unified and catholic taste throughout the
entire country. That is to say, in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and
Philadelphia one finds the public taste very similar. This indicates
that the great musical advance in recent years in America has not been
confined to one or two eastern cities.


It is often regretable that the reputation of the singer draws bigger
audiences in America than the work to be performed. American people go
to hear some particular singer and not to hear the work of the composer.
In other countries this is not so invariably the rule. It is a condition
that may be overcome in time in America. It often happens that
remarkably good performances are missed by the public who are only drawn
to the opera house when some great operatic celebrity sings.

The intrinsic beauties of the opera itself should have much to do with
controlling its presentation. In all cases at present the Italian opera
seems in preponderance, but this cannot be said to be a result of the
engagement of casts composed exclusively of Italian singers. In our
American opera houses many singers of many different nationalities are
engaged in singing in Italian opera. Personally, I am opposed to operas
being sung in any tongue but that in which the opera was originally
written. If I am not mistaken, the Covent Garden Opera House and the
Metropolitan Opera House are the only two opera houses in the world
where this system is followed. No one can realize what I mean until he
has heard a Wagner opera presented in French, a tongue that seems
absolutely unfitted for the music of Wagner.


I do not feel that either Strauss or Debussy will have an influence upon
the music of the coming Italian composers similar to that which the
music of Wagner had upon Verdi and his followers. Personally, I admire
them very much, but they seem unvocal, and Italy is nothing if not
vocal. To me _Pelleas and Melisande_ would be quite as interesting if it
were acted in pantomime with the orchestral accompaniment. The voice
parts, to my way of thinking, could almost be dispensed with. The piece
is a beautiful dream, and the story so evident that it could almost be
played as an "opera without words." But vocal it certainly is not, and
the opportunities of the singer are decidedly limited. Strauss, also,
does not even treat the voice with the scant consideration bestowed upon
it in some of the extreme passages of the Wagner operas. Occasionally
the singer has an opportunity, but it cannot be denied that to the actor
and the orchestra falls the lion's share of the work.


Americans seem to think that the only really great operatic center of
Italy is Milan. This is doubtless due to the celebrity of the famous
opera house, La Scala, and to the fact that the great publishing house
of Ricordi is located there, but it is by no means indicative of the
true condition. The fact is that the appreciation of opera is often
greater outside of Milan than in the city. In Naples, Rome and Florence
opera is given on a grand scale, and many other Italian cities possess
fine theaters and fine operatic companies. The San Carlos Company, at
Naples, is usually exceptionally good, and the opera house itself is a
most excellent one. The greatest musical industry centers around Milan
owing, as we have said, to the publishing interests in that city. If an
Italian composer wants to produce one of his works he usually makes
arrangements with his publisher. This, of course, brings him at once to
Milan in most cases.


It is, of course, difficult to gain an audience for a new work, but this
is largely the fault of the public. The managers are usually willing
and glad to bring out novelties if the public can be found to appreciate
them. _Madama Butterfly_ is a novelty, but it leaped into immediate and
enormous appreciation. Would that we could find a number like it!
_Madama Butterfly's_ success has been largely due to the fact that the
work bears the direct evidences of inspiration. I was with Puccini in
London when he saw for the first time John Luther Long's story,
dramatized by a Belasco, produced in the form of a one-act play. He had
a number of librettos under consideration at that time, but he cast them
all aside at once. I never knew Puccini to be more excited. The story of
the little Japanese piece was on his mind all the time. He could not
seem to get away from it. It was in this white heat of inspiration that
the piece was moulded. Operas do not come out of the "nowhere." They are
born of the artistic enthusiasm and intellectual exuberance of the
trained composer.


One of the marvelous conditions of music in this country is that the
opera, the concert, the oratorio and the recital all seem to meet with
equal appreciation. The fact that most students of music in this land
play the piano has opened the avenues leading to an appreciation of
orchestral scores. In the case of opera the condition was quite
different. The appreciation of operatic music demands the voice of the
trained artist and this could not be brought to the home until the
sound reproducing machine had been perfected. The great increase in the
interest in opera in recent years is doubtless due to the fact that
thousands and thousands of those instruments are in use in as many homes
and music studios. It is far past the "toy" stage, and is a genuine
factor in the art development and musical education of America. At first
the sound reproducing machine met with tremendous opposition owing to
the fact that bad instruments and poorer records had prejudiced the
public, but now they have reached a condition whereby the voice is
reflected with astonishing veracity. The improvements I have observed
during the past years have seemed altogether wonderful to me. The
thought that half a century hence the voices of our great singers of
to-day may be heard in the homes of all countries of the globe gives a
sense of satisfaction to the singer, since it gives a permanence to his
art which was inconceivable twenty-five years ago.

[Illustration: HENRI SCOTT.]



Henri Scott was born at Coatesville, Pa., April 8, 1876. He was intended
for a business career but became interested in music, at first in an
amateur way, in Philadelphia. Encouraged by local successes he went to
study voice with Oscar Saenger, remaining with him for upward of eleven
years. He was fortunate in making appearances with the "Philadelphia
Operatic Society," a remarkable amateur organization giving performances
of grand opera on a large scale. With this organization he made his
first stage appearances as Ramphis in _Aïda_, in 1897. He had his
passage booked for Europe, where he was assured many fine appearances,
when he accidentally met Oscar Hammerstein, who engaged him for five
years. Under this manager he made his professional début as Ramphis at
the Manhattan Opera House in New York, in 1909. Hammerstein, a year
thereafter, terminated his New York performances by selling out to the
Metropolitan Opera Company. Mr. Scott then went to Rome, where he made
his first appearance in _Faust_, with great success. He was immediately
engaged for the Chicago Opera Company where, during three years, he sang
some thirty-five different rôles. In 1911 he was engaged as a leading
basso by the Metropolitan, where he remained for many seasons. He has
sung on tour with the Thomas Orchestra, with Caruso and at many famous
festivals. He has appeared with success in over one hundred cities in
the United States and Canada. In response to many offers he went into
vaudeville, where he has sung to hundreds of thousands of Americans,
with immense success. Mr. Scott is therefore in a position to speak of
this new and interesting phase of bringing musical masterpieces to "the



Like every American, I resent the epithet, "the masses," because I have
always considered myself a part of that mysterious unbounded
organization of people to which all democratic Americans feel that they
belong. One who is not a member of the masses in America is perforce a
"snob" and a "prig." Possibly one of the reasons why our republic has
survived so many years is that all true Americans are aristocratic, not
in the attitude of "I am as good as everyone," but yet human enough to
feel deep in their hearts, "Any good citizen is as good as I."


