A Cadenza for Caruso

Posted by: CarusoManiac

A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/19/03 01:34 PM

I have just "discovered" you through the marvelous keyword search regarding "Caruso" at the Los Angeles Public Library. I am new to your work and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I intend to read the other opera mysteries including the short story collection. I hope you will write more opera mysteries at some point. I suggest using Lauritz Melchior as a subject. Like Caruso, he had a good sense of humour. Forgive me if this has been discussed before, but you have Caruso make a disparaging comment about Wagnerian opera. Did you do this with the knowledge that Caruso sang Lohengrin onstage (albeit before his Metropolitan Opera debut)? In light of this, should i take his comment as ironic, that a good Italian does not listen to Wagner anyway? (see p. 132). I hope I have not been nitpicking. I did enjoy your novel and plan to read the others soon, as I have a lot of downtown this week during theatre rehearsals for a production of Gianni Schicchi in which I am singing Rinuccio. Thank you for the opportunity to contact you. Incidentally, have you read "The Messenger" by Mayra Montero? It is a mystery/romance novel about Caruso in Havana in 1920. If so, would you care to comment on it?

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kevin
Posted by: CarusoManiac

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/19/03 01:36 PM

I meant "downtime" not "downtown". Sorry for the error.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/19/03 02:04 PM

Kevin, Barbara will be along to answer your question in a while, I'm sure. She lags a few hours behind the rest of us now that she's moved to the wrong side of the country.

Where is this production of Gianni Schicchi you're singing in?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/19/03 07:59 PM

As Lorna says, Kevin, the only definitive replies to your questions will be from Barbara herself. Meanwhile, some of the rest of us who hang around in these parts would give our eye-teeth to be capable of singing the part of Rinuccio in GS. Ah, "Firenze come un albero fiorito..."

If you're into musical quizzes, including a certain amount of opera, check out the "Music Music Music" forum on this board, and/or the Musical Jeopardy and MJ2 Archives (bottom right on this page).
Posted by: CarusoManiac

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/19/03 10:30 PM

Thanks for the replies, Lorna and Andrew. I am singing Gianni Schicchi in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California on April 26th and 27th, matinee performances, 2 pm. Yes, the aria is difficult (actually on the light side as I am spinto/dramatic tenor), but I am doing my best. If you are in the L. A. area I hope you can come to see it. The tickets are only $18. I will look at the Music Music Music section when I have some time. Thanks for all the info and timely responses.



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kevin
Posted by: Barbara

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/20/03 02:21 AM

Hello, Kevin -- I'm always happy to meet a new reader, and a singing one at that. Yes, Caruso sang Lohengrin two or three times, a career misstep he backed away from rather quickly. Something like Melchior's few appearances as Otello when he switched from baritone to tenor. But a Heldentenor Caruso was not.

I stopped after the third opera book simply because the research was so time-consuming; it was interfering with that little thing called earning a living. I've always thought I'd like to go back and write three more, but it doesn't look as if that's going to happen. As to Mayra Montero's The Messenger -- alas, I've never heard of it.

So your first Rinuccio is this coming weekend? Kevin, I hope you'll come back and tell us how it went.
Posted by: CarusoManiac

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/21/03 11:53 AM

Thank you Ms. Paul for replying so quickly. I am sorry that you will not be getting back to the opera mystery series. I realize that even books that are quick and interesting reads take a lot longer from idea to fruition. That is why children of all ages anxiously await the next Harry Potter book, as I anticipate reading the other books in your series. From what I have read, I agree with you about Caruso having aborted Lohengrin after having sung it during one run in Italian before he got to the Met (Beniamino Gigli had a similar experience with Lohengrin and also did not attempt other Wagner). However, I must respectfully disagree with you about Melchior. Shirlee Emmons, in her (perhaps definitive) authorized biography of Melchior, Tristanissimo! details at length how much Melchior was lauded for his Otellos by those who saw him (and heard his recordings of excerpts) and also how much Melchior wanted to sing Otello, especially at the Met. Giulio Gatti-Casazza and Edward Johnson followed the tradition of separation of German and Italian wings and refused to let him sing Otello over the course of his 24 year Met career (1926-1950), and then Bing basically fired/retired him. He was deprived of the opportunity, but did sing Otello at the San Francisco Opera; whereas, Caruso and Gigli abandoned Lohengrin. giovanni Martinelli had the same problem as Melchior: he had to go elswhere to sing Wagner.

After I have the change to read the Montero novel about Caruso, I would love to discuss it with you if you have the chance to read it. Thank you again for your kindness. I will let you all know about Schicchi in a week's time.

