Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Great Caruso - 1951

The Great Caruso (1951) was the highest moneymaking film of 1951 and broke all records for attendance at its prestigious Radio City Music Hall run.  An astonishingly popular success, the film cemented rising star Mario Lanza’s place in Hollywood, if only briefly.  But what did it mean for AnnBlyth’s career?  Though only twenty-two years old, she had been around Hollywood long enough to need a boost in her career, and ended up getting a makeover. 

It was the first screen musical Ann Blyth appeared in since her four-in-a-row B-musicals from Universal that started her movie career seven years earlier (the first two, Chip off the Old Block and The Merry Monahans covered here in our previous post)—a long dry spell for someone who wanted to do more musicals, and Caruso proved to be the launch pad for this next phase in her career.

Though she did sing a bit with Bing Crosby in Top o’ the Morning (1949), which we covered here, she was more or less a tagalong in Bing’s picture, and it took MGM’s lavish musical treatment of the life of opera great Enrico Caruso (with Ann performing only one song, as it turned out), to make both studio and public see her in a new light.

Hedda Hopper remarked in her syndicated column that when Ann…

…was cast opposite Mario Lanza in The Great Caruso…People looked at each other and said, “I didn’t know she had a voice.”

As Ann aptly, if perhaps ruefully, summed up the actress' perennial dilemma for a 1987 article in the Daily Breeze (Torrance, California): "People's memories are quite short.  You always have to keep reminding them of what you can do."

Ann set out to do just that when she started the ball rolling herself on this new musical phase in her career with an appearance at the 1949 Academy Awards®, held March 23, 1950 at the RKO Pantages Theatre, where she sang one of the nominated songs, “My Foolish Heart.”  Her voice is large, impressive, with a dramatic edge to her range as if hinting she can do more than interpret pop songs.  It is still not as full as it would sound in her coming screen musicals, but much more developed than those teen musicals for Universal.  Ann continued to study with teachers, and often a singer’s range and timbre will not reach its full potential until only after many years of training and physical maturity of the vocal chords.  You can hear her performance here, from a clip on the Internet Archive website, now in public domain.  Host Paul Douglas introduces her toward the end of this clip at 25:10 and the song lasts a little over three minutes.  Scroll down to 22nd Academy Awards Part 1.

One of the benefits of being loaned to MGM, and eventually signing with that studio, was her association with Maestro Leon Cepparo, who Ann Blyth credits for her vocal development as noted in an Opera News article by Brian Kellow from 2002.

He was wonderful—the only teacher that I studied with who was able to get across to me good technique.  It was like turning on a huge light bulb that others hadn’t been able to find.  He taught me how to cross over that bridge, that can be so treacherous, into the higher register.  And once you accomplish that, the sky can be the limit.  It’s a wonderful feeling.

In this fascinating article interviewing, and comparing, MGM’s 1950s sopranos—Ann Blyth, Kathryn Grayson, and Jane Powell—author Mr. Kellow remarks:

Of all the soprano stars on the lot at the time, Blyth may have had the most naturally beautiful instrument.  She phrased neatly and had solid breath support and control…

The financial and popular success of The Great Caruso was Ann’s gateway to doing more musicals, particularly of performing in operettas.  The two movies we’ll discuss over the next couple weeks: The Student Prince and Rose Marie are both operettas which gave her a chance to really display the rich beauty of her trained voice.  Both the music and vocal challenges are more complicated in operetta than they are in standard popular musicals.  Actors with even a passing ability to sing have often starred in popular musicals, on Broadway and on the screen—consider Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons in Guysand Dolls (1955).  But an operetta requires more than just the ability to carry a tune, and it is in this venue where great singers can really unleash the full capacity of their talent.  (This is not to say that a pop singer can’t perform in operetta: Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith gave it a try in the 1980 Broadway revival (and 1983 film) of ThePirates of Penzance.)  Most popular musical scores are not as demanding, a walk on the beach, if you will, where an operetta is more like a hike uphill.  The notes achieved at the summit are glorious.

Obviously, operettas do not enjoy the same popularity among the general public today, or even an appreciation of the music being more difficult.  It may even seem incongruous that MGM would produce The Student Prince and Rose Marie (both 1954) in an era when the screen musical was on the wane, but then, it wasn’t so many years before that the team of Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald were top box office attractions, principally in operetta.

