Friday, May 15, 2009

Musical NOTES

From a book by Harold Schonberg, former chief music critic of the NYTimes...

Birgit Nilsson:
In filling out her tax form, she listed Rudolf Bing, the Met’s director, as a dependent
At a darkly lit von Karajan Wagner rehearsal, she put on a miner’s cap with a light on it
How to sing Isolde: She told a young singer, get a comfortable pair of shoes

Lilian Nordica was American, her real name was Lilly Norton—married 3 times, once to a balloonist who attempted a channel crossing—never heard of again—she once told the Boston Symphony that it played like a band from Kalamazoo—

Lili Lehmann loudly said to Nordica, in 1894, when Nordica went over to pay her respects—Nordica had just “triumphed” at Bayreuth—No, my dear, I am not taking any pupils this season

Fremsted and Gadski lost no love—Fremsted once came off stage with blood on her arm—Brunhilde’s breastplate had cut her—she insisted on taking her curtain call without dressing the wound—

Mrs Hannah Stanhope—woman Caruso allegedly pinched in 1906—in the monkey house of the Central Park Zoo—he spent time in jail!

Feb. 26, 1938, Martinelli collapsed on stage after eating crab meat--singing Celeste Aida—in 1897, Armand Castelmary died in the arms of Jan de Reszke during a performance of Martha

Emma Eames was said to be a cold singer—but she once slapped contralto katharine senger-battaque during a performance of lohengrin—I did not resent it, she told the press—I was really surprised and delighted to see ANY evidence of emotion in Madame Eames—

Only 2 singers had their own dressing room—number 15---flagstad and farrar—

Farrar said to Toscanini, I am the star here
Madame, there are only stars in heaven, Toscanini famously said--
The public pays to see my face not your back, she replied

Caruso saw Schumann-heink in a restaurant attacking a huge steak—are you having that steak alone, tina?
Ach nein, mit soup und spaghetti und potatoes und vegetables…

Recording Butterfly, singing a duet with Caruso, who had imbibed a bottle of wine, Ferrar supposedly sang ‘he had a highball’ instead of ‘si per la vita’—
Schonberg listened to the recording—yes, she had clearly sung, he had a highball—
Caruso is supposed to have sung, I had two—
But Schonberg says he didn’t

Johann Quantz, a contemporary musician, says Farinelli, the castrato, could hold a note for a full minute—Carlo Broschi 1705-82 was Farinelli’s real name— Antonio Paoli, a 20th century tenor, could hold a note for 25 seconds, which is impressive enough--

“In over 50 years of exposure to great singing I never heard a female voice that equaled Ponselle’s.”--Schonberg