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kevin
Posted by: Barbara

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/22/03 11:10 PM

About Melchior -- well, that sounds pretty authoritative. Okay, I'll take your source's word for it. He wanted to, but couldn't.

About Montero -- I don't know, Kevin, I don't think I could buy Caruso as a romantic hero. I'd just as soon skip it.
Posted by: Kay

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/28/03 06:57 PM

ALL of us would like to see another Opera mystery, I think....and another Larch, too.

I THINK I've finally located and read ALL of Barbara's books, and a few short stories I didn't know were out there.

But, then, I'm also not happy that there will be no more Cadfael or Inspector Morse books - the former more so that the latter, because the author is deceased....Dexter's still alive but he killed off Morse.

Of course, that's happened before and the author had second thoughts

With Caruso and company, we already know when they died.

Now, Brab, just KEEP Marian and Holland breathing for us please!
Posted by: Kay

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/28/03 07:00 PM

I should have mentioned that Gerry Farrar lived longer than Caruso....and went Hollywood for a while....lots of plot possibilities there
Posted by: CarusoManiac

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/30/03 01:18 AM

true Kay, Farrar in Hollywood. Also, many other opera singers did the Hollywood (or film) thing, including Caruso, Gigli, Tauber, Martinelli, Melchior, Novotna, Grace Moore, Dorothy Kirsten, and most memorably, the distrastrous Carmen screentest of Rosa Ponselle. Lots of material there, but, as Ms. Paul says, those novels require a lot of research.

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kevin
Posted by: CarusoManiac

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/30/03 01:21 AM

Ms. Paul, just a quick report. The Gianni Schicchi went well. I am actually singing a portion of it for KUSC radio. I will let you know when it is on. You can get KUSC on RealONE Player over the internet, for free and listen to it over your computer speakers. If you want details about the Schicchi, let me know, and I will post them. Incidentally, I am singing Rodolfo (La Boheme) in the Czech Republic in July, for all those European Barbara Paul fans out there.

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kevin
Posted by: Barbara

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 04/30/03 03:57 PM

Wow, Rodolfo! Quite a coup, I'd say. How did that come about, if you don't mind a nosy question? And yes, I'd like to listen to the Schicchi. I've never used the radio broadcast part of RealAudio, but I can't think of a better way to start. Please post details when you know them.

As to opera singers doing the Hollywood thing -- we just had a category in our Musical Jeopardy game called "Opera Stars in the Movies". It's still on the board, in the Music forum. The title of the topic is Game 32: Jeopardy (Lorna), and it's the fourth post in the topic. See how many you know.

Kevin, call me Barbara, please. I'm "Ms Paul" only when I'm all dressed up.
Posted by: Jon

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 05/01/03 07:19 AM

It's true about Melchior; his recordings (in Italian, but even more so the ones in German) show him to have been one of the great Otellos, but he was too valuable to the Met in other capacities.

Welcome, Kevin (I'm late coming to the party here), and congratulations on your roles. I teach music (theory and lit) at U of Delaware, and sometimes write recording reviews for Opera News.

[This message has been edited by Jon (edited 05-02-2003).]
Posted by: CarusoManiac

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 05/06/03 09:29 PM

Barbara,

I recorded a portion of Gianni Schicchi last week. I don't know when it will be on KUSC. I am trying to find out. I can get audio and video of the full opera performance if you are interested.

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kevin
Posted by: CarusoManiac

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 05/06/03 09:33 PM

Jon,

Sorry for the delayed reply. I rather agree that he was valuable at the Met in the Wagner wing, but they did not let him do Fidelio either, and San Francisco Opera, which did not get Melchior much, let him do Otello. He did an unbelievable number of performances of his major Wagner roles.

On the other subject, small world. My former voice teacher, Will Crutchfield, contributes to Opera News and I used to attend Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Perhaps I can sing for you all at Opera North (or is it Opera Delaware?) someday!

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kevin
Posted by: Barbara

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 05/08/03 03:39 PM

Yes, Kevin, thank you -- I would indeed like to see/hear a tape. But you said you "can get" audio or video. How complicated/expensive/troublesome would it be to get a tape? I don't want to put you out.
Posted by: Jon

Re: A Cadenza for Caruso - 05/16/03 12:03 PM

Kevin, I know Will Crutchfield, in addition to sharing magazine space with him. He has achieved a lot more eminence than I have, of course, but we've written for a lot of the same magazines, and run into each other at conferences and similar gatherings. We first met at a book-launching party for a critic we both consider our original inspiration to write about voice and music.

But I haven't seen him in a number of years now.