Of these years, in his Opera News article, Brian Kellow puts it simply that the studios “…were catering to an audience with tastes of tremendous depth and breadth.”

That opera and operetta had a place in the canon of popular music in the mid-twentieth century is something about which fans today can only look back on with wistful envy.  If we want further proof, we can, with a smile, take, for example, all those Chuck Jones-directed animated cartoons for Warner Bros.  What’sOpera Doc?(1957), starring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd as a tragic Wagnerian couple, is not merely parody; it’s an all-out appreciation of, and tribute to, operatic music.

Along with a general public—even among those who were not fans of opera and operetta, still were familiar enough to recognize arias even if they didn’t know the names of them or from which operas they came—there were movie producers like Joe Pasternak, who had a huge influence on Deanna Durbin’s career, and Jesse Lasky, both championing this form of music.  These two men together produced The Great Caruso.

And then something happened in the mid-1950s.  Despite the enormous success of Caruso, enough to attempt to produce follow-up films with Ann Blyth and Mario Lanza together and separately, the bottom fell out of musicals, but utterly killed operettas.  This was due partly to the greater expense of producing musicals than dramas or comedies.  Partly, it was due to the changing of the guard at MGM.  Dore Schary took the helm as production chief from Louis B. Mayer in 1951, and he disliked the genre. 

Interestingly, Mr. Kellow surmises in his article that, while Hollywood was giving less attention to operettas, producing The Student Prince and Rose Marie at MGM might have been a nod to the flourishing summer theatre of the day where this form of musical was familiar and still very popular.

Its popularity in film was most certainly on the wane in the late 1950s and 1960s when American pop culture fell under the influence of a new driving force: a younger audience, teenagers among them, with enough disposable income to steer the course of music and movies to their own tastes.

In the 1970s, when the first nostalgia wave crashed upon a fatigued America only too ready for something old rather than new, it was said to have been brought on by That’sEntertainment (1974), a compilation of MGM musical numbers that enjoyed terrific box office success.  Not everything old was new again, however.  Have a look at the glorious roster of MGM stars whose clips appear in this film.  Nowhere among them will you find Ann Blyth.

Despite the huge success of The Great Caruso and the revenue it brought to the studio in the nervous days of the early 1950s, dealing with deregulation of its distribution practices, the ending of the studio contract system, and competition from television, neither Caruso, nor her other musicals, were included in this salute to great MGM musicals.  We have a wee bit of Mario Lanza with Kathryn Grayson in The Toast of New Orleans, and of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald singing the obligatory “Indian Love Call.”  We have some time devoted to singers who couldn’t sing, like Elizabeth Taylor, who was dubbed; June Allyson, whose range was very limited; and Joan Crawford, for no explicable reason.

The omission of Ann Blyth is especially regrettable when one considers that in the days before TCM, before VHS and DVD, That’s Entertainment kept alive the joyful memory of screen musicals for adoring fans and introduced them to a new generation—and here they were omitting one of its best singers and most radiant performers.

Paradoxically, while MGM seemed to forget her contribution, Ann Blyth was busy those years performing musicals on stage around the country, continuing and flourishing in her art rather than eulogizing it from the sidelines, and singing as well as ever.  In a few weeks, we’ll talk about her stage performances.

On the heels of the success of That’s Entertainment came That’sEntertainment Part II (1976), with another tribute to Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, and a parade of great stars, including segments on MGM non-musicals, but no Ann Blyth.

That’s EntertainmentPart III rolled around in 1994, more Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald, some really fabulous sequences on 1950s musicals, including a thorough examination of Joan Crawford’s bizarre “Two-Faced Woman” number from Torch Song (1953), even bits devoted to the Marx Brothers, and Abbott and Costello.  No Ann Blyth.

Today, her four MGM musicals (including Kismet, which we discussed here) have all been shown on TCM, are currently released on DVD, and one wonders if they will generate a new fan base just by virtue of our having access to them again.  They will certainly have our attention here for the next month.

So we begin with TheGreat Caruso.

