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Interpreters   By: (1880-1964)

Book cover

First Page:

INTERPRETERS

by

CARL VAN VECHTEN

BOOKS BY CARL VAN VECHTEN

INTERPRETERS

IN THE GARRET

THE MUSIC OF SPAIN

THE MERRY GO ROUND

MUSIC AND BAD MANNERS

THE TIGER IN THE HOUSE

MUSIC AFTER THE GREAT WAR

[Illustration: MARY GARDEN AS CHÉRUBIN (1905)]

Interpreters

Carl Van Vechten

A new edition, revised, with sixteen illustrations and an epilogue

[Illustration]

New York Alfred A Knopf

MCMXX

COPYRIGHT, 1917, 1920, BY ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

To the unforgettable interpreter of Ariel, Zelima, Louka, Wendla, and Columbine, Fania Marinoff, my wife

CONTENTS

Olive Fremstad 11

Geraldine Farrar 39

Mary Garden 59

Feodor Chaliapine 97

Mariette Mazarin 117

Yvette Guilbert 135

Waslav Nijinsky 149

Epilogue 177

ILLUSTRATIONS

Mary Garden as Chérubin Frontispiece

FACING PAGE

Olive Fremstad as Elsa 18

Olive Fremstad as Sieglinde 20

Olive Fremstad as Kundry 24

Geraldine Farrar as Elisabeth 40

Geraldine Farrar as Violetta 46

Geraldine Farrar as Louise in Julien 52

Mary Garden as Chrysis 72

Mary Garden as Mélisande 76

Mary Garden as Fanny Legrand 90

Feodor Chaliapine as Mefistofele 112

Mariette Mazarin as Elektra 128

Yvette Guilbert 140

Waslav Nijinsky in Debussy's Jeux 168

Geraldine Farrar as Zaza 190

Mary Garden as Cléopâtre 196

Olive Fremstad

"C'est que le Beau est la seule chose qui soit immortelle, et qu'aussi longtemps qu'il reste un vestige de sa manifestation matérielle, son immortalité subsiste. Le Beau est répandu partout, il s'étend même jusque sur la mort. Mais il ne rayonne nulle part avec autant d'intensité que dans l'individualité humaine; c'est là qu'il parle le plus à l'intelligence, et c'est pour cela que, pour ma part, je préférerai toujours une grande puissance musicale servie par une voix défectueuse, à une voix belle et bête, une voix dont la beauté n'est que matérielle. "

Ivan Turgeniev to Mme. Viardot.

The career of Olive Fremstad has entailed continuous struggle: a struggle in the beginning with poverty, a struggle with a refractory voice, and a struggle with her own overpowering and dominating temperament. Ambition has steered her course. After she had made a notable name for herself through her interpretations of contralto rôles, she determined to sing soprano parts, and did so, largely by an effort of will. She is always dissatisfied with her characterizations; she is always studying ways and means of improving them. It is not easy for her to mould a figure; it is, on the contrary, very difficult. One would suppose that her magnetism and force would carry her through an opera without any great amount of preparation. Such is not the case. There is no other singer before the public so little at her ease in any impromptu performance. Recently, when she returned to the New York stage with an itinerant opera company to sing in an ill rehearsed performance of Tosca , she all but lost her grip. She was not herself and she did not convince. New costumes, which hindered her movements, and a Scarpia with whom she was unfamiliar, were responsible in a measure for her failure to assume her customary authority.

If you have seen and heard Olive Fremstad in the scene of the spear in Götterdämmerung , you will find it difficult to believe that what I say is true, that work and not plenary inspiration is responsible for the effect. To be sure, the inspiration has its place in the final result. Once she is certain of her ground, words, music, tone colour, gesture, and action, she inflames the whole magnificently with her magnetism... Continue reading book >>




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