“On the other hand, the girl with a voice, who has never worked at the piano, is greatly handicapped from the start, when she begins her vocal studies. As she knows nothing of the piano, everything has to be played for her,—she can never be independent of the accompanist; she loses half the pleasure of knowing and doing things herself.”
Asked if she used full or half voice for practice, Mme. Easton replied:
“I do not, as a rule, use full voice when at work. But this admission, if followed, might prove injurious to the young singer. In the earlier stages of study, one should use full voice, for half voice might result in very faulty tone production. The advanced singer, who has passed the experimental stage can do many things the novice may not attempt, and this is one of them.
“Here again my particular method of work can hardly be of value to others, as I memorize with great rapidity. It is no effort for me; I seem to be able to visualize the whole part. Music has always been very easy to remember and with sufficient concentration I can soon make the words my own. I always concentrate deeply on what I am doing. Lately I was asked to prepare a leading role in one of the season’s new operas, to replace a singer at short notice, should this be necessary. I did so and accomplished the task in four days. Mr. Caruso laughingly remarked I must have a camera in my head. I know my own parts, both voice and accompaniment. In learning a song, I commit both voice and words at the same time.
“I feel the meaning of the music, the tragedy or comedy, the sadness or gayety of it each time I perform it, but not, as a rule, to the extent of being entirely worn out with emotion. It depends, however, on the occasion. If you are singing in a foreign language, which the audience does not understand, you make every effort to ‘put it over,’ to make them see what you are trying to tell them. You strive to make the song intelligible in some way. You may add facial expression and gesture, more than you would otherwise do. All this is more wearing because of the effort involved.
“This brings us to another point, the study of languages. The Italian sings nearly all his roles in his own tongue, with a few learned in French. With the Frenchman, it is the same: he sings in his own tongue and learns some parts in Italian. But we poor Americans are forced to learn our parts in all three languages. This, of itself, greatly adds to our difficulties. We complain that the American sings his own language so carelessly. An Italian, singing his own language for his own people, may not be any more careful than we are, but he will make English, if he attempts it, more intelligible than we do, because he takes extra care to do so. The duty is laid upon Americans to study other languages, if they expect to sing. I know how often this study is neglected by the student. It is another phase of that haste to make one’s way which is characteristic of the young student and singer.