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From Johnson's Kids to Lemonade Opera: The American Classical Singer Comes of Age

Victoria Etnier Villamil.
Publisher Northeastern University Press  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.25 inches
ISBN 9781555536350
Pages/Publication Date 332/2004
Daedalus Item Code 22124
This item is not available.
American baritone Lawrence Tibbett created a sensation with his performance at the Metropolitan Opera in 1925; the overwhelmed audience stopped the performance of Falstaff to honor their fellow countryman for his exceptional talent in an art form that until then had been dominated by Europeans. Tibbett's now-legendary curtain call foreshadowed a new era for classically trained American singers, and here Victoria Etnier Villamil chronicles the period from 1935 to 1950 when these artists evolved from being unappreciated in their own country to standing without apology on stages here and abroad—aided in no small part by the technology of radio and the upheavals of World War II. Brimming with entertaining anecdotes and colorful figures—and offering an appendix with biographical sketches of 250 opera and radio singers and art song specialists—the book concludes with an examination of this crucial period's legacy for the American classical music scene in the 1950s and beyond.

"Edward Johnson was manager of the Metropolitan Opera from 1935 to 1950, during which time, influenced by the war's interruption of new transoceanic careers, it was his mission to cultivate American singers—his 'kids'—for the Met stable. Radio helped many singers get started, the Met's national auditions found singers in the hinterlands, and several touring companies bringing opera to smaller communities also nurtured singers. After the war, such endeavors as Lemonade Opera presented opera on a shoestring in New York, and the New York City Opera Company introduced American composers and singers. As she sweeps through the story of how the American classical singer was developed, Villamil, a soprano with a 20-year career, folds in influential Broadway and television productions and, paying especial attention to black singers, more than 250 biographical sketches. Yet the book's stories of people who flashed on the scene briefly or sang minor roles in the great company's productions are arguably what make it a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the golden age of American classical singers."—Booklist

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