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Madame Elsie Davios, tho visiting dramatio soprano, who is to be hoard in "The Messiah" at the Town Hall this evening, learned the beginnings of her art in Melbourne from Madame Gabriella Boema, a one-time prima donna, who appeared in the misty days of music in Australia with Lyator's Opera Company. As a girl student she showed suoh remarkable aptitude for tho vocal art, particularly in tlloao phases that demanded dramatic emphasis, tnat at tho ago of eighteen years she was far enough advanced to sing tho soprano musio in "Judas Maccabaeus" in Adelaide, on which occasion a successful career was foreshadowed ,ly discriminating critics. Spurred on by ambition, sho later on went to Italy to study vocalism seriously, "-nd in Milan she pursued her lifo's work under tho best masters, learning tho languago of music so thoroughly that she almost speaks_ it liko a native, and studying the prima donna roles in the dramatio operas of Verdi, Donizetti, Rossini, and other composers. "These aro tho operas one must study in Italy, as it is the .repertoire that is always in demand there," said Madame Davies. "Tho reason w twofold—they form the basis of tho best training for operatic work, and on account of their ago the playing rights are not so oxpensivo as they are for more modern opera. The practice in Milan is to work hard at the language' and the operas until your teacher thinks you are ready to faco fa audience, then through an agent cr impressario an engagement Is secured for you to appear in one of the roles you are best adapted for in one 'if the smaller towns. In my case the role was the name part in 'Norma.' and the town Ancona. Since then-I have sung either in opera or concert_ pretty well all over Europe, including Norway. Sweden, Finland, Russia, and, of course, the . United Kingdom. In Stockholm I snng under Honxapelmeister Hennlberg, who is not well known hero, "and under Landon Ronald in London.

"I invariably sing in Italian, simply because it is the real language pf song throughout Europe. Germany and France have their own singers, who sing in their own tongue, but Italian is really the accepted language of song. You never hear of an Italian singer using any other than his own 'anguage. That is because it is the best language to sing in—soft, flowing, free • from harshnesses, and. constructed on a foundation of open vowels. And to get the beauty out of the language one must know it thoroughly; one must live amongst Italians long enough to be able to talk freely with them, and understand their temperament and mental nttitude towards life and music, for the opera to them is an essential part* of their lives. They never tiro of the operas of their great composers. Even 'II Trovatore' is a perpetual favourite with Italians. When all else fails, put up 'II Trovatore.' It is to them what iEast Lynne' is to the British, drama. They know every note of the opera, and are keen'critics, so if you please them you may bo tolerably sure' that you're not so bad.

"The chief thing the average English student finds it necessary to cure is a certain blatancy or unmusical tone in the head register. Above a certain note in the scale the tendency is to closo up the throat, and produce hard tones. Some hold 'that it is inherent in the English voice, but I do not think so. It can bo overcome, and I believe that tho Italian method of tone emission—there is no such thing as production—is the only means of overcoming that undesirable tendency. I had no trouble on that score, as my voice has always been full aud free, but, if there are any of your young girls thinking of going to Italy to learn singing—after this awful war, of courso— that is something they must study diligently to overcome—and it can ho done. I know a number of singers have what they consider good head register, but they want to analyse frankly the quality of the tones, as compared with those emanating from the chest, and so be prepared to gain a uniform tone quality throughout the registers."

Madame Daviee has sung in such operas as "Aida," Boito's "Mephistopholes," Puccini's "La Tosca," and Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana," as well as the older "Norma," "Lucrezia Borgia," "Barber of Seville," etc. In Italy they do not sing oratorios, and take no pleasure in formal vocal concerts as we understand them.. Symphonic concerts, yes, but otherwise the concert is telggated to the free aud easy affairs of the cabarets. In England and Australia Madame Davies has sung in oratorio, but frankly confesses that her favourite music, is of a class that allows of* a freer and more extended display of the voice. "Peopla may think it sacrilege to Bay 60, but oratorio does not offer the range and gamut of expression that opera does. You may, perhaps, realise what I mean when I say that 'Santnzza' (in "Cavalleria Rusticana") is my favourite part." It is understood that the Wellington public will be given''the opportunity of hearing Madame Davies in operatic music on Saturday, next. At a concert that is being .arranged, she (with. Miss Mina Caldow and Mr. Ernest Drake) will contribute excerpts from, such operas ns Boito's "Mephistophelcs," the suicide aria from "La Giacondn." and to show her vocal agility, a livelv aria from "The Barber of Seville," with, perhaps, some Norwegian and Swedish songs.

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Bibliographic details

MADAME ELSIE DAVIES, Dominion, Volume 11, Issue 73, 19 December 1917

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MADAME ELSIE DAVIES Dominion, Volume 11, Issue 73, 19 December 1917

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