Galli Curci on her work

“A singer who would keep her voice in the best condition, should constantly and reasonably exercise it. I always do a half hour or so of exercises, vocalizes and scales every morning; these are never neglected. But I never do anything to strain the voice in any way.

We are told many fallacies by vocal teachers. One is that the diaphragm must be held firmly in order to give support to the tone. It seems to me this is a serious mistake. I keep the diaphragm relaxed. Thus tone production, in my case, is made at all times with ease; there is never any strain. You ask if it is not very fatiguing to sing against a large orchestra, as we have to, and with a temperamental conductor, like Marinuzzi, for instance. I do not find it so; there is a pure, clear tone, which by its quality, placement and ease of production, will carry farther than mere power ever can. It can be heard above a great orchestra, and it gets over.


“Young singers ask me what vowels to use in vocal practice. In my own study I use them all. Of course some are more valuable than others. The O is good, the E needs great care; the Ah is the most difficult of all. I am aware this is contrary to the general idea. But I maintain that the Ah is most difficult; for if you overdo it and the lips are too wide apart, the result is a white tone. And on the other hand, if the lips are nearer — or too near together, or are not managed rightly, stiffness or a throaty quality is apt to result; then the tone cannot ‘float.’ I have found the best way is to use the mixed vowels, one melting into the other. The tone can be started with each vowel in turn, and then mingled with the rest of the vowels. Do you know, the feathered songster I love best — the nightingale — uses the mixed vowels too. Ah, how much I have learned from him and from other birds also! Some of them have harsh tones — real quacks — because they open their bills too far, or in a special way. But the nightingale has such a lovely dark tone, a ‘covered tone,’ which goes to the heart. It has the most exquisite quality in the world. I have learned much from the birds, about what not to do and what to do.”

Brower, Harriette. Vocal mastery. 1920.

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