The movie, typical with most filmed biographies of the day, fictionalizes areas of Enrico Caruso’s life, most glaringly omitting his mistress and the two sons he had with her.  But the film serves up a beautiful spectrum of arias or parts of arias that give us a kind of college survey course on opera.  It’s a gorgeous spectacle, with generous offerings of some of the best, and probably most familiar, scores—from Aida, Tosca, Rigoletto, La Boheme, Pagliacci, Lucia de Lammermoor, and Marta, among others.

According to a note on the IMDb website, Bess Flowers can be seen in the front row attending the Lucia de Lammermoor performance.  My, but she does get around.

We are treated to sweeping shots of opulent opera house interiors, the stage seen from different angles, from the orchestra, from the pit, from the loge and the last balcony, from backstage and the wings, and in the dressing rooms.  We are thoroughly immersed in the world of opera and blanketed by the gorgeous voice of Maria Lanza.

I don’t know if an interest in Italian tenor Enrico Caruso was revived by this film—regrettably, the movie only makes a brief visual reference to his making recordings of his voice.  Caruso was among the first, along with tenor John McCormack, to dabble in the new technology of phonograph records at the turn of the twentieth century.  By making his voice available, cheaply, to the masses, he became in his day—what we call in our day—a “rock star.” 

It is perhaps inevitable, due to Mario Lanza’s own magnificent voice, that the movie is really more Lanza than Caruso.  Ann Blyth plays the young American socialite he marries.  Though her stern father, played by Carl Benton Reid, is a patron of the arts and supporter of the Metropolitan Opera, Ann’s character is not from the opera world.  

She does not get to perform these glorious arias, but was given a single popular tune to sing, “The Most Wonderful Night of the Year,” which she sings while waltzing with Mario Lanza after they are married to tell him that he is going to be a father.  It became the hit song of the movie, released here as you see as a single by Ann Blyth.  It was such a hit that Lanza also recorded it.

This was only Mr. Lanza’s third movie.  He came on the Hollywood scene like a meteor, and this film cemented his popularity.  He had a curious screen presence.  He was not really a great actor, somewhat stiff in some scenes and overplaying others, but he had remarkable magnetism.  He really captures our attention every time he’s on screen.  It was easy for him to overpower others in scenes with him, whether consciously or unconsciously, but Ann held her own in their scenes together, even in her stillness she draws our attention—mainly, I think, because she emotionally supports Mario Lanza.

Recalling the oft-repeated quote about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, to the effect that he gave her class and she gave him sex appeal, I would suggest that Ann Blyth made Lanza appear romantic, far beyond what the script was able to accomplish about a short, older, slightly rotund opera singer played by a short, young, slightly rotund opera singer, and beyond what Lanza was able to accomplish himself, despite his charm and handsome looks and his strong screen personality.  It is her adoration that makes him a romantic hero.

They enjoyed working together, though some in Hollywood raised eyebrows in amused anticipation at how Lanza, known for his mercurial temperament and vulgar language, would work beside the quietly ladylike Ann Blyth.

Hedda Hopper commented in her column:

She seems to have a calming effect on even the most volatile people.  When she was set to play opposite Mario Lanza in The Great Caruso, I thought, “Well, at last Annie’s let herself in for some fireworks…”  To the contrary, Mario, who likes to think of himself as “The Tiger,” came out looking like a lamb.  Not long ago he told me: “That girl is wonderful.  I have great respect for her.”

According to the Opera News article quoting Ann, producer Joe Pasternak took Lanza aside and…

…had a nice chat about his behavior—minding his words and so forth.

In Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy, author Armando Cesari notes:

He admired and respected the young actress and was always careful with his language in her presence.  Blyth reciprocated the admiration.  She was genuinely fond of Lanza and had enjoyed working with him on The Great Caruso.

In January 2005, she was a special guest, along with her friend, Jane Powell, at a tribute to Mario Lanza at New York City’s Lincoln Center.

Responding to Eddie Muller’s question on stage at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in 2006 about how exciting it was to work on Caruso, Ann Blyth replied:

It was, because that was one movie that I believe everyone—certainly at MGM—they were pretty sure that was going to be a big movie and, of course, it turned out to be, mainly  because of Mario Lanza, his exquisite voice, and just the beautiful look of the movie.  Again, that's another one most people remember fondly and that makes me happy.