Music in America should be the property of everybody. The talking
machines come near making it that, if one may judge from the sounds that
come from half the homes at night. But the people want to hear the best
music from living performers "in the flesh." At the same time,
comparatively, very few can pay from two to twenty dollars a seat to
hear great opera and great singers. The reason why grand opera costs so
much is that the really fine voices, with trained operatic experience,
are very, very few; and, since only a few performances are given a year,
the price must be high. It is simply the law of supply and demand.

There are, in America, two large grand opera companies and half a dozen
traveling ones, some of them very excellent. There are probably twenty
large symphony orchestras and at least one hundred oratorio societies of
size. To say that these bodies and others purveying good music, reach
more than five million auditors a year would possibly be a generous
figure. But five million is not one-twentieth of the population of
America. What about the nineteen-twentieths?

On the other hand, there are in America between two and three thousand
good vaudeville and moving picture houses where the best music in some
form is heard not once or twice a week for a short season, but several
times each day. Some of the moving picture houses have orchestras of
thirty-five to eighty men, selected from musicians of the finest
ability, many of whom have played in some of the greatest orchestras of
the world. These orchestras and the talking machines are doing more to
bring good music to the public than all the larger organizations, if we
consider the subject from a standpoint of numbers.


The whole character of the entertainments in moving picture and
vaudeville theaters has been revolutionized. The buildings are veritable
temples of art. The class of the entertainment is constantly improving
in response to a demand which the business instincts of the managers
cannot fail to recognize. The situation is simply this: The American
people, with their wonderful thirst for self-betterment, which has
brought about the prodigious success of the educational papers, the
schools and the Chautauquas, like to have the beautiful things in art
served to them with inspiriting amusement. We, as a people, have been
becoming more and more refined in our tastes. We want better and better
things, not merely in music, but in everything. In my boyhood there were
thousands of families in fair circumstances who would endure having the
most awful chromos upon their walls. These have for the most part
entirely disappeared except in the homes of the newest aliens. It is
true that much of our music is pretty raw in the popular field; but even
in this it is getting better slowly and surely.

If in recent years there has been a revolution in the popular taste for
vaudeville, B. F. Keith was the "Washington" of that revolution. He
understood the human demand for clean entertainment, with plenty of
healthy fun and an artistic background. He knew the public call for the
best music and instilled his convictions in his able followers. Mr.
Keith's attitude was responsible for the signs which one formerly saw in
the dressing rooms of good vaudeville theaters, which read:

    |Profanity of any kind, objectionable or suggestive|
    |remarks, are forbidden in this theater.           |
    |Offenders are liable to have the curtain rung     |
    |down upon them during such an act.                |

Fortunately these signs have now disappeared, as the actors have been so
disciplined that they know that a coarse remark would injure them with
the management.

Vaudeville is on a far higher basis than much so-called comic opera.
Some acts are paid exceedingly large sums. Sarah Bernhardt received
$7000.00 a week; Calve, Bispham, Kocian, Carolina White and Marguerite
Sylvia, accordingly.

Dorothy Jordan, Bessie Abbott, Rosa Ponselle, Orville Harold and the
recent Indian sensation at the Metropolitan, Chief Caupolican, actually
had their beginnings in vaudeville. In other words, vaudeville was the
stepping-stone to grand opera.


Success in this new field depends upon personality as well as art. It
also develops personality. It is no place for a "stick." The singer must
at all times be in human touch with the audience. The lofty individuals
who are thinking far more about themselves than about the songs they are
singing have no place here. The task is infinitely more difficult than
grand opera. It is far more difficult than recital or oratorio singing.
There can be no sham, no pose. The songs must please or the audience
will let one know it in a second.

The wear and tear upon the voice is much less than in opera. During the
week I sing in all three and one-half hours (not counting rehearsals).
When I am singing Mephistopheles in _Faust_ I am in a theater at least
six hours--the make-up alone requires at least one and one-half hours.
Then time is demanded for rehearsals with the company and with various


Thus the vaudeville singer who is genuinely interested in the progress
of his art has ample time to study new songs and new rôles. In the
jargon of vaudeville, everything is based upon whether the singer is
able "to put the number over." This is a far more serious matter than
one thinks. The audience is made up of the great public--the common
people, God bless them. There is not the select gathering of musically
cultured people that one finds in Carnegie Hall or the Auditorium.
Therefore, in singing music that is admittedly a musical masterpiece,
one must select only those works which may be interpreted with a broad
human appeal. One is far closer to his fellow-man in vaudeville than in
grand opera, because the emotions of the auditors are more responsive.
It is intensely gratifying to know that these people want real art. My
greatest success has been in Lieurance's Indian songs and in excerpts
from grand opera. Upon one occasion my number was followed by that of a
very popular comedienne whose performance was known to be of the
farcical, rip-roaring type which vaudeville audiences were supposed to
like above all things. It was my pleasure to be recalled, even after the
curtain had ascended upon her performance, and to be compelled to give
another song as an encore. The preference of the vaudeville audience
for really good music has been indicated to me time and again. But it is
not merely the good music that draws: the music must be interpreted
properly. Much excellent music is ruined in vaudeville by ridiculous


Singers have asked me time and again how to get an engagement. The first
thing is to be sure that you have something to sell that is really worth
while. Think of how many people are willing to pay to hear you sing! The
more that they are willing to pay, the more valuable you are to the
managers who buy your services. Therefore reputation, of course, is an
important point to the manager. An unknown singer can not hope to get
the same fee as the celebrated singer no matter how fine the voice or
the art. Mr. E. Falber and Mr. Martin Beck, who have been responsible
for a great many of the engagements of great artists in vaudeville and
who are great believers in fine music in vaudeville, have, through their
high position in business, helped hundreds. But they can not help anyone
who has nothing to sell.

The home office of the big vaudeville exchange is at Forty-seventh and
Broadway, N.Y., and it is one of the busiest places in the great city.
Even at that, it has always been a mystery to me just how the thousands
of numbers are arranged so that there will be as little loss as possible
for the performers; for it must be remembered that the vaudeville
artists buy their own stage clothes and scenery, attend to their
transportation and pay all their own expenses; unless they can afford
the luxury of a personal manager who knows how to do these things just a
little better.

The singer looking for an engagement must in some way do something to
gain some kind of recognition. Perhaps it may come from the fact that
the manager of the local theater in her town has heard her sing, or some
well-known singer is interested in her and is willing to write a letter
of introduction to someone influential in headquarters. With the
enormous demands made upon the time of the "powers that be," it is
hardly fair to expect them to hear anyone and everyone. With such a
letter or such an introduction, arrange for an audition at the
headquarters in New York. Remember all the time that if you have
anything really worth while to sell the managers are just as anxious to
hear you as you are to be heard. There is no occasion for nervousness.


