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Please Let Me Know

Please Let Me Know




Please Let Me Know if something is missing. I’ve used YouTube extensively for the musical examples on this site, but clips can be often be pulled or deleted from YouTube without notice or explanation. I try to keep up to date, but since I have over a hundred such clips in use, I’m bound to miss a few. So if you find a link in one of my presentations that no longer works, please use Comments to let me know about it so I can replace it. Thanks, Don

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Once more into the breach, dear friends . . .

Once more into the breach, dear friends . . .




My Voices of Broadway classes at The Academy for Lifelong Learning were liked well enough that I was asked to do a follow-up, so beginning in October I’m gonna present – wait for it MORE Voices of Broadway. How original. And I’m happy to report that the class is now full. Sold out. But If you live in or near Denver, Colorado or if you plan to be in the area – or if you know someone who might be interested in attending – I’d love to have you join in the fun and stop by either during the mid-point

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“The Greek” – Maria Callas

“The Greek” – Maria Callas




Cecilia Sofia Anna Maria Kalogeropoulou (1923 – 1977) was born in New York City of Greek immigrant parents. Shortly after she was born, her father shortened and Americanized the family name to Callas. As Maria Callas, she would become the most famous opera singer of her time and one of the most influential of all time. I described Caruso as a revolutionary in that he changed the way future tenors sang. After him, the public expected a different kind of singing. For tenors, there was B.C. and A.C. – before Caruso and After Caruso. For modern sopranos, there is B.C.

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Enrico Caruso – “the” Tenor

Enrico Caruso –  “the” Tenor




Enrico Caruso (1873 – 1921) is, nearly a hundred years after his death, the standard by which all past, present, and future operatic tenors are judged. Recording standards in his time were primitive and we may never know exactly what his voice really sounded like, but people who have never seen or heard an opera, recognize and honor his name. All of his recordings remain available and continue to sell. He is, quite simply, the most famous opera singer who ever lived. In 1902 a man named Fred Gaisberg who represented Emile Berliner’s Gramophone & Typewriter Co. was traveling through

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Adelina Patti – The Queen of Song

Adelina Patti – The Queen of Song




Adelina Patti (1843 – 1919) She was known as the Queen of Song and was the most famous singer of the nineteenth century. Patti once demanded one hundred thousand dollars for twenty concerts in a three-month American tour. The dumbfounded manager remarked, “Why, that is more than the salary of the President of the United States!” Patti replied, “Well, ask the President to sing.” Other than to note that primitive recording methods of the early 1900’s cannot be trusted as accurate representations of what a singer sounded like, I normally do not apologize for an artist’s recordings, but in Patti’s

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Jussi Bjorling – “The Supreme Singing of a Shy Man.”

Jussi Bjorling – “The Supreme Singing of a Shy Man.”




So this 18 year old kid walks into a recording studio and records two songs in Swedish with piano accompaniment. If all goes well he’ll return in a week or so to cut four sides with full orchestral accompaniment. He’s a bit insecure since this is his first solo recording and his voice does not yet have the power or depth it would gain later, but his vocal beauty and an elegance of style were superior to almost any other tenor then or now. Jussi Bjorling wasn’t an amateur. He had been singing professionally with his father and his brothers

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The Incomparable Ponselle

The Incomparable Ponselle




Beverly Sills, who was a close friend, wrote: “ .. In my entire life I have never, ever, at any time heard a voice like that. Not ever . . . a heartbreaking, passionate, and beautiful voice the likes of which I know I will never hear again. Maria Callas said, “I think we all know that Ponselle was the greatest of us all.” In a letter to Rosa Ponselle(1897 – 1981) conductor Leonard Bernstien wrote, “Yours is the first operatic voice I ever heard, at age eight, on an old Columbia 78, singing ‘Suicido’. Even through all the scratchiness

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Marian Anderson – “Once in a hundred years.”

Marian Anderson – “Once in a hundred years.”




Strictly speaking, Marian Anderson (1897 – 1993) was a concert singer, not an opera singer, but her voice was so exceptional and her one appearance in an opera made her so important and so influential, both as a vocalist and as a force in racial progress for America, that it is literally impossible not to include her in any list of the greatest singers of the 20th century. Marian Anderson’s symbolism, in fact, can sometimes overshadow the fact that she had a rich contralto voice of exceptional range and power combined with great beauty and emotional depth. The great conductor

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Some Neglected Ladies – Victoria de Los Angeles, Shirley Verrett, Eileen Farrell, Helen Traubel & Dorothy Kirsten

Some Neglected Ladies – Victoria de Los Angeles, Shirley Verrett,  Eileen Farrell, Helen Traubel & Dorothy Kirsten




Sportswriter Grantland Rice once wrote, “But fame is fleeting as the wind and glory fades away”, and certainly that is as true of opera as of baseball. A few artists had talents so outstanding that their legends lived on after their death or retirement, aided and enhanced by the writings and memories of others. A very few, Maria Callas comes to mind, worked in their lifetimes to create their own legends and succeeded. The rest are remembered by those who saw and heard them, and by occasionally by newer generations through their recordings, but as time passes they become mostly