The reviews for the film were split between critics knowledgeable about opera who felt the storyline was lightweight, and the critics and public who were swept away by the music.  This from The Age (Melbourne, Australia) finds Lanza has…

No resonance, little expression…

Nor is the story commendable, although it is no worse than the usual bowdlerized film biography.  It has been written for the simple, romantic taste…

Ann Blyth, who looks more impossibly radiant than ever in Technicolor, sings something called “The Loveliest Night of the Year,” which is really our old friend “Over the Waves” thinly disguised with new lyrics…the film is still enjoyable entertainment.

This was Ann’s second color motion picture; the first was Red Canyon (1949), which we’ll cover down the road.

Ann also enjoyed a life-long friendship with Dorothy Kirsten, who appeared in the movie as Louse Heggar, friend to Ann’s father, and co-star of Enrico Caruso in several of the opera segments.  An interpreter not only of opera, but of pop and show tunes, she enjoyed a long career with the Metropolitan Opera and in concert and television appearances. Miss Kirsten’s vibrant soprano soars in duets with Mr. Lanza and in a fine solo moment.

“To this day,” Ann told radio host Casper Citron in her interview at WOR in 1992, “Dorothy Kirsten is a very special person to me.”

Ann, of course, as we mentioned in our intro post to this series here, was introduced to the world of opera while still a young child when she performed children’s roles in La Boheme and Carmen in New York City for the San Carlo Opera Company.  It was tempting for her, after her four-musical run for MGM to consider further training to work towards performing in opera herself, as noted in a syndicated column by Erskine Johnson in 1955.  Her coach, Maestro Cepparo…

…has urged her to work toward opera as a goal…

“He’s always at me to do things that I never thought I was capable of achieving vocally,” says Ann, “If I can ever build my voice sufficiently, perhaps opera will be possible.  But you can’t do it overnight.  You have to build your voice.  You have to train so that you can sing for four hours at a stretch.  To me opera is the epitome of everything.  I’d love to sing Puccini.”

By this time, however, her young family was growing, she had other professional goals as well, and she realized that, as she told Eddie Muller in 2006:

Opera is an entirely different animal, and you have to devote your entire life to that, to the exclusion, really, of just about everything else.

A few favorite scenes in TheGreat Caruso:

Mario Lanza’s soft, sweet rendition of "Torna a Surriento" at the piano when he first meets Ann, while she, a schoolgirl, sits in her sailor dress with a ramrod straight posture, her rapture at his voice expressed only with the rise and fall of her quickened breathing.  They are not sitting together, and we don’t know who to watch more.

All of Lanza’s operatic performances, but especially the final one in Marta, where he sings the version of “The Last Rose of Summer” a lovely tune made heartbreaking as he, now ill, fights for breath, fights for his voice, leaning on Dorothy Kirsten for vocal support, and physical support.  It is splendid acting; we feel his struggle and we fear for him.

The scene where, holding his baby daughter, Lanza listens to a new recording of his voice in a room filled with his colleagues, staff, and Ann Blyth, who at first watch the record spin, riveted to the phonograph.  Then the camera draws us to Lanza, who is engrossed in the baby, and she is fascinated by him.  It is as if they are the only two people in the room.  It’s a charming scene, where the baby lifts her fingers in the air, wanting to touch his face, but hesitant, as if Mario Lanza is some kind of miracle that might disappear if she grabbed his nose.

The camera pulls back to the rest of the room, and we see now they are watching Mario and the baby, still listening to the record playing, but absorbed now in the sight of father and daughter, and no one more deeply touched by the scene than Ann Blyth.

Her waltz with Mario as she sings “The Loveliest Night of the Year” in her lovely lyric soprano.  Her warm, rich voice tenderly carries and supports the lilting tune, rather than embroiders it  (as is the case when singing an aria); she would be more challenged by her songs in the coming The Student Prince and RoseMarie, but we can tell her voice has grown stronger and matured from the Universal B-musicals, and see the promise of a major musical star.

