Opera legend Licia Albanese died yesterday at the age of 105 (!). I had a chance to interview her once, and to watch her in a master class at Bay Shore Lyric Opera in Capitola, CA. Then in her nineties, she was a ball of energy, and her comments had a humor and rhythm that were so infectious I wrote them down and later turned them, verbatim, into a poem. Having missed the chance to see her in one of her thousands of performances of Madama Butterfly, I am left to say farewell with her own words. Brava!
Master Class, Licia Albanese, February 21, 1998Who’s going to drink this water?
Certainly not me
You’re not scared of the audience
You’re scared of me
Give life to the words
Every word needs a life
Make the last note long
That way, the people will know you’re finished
When you get to the top note, I will give you a pinch so you make it this time
That way you don’t get tense while you’re singing
This is opera
You have to give to them
so they come back
to hear you
Don’t rush – this is Puccini!
I didn’t believe you could sing this, because your voice is fortissimo
But it’s good
This is the way I want you all to sing