Sometimes the managers are badly mistaken. It is common gossip that a
very celebrated opera singer sought a vaudeville engagement and was
turned down because of the lack of the musical experience of the
manager, and because she was unknown. If he wanted her to-day his figure
would have to be several thousand dollars a week.

The average vaudeville theater in America is far better for the singer,
in many ways, than many of the opera houses. In fact the vaudeville
theaters are new; while the opera houses are old, and often sadly run
down and out of date. Possibly the finest vaudeville theater in America
is in Providence, R. I., and was built by E. F. Albee. It is palatial in
every aspect, built as strong and substantial as a fort, and yet as
elegant as a mansion. It is much easier to sing in these modern theaters
made of stone and concrete than in many of the old-fashioned opera
houses. Indeed, some of the vaudeville audiences often hear a singer at
far better advantage than in the opera house.

The singer who realizes the wonderful artistic opportunities provided in
reaching such immense numbers of people, who will understand that he
must sing up to the larger humanity rather than thinking that he must
sing down to a mob, who will work to do better vocal and interpretative
thinking at every successive performance, will lose nothing by singing
in vaudeville and may gain an army of friends and admirers he could not
otherwise possibly acquire.



Emma Thursby was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., and studied singing with
Julius Meyers, Achille Errani, Mme. Rudersdorf, Lamperti (elder), San
Giovanni and finally with Maurice Strakosch. She began her career as a
church singer in New York and throngs went to different New York
churches to hear her exquisitely mellow and beautiful voice. For many
years she was the soprano of the famous Plymouth Church when Henry Ward
Beecher was the pastor. Her voice became so famous that she went on a
tour with Maurice Strakosch for seven years, in Europe and America,
everywhere meeting with sensational success. Later she toured with the
Gilmore Band and with the Thomas Orchestra. She became as popular in
London and in Paris as in New York. Her fame became so great that she
finally made a tour of the world, appearing with great success even in
China and Japan.

[Illustration: EMMA THURSBY.]



Although conditions have changed very greatly since I was last regularly
engaged in making concert tours, the change has been rather one of
advantage to young singers than one to their disadvantage. The enormous
advance in musical taste can only be expressed by the word "startling."
For while we have apparently a vast amount of worthless music being
continually inoculated into our unsuspecting public, we have,
nevertheless, a corresponding cultivation of the love for good music
which contributes much to the support of the concert singer of the
present day.

The old time lyceum has almost disappeared, but the high-class song
recital has taken its place and recitals that would have been barely
possible years ago are now frequently given with greatest financial and
artistic success. Schumann, Franz, Strauss, Grieg and MacDowell have
conquered the field formerly held by the vapid and meaningless
compositions of brainless composers who wrote solely to amuse or to
appeal to morbid sentimentality.

The conditions of travel, also, have been greatly improved. It is now
possible to go about in railroad cars and stop at hotels, and at the
same time experience very little inconvenience and discomfort. This
makes the career of the concert artist a far more desirable one than in
former years. Uninviting hotels, frigid cars, poorly prepared meals and
the lack of privacy were scarcely the best things to stimulate a high
degree of musical inspiration.


Nevertheless, the girl who would be successful in concert must either
possess or acquire good health as her first and all-essential asset.
Notwithstanding the marvelous improvement in traveling facilities and
accommodations, the nervous strain of public performance is not
lessened, and it not infrequently happens that these very facilities
enable the avaricious manager to crowd in more concerts and recitals
than in former years, with the consequent strain upon the vitality of
the singer.

Of course, the singer must also possess the foundation for a good
natural voice, a sense of hearing capable of being trained to the
keenest perception of pitch, quality, rhythm and metre, an attractive
personality, a bright mind, a good general education and an artistic
temperament--a very extraordinary list, I grant you, but we must
remember that the public pays out its money to hear extraordinary people
and the would-be singer who does not possess qualifications of this
description had better sincerely solicit the advice of some experienced,
unbiased teacher or singer before putting forth upon the musical seas in
a bark which must meet with certain destruction in weathering the first
storm. The teacher who consciously advises a singer to undertake a
public career and at the same time knows that such a career would very
likely be a failure is beneath the recognition of any honest man or


The education of the singer should not commence too early, if we mean by
education the training of the voice. If you discover that a child has a
very remarkable voice, "ear" and musical intelligence you had better let
the voice alone and give your attention to the general musical education
of the child along the lines of that received by Madame Sembrich, who is
a fine violinist and pianist. So few are the teachers who know anything
whatever about the child-voice, or who can treat it with any degree of
safety, that it is far better to leave it alone than to tamper with it.
Encourage the child to sing softly, sweetly and naturally, much as in
free fluent conversation, telling him to form the habit of speaking his
tones forward "on the lips" rather than in the throat. If you have among
your acquaintances some musician or singer of indisputable ability and
impeccable honor who can give you disinterested advice have the child go
to this friend now and then to ascertain whether any bad and unnatural
habits are being formed. Of course we have the famous cases of Patti and
others, who seem to have sung from infancy. I have no recollection of
the time when I first commenced to sing. I have always sung and gloried
in my singing.

See to it that your musical child has a good general education. This
does not necessarily mean a college or university training. In fact, the
amount of music study a singer has to accomplish in these days makes the
higher academic training apparently impossible. However, with the great
musical advance there has come a demand for higher and better ordered
intellectual work among singers. This condition is becoming more and
more imperative every day. At the same time you must remember also that
nothing should be undertaken that might in any way be liable to
undermine or impair the child's health.


The time to begin training depends upon the maturity of the voice and
the individual, considered together with the physical condition of the
pupil. Some girls are ready to start voice work at sixteen, while others
are not really in condition until a somewhat older age. Here again comes
the necessity for the teacher of judgment and experience. A teacher who
might in any way be influenced by the necessity for securing a pupil or
a fee should be avoided as one avoids the shyster lawyer. Starting vocal
instruction too early has been the precipice over which many a promising
career has been dashed to early oblivion.

In choosing a teacher I hardly know what to say, in these days of myriad
methods and endless claims. The greatest teachers I have known have
been men and women of great simplicity and directness. The perpetrator
of the complicated system is normally the creator of vocal failures. The
secret of singing is at once a marvelous mystery and again an open
secret to those who have realized its simplicity. It cannot be
altogether written, nor can it be imparted by words alone. Imitation
undoubtedly plays an important part, but it is not everything. The
teacher must be one who has actually realized the great truths which
underlie the best, simplest and most natural methods of securing results
and who must possess the wonderful power of exactly communicating these
principles to the pupil. A good teacher is far rarer than a good singer.
Singers are often poor teachers, as they destroy the individuality of
the pupil by demanding arbitrary imitation. A teacher can only be judged
by results, and the pupil should never permit herself to be deluded by
advertisements and claims a teacher is unable to substantiate with
successful pupils.


