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Subject: Re: Other Singers Who Smoked
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 7 Sep 2017 12:01:11 -0400

text/plain (86 lines)

"Back then" it was almost strange to find someone who didn't smoke. And
since tobacco was long touted as healthy for the lungs and body, there was
little reason for people--even singers--not to. 

It's one of the ways the world has changed. It took me a while to get used
to leaving a bar without my clothes smelling of smoke. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion of opera and related issues
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of G. Paul Padillo
Sent: Thursday, September 7, 2017 10:31 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Other Singers Who Smoked

There's photo evidence of many singers smoking, including Callas and Sills
too. I've been called out that Sills never smoked, but she admits as much in
her second autobiography (though it was post singing career, not during it).
In the Zeffirelli documentary on Callas, De Hidalgo smokes through her
entire interview, using her cigarettes to make punctuation marks, stabbing
the air with dots and commas.

Singers are probably the smallest group of performing artists who smoke.
There are high percentages of smokers who work in dance, acting, orchestral
and pit musicians, conductors.  As a kid I remember my Mom getting upset
upon seeing Kenneth Schermerhorn, literally seconds after conducting a
Chicago Symphony concert, lighting up and puffing away.

A season or so ago, I was smoking outside the Empire and had a brief but
pleasant conversation with another smoker, who goes by the name Rene Pape. I
mentioned my being a big fan and how I was looking forward to his Gurnemanz
the next evening.  It's one of the most beautiful roles ever written and
that night Pape gave one of the finest performances of it I will ever ever
hear.  I can still hear his elegant, moving phrasing in "Nun freut sich alle
Kreatur" in my head and get the gooseflesh.  

Back when I joined this list (21 years ago!) it was populated by folk I
became friends with who've left of their own volition, or passed on.  One
sorely missed was Tom Savage, who regularly used to crack me up. I remember
an email exchange we had, joking back and forth how eventually everything
becomes a Broadway musical . . . I quipped how I was working on "Salesman!"
when Tom brought up the classic Simpson's episode with Marge starring in "O

To the topic at hand, I recall Tom mentioning how he'd gone to a post
performance nightcap at O'Neals following a "Queen of Spades" and ran into
Olga Borodina, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Elisabeth Soederstrom, all smoking at
the bar.

Then there were:  Jess Thomas,Jan Peerce, Norman Triegle, Justino Diaz,
James Morris, Regine Crespin, Mario Sereni, Siegfried Jerusalem, Giuseppe Di
Stefano, Franco Corelli, Benjamino Gigli, Monserrat Caballe, Ettore
Bastianini, Victoria de los Angeles, all smokers.  Jon Vickers reformed,
stating in several interviews he'd quit in the 70's.  Robert Merrill proudly
smoked Camels.

I've known a number of singers who didn't smoke cigarettes, but were happy
hittin' da ganja.  Speaking of which, I recall some singers at City Opera
complaining about Ashley Putnam smoking weed.

Not a singer, but as a teenager seeing the now famous promo photo of the
young Martha Argerich smoking was the hottest non-nude photo of anyone I'd
ever seen and put me on a lifelong crush for that woman.  A televised
interview with Argerich and Charles Dutoit, shows her striking a match and
lighting up before continuing in French so natural sounding you'd never know
she was from "down Argentine way."

We all know smoking is not good for us, but "back then" it was nowhere near
the scourge it's now become and those who imbibed weren't treated like
social pariahs.  

Ah, the glories of yesteryear.


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