“How did I learn to know these things? By constant study, by constant listening—for I have very keen ears—by learning the sensations produced in throat and larynx when I made tones that were correctly placed, were pleasing and at the same time made the effects I was seeking.
“Milan is my home city—beautiful Milano under the blue Italian skies, the bluest in the world. As a young girl, the daughter of well-to-do parents, I studied piano at the Royal Conservatory there, and also musical theory and counterpoint. I shall ever be grateful I started in this way, with a thorough musical foundation, for it has always been of great advantage to me in further study. When my father met with reverses, I made good use of my pianistic training by giving piano lessons and making a very fair income for a young girl.
“But I longed to sing! Is it not the birthright of every Italian to have a voice? I began to realize I had a voice which might be cultivated. I had always sung a little—every one does; song is the natural, spontaneous expression of our people. But I wished to do more—to express myself in song. So I began to teach myself by singing scales and vocalizes between my piano lessons. Meanwhile I studied all the books on singing I could lay hands on, and then tried to put the principles I learned in this way in practice. In trying to do this I had to find out everything for myself. And that is why I know them! I know exactly what I am about when I sing, I know what muscles are being used, and in what condition they ought to be; what parts of the anatomy are called into action and why. Nature has given me two great gifts, a voice and good health; for both these gifts I am deeply grateful. The first I have developed through arduous toil; the second I endeavor to preserve through careful living, regular hours and plenty of exercise in the fresh air. I have developed the voice and trained it in the way that seemed to me best for it. There are as many kinds of voices as there are persons; it seems to me each voice should be treated in the way best suited to its possessor. How can any other person tell you how that should be done?” And the singer gave me a bright look, and made a pretty deprecating gesture. “You yourself must have the intelligence to understand your own case and learn how to treat it.
“A singer who would keep her voice in the best condition, should constantly and reasonably exercise it. I always do a half hour or so of exercises, vocalizes and scales every morning; these are never neglected. But I never do anything to strain the voice in any way. We are told many fallacies by vocal teachers. One is that the diaphragm must be held firmly in order to give support to the tone. It seems to me this is a serious mistake. I keep the diaphragm relaxed. Thus tone production,