The scene where shortly after the baby is born, and Mario places the infant in her mother’s arms, and together Mario and Ann sing “live” and a cappella, a verse from the novelty number “Under the Bamboo Tree.”  They sing softly to calm the baby, to entertain themselves, to be silly, and their voices meld beautifully.

Though we may lump The  Great Caruso as one of those typical Hollywood biographies that were not “realistic,” and despite whatever faults the film possesses, it has a noble legacy: many opera singers admittedly trace their interest and discovery of opera to Maria Lanza in this movie.  Two great tenors of our time: Placido Domingo and José Carreras, are among them.

Come back next week when Ann Blyth hits the high notes in the operetta The Student Prince.  It was supposed to be a re-match with Mario Lanza—but only his voice showed up.

Until then, have a look at the scene where Ann sings “The Loveliest Night of the Year.”

And a little something from the great Caruso:

The Age (Melbourne, Australia), August 25, 1951.

Cesari, Armando.  Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy, (Baskerville Publishers, 2004) p. 164.

Daily Breeze (Torrance, California), February 24, 1987, "Ann Blyth Has Always Stayed in Tune With Life" by Sandra Kresiwirth, p. C1.

Hartford Courant, June 6, 1954, syndicated column by Hedda Hopper, p. 10.

Internet Archive website.

Muller, Eddie – interview with Ann Blyth on stage at Castro Theatre, San Francisco, transcript posted on The Evening Class blog.

Opera News, August 2002, article by Brian Kellow, pp. 38-44.

Southeast Missourian (Cape Girardeau, Missouri) August 8, 1955, syndicated column by Erskine Johnson.


Karen at Shows and Satin nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award.  My sincere thanks to her.  To accept the award, one must list seven interesting facts about oneself, and nominate 15 other bloggers.  While I’m honored to be named, I’m going to sit out participating.  I’m just not an interesting person, but thanks, Karen.
THANK the following folks whose aid in gathering material for this series has been invaluable:  EBH; Kevin Deany of Kevin's Movie Corner; Gerry Szymski of Westmont Movie Classics, Westmont, Illinois; and Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

UPDATE:  This series on Ann Blyth is now a book - ANN BLYTH: ACTRESS. SINGER. STAR. -

The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on, and on Amazon and iTunes.

Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon, CreateSpace, and my Etsy shop: LynchTwinsPublishing.

 "Lynch’s book is organized and well-written – and has plenty of amusing observations – but when it comes to describing Blyth’s movies, Lynch’s writing sparkles." - Ruth Kerr, Silver Screenings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a poignant and thoroughly-researched mosaic of memories of a fine, upstanding human being who also happens to be a legendary entertainer." - Deborah Thomas, Java's Journey

"One of the great strengths of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is that Lynch not only gives an excellent overview of Blyth's career -- she offers detailed analyses of each of Blyth's roles -- but she puts them in the context of the larger issues of the day."- Amanda Garrett, Old Hollywood Films

"Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment." - Laura Grieve, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings''

"Jacqueline T. Lynch’s Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is an extremely well researched undertaking that is a must for all Blyth fans." - Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood

Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. 
by Jacqueline T. Lynch

The first book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. Multitalented and remarkably versatile, Blyth began on radio as a child, appeared on Broadway at the age of twelve in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, and enjoyed a long and diverse career in films, theatre, television, and concerts. A sensitive dramatic actress, the youngest at the time to be nominated for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945), she also displayed a gift for comedy, and was especially endeared to fans for her expressive and exquisite lyric soprano, which was showcased in many film and stage musicals. Still a popular guest at film festivals, lovely Ms. Blyth remains a treasure of the Hollywood's golden age.


Caftan Woman said...

I love the way you write about music and the art of singing.

I enjoyed the "That's Entertainment" films when they were released, but noted the odd omission of Ann Blyth (I was crazy about "Rose Marie" and "Kismet"). Eventully I was happy they didn't include her because I felt they gave even Nelson and Jeanette short shrift. They seemed to present the lovely operetta as an after thought or with an attitude of "here it is folks, but don't worry - it will be over soon.

Opera is my happy place. My daughter worries that one day she'll catch me sitting in the dark listening to old albums once too often and they'll have to cart me away.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks, CW. Oh, I'm so glad you're an opera fan. Me too. On my bucket list is to attend a performance at the Met someday. In the meantime, I'll sit in the dark listening to my albums, like you. Maybe we can share a padded cell and sing "Die Fledermaus" when the guards aren't looking.

