“No doubt you do much practice—or is that now necessary?”
Miss Case considered this thoughtfully.
“I never practice when I am tired, for then it does more harm than good. It is much better for the voice to rest and not use it at all, than to sing when not physically fit. One must be in good condition to make good tones; they will not be clear and perfect if one is not strong and in good health. I can really study, yet not sing at all. For the whole work is mental anyway.
“When I work on the interpretation of a song, in the quiet of my music room here, I try to sing it just as I would before an audience; I have not two ways of doing it, one way for a small room and another for a large one. If your tone placement is correct, and you are making the right effects, they will carry equally in a large space. At least this is my experience. But,” she added, smiling, “you may find other artists who would not agree to this, who would think quite differently. Each one must see things her own way; and singing is such an individual thing after all.
“The interpretation of a role, or song, is everything—of course. What are mere notes and signs compared to the thoughts expressed through them? Yet it is evident there are people who don’t agree to this, for one hears many singers who never seem to look deeper than the printed page. They stand up and go through their songs, but the audiences remain cold; they are not touched. The audiences are blamed for their apathy or indifference, but how can they be warmed when the singer does not kindle them into life?
“To me there is a wonderful bond of sympathy between the audience and myself. I feel the people, in a sense, belong to me—are part of my family. To them I pour out all my feelings—my whole soul. All the sorrow of the sad songs, all the joy of the gay ones, they share with me. In this spirit I come before them; they feel this, I am sure. It awakens a response at once, and this always inspires me. I put myself in a receptive mood; it has the desired effect; my interpretation becomes inspired through their sympathy and my desire to give out to them.
“I feel the greatest thing about a song is the words. They inspired the music, they were the cause of its being. I cannot imagine, when once words have been joined to music, how other words can be put to the same music, without destroying the whole idea. The words must be made plain to the audience. Every syllable should be intelligible, and understood by the listener. I feel diction is so absolutely essential. How can a singer expect the audience