“The singer must be willing to admit limitations of voice and style and not attempt parts which do not come within the compass of her attainments. Neither is it wise to force the voice up or down when it seems a great effort to do so. We can all think of singers whose natural quality is mezzo—let us say—who try to force the voice up into a higher register. There is one artist of great dramatic gifts, who not content with the rich quality of her natural organ, tried to add several high notes to the upper portion. The result was disastrous. Again, some of our young singers who possess beautiful, sweet voices, should not force them to the utmost limit of power, simply to fill, or try to fill a great space. The life of the voice will be impaired by such injurious practice.
“What do I understand by vocal mastery? It is something very difficult to define. For a thing that is mastered must be really perfect. To master vocal art, the singer must have so developed his voice that it is under complete control; then he can do with it whatsoever he wishes. He must be able to produce all he desires of power, pianissimo, accent, shading, delicacy and variety of color. Who is equal to the task?”
Miss Farrar was silent a moment; then she said, answering her own question:
“I can think of but two people who honestly can be said to possess vocal mastery: they are Caruso and McCormack. Those who have only heard the latter do little Irish tunes, have no idea of what he is capable. I have heard him sing Mozart as no one else I know of can. These two artists have, through ceaseless application, won vocal mastery. It is something we are all striving for!”
Mr. James Huneker, in one of his series of articles entitled “With the Immortals,” in the New York World, thus, in his inimitable way characterizes Victor Maurel:
“I don’t suppose there is to be found in musical annals such diversity of aptitudes as that displayed by this French baritone. Is there an actor on any stage to-day who can portray both the grossness of Falstaff and the subtlety of Iago? Making allowance for the different art medium that the singing actor must work in, and despite the larger curves of operatic pose and gesture, Maurel kept astonishingly near to the characters he assumed. He was Shakespearian; his Falstaff was the most wonderful I ever saw.”
[Illustration: Victor Maurel]