Opera Voice

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Opera Voice

Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:03

Deanna Durbin had the voice of a lyric soprano. A voice of such brilliant technique that she could of easliy been an opera star!

In 1935, seven miles from the Durbin family home, a producer from MGM was on the hunt. The studio was planning to make a movie called GRAM which was the life story of the opera singer, Ernestine Schumann-Heink who was the greatest contralto of all time. Schumann-Heink had a rich and opulent voice of extraordinary flexibility and vast range, so MGM needed a child singer of exceptional ability to portray the diva as a girl.

Meanwhile, an agent named Jack Sherrill heard of the MGM requirement. One day a student at the Ralph Thomas Academy named Olive White called Sherrillís assistant, Rita Warner in quest of a singing engagement. During the conversation Mrs. Warner asked Mrs. White if there were any promising children at the academy who might fill the GRAM requirements. Mrs. White said that there was one that might be worth investigating. As a result of that call, Sherrill visited the academy and heard Edna May Durbin sing.

Along with her mother, Sherrill took Edna May off to MGM, where she sang Il Bacio for one executive after another, to mounting enthusiasm. Louis B. Mayer, their boss, was in New York at the time, but his executives got him to listen to Edna May sing over the telephone. Mayer immediately gave her a contract. Whereupon Schumann-Heink fell ill, causing MGM to eventually shelve GRAM and lose interest in Edna May. But soon after, Universal Studios signed the brilliant young Edna May and changed her name to Deanna Durbin. And that famous name has haunted MGM ever since!

Deanna Durbin with her famous vocal coach, Andres de Segurola:



Even though Deanna Durbin didn't make opera a career, her renditions of opera arias in Universal movies have made her a legend!

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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:06

In late 1936, Cesar Sturani, who was the General Music Secretary of the Metropolitan Opera, offered Deanna Durbin an audition.

Deanna turned down his request because she felt she needed more singing lessons.

Also, Deanna was happy being in the movies.

All that fame and fortune was a big incentive for Deanna to keep to one thing!

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Last edited by Devotee #1 on 18th May 2008, 21:48; edited 2 times in total

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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:07

Back in 1944, because of production requirements, Deanna Durbin had to turn down a singing offer which was a lifelong ambition.

Deanna received a wire from the Chicago Civic Opera Company asking her if she would consider a guest concert appearance at the Chicago Opera House for January of 1945.

Felix Jackson, producer of Deanna's pictures at Universal Studios, tried to juggle the schedule of her next picture called LADY ON A TRAIN, but wasn't able to arrange it so the star ended up missing out on a golden opportunity!


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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:09

At a party given by Irving Thalberg both Deanna Durbin and Rosa Ponselle sang.

Deanna got more applause than Rosa and also received a huge basket of flowers from Thalberg! Cool Cool Cool



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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:10

It was reported that James Durbin turned down a $5000 a week radio offer so that Deanna would be free to sing with the Metropolitan Opera.



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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:11

Andres de Segurola believed that Deanna Durbin had an excellent opportunity to become an opera star. He had been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera to watch her progress carefully and keep them advised. He said that Deanna already possessed fully developed vocal organs, and her voice will change only in volume as she grows older. He recommended a delay of three years in her operatic debut for the reason that more preparation will enlarge and enrich an already mature soprano voice. He described the quality of her voice as a perfect blue white diamond, and just as rare - a voice one in ten million. Andres also said that Deanna had invaluable assests of charm, poise, and beauty.



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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:12

Deanna Durbin with Leopold Stokowski and Andres de Segurola:



After making 100 MEN AND A GIRL, Deanna Durbin was given a small caricature statuette of Leopold Stokowski. And Deanna also became the happy owner of a porcelain elephant she found in Andres de Segurola's house.


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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:17

It was reported that Deanna Durbin was to sing Violetta with Jan Peerce at the Hollywood Bowl in 1948, but it never happened.

Check out this video of Deanna singing a duet with Jan in English from Verdi's IL TROVATORE:

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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 08:18

Right from the start of Deanna Durbin's movie career, Andres de Segurola was her singing teacher. He carefully nursed and developed her voice preparing it for the opera stage. Deanna's range of voice was from A below middle C to E above high C. She became a superstar when the public heard her sing on the radio and the screen, but actually, Deanna's beautiful, strong, clear soprano voice sounded even better when heard live!



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Post  Devotee #1 on 10th March 2008, 23:07

Deanna Durbin & Andres de Segurola attending SINGING UNDER THE STARS:



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Post  Devotee #1 on 23rd March 2008, 12:57

Famous Dutch soprano, Elly Ameling said the following: "Deanna Durbin - there was something so pure in her singing. It was magical. I heard some of her records when I was about ten. It was magical and I began to sing her repertory myself."



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Post  Devotee #1 on 5th June 2008, 07:56

As a young girl in Athens, Maria Callas would watch the movies of Deanna Durbin, and was so entranced by that child-starís utterly perfect voice, she vowed to become an opera singer.



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Post  Devotee #1 on 5th June 2008, 08:03

The famous coloratura soprano, Lily Pons said the following about Deanna Durbin: "The greatest child singer ever