“The singer finds the stage a great teacher. Before the footlights he has constant opportunity to try out this or that effect, to note which placement of the voice best fits the tones he wishes to produce. Then, too, he soon learns to feel whether he has made the impression he had hoped, whether he has the audience with him. If he cannot win the audience, he takes careful thought to see why. In order to win his hearers, to get his work across the footlights, there are certain things he must have, virtues he must possess. For instance,”—and the artist counted them off on his finger tips,—“he must have Accent, Diction, Characterization, and above all, Sincerity. No matter what other good qualities he may possess, he must be sincere before anything else. If he lack this the audience soon finds it out. There’s nothing that wins its way like the grace of sincerity. You see I give prominent place to accent and diction. Whatever fault the critics found with me, they have always conceded to me both these virtues.
“But time passes and soon the work of the night will begin. I trust that our informal conference may contain a few points of personal experience which may be helpful to those who are striving to enter the field of opera.” And with his pleasant smile and genial greeting, Mr. Johnson closed the conference.
At the close of a recital by Reinald Werrenrath, the listener feels he has something to carry away, a tangible impression, a real message. What is the impression—can it be defined? Perhaps it is more the complete effect as a whole that makes the deepest impression. The voice is always agreeable, the diction so clear and distinct that every syllable can be followed from the topmost corner of Carnegie Hall, so there is no need to print a program book for this singer. Different qualities of voice render the picture or mood more vivid, and all is accomplished with perfect ease, in itself a charm. People settle in their seats as if certain that a song recital by Werrenrath is sure to bring enjoyment and satisfaction.
And Mr. Werrenrath has proven, through season after season of concert giving in America, that he is filling his own special niche in the scheme of the country’s musical life; that he has his own message of the beautiful—the natural—in vocal art to deliver to the people all over the land, and he is accomplishing this with ever increasing ability and success.
To go through a season filled with concert tours, such as a popular singer has laid out for him, means so many weeks and months of strenuous toil and travel. There may be a few brief hours or days here and there, when he can be at home among family and friends; but soon he is off again—“on the road.”