Mr. Werrenrath is the sort of singer who is generally on the wing, or if not exactly that, is so rushed with work, record making and rehearsing for occasional opera appearances, that it is very difficult to get a word with him. I was exceedingly fortunate however, one day recently, to catch a glimpse of him between a Metropolitan rehearsal on the one hand, and some concert business on the other. He entered the room where I waited, tall, vigorous, his fine face lighted by a rapid walk in the fresh air; he seemed the embodiment of mental vigor and alertness.
[Illustration: REINALD WERRENRATH]
I plunged at once into the subject I had come for, telling him I wanted to know how he had worked to bring about such results as were noted in his recent recital in Carnegie Hall; in what way he had studied, and what, in his opinion, were the most important factors, from an educational point of view, for the young singer to consider.
“That is entirely too difficult a question to be answered briefly, even in a half hour, or in an hour’s talk. There are too many angles;” his clear gray eyes looked at me frankly as he spoke. “Voice culture, voice mastery, what is it? It is having control of your instrument to such an extent that you put it out of your thought completely when you sing. The voice is your servant and must do your bidding. This control is arrived at through a variety of means, and can be considered from a thousand angles, any one of which would be interesting to follow up. I have been on the concert stage for nearly a score of years, and ought to know whereof I speak; yet I can say I have not learned it all even now, not by any means. Vocal technic is something on which you are always working, something which is never completed, something which is constantly improving with your mental growth and experience—if you are working along the right lines. People talk of finishing their vocal technic; how can that ever be done? You are always learning how to do better. If you don’t make the effect you expected to, in a certain place, when singing in public, you take thought of it afterward, consider what was the matter, why you couldn’t put it over—why it had no effect on the audience. Then you work on it, learn how to correct and improve it.
“As you may know, my father was a great singer; he was my first teacher. After I lost him I studied for several years with Dr. Carl Duft and later with Arthur Mees. In all this time I had learned a great deal about music from the intellectual and emotional sides, music in the abstract and so on. In fact, I thought I knew about all there was to be learned about the art of song; I settled back on my oars and let the matter go at that. At last, however, I awoke to see that I didn’t know it all yet;