I have to confess, that though I've always enjoyed the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT series, even if, like you, I puzzled at their giving short shrift to operetta, it wasn't until I started working on this series that I realized the glaring absence of Ann Blyth. I just figured she was in there somewhere and it went by too quick for me to notice. I'm now appalled at my lack of observation. Now I look at those old clips of MGM stars gathering for the hoopla surrounding the release of THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT and the absence of Ann Blyth among them saddens me.

Caftan Woman said...

Be proud to share that padded cell. Bet we'd be running the joint inside of a week.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

You're on.

By the way, ever since your funny Ian Wolfe crack last week, he keeps popping up on my TV. I now realize the full truth of your remark that an industry was built around him.

grandoldmovies said...

My own favorite moment in The Great Caruso is when he's singing on stage and receives the news (from a prop man holding a sign in the wings) that his daughter has been born. As the news spreads through the theater, you can see everyone becoming caught up with it, the music's rhythm and beauty emphasizing Caruso's joy. Supposedly it's based on a true event.

Just a lovely post. Your thoughts on how audiences of the day knew opera and operatic standards, that this was a shared knowledge throughout the culture, makes me think how atomized and fragmented our culture has now become. And it's odd that Ann wasn't featured in any of the That's Entertainment films (though they would include a non-singer like Peter Lawford as host). I don't think they even included anything from Kismet, in which she sings so beautifully.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks, GOM. Yes, that's a great scene, where the news spreads "It's a girl!" all through the theater.

Atomized and fragmented, both good terms on the state of our culture, at least in the US. I rather think it will only become more so. Perhaps because we just have so many choices now in media, news, and entertainment that we will continue to go off in our separate directions.

It is funny the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT series left out even KISMET. They included other Howard Keel scenes.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

It's funny how pieces of music get so closely tied to our first memories of them. "Torna a Surriento" always reminds me of the children's book The Cricket in Times Square. And I can't hear Caruso's name without thinking of the scene in The Homecoming where Josephine Hutchinson put a record on the phonograph and says proudly, "It's Mr. Enrico Caruso," when his voice drifts out—and then the record promptly gets stuck.

(And I've been wishing for years that sailor blouses like that would come back in style.)

The tune to "The Loveliest Night of the Year" seems so familiar to me for some reason. "Over the Waves" doesn't ring a bell, but I know I've heard it.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Elisabeth, I've heard others wish the sailor blouse would come back in style too.

I'm with you on the memory of THE HOMECOMING, but your remark on THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE makes me smile. I remember that animated cartoon from childhood, but don't know if I ever read the book.

"The Loveliest Night of the Year," the melody I mean, is often heard in movies and cartoons during circus scenes. Think of somebody walking a tightrope.

Kevin Deany said...

This was the most popular film of 1951? My, how times have changed. I watched this over the weekend and really enjoyed it. I've always thought the script was everything, but when it comes to musical bios, just give me the music and I'm happy. And there's a lot of music, here thrillingly sung.

I'm afraid I never noticed the Ann Blyth omissions in the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT movies but you are right. It is shameful she was omitted. Despite three full-length movies, there are still plenty of gems to be found in M-G-M musicals that never made it to any of the three films. It would be nice if they had devoted some additional footage to some of the great singers in M-G-M musicals. There's a treasure trove to be found in THE GREAT CARUSO.

For several seasons I attended performances at the Lyric Opera of Chicago but had to cancel due to financial considerations. But I really enjoyed it and miss it.

Once I had a work assignment that involved working with the great bass singer Samuel Ramey. I worked with him for parts of two days and he could not have been nicer or more considerate to me.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Kevin, I so envy you your experience attending the Lyric Opera of Chicago -- the closest I ever came was driving by it, excitedly snapping bad photos.

And Samuel Ramey, how wonderful. I've only had the pleasure of seeing him on TV, or on public radio broadcasts. He's a marvelous singer. You have some great memories. Thanks for sharing them.

I agree that musical bios are really more fun for the music. The storylines are inevitably clunky.

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