Four singing stars at the start of the last century -
Nellie Melba, Enrico Caruso, Luisa Tetrazzini and Charles Santley -
caught here on the 1912 Musical Celebrities series of
Wills's Cigarette Cards
and happily caught for ever by the gramophone.
Here is soprano Luisa Tetrazzini on Christmas Eve, 1910, in San Francisco in
front of the Chronicle Building. She is singing without amplification to an
audience of at least 100,000 and some said 250,000 people. It was reported
that even those round the corners could hear her.
Excerpt of Tetrazzini in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, recorded 25 May 1909 : Egli è luce 36secs
And here is the great Irish tenor John McCormack, on 28th April, 1918, singing,
again without amplification, to the packed Hippodrome Theatre in New York. He
sing there something like ten times a season.
What do these pictures tell us? Well, two things, for sure. One is that
these singers' voices appealed to the "man in the street". But the other is - and it's praise to their singing technique -
how well-produced their voices must have been!
These are the kind of topics we investigate regularly at Singers Legacy :
"When crossing over was the norm, and simplicity was desirable"   "Focus
versus Volume: Have we got it all wrong?"
Excerpt of McCormack in Verdi's La Traviata, recorded 10 Mar 1910 : Qui presso a lei 37secs