Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Jack Schmidt, better known by his stage name of "Whispering" Jack Smith, was an especially interesting vocalist who virtually invented "crooning" in the early 1920s, with his laidback and quiet delivery that often really did devolve into just a whisper. This mellow style of singing inspired countless crooners that followed in his footsteps, like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Country singers like Tex Williams and "Whispering" Bill Anderson were also surely inspired by the trail Smith blazed.
Smith's vocal technique that revolutionized pop-jazz singing was not entirely deliberate. His style of singing was a result of inhaling poison gas while fighting in World War I. It damaged his vocal cords and lungs, and kept him from belting out songs with any power.
Listen: Whispering Jack Smith - Leven Thirty Saturday Night
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
View: Anita Berber montage
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Don't you love Anna Moffo? Who wouldn't?
One of the most affectingly beautiful opera singers of the 20th century, Moffo turned down a chance at a Hollywood career in order to focus on serious Opera. She was an Italian-American born and raised in Pennsylvania, and became an overnight success in Italy after a television broadcast of Madama Butterfly with Moffo in the role of Cio-Cio-San.
According to Wikipedia:
She hosted a weekly program on Italian television "The Anna Moffo Show" from 1960 until 1973 and was voted one of the ten most beautiful women in Italy. She appeared in film versions of La traviata (1968) and Lucia di Lammermoor (1971), both directed by her husband Mario Lanfranchi, as well as a few non-operatic films.
In the early 1970s, she began appearing on German television and in operetta films such as Die Csárdásfürstin and Die schöne Galathee. She also recorded with Eurodisc the title roles in Carmen and Iphigenie in Aulis, as well as the role of Hansel in Hansel und Gretel.
Such a heavy workload, however, led to physical exhaustion and a serious vocal-breakdown in 1974, from which she never fully recovered.
View: Anna Moffo - "Sul fil d'un soffio etesio" (from Verdi's Falstaff)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Rosita Serrano, billed as "the Chilean Nightingale", was one of Germany's most popular and exotic performers in the 1930s and 40s.
Unfortunately, like so many great entertainers, her career was caught up in the imperial entanglements of the Third Reich. While touring in Sweden, she gave a series of concerts specifically for the benefit of Jewish refugees who had fled the Nazis. When Goebbels heard about this, he ordered a warrant for Rosita's arrest on "espionage" charges.
Serrano got wind of the bounty on her head, and, unable to return to her apartment in Berlin and recover her possessions and her pet dachshunds, immediately left Sweden for her homeland of Chile. Meanwhile, her songs and movies were added to the ever-growing blacklist of entertainment banned by the Nazi regime.
In 1951 she tried to resume her career but hit speedbumps at every turn. Her repertoire was mostly in German, and in the United States, no one wanted to hear German songs so soon after the war. Back in Germany, she was unable to reignite the flame of her old career. And in Chile, she was reportedly looked down upon by locals because she had once sung for Nazis - despite the fact that she was a victim of Nazism herself. But she remained in Chile nonetheless, and led a quite impoverished life until her death in 1997.
Listen: Rosita Serrano - "Roter Mohn"
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Everyone at The Voraxium, Creeps Productions, and Catclaw Theatre Company are abuzz about the news that the long-awaited Cheeseburger & Fries: the Musical will make its world debut on September 3, 2009.
It's based on the true story of Jeffrey Scott 'Cheeseburger' Holland and J.T. 'Fries' Dockery, who spent the second half of the 1990s as street-corner troubadors, busking for coins and frightening tourists. It's an underground garage country-punk rocka rolla hillbilly wing dang doo.
But it's also a thriller, as there's much supernatural intrigue in the deep dark mysterious wilderness of Kentucky, and Cheeseburger & Fries are there, on its dull serrated slaughterhouse edge. Like Robert Johnson before them, the boys find their own dark night of the soul at the crossroads.
And it's a love story as well. Cheeseburger & Fries are lovers, not fighters, and like Jerry Lee Lewis, they're lovin' up a storm, charming the birds from the trees everywhere from Manchester to Paris. (Manchester, Kentucky and Paris, Kentucky, that is.) It's because of these torrid love scenes straight outta Berea that this will be Catclaw's first play with an audience advisory: the show will feature full frontal nudity.