“In regard to the treatment of the voice, each singer must work out his own salvation. A great teacher—one who understands his own voice and can sing as well as teach—may tell how he does things, may explain how he treats the voice, may demonstrate to the student his manner of executing a certain phrase or passage, or of interpreting a song. But when this is done he can do little more for the student, for each person has a different mentality and a different quality of voice—indeed there are as many qualities of voice as there are people. After general principles are thoroughly understood, a singer must work them out according to his own ability. This does not mean that he cannot be guided and helped by the greater experience of a master higher up, who can always criticize the result of what the student is trying to do. The voice is a hidden instrument, and eventually its fate must rest with its possessor.
“When I take up a new part I read the book very carefully to get a thorough idea of the story, the plot and the characters. Then comes the study of my own part, of which I memorize the words first of all. As soon as the words are committed I begin on the music. When these are both well in hand, work with the accompanist follows.
“I have many tenor roles in my repertoire and am working on others. If you ask for my favorite opera, or operas, I would answer, as most Italians would do, that I enjoy singing the music of Verdi more than that of any composer. I love his Aida perhaps best of all. Ernani is a beautiful opera, but maybe would be thought too old-fashioned for New York. I sing various roles in French as well as Italian—Faust, Sans Gene, and many more. In Italy we know Wagner very well—Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Tristan and Meistersinger,—but of course they are always sung in Italian.
“The Metropolitan is one of the greatest opera houses in the world—but it is only one. You have a wonderful country, yet most of its cities must do without opera. Do not forget that in Italy every city and town has its opera house and its season of opera, lasting ten weeks or more. Of course the works are not elaborately produced, the singers may not be so great or high-salaried, but the people are being educated to know and love the best opera music. Performances are given Wednesdays and Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays; the singers resting the days between. They need to as they are obliged to sing at every performance.
“Ah, if you would follow some such plan in America! It would create a great love for good music in the smaller cities and towns where people hear so little, and so seldom this kind of music. You do so much for music in every other style, but not for opera. Of course I must except the half dozen cities large enough and rich enough to be favored with a season of extended operatic performances; these are the real music centers of your country.