Take a look at the adorable Luisa Tetrazzini,born June 29, 1871,as she
sings along with the Caruso "Ma parri" on that brief film clip. Would ANYONE
hire her today? You bet your life that she might be told that she could run a
nice Italian restaurant down on Mulberry Street, and of course those positively
OUTRAGEOUS breaks into chest voice are hilarious....like the ones in the Ballo
"Saper Vorreste," and the interpolated high note at the end...this is totally
How times have changed! What a shame in this,and in other cases, for
I would run a marathon to see and hear this fabulous lady, one of my top
all-time favorite singers! However,we must bow to the "times," and sadly, the
Tetrazzini persona could not exist these days, as well as what Chaliapin did in
his career,and we could name a number of others who would be laughed at if their
time machine brought them to our generation. On this day,I celebrate the
great Luisa, and treasure her phenomenal talent; note how she is one of the
sopranos whose voice,even on the old recordings, stands out as totally recognizable
in its uniqueness and brilliance.
Who else would never make it today?
I might as well make mention of two other important June 29 birthdays. Dear
Elerna Nikolaidi passed away last year. She was born in 1909, and was the first
mezzo I ever saw live in my very first opera (Aida) in 1951. It was a
luscious voice, and some of you might recall that amazing ethereal high D flat
pianissimo at the end of the Lady Macbeth Sleepwalking Scene on the old 10 inch
Columbia LP,as well as her gorgeous singing in the very few tapes we have ( a few
recitals, a live Orfeo, and the Trovatore of 1954.
Also on this date,Nelson Eddy (1901) was born,and still my favorite
version of "Phantom of the Opera," with those made-up operas using Chopin and
Tchaikowsky music still impress me, campy as they are. Nelson had a legitimate opera
career early on,and we have some dim-sounding scenes from his early Amfortas.
He was the one of the famous pair of Eddy and MacDonald who had a real voice,
but together they did make film history, even as we giggle somewhat at their
somewhat soapy approach to operetta. (She cracks me up every time she sings
anything above a middle C, but she was still marvelous!)
Happy Birthday to three wonderful artists,especially chubby little Luisa,
whom I wish I had seen and heard live. Charlie