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A Very Brief Candle – Florence Quartararo

A Very Brief Candle – Florence Quartararo




My candle burns at both it’s ends It will not last the night But ah my foes, and oh my friends It gives a lovely light. My candle burns at both it’s ends It will not last the night But ah my foes, and oh my friends It gives a lovely light. Florence Quartararo (1922 – 1994) had probably the briefest career of any major opera singer. And she was a major opera singer. Of all the singers who could have or should have gone on to greater things, her story of is the one that breaks my heart. She

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Elegance and Style – Carlo Bergonza, Nicolai Gedda, and Alfredo Kraus

Elegance and Style – Carlo Bergonza, Nicolai Gedda, and Alfredo Kraus




Opera goers of the 1950’s and 1960’s had an almost unbelievable richness of choice in tenors, probably not equaled by any generation in history. Franco Corelli was probably the most viscerally exciting tenor since Enrico Caruso. Mario Del Monaco’s huge if somewhat crude singing thrilled audiences as did the fiery Guiseppe de Stefano, whose frequent pairings with Maria Callas on stage and in recordings, made him a major star. The American Richard Tucker dominated the Metropolitan Opera, and overshadowing them all was the incomparable voice of Jussi Bjorling. With Bjorling’s early death in 1960 at the age of 49, no

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A Lost Identity – Elvira de Hidalgo

A Lost Identity – Elvira de Hidalgo




Elvira de Hidalgo made her operatic debut at the age of 16. She was not one of the great singers of her time, but she was very popular and quite successful. She sang for 25 years with artists such as Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli and Feodor Chaliapin. In fact, in the 1930’s, Chaliapin chose her to sing with him on a joint tour of the U.S. and Canada. She married and had a happy family life, then retired at the age of 39 to become a respected singing teacher and coach, living to the age of 89. So how must

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Click on “Older Entries” at the bottom of the page.




Just scroll to the bottom and Click on “Older Entries” to see the rest of the Posts on this site. Don

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Almost Callas – Elena Suliotis

Almost Callas – Elena Suliotis




Elena Suliotis She was Greek, she had a big, dramatic voice, and lots of fire and temperament, so it was probably natural that many people considered her the next Maria Callas. But she wasn’t. She had a powerful voice with a wide range, actually somewhat richer voice in tone than Callas, and she was exceptionally good looking. But she lacked Callas’ talent for attracting the finest musicians of her time to train, tutor, and conduct her as well as Callas’ iron sense of discipline and her superior musicianship. In the end, she all but destroyed what had been an extraordinary

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The Two Elisabeths – Rethberg and Schwarzkopf.

The Two Elisabeths – Rethberg and Schwarzkopf.




No, not the English Queens, but two German Queens of Opera. Elisabeth Rethberg was 24 years old in 1918 when Germany lost World War I and her country was plunged into an economic and political depression. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was only three years old then, but by the time she was 24, Germany was in the control of Hitler and on its way to losing the Second World War. Rethberg left Germany for America before Hitler came to power, Schwarzkopf lived through that time in Germany, and the economic and political disintegration of her country that followed, and she made choices

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The First A&R Man – Fred Gaisberg

The First A&R Man – Fred Gaisberg




Wait a minute! Fred Gaisberg? He’s not a singer, what’s he doing on this site? Well, he made the first recordings of Enrico Caruso, the only recordings of Adelina Patti and Allesandro Moreschi, the last active Castrato, he recorded Nellie Melba and Feodor Chaliapin and discovered John McCormack, surely he has a place here. Oh, yes. Attention Beatles fans: Fred Gaisberg constructed the first building in England designed specifically for recording, in London, St. John’s Wood at #3 Abbey Road. Abbey Road Studios. Gaisberg was the first record producer, although he never used the term. In fact for most of

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The Belles of Chicago – Edith Mason & Mary Garden

The Belles of Chicago – Edith Mason & Mary Garden




Although both ladies sang with great success in major opera houses throughout Europe and the United States, it was in Chicago that they had the greatest impact. Mary Garden sang with the Chicago Opera for 21 seasons. Edith Mason became almost as identified with the Chicago Opera as Garden and sang there for 20 seasons. Edith Marjory Barnes (1892 – 1973) was born in St. Louis, Missouri (Mason was her second husband’s name.) After her father’s death, Edith’s mother, who spoke nine languages, moved the family to Oskaloosa, Iowa where she became a professor at Iowa State University. Edith had

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The Idol of Vienna – Alfred Piccaver

The Idol of Vienna – Alfred Piccaver




In 1954, on his 70th birthday, Alfred Piccaver received a letter from the Burgermeister of the city of Vienna which ended, “Please accept the greetings of the city of your triumphs. Let them be an expression of what your name still means to us, and of the emotions which are stirred by the memories of your unforgettable performances.” Four years later, when Alfred Piccaver died in Vienna, he was given a state funeral. The center of Vienna was closed to traffic while the Vienna Philharmonic played Beethoven’s funeral march from the Eroica Symphony outside the Vienna Opera House. But Alfred