One of the deep foundation piers of all educational effort is the
inculcation of habits. The most successful voice teacher is the one who
is most happy in developing habits of correct singing. These habits must
be watched with the persistence, perseverance and affectionate care of
the scientist. The teacher must realize that the single lapse or
violation of a habit may mean the ruin of weeks or months of hard work.

One of the most necessary habits a teacher should form is that of
speaking with ease, naturalness and vocal charm. Many of our American
girls speak with indescribable harshness, slovenliness and shrillness.
This is a severe tax upon the sensibilities of a musical person and I
know of countless people who suffer acute annoyance from this source.
Vowels are emitted with a nasal twang or a throaty growl that seem at
times most unpardonable noises when coming from a pretty face.
Consonants are juggled and mangled until the words are very difficult to
comprehend. Our girls are improving in this respect, but there is still
cause for grievous complaint among voice teachers, who find in this one
of their most formidable obstacles.

Another common natural fault, which is particularly offensive to me, is
that of an objectionable bodily poise. I have found throughout my entire
career that bodily poise in concert work is of paramount importance, but
I seem to have great difficulty in sufficiently impressing this great
truth upon young ladies who would be singers. The noted Parisian
teacher, Sbriglia, is said to require one entire year to build up and
fortify the chest. I have always felt that the best poise is that in
which the shoulders are held well back, although not in a stiff or
strained position, the upper part of the body leaning forward gently and
naturally and the whole frame balanced by a sense of relaxation and
ease. In this position the natural equilibrium is not taxed, and a
peculiar sensation of non-constraint seems to be noticeable,
particularly over the entire area of the front of the torso. This
position suggests ease and an absence of that military rigidity which is
so fatal to all good vocal effort. It also permits of a freer movement
of the abdominal walls, as well as the intercostal muscles, and is thus
conducive to the most natural breathing. Too much anatomical explanation
is liable to confuse the young singer, and if the matter of breathing
can be assisted by poise, just so much is gained.

Another important habit that the teacher should see to at the start is
that of correct thinking. Most vocal beginners are poor thinkers and
fail to realize the vast importance of the mind in all voice work.
Unless the teacher has the power of inspiring the pupil to a realization
of the great fact that nothing is accomplished in the throat that has
not been previously performed in the mind, the path will be a difficult
one. During the process of singing the throat and the auxiliary vocal
process of breathing are really a part of the brain, or, more
specifically, the mind or soul. The body is never more than an
instrument. Without the performer it is as voiceless as the piano of
Richard Wagner standing in all its solitary silence at Wahnfried--a mute
monument of the marvelous thoughts which once rang from its vibrating
wires to all parts of the civilized world. We really sing with that
which leaves the body after death. It is in the cultivation of this
mystery of mysteries, the soul, that most singers fail. The mental ideal
is, after all, that which makes the singer. Patti possessed this ideal
as a child, and with it the wonderful bodily qualifications which made
her immortal. But it requires work to overcome vocal deficiencies, and
Patti as a child was known to have been a ceaseless worker and thinker,
always trying to bring her little body up to the high æsthetic
appreciation of the best artistic interpretation of a given passage.


It was from Maurice Strakosch that I learned of the methods pursued by
Patti in her daily work, and although Strakosch was not a teacher in the
commercial sense of the word, as he had comparatively few pupils, he was
nevertheless a very fine musician, and there is no doubt that Patti owed
a great deal to his careful and insistent régime and instruction.
Although our relation was that of impresario and artist, I cannot be
grateful enough to him for the advice and instruction I received from
him. The technical exercises he employed were exceedingly simple and he
gave more attention to how they were sung than to the exercises
themselves. I know of no more effective set of exercises than
Strakosch's ten daily exercises. They were sung to the different vowels,
principally to the vowel "ah," as in "father." Notwithstanding their
great simplicity Strakosch gave the greatest possible attention and time
to them. Patti used these exercises, which he called his "Ten
Commandments for the Singer," daily, and there can be little doubt that
the extraordinary preservation of her voice is the result of these
simple means. I have used them for years with exceptional results in
all cases. However, if the singer has any idea that the mere practice of
these exercises to the different vowel sounds will inevitably bring
success she is greatly mistaken. These exercises are only valuable when
used with vowels correctly and naturally "placed," and that means, in
some cases, years of the most careful and painstaking work.

     Following are the famous "Ten Vocal Commandments," as used by
     Adelina Patti and several great singers in their daily work. Note
     their simplicity and gradual increase in difficulty. They are to be
     transposed at the teacher's discretion to suit the range of the
     voice and are to be used with the different vowels.

[Illustration: I, musical notation]

[Illustration: II, musical notation]

[Illustration: III, musical notation]

[Illustration: IV, musical notation]

[Illustration: V, musical notation]

[Illustration: VI, musical notation]

[Illustration: VII, musical notation]

[Illustration: VIII, musical notation]

[Illustration: IX, musical notation]

[Illustration: X, musical notation]

The concert singer of the present day must have linguistic attainments
far greater than those in demand some years ago. She is required to sing
in English, French, German, Italian and some singers are now attempting
the interpretation of songs in Slavic and other tongues. Not only do we
have to consider arias and passages from the great oratorios and operas
as a part of the present-day repertoire, but the song of the "Lied" type
has come to have a valuable significance in all concert work. Many songs
intended for the chamber and the salon are now included in programs of
concerts and recitals given in our largest auditoriums. Only a very few
numbers are in themselves songs written for the concert hall. Most of
the numbers now sung at song concerts are really transplanted from
either the stage or the chamber. This makes the position of the concert
singer an extremely difficult one. Without the dramatic accessories of
the opera house or the intimacy of the home circle, she is expected to
achieve results varying from the cry of the Valkyries, in _Die Walküre_,
to the frail fragrance of Franz' _Es hat die Rose sich beklagt_. I do
not wonder that Mme. Schumann-Heink and others have declared that there
is nothing more difficult or exhausting than concert singing. The
enormous fees paid to great concert singers are not surprising when we
consider how very few must be the people who can ever hope to attain
great heights in this work.


© Mishkin.]



