“American composers often spoil their chances of success by selecting uninteresting and uninspired stories, which either describe some doleful historic incident or illustrate some Indian legend, in which no one of to-day is interested, and which is so far removed from actual life that it becomes at once artificial, academic and preposterous. Puccini spends years searching for suitable librettos, as great composers have always done. When he finds a story that is worthy he turns it into an opera. But he will wait till he discovers the right kind of a plot. No wonder he has success. In writing modern music dramas, as all young Americans endeavor to do, they will never be successful unless they are careful to pick out really dramatic stories to set to music.”
On a certain occasion I had an opportunity to confer with this popular baritone, and learn more in regard to his experiences as impresario. This meeting was held in the little back office of the Metropolitan, a tiny spot, which should be—and doubtless is—dear to every member of the company. Those four walls, if they would speak, could tell many interesting stories of singers and musicians, famed in the world of art and letters, who daily pass through its doors, or sit chatting on its worn leather-covered benches, exchanging views on this performance or that, or on the desirability or difficulty of certain roles. Even while we were in earnest conference, Director Gatti-Casazza passed through the room, stopping long enough to say a pleasant word and offer a clasp of the hand. Mr. Guard, too, flitted by in haste, but had time to give a friendly greeting.
Mr. Scotti was in genial mood and spoke with enthusiasm of his activities with a favorite project—his own opera company. To the question as to whether he found young American singers in too great haste to come before the public, before they were sufficiently prepared, thus proving they were superficial in their studies, he replied:
“No, I do not find this to be the case. As a general rule, young American singers have a good foundation to build upon. They have good voices to start with; they are eager to learn and they study carefully. What they lack most—those who go in for opera I mean—is stage routine and a knowledge of acting. This, as I have said before, I try to give them. I do not give lessons in singing to these young aspirants, as I might in this way gain the enmity of vocal teachers; but I help the untried singers to act their parts. Of course all depends on the mentality—how long a process of training the singer needs. The coloratura requires more time to perfect this manner of singing than others need; but some are much quicker at it than others.