Confessions of an Opera Singer

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I enjoyed reading about the journey of Kathleen Howard (July 27, 1884 - April 15, 1956) to become an accomplished opera singer in Europe before WW I. Opera singers have the most demanding trek of all to be able to support themselves successfully. She did, and went on to become very successful in the opera and in the movies as well. Her credentials were astounding. It appears that she not only learned a huge number of roles, almost all of them in two or more languages. Her stories are quaint glimpses of the life of an opera singer who just happened to be singing at a time before Europe lost its innocence. All aspiring young opera singers can benefit from reading this book. In some ways succeeding in opera has never changed.  

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Page 58 - American students in Europe. Amongst all the hundreds of vocal students I have known, I never met one case of flagrant misbehaviour. In general the girls live quietly and strive according to their lights, though there is not one in twenty with resolution enough to concentrate on the hard work necessary for a great career. The temptation is to fritter away both time and money on the things that don't matter.
Page 14 - Nine-tenths of me, at this age, were the normal, rational characteristics of a well-brought up, bright, good looking girl. But the last tenth was an unknown quantity, a great big powerful something which I vaguely felt, even then, to be the master of all the other tenths, a force which was capable of having its own way with the rest of me if I should ever give it a chance.
Page 57 - But the foreign student of singing does not ordinarily come into contact with these institutions. In the Paris vocal studios, as I know them, there is a dissipation instead of a conservation of energy. The students expect to win the crown without running the race, and money and influence play too great a role. They (vocal students, I mean) tend to exaggerate their little emotions into grandes passions, and hold the most disproportionate views of their own importance.
Page 28 - Friends of mine in the church, Frank Smith Jones and his wife, offered to finance me through my years of preparation and for as long afterwards as I might need their aid. These real friends were behind me for years, and I owe them more than I could ever repay. They made it possible for me to have my sister with me, for me, a rather delicate girl, an inestimable benefit.
Page 46 - They were dreadfully sincere, and very amusing to watch, but it seemed to me that there was a great deal of stage setting for very little play.
Page 44 - Her power of suggestion in those days was capable of conveying any shade of thought or delicate mood to the spectator.
Page 57 - French life. There is no lack of sincerity in the real French institutions, the Conservatoire, the schools of art, the Sorbonne — there are found concentration, competition, and keenness enough. But the foreign student...
Page 28 - No one would engage me without experience and no one would give me an opportunity to become experienced.
Page 24 - I have my foot on the first rung of the ladder and now I must take it off.

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