(=EDOUARDO DI GIOVANNI=)
The story of Edward Johnson’s musical development should prove an incentive, nay more, a beacon light along the path of consistent progress toward the goal of vocal and operatic achievement. Indeed as a tiny child he must have had the desire to become a singer. A friend speaks of musical proclivities which began to show themselves at an early age, and describes visits of the child to their home, where, in a little Lord Fauntleroy suit, he would stand up before them all and sing a whole recital of little songs, to the delight of all his relatives. The singer’s progress, from the musical child on and up to that of an operatic artist, has been rational and healthy, with nothing hectic or overwrought about it; a constant, gradual ascent of the mountain. And while an enviable vantage ground has been reached, such an artist must feel there are yet other heights to conquer. For even excellence, already achieved, requires constant effort to be held at high water mark. And the desire for greater perfection, which every true artist must feel, is a never-ending urge to continued struggle.
In a recent conversation with the tenor, Mr. Johnson spoke of early days, when he desired above everything else to become a musician and follow a musical career, though his family expected him to enter the business world. He came to New York to look the ground over, hoping there might be opportunity to continue his studies and make his way at the same time. He was fortunate enough to secure a church position, and sang subsequently in some of the best New York and Brooklyn churches. After this period he did much concert work, touring through the Middle West with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and singing in many Music Festivals throughout the country.
[Illustration: Edward Johnson]
But church and concert singing did not entirely satisfy; he longed to try his hand at opera,—in short to make an operatic career. He was well aware that he would not find this field nor gain the necessary experience in America; he must go to Italy, the land of song, to gain the required training and experience. He was also fully aware of the fact that there was plenty of hard work, and probably many disappointments before him, but he did not shrink from either.
“Fortunately, I have a fund of humor,” he said, and there was a twinkle in his eye as he spoke. “It is a saving grace, as you say; without it I believe I should have many times given up in sheer despair.”
Mr. Johnson went to Italy in 1909, beginning at once his studies with Lombardi, in Florence. In the ten years of his absence from his home land he has built up a reputation and made a career in the great operatic centers of Italy, Spain and South America. After his debut in Padua, he became leading tenor at La Scala, Milan, for five consecutive seasons. In Rome he spent four seasons at the Costanzi Theater, in the meantime making two visits to the Colon Theater, Buenos Aires, and filling engagements in Madrid, Bologna, Florence and Genoa.