Reinald Werrenrath was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 7, 1883. His
father, George Werrenrath, was a distinguished singer, and his mother
(née Aretta Camp) is the daughter of Henry Camp, who was for many years
musical director of Plymouth Church during the ministry there of Henry
Ward Beecher. George Werrenrath was a Dane, with an unusually rich tenor
voice, trained by the best teachers of his time in Germany, Italy,
France and England. During his engagement as leading tenor in the Royal
Opera House in Wiesbaden, he left Germany by the advice of Adelina
Patti, eventually going to England with Maurice Strakosch, who was then
his coach. In London Werrenrath had a fine career, and there was formed
a warm and ultimate friendship with Charles Gounod, with whom he studied
and toured in concerts through England and Belgium. George Werrenrath
came to New York in 1876, by the influence of Mme. Antoinette Sterling
and of the well-known Dane, General C. T. Christensen. He immediately
became well known by his appearance with the Theodore Thomas Orchestra,
as well as by his engagement at Plymouth Church, where he was soloist
for seven years. He was probably the first artist to give song-recitals
in the United States, while his performances in opera are still
cherished in the memories of those people who can look back on some of
the fine representations given under the baton of Adolph Neuendorf, at
the old Academy of Music, which made the way for the later work at the
Metropolitan Opera House. His interpretation of _Lohengrin_ was adjudged
most wonderfully poetical.

Reinald Werrenrath studied first with his father. At the Boys' High
School and at New York University he was leader of musical affairs
throughout the eight years spent in those schools. He studied violin
with Carl Venth for four years, and had as his vocal teachers Dr. Carl
Dufft, Frank King Clark, Dr. Arthur Mees, Percy Rector Stephens and
Victor Maurel, giving especial credit for his voice training to years of
study with Mr. Stephens whose vocal teaching ideas he sketches in part
in the following. He has appeared with immense success in concert and
oratorio in all parts of the United States. His talking machine records
have been in great demand for years, and his voice is known to thousands
who have never seen him. His operatic début was in _Pagliacci_, as
_Silvio_, in the Metropolitan Opera House, February 19, 1919, where he
later had specially fine success as _Valentine_ in _Faust_ and as the
_Toreador_ in _Carmen_.



Every now and then someone asks me whether America is really becoming
musical. All I can say is that a year ago I, with my accompanist,
traveled over 61,000 miles, touching every part of this country and,
during that eight months, singing almost nightly when the transit
facilities would permit, found everywhere the very greatest enthusiasm
for the very best music. Of course, Americans want some numbers on the
program with the so-called "human" element; but at the same time they
court the best in vocal art and seem never to get enough of it. All of
my instruction has been received in America. All of my teachers, with
the exception of my father and Victor Maurel, were born in America; so I
may be called very much of an American product.

Just why Americans should ever have been obsessed with the idea that it
was impossible to teach voice successfully on this side of the Atlantic
is hard to tell. I have a suspicion that many like the adventure of
foreign travel far more than the labor of study. Probably ninety-five
per cent. of the pupils who went over did so for the fascinating
experience of living in a European environment rather than for the
downright purpose of coming back great artists. Therefore, we should
not blame the European teachers altogether for the countless failures
that have floated back to us almost on every tide. I have recently heard
a report that many of the highest-priced and most efficient voice
teachers in Italy are Americans who have Italianized their names.
Certainly the most successful voice teachers in Berlin were George
Ferguson and Frank King Clark, who was at the top of the list also in
Paris when he was there.

The American singer should remember in these days that, first of all, he
must sing in America and in the English language more than in any other.
I am not one of those who decry singing in foreign languages. Certain
songs, it is true, cannot be translated so that their meaning can be
completely understood in English; yet, if the reader will think for a
moment, how is the American auditor to understand a single thought of a
poem in a language of which he knows nothing?

The Italian is a glorious language for the singer, and with it English
cannot be compared, with its thirty-one vowel sounds and its many
coughing, sputtering consonants. Training in Italian solfeggios is very
fine for creating a free, flowing style. Many of the Italian teachers
were obsessed with the idea of the big tone. The audiences fired back
volleys of "Bravos!" and "Da Capos" when the tenor took off his plumed
hat, stood on his toes and howled a high C. That was part of his stock
in trade. Naturally, he forced his voice, and most of the men singers
quit at the age of fifty. I hope to be in my prime at that time, as my
voice seems to grow better each year. Battistini, who was born in 1857,
is an exception. His voice, I am told, is remarkably preserved.


Climatic conditions in many parts of America prove a serious handicap to
the singer. At the same time, according to the law of the survival of
the fittest, American singers must take care of themselves much better
than the Italians, for instance. The salubrious, balmy climate of most
of Italy is ideal for the throat. On our Eastern seaboard I find that
fifty per cent. of my audiences in winter seem to have colds and
bronchitis. The singer who is obliged to tour must, of course, take
every possible precaution against catching cold; and that means becoming
infected from exposure to colds when the system is run down. I attempt
to avoid colds by securing plenty of outdoor exercise. I always walk to
my hotel and to the station when I have time; and I walk as much as I
can during the day. When I am not singing I immediately start to
play--to fish, swim or hunt in the woods if I can make an opportunity.


In one respect Europe is unquestionably superior to America for the
vocal student. The student who wants to sing in opera will find in
Europe ten opportunities for gaining experience to one here. While we
have a few more opera companies than twenty-five years ago, it is still
a great task to secure even an opening. Americans, outside of the great
cities, do not seem to be especially inclined toward opera. They will
accept a little of it when it is given to them by a superb company like
the Metropolitan. In New York we find a public more cosmopolitan than in
any other city of the world, with the possible exception of London. In
immediate ancestry it is more European than American, and naturally
opera becomes a great public demand. Seats sell at fabulous prices and
the houses are crowded. Next comes opera at popular prices; and we have
one or two very good companies giving that with success. Then there is
the opera in America's other cosmopolitan center, Chicago, where many
world-famed artists appear. After that, opera in America is hardly worth
mentioning. What chance has the student? Only one who for years has been
uniformed in a black dress suit and backed into the curve of the grand
piano in a recital hall can know what it means to get out on the
operatic stage, in those fantastic clothes, walk around, act, sing and
at the same time watch the conductor with his ninety men. Only he can
know what the difference between singing in concert and on the operatic
stage really is. Yet old opera singers who enter the recital field
invariably say that it is far harder to get up alone in a large hall and
become the whole performance, aided and abetted only by an able
accompanist, than it is to sing in opera.

The recital has the effect of preserving the fineness of many operatic
voices. Modern opera has ruined dozens of fine vocal organs because of
the tremendous strain made upon them and the tendency to neglect vocal
art for dramatic impression.

