Tuesday, January 06, 2009


From Jussi by Anna-Lisa Bjoerling and Andrew Farkas

As a child, Jussi Bjoerling missed a chance to hear Caruso sing in Pagliacci. He and his brother went to a cowboy movie instead.

Dorothy Caruso, Enrico’s widow, once said that Bjoerling was the only tenor fit to wear her late husband’s crown. Said Bjoerling upon learning this: “The greatest moment of my life.”

Caruso, a baritonal tenor, on rare occasions sang bass—when the scheduled basses could not continue.
When the soprano Karin Rydqvist-Altheim had a bone in her throat, Bjoerling took over—finished her aria and sang her part until intermission. (P. 124, Jussi.)

On Grace Moore:

“……she was known for her steamy love affairs with practically every tenor with whom she sang. She didn’t care the least whether they were married, nor did the tenors; this appetite for men made her known in music circles as ‘Crazy Moore.’"
But it was clear that Grace wasn’t interested in Jussi and she and Jussi’s wife became good friends.

Grace didn’t specialize exclusively in tenors. (Like Lawrence Tibbett, a famous womanizer, and George Thill.) Once Jussi’s wife and some other singers were talking in the lounge of the Met’s touring train, and Crazy Moore said, “Oh, Latin lovers are the best—“ At that very moment Ezio Pinza, who was equally renowned for his sexual escapades, stuck his head through the door….Without losing a beat, Grace continued in the same breath, “—except for that one! He just goes zip, zip, zip, and leaves you in the cold!”
“I’ve never seen someone beat a hastier retreat than Pinza. We’d heard that some time before Ezio had moved in with Grace, but after just one week she called off the arrangement and threw him out. Apparently Pinza didn’t live up to his reputation or Grace’s expectations.” (P. 164)