“Every singer knows how important is the management of the breath. I always hold the chest up, taking as long breaths as I can conveniently do. The power to hold the breath, and sing more and more tones with one breath, grows with careful, intelligent practice. There are no rules about the number of phrases you can sing with a single breath. A teacher will tell you; if you can sing two phrases with one breath, do so; if not, take breath between. It all rests with the singer.
“I learn words and music of a role at the same time, for one helps the other. When I have mastered a role, I know it absolutely, words, music and accompaniment. I can always play my accompaniments, for I understand the piano. I am always at work on repertoire, even at night. I don’t seem to need very much sleep, I think, and I often memorize during the night; that is such a good time to work, for all is so quiet and still. I lie awake thinking of the music, and in this way I learn it. Or, perhaps it learns itself. For when I retire the music is not yet mastered, not yet my own, but when morning comes I really know it.
“Of course I must know the words with great exactness, especially in songs. I shall do English songs in my coming song recital work, and the words and diction must be perfect, or people will criticize my English. I always write out the words of my roles, so as to be sure I understand them and have them correctly memorized.
KEEPING UP REPERTOIRE
“Most singers, I believe, need a couple of days—sometimes longer—in which to review a role. I never use the notes or score when going over a part in which I have appeared, for I know them absolutely, so there is no occasion to use the notes. Other singers appear frequently at rehearsal with their books, but I never take mine. My intimate knowledge of score, when I assisted my father in taking charge of operatic scores, is always a great help to me. I used to take charge of all the scores for him, and knew all the cuts, changes and just how they were to be used. The singers themselves often came to me for stage directions about their parts, knowing I had this experience.
“Yes, as you suggest, I could sing here in winter, then in South America in summer.” (Miss Muzio accomplished this recently, with distinguished success and had many thrilling adventures incident to travel.) “This would mean I would have no summer at all, for that season with them is colder than we have it here. No, I want my summer for rest and study. During the season at the Metropolitan I give up everything for my art. I refuse all society and the many invitations I receive to be guest of honor here and there. I remain quietly at home, steadfastly at work. My art means everything to me, and I must keep myself in the best condition possible, to be ready when the call comes to sing. One cannot do both, you know; art and society do not mix well. I have never disappointed an audience; it would be a great calamity to be obliged to do so.”