If there were more of the better _singing_ in opera, such as one hears
from Mr. Caruso, there would be less comment upon opera as a bastard
art. Operatic work is very exhilarating. The difference between concert
and opera for the singer is that between oatmeal porridge and an old
vintage champagne. There is no time at the Metropolitan for raw singers.
The works in the repertoire must be known so well in the singing and the
acting that they may be put on perfectly with the least possible
rehearsals. Therefore, the singer has no time for routine. The lack of a
foreign name will keep no American singer out of the Metropolitan; but
the lack of the ability to save the company hundreds of dollars through
needless waits at rehearsals will.


Certainly no country in recent years has produced so many "corking" good
singers as America. Our voices are fresh, virile, pure and rich; when
the teaching is right. Our singers are for the most part finely educated
and know how to interpret the texts intelligently. Mr. W. J. Henderson,
the eminent New York critic, in his "Art of Singing," gave the following
definition, which my former teacher, the late Dr. Carl Dufft, endorsed
very highly: "Singing is the expression of a text by means of tones made
by the human voice." More and more the truth of this comes to me.
Singing is not merely vocalizing but always a means of communication in
which the artist must convey the message of the two great minds of the
poet and the composer to his fellow man. In this the voice must be as
natural as possible, as human as possible, and not merely a sugary tone.
The German, the Frenchman, the Englishman and the American strive first
for an intelligent interpretation of the text. The Italian thinks of
tone first and the text afterward, except in the modern Italian school
of realistic singing. For this one must consider the voice normally and

I owe my treatment of my voice largely to Mr. Stephens, with whom I have
studied for the last eight years, taking a lesson every day I am in New
York. This is advisable, I believe, because no matter how well one may
think one sings, another trained mind with other ears may detect defects
that might lead to serious difficulties later. His methods are difficult
to describe; but a few main principles may be very interesting to

My daily work in practice is commenced by stretching exercises, in which
I aim to free the muscles covering the upper part of the abdomen and the
intercostal muscles at the side and back--all by stretching upward and
writhing around, as it were, so that there cannot possibly be any
constriction. Then, with my elbows bent and my fists over my head, I
stretch the muscles over my shoulders and shoulder blades. Finally, I
rotate my head upward and around, so that the muscles of the neck are
freed and become very easy and flexible. While I am finishing with the
last exercise I begin speaking in a fairly moderate tone such vowel
combinations as "OH-AH," "OH-AH," "EE-AY," "EE-AY," "EE-AY-EE-AY-EE-AY,"
etc. While doing this I walk about the room so that there will not be
any suggestion of stiltedness or vocal or muscular interference. At
first this is done without the addition of any attempted nasal
resonance. Gradually nasal resonance is introduced with different spoken
vowels, while at the same time every effort is made to preserve ease and
flexibility of the entire body. Then, when it seems as though the right
vocal quality is coming, pitch is introduced at the most convenient
range and exercises with pitch are taken through the range of the voice.
The whole idea is to make the tones as natural and free and pure as
possible with the least effort. I am opposed to the old idea of tone
placing, in which the pupil toed a mark, set the throat at some
prescribed angle, adjusted the tongue in some approved design, and then,
gripped like the unfortunate victim in the old-fashioned photographer's
irons, attempted to sing a sustained tone or a rapid scale. What was the
result--consciousness and stiltedness and, as a rule, a tired throat and
a ruined singer. These ideas may seem revolutionary to many. They are
only a few of Mr. Stephens' very numerous devices; but for many years
they have been of more benefit than anything else in keeping me vocally

We in the New World should be on the outlook for advance along all
lines. Our American composers have held far too close to European ideals
and done too little real thinking for themselves. Our vocal teachers
and, for that matter, teachers in all branches of musical art in America
have been most progressive in devising new ways and better methods.
There will never be an American method of singing because we are too
wise not to realize that every pupil needs different and special
treatment. What is fine for one might be injurious to the next one.

[Illustration: EVAN WILLIAMS.]



Evan Williams, as his name suggests, was of Welsh ancestry, although
born in Trumbull County, Ohio, Sept. 7, 1867. As a boy his singing
attracted the attention of his friends and neighbors. When a young man
he went to Mme. Louise von Fielitsen, in Cleveland, and studied under
her for four years. At the end of this time it became necessary for him
to earn money immediately, as he had married at the age of twenty.
Accordingly he went with the "Primrose and West" minstrels for one
season. Everywhere he appeared his voice attracted enthusiastic
attention. This aroused his ambition and in 1894 he went to New York
where he was engaged at All Angels Church at a yearly salary of
$1000.00. Six months later the Marble Collegiate Church took him over at
$1500.00 which was shortly raised to $2000.00. In 1896 he appeared at
the Worcester Festival with great success and then went to New York to
study with James Sauvage for three years.

Notwithstanding his long terms of instruction with teachers of high
reputation, Mr. Williams felt that he had still much to learn, as he
would find himself singing finely one night and so badly on the next
that he would resolve never to sing again. Accordingly he studied with
Meehan for three years more. Then he retired from the concert stage for
three years in order to improve himself. Deciding to appear in public
again he went to London where he sang for three years with popular
success. However, he was still dissatisfied with his voice. Mr.
Williams' personal narrative tells how he got his voice back. His death,
May 24, 1918, prevented him from carrying out his project to become a
teacher and thus introduce his discoveries. The following, therefore,
becomes of interesting historical significance.



There is nothing so disquieting to the singer as the feeling that his
voice, upon which his artistic hopes, to say nothing of his livelihood,
depend, is not a reliable organ, but a fickle thing which to-day may be
in splendid condition but to-morrow may be gone. Time and again I have
been driven to the verge of desperation by my own voice. While I am
grateful to all of my excellent teachers for the many valuable things
they taught me, I had a strong feeling that there was something which I
must know and which only I myself could find out for myself. After a
very wide experience here and in England I found myself with so little
confidence in my ability to produce uniformly excellent results when on
the concert stage, that I retired to Akron, Ohio, resolving to spend the
rest of my life in teaching. There I remained for four years, thinking
out the great problem that confronted me. It is only during the last
year that I have become convinced that I have solved it. My musical work
has made me well-to-do and I want now to give my ideas to the world so
that others may profit if they find them valuable. I have nothing to
sell--but I trust that I can put into words, without inventing a new and
bewildering nomenclature, something that will prove of practical
assistance to young singers as it has been to me.


In 1908 I left Akron and resolved to try to reinstate myself in New York
as a singer. I also made talking machine records, only to find that
seldom could I make a record at the first attempt that was up to the
very high standard maintained by the company in the case of all records
placed upon the market for sale. This meant a great waste of my time and
the company's material and services. It naturally set me thinking. If I
could do it one time--why couldn't I do it all the time? There was no
contradicting the talking machine record. The machine records the
slightest blemish as well as the most perfect tone. There was no getting
away from the fact that sometimes my singing was far from what I wished
it to be.

