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SINGERS AND PLAYERS.

Madame Marcella Sembrich, the lyric soprano, who for 25 years has given infinite delight throughout this country, has bade farewell to the American operatic stage (says an American exchange). The programme at her final concert consisted of the second scene, first act, of "Don Pasquale," the second act of "The Barber of Seville," and the first act of "La Traviata." The house was packed, and the audience paid the artist a tribute beautiful enough to move hundreds to tears. The stage was a perfect bower of bouquets. Mr Caruso kissed her and gave her a loving cup. The Metropolitan Opera Company created her the first honorary member of the organisation, and presented her with another cup, so heavy that it required two pages to bring it on to t~he stage. Her fellow artists and the orchestra made her other gifts, while the ex-Mayor of New York, Mr SetS Low, handed her a pearl necklace, the gift of more than 1000 of her admirers.

The "Daily Chronicle," London, Bays that the wording of tlie Japanese National Anthem is singularly poetical. This is a rough transcription:— Until this grain of sand, Tossed by each wavelet's freak, Grow to a cloud-girt peak, Towering above the land; Until the dewy flake Beading this blossom's gold Swell to a mighty lake Age upon age untold, Joy to joy manifold Add for our Sovereign's sake.

Madame Cavalieri, the lamous prlma donna, is about to open a perfumery shop in Milan. In this respect ehe is only following in the footsteps of Miss Susan Strong, of laundry fame. A curious competition took place recently in Paris. It was not a contest between artists, but between violins. The instruments were played behind a screen by well-known musicians, and the result was that the prize was won by an instrument made by Bernaedel, a Stradivarius being second, and a Vuillaume third. Madame Clara Butt, who appeared to be in splendid health when she returned to England from Australia, was in February suffering from a severe affection of the nerves. She has been ordered by her medical adviser tn cancel all professional and other engagements for the next six weeks, and to undergo a systematic rest cure. Melba, in the February "Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine," points out the dangers resulting from students rushing .off to the Continent to study music without being adequately equipped with money or talent. "It is not easy to imagine a sadder lot than that of the young musical aspirants whose once ardent hopes are wrecked in an alien land. All their efforts have been directed towards an illusion and training on which they have spent their available time and money, instead of being a help, is an actual hindrance to their advance in any of the other walks in life. In this way valuable human energy is wasted, and individuals and families who might have been made "happy through its proper direction are reduced to humiliating, even degrading, conditions of dependence. The. parents and friends of any average aniate.nr of'ntusic should well weigh their words before encouraging any such performer to enter into n professional life, either at home or abroad." ?.Ir. Mark Hambourg performed Chopin's B flat minor Sonata in a way that is all his own. Placed in the crucible of Mr. Hambourg's fiory and somewhat unrestrained emotionalism, Chopin emerges as a very aggressive and militant gentleman, whose grief becomes at times almost savage in its intensity. The "Funeral March" in Mr. Hambourg's hands became a vivid tone picture, glowing with sharp contrasts, rather than the stately and dignified march to the grave, while the grief expressed was tearless nnd sullen, unrelieved by only passing gleams of consolation. There was no question about the execution, which was a fine display of virtuosity. — London "Standard." Herr Louie Blitz, who came to Australia with the Englisn Grand Opera Company about eight years ago, has settled in Sydney, aftor many years' residence in Auckland, Now Zealand. He is a solo double bass player of some note, I a unique acquirement with an instrumentalist, and at a smoke concert given by the Sydney Liedertafel at the Town Hall last week iie played a double bass solo, the first performance of its kind heard in Sydney for many years (says the "Sydney Daily Telegraph"). Some amusing stories concerning Richard Strauss's opera, "Elektra," are going the rounds of the Press. According to one of these, the composer hurrie4 from the back of the stalls at the Dresden Opera, where he had been listening to the rehearsal, and insisted that the band must play still louder, as he had been able occasionally to hear the singer above the orchestral hurly-burly. It ig said, too, that Grunfeld, the Berlin 'cellist, when asked for his opinion of Elektra," replied: "If it must be Richard, let it be Wagner; and if it must be Strauss, give mc "Johann."

When a singer," says Mr. Oscar Hammerstcin, "appears before half an audience or a very unresponsive audience, she at once concludes that her failure is due to a conspiracy between the director and the public,-quite forgetting the fact that her success means the director's success. She will believe that a green cat walked across the' stage and 'hoodooed' the performance, or that a window is open at the right when it ought to be closed on the left, or that the stage-carpenter hammered on purpose during her big solo, or that the conductor made faces at her, or that, by remarkable manipulation, the director caused it to rain before the performance and the audience, as a result, got wet, and in bad humour. She will rack her brain for every impossible reason for her failure, instead of trying to find out the real cause, which is herself. In all my experience, I have, never heard a star say frankly, 'I am bad in this part.'"

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SINGERS AND PLAYERS. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 80, 3 April 1909

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