My greatest joy is to sing.
If I were carried off to a desert island, where there were none to hear me, and there left to my own resources, I would sing while there was life in my body.
I am like a bird which, sitting upon the branch of a tree, warbles from the sheer delight of living, warbles because it is part of its nature to give vent to the music within its heart.
There are those artists who delight in their performances at the theatre, but who slave through their practicing with the frown of a workman overwrought by toil. There are those artists who participate in the concerts or the opera, but who think mainly of the affairs of the box office.
I am thankful I am not of that brood.
I sing with the same joy at the piano in my home, with my few intimates at my side; I sing with the same spirit in summer weather, when I run up the mountainside or clamor by the brook in laughter and lift my voice to my sisters, the warblers on the trees; I sing with my whole heart to the last and the first member of my audience.
Now I would speak to the young singer. You have it in your power to spread much beauty, young singer. You have a mission in your life, to be the maker of gladness for humanity. You are untrue to your cause if you only pretend to be an artist – if you only sing as a business matter. If there came to me to-day a girl or a boy and said, “Mme Galli-Curci, will you tell me if I can become a singer?” do you know the first question I would ask? It is this: “What is the greatest thing in your life? What do you love to do more than anything else? Would you die if you were rendered dumb and voiceless? Would it be the prime tragedy of your existence to be told that you have not the voice?”
Ever since I was a little girl I have sung because I couldn’t resist the sound which arose from my gladdened heart. Of course, in the beginning I was studying the piano. I didn’t know I would be the prima donna ever. That didn’t bother me. You see the point I am making? It came to be very late that I would make the career of a singer – yet always I was doing that thing I loved. I was singing.
And still I am doing it.
People who know how busy I am say to me, “But, Mme Galli-Curci, you are always singing in your spare moments. Don’t you get tired of it?
Well, well! Look. I am singing, you might say, every night in the year, with my operas, my concerts, and so on. Now, with the season for the Chicago company, and then the season with the Metropolitan Opera Company (oh, I am so happy to come to Mr. Gatti-Casazza’s house and to my friends in New York City) and with my ever-important concerts and phonograph recordings – you would think I sing enough. So? Yet, I find myself on the train, in the street, in my automobile, in my boudoir – in my bath even I catch myself singing. Not practicing – no, no, no – but singing snatches of melody – maybe a song I know, maybe a cradle song of my babyhood, maybe a little ditty of old Rome, maybe nothing special. Yet there I am.