The strange thing about it all was that my singing did not seem to
depend upon the physical condition or feeling of my throat. Some days
when my throat felt at its very best the records would come back in a
way that I was ashamed of. It is a strange feeling to hear one's own
voice from the talking machine. It sounds quite differently from the
impression one gets while singing. I began to ponder, why were some of
my records poor and others good?

After deep thought for a very long period of time, I commenced to make
certain postulates which I believe I have since proved (to my own
satisfaction at least) to be reasonable and true. They not only
resulted in an improvement in my voice, but they enabled me to do at
command what I had previously been able to do only occasionally. They

    I. Tone creates its own support.

    II. Much of the time spent in elaborate breathing
    exercises (while excellent for the health and valuable
    to the singer, in a way) do not produce the
    results that are expected.

    III. The singer's first studies should be with his brain
    and ear, rather than through an attempt at
    muscular control of the breathing muscles.

    IV. Vocal resonance can be developed through a
    proper understanding of tone color (vocal timbre),
    so that uniformly excellent production of tones
    will result.


The first two postulates can be discussed as one. Tone creates its own
support. How does a bird learn to sing? How does the animal learn to
cry? How does the lion learn to roar? Or the donkey learn to bray? By
practicing breathing exercises? Most certainly not. I have known many,
many singers with splendid voices who have never heard of breathing
exercises. Go out into the Welsh mining districts and listen to the
voices. They learn to breathe by learning how to sing, and by singing.
These men have lungs that the average vocal student would give a fortune
to possess. By singing correctly they acquire all the lung control that
any vocal composition could demand.

As a matter of fact, one does not need such a huge amount of breath to
sing. The average singer uses entirely too much. A goose has lungs ten
times as large as a nightingale but that doesn't make the goose's song
lovely to listen to. I have known men with lungs big enough to work a
blast furnace who yet had little bits of voices, so small that they were
ridiculous. It would be better for most vocal students to emit the
breath for five seconds before attacking the tone. One of the reasons
for much vocal forcing is too much breath. Maybe I haven't thought about
these things! I have spent hours in silence making up my mind. It is my
firm conviction that the average person (entirely without instruction in
breathing of a special kind) has enough breath to sing any phrase one
might be called upon to sing. I think, without question, that teachers
and singers have all been working their heads off to develop strength in
the wrong direction. Mind you--this is not a sermon against breathing. I
believe in plenty of breathing exercises for the sake of one's health.


Singers study breathing as though they were trying to learn how to push
out the voice or pull it out by suction. By standing in a sensible
position with the chest high (but not forced up) the lung capacity of
the average individual is quite surprising. A good position can be
secured through the old Delsarte exercise which is as follows:

    I. Stand on the balls of your feet, heels just touching
    the floor.

    II. Hold your arms at your side in a relaxed condition.

    III. Move your arms forward until they form an
    angle of forty-five degrees with the body. Press
    the palms down until the chest is up comfortably.

    IV. Now let your arms drop back without letting
    your chest fall. Feel a sense of ease and freedom
    over the whole body. Breathe naturally and

In other words, to "poise" the breath, stand erect, at attention. Most
people when called to this "attention" posture stiffen themselves so
that they are in a position of resistance. When I say _attention_,--I
mean the position in which you have alertness but at the same time
complete freedom,--when you can freely smile, sigh, scowl and
sneer,--the attention that will permit expansion of the chest with every
change of mood. Then, open the mouth without inhaling. Let the breath
out for five seconds, close the mouth and inhale through the nostrils. I
keep the fact that I breathe into the lungs through the nostrils before
me all the time. Again open the mouth without allowing the air to pass
in. Practice this until a comfortable stretch is felt in the flesh of
the face, the top of the head, the back, the chest and the abdomen. If
you stretch violently you will not experience this feeling.


I fully realize that much of what I have said will not be in accord with
what is preached, practiced and taught by many vocal teachers and I
cannot attempt to reply to any critics. I merely know what sensations
and experiences I have had after a lifetime of practical work in a
profession which has brought me a fortune. Furthermore I know that
anything anyone might say on the subject of the human voice would be at
variance with the opinions of others. There is probably no subject in
human ken in which there is such a marked difference of opinion. I can
merely try to describe my own sensations and vocal experiences. In
trying to represent the course of the sensation I experience in
producing a good tone, I have employed the following illustration.
Imagine two pieces of whip cord. Tie the ends together. Place the knot
immediately under the upper lip directly beneath the center bone of the
nose, run the strings straight back for an inch, then up over the cheek
bones, then down around the uvula, thence down the large cords inside
the neck. At a point in the center between the shoulders the cords would
split in order to let one set go down the back and the other toward the
chest, meeting again under the arm-pits, thence down the short ribs,
thence down and joining in another knot slightly back of the pelvic
bone. Laugh, if you will, but this is actually the sensation I have
repeatedly felt in producing what the talking machine has shown to be a
good tone. Remember that there were plenty to laugh at Columbus,
Gallileo and even Darius Green of the Flying Machine.

Stand in "attention" as directed, with the body responsive and the mind
sensitive to physical impressions. When opening the mouth without taking
in air a slight stretch will be experienced along the whole track I have
described. The poise felt in this position is what permitted Bob
Fitzsimmons to strike a deadly blow with a two-inch stroke. It is the
responsive poise with which I sing both loud and soft tones.
Furthermore, I do not believe in an absolutely relaxed lower jaw as
though it had been broken. Who could sing with a broken jaw?--and a
broken jaw would represent ideal relaxation. The jaw should be slightly
stretched but never strained. I think that the word relaxation, as used
by most teachers and as understood by most students, is responsible for
more ruined voices than all other terms used in vocal teaching. I have
talked this matter over with numberless great singers who are constantly
before the public, and their very singing is the best contradiction of
this. When you hold your hand out freely before you what is it that
keeps it from falling at your side? That same condition controls the
jaw. Find it: it is not relaxation. If you would be a perfect singer
find the juggler who is balancing a feather. Imagine yourself poised on
the top of that feather, and sing without falling off.


We shall now seek to illustrate two contrasting qualities of tones,
between which lies that quality which I sought for so long. The desired
quality is not a compromise, but seems to be located half way between
two extremes, and may best be brought to the attention of the reader by
describing the extremes.

The first is a dark quality of tone. To get this, place the tips of the
second fingers on the sides of the voice box (Adam's apple) and make a
dark almost breathy sound, using "u" as in the word hum. Do this without
any signs of strain. Allow the sound to float up into the mouth and
nose. To many there will also be a sensation as though the sound were
also floating down into the lungs (into both lungs). Do not make any
conscious effort to force the sound or place it in any particular
location. The sound will do it of its own accord if you do not strain.
While the sound is being made, there will be a slight upward pulling of
the voice box, a slight tugging at the voice box. This, of course,
occurs automatically, and there should be no attempt to control it or
promote it. It is nature at work. The tongue, while making this sound,
should be limp, with the tip resting on the lower front teeth. All along
it is necessary to caution the singer not to strive to do artificial
things. Therefore do not poke or stick the tip of your tongue against
the front teeth. If your tongue is not strained it will rest there
naturally. Work at this exercise until you can fill the mouth and nose
(and also seemingly the chest) with a rich, smooth, well-controlled,
well-modulated dark sound and do it easily,--with slight effort. Do not
try to hold the sound in the throat.

The second sound we shall experiment with is the extreme antithesis of
the first sound. Its resonance is high and it is bright in every sense.
Place the fingers on the joints just in front and above holes in the
ears. Open the mouth without inhaling and make the sound of "e" as in
when. As the dark sound described before cannot be made too dark this
sound cannot be made too strident. It is the extreme from the rumble of
the drum to the piercing rasp of the file. I have called it the animal
sound, and in calling it strident, please do not infer that the nose, or
any part of the mouth or soft palate, should be pinched to make it
nasal, in the restricted sense of that term. When I sing this tone it is
accompanied with a sensation as though the tone were being reflected
downward from the voice box over to each side of the chest just in front
of the arm-pits and then downward into the abdomen. Here the great
danger arises that the unskilled student will try to produce this
sensation, whereas the fact of the matter is that the sensation is the
accompaniment of the properly produced tone and cannot be made
artificially. Don't work for the sensation, work for the tone that
produces such a sensation. At the same time the tone has a sensation of
upward reflection, as though it arose at the back of the voice box and
separated there, passed up behind the jaws to the points where your
fingers are resting, entering the mouth from above, as it were from a
point just between the hard and soft palates, and becoming one sound in
the mouth.

The uvula and part of the soft palate should be associated with the dark
sound. The hard palate and part of the soft palate should be associated
with the strident tone.


In making the strident sound the tongue should rest in the same position
as for the dark sound. The dark tone never changes and is the basic
sound which gives fullness, foundation, depth to the ultimate tone.
Without it all voices are thin and unsubstantial. The nearer the singer
gets to this the nearer he approaches the great vibrating base upon
which the world is founded.

Remember that the dark tone never changes. It is the background, the
canvas upon which the singer paints his infinite moods by means of
different vowels, emotions, and the tone colors which are derived in
numberless modifications from the strident tone. Another simile may
bring the subject nearer to the reader student. Imagine the dark tone
and all the sensations in different parts of the body as a kind of
atmosphere or gas which requires to be set on fire by the electric spark
of the strident tone. The dark tone is all necessary, but it is useless
unless it is properly electrified by the strident tone.


How shall we utilize what we have learned, so that the student may
convince himself that herein ties the truth which, properly understood
and sensibly applied, will lead to a means of improving his tone. If the
foregoing has been carefully read and understood, the following exercise
to get the tone which results from a combination of the dark and the
strident is simple.

    I. Stand erect as directed.

    II. Open the mouth _without inhaling_.

    III. Produce the dark tone ("u" as in hum).

    IV. Close the mouth and allow the air to pass in and
    out of the nostrils for a few seconds.

    V. Open the mouth without inhaling.

    VI. Make the strident sound ("e" as in when).

    VII. Close the mouth and let the air pass in and out
    of nostrils a few seconds.

    VIII. Open the mouth without inhaling.

    IX. Sing the vowel "Ah" as in _father_ in such a manner
    that it is a combination of the dark tone and
    the strident tone.

    X. Do this in such a way that all of the breathy
    disagreeable features of the dark tone disappear
    but its foundation features remain to give it fullness
    and roundness, while all of the disagreeable
    features of the strident tone disappear although
    its color-giving, light-giving, life-giving characteristics
    are retained to give the combination-tone
    richness and sweetness. A beautiful result
    is inevitable, if the principle is properly understood.
    I have tried this with many people who
    have sung but little before in their lives and who
    were not conscious of having interesting voices.
    Without a long course of vocal lessons or anything
    of the sort they have been able to produce
    in a short time--a very few minutes--a tone
    that would be admired by any critic.


It is to be assumed that the student will, in these experiments, take
the pitch in his voice which is most comfortable. Having mastered the
combination tone on "Ah" at any pitch, it will be easy to try other
pitches and other vowels. "Ah" is the natural vowel, but having secured
the "know how" through a correct production of "Ah" the same results may
be attained with any other vowel produced in a similar way. "E" as in
_see_ has of course more of the strident quality, the high, bright
quality and "OO" as in moon more of the dark, but even these extreme
tones may be so placed that they become enriched through the employment
of resonance of all those parts of the mouth, nose and body which may be
brought naturally to reinforce them.


I have never met a singer who was not looking for "ping" or what is
called brightness. Most voices are hopelessly dead, and therefore lack
sweetness. The voices are filled with night--black hollow gloomy night
or else they are as strident as the caterwauling of a Tom Cat. The happy
mean between the extremes is the area in which the singer's greatest
results are attained.

Think of your tone, always. The breath will then take care of itself. If
the tone has a tremulo, or sounds stuffy or sounds weak, you have not
apportioned the right amount of breath to it, but you are not going to
gain this information by thinking of the breath but by thinking of the


Now, that is all there is to it. I am not striving to found a method or
anything of the sort; but I have seen students waste years on what is
called "voice placing" and not come to anything like the same result
that will come after the accomplishment of this simple matter. Try it
out with your own voice. You will see in a short time what it will do.
Your own ears will convince you, to say nothing of the ears of your
friends. All I know is that after I discovered this, it was possible for
me to employ it and make records with so small a percentage of discard
that I have been surprised.

It remains for the intelligent teachers to apply such knowledge to a
systematic vocal course of exercises, studies and songs, which will help
the pupil to progress most rapidly. Don't think that I am pretending to
tell all that there is to vocal culture in an hour. It is a great and
important study upon which I have spent a lifetime. However, as I said
before, I have nothing to sell and I am only too happy to give this
information which has cost me so many hours of thought to crystallize.

Typographical errors corrected by the transcriber of this etext:







Words not changed: unforgetable, skilful, Beyreuth, marvelous

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Great Singers on the Art of Singing - Educational Conferences with Foremost Artists" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.