“How could I stay away from America for such a length of time? you ask. For various reasons. I was getting what I had come to Italy for, experience and reputation. I was comfortable and happy in my work. I loved the beautiful country, and the life suited me. The people were kind. I had my own home in Florence, which is still there and to which I can return when my season is over here. Best of all I had the opportunity of creating all the new tenor roles in the recent operas of Puccini, Montemezzi, Pizzetti and Gratico. I also created the role of Parsifal in Italian, and the first season at La Scala, it was performed twenty-seven times.”
“With your permission let us go a little into detail in regard to the needs of the young singer and his method of study, so that he may acquire vocal mastery. What do you consider the most important and necessary subject for the young singer, or any one who wishes to enter the profession, to consider?”
“A musical education,” was the prompt, unhesitating reply. “So many think if they have a good natural voice and take singing lessons, that is quite sufficient; they will soon become singers. But a singer should also be a musician. He should learn the piano by all means and have some knowledge of theory and harmony. These subjects will be of the greatest benefit in developing his musicianship; indeed he cannot well get on without them. A beautiful voice with little musical education, is not of as much value to its possessor as one not so beautiful, which has been well trained and is coupled with solid musical attainments.
“If one goes in for a musical career, one should realize at the start, something of what it means, what is involved, and what must go with it. Singing itself is only a part, perhaps even the smaller part, of one’s equipment. If opera be the goal, there are languages, acting, make up, impersonation, interpretation, how to walk, how to carry oneself, all to be added to the piano and harmony we have already spoken of. The art of the singer is a profession—yes, and a business too. You prepare yourself to fill a public demand; you must prove yourself worthy, you must come up to the standard, or there will not be a demand for what you have to offer. And it is right this should be so. We should be willing to look the situation fairly in the eye, divesting it of all those rose colored dreams and fancies; then we should get right down to work.
“If you get right down to the bottom, there are in reality not so many singing rules to learn. You sing on the five vowels, and when you can do them loudly, softly, and with mezzo voce, you have a foundation upon which to build vocal mastery. And yet some people study eight, ten years without really laying the foundation. Why should it take the singer such a long time to master the material of his equipment? A lawyer or doctor, after leaving college, devotes three or four years only to preparing himself for his profession, receives his diploma, then sets up in business. It ought not to be so much more difficult to learn to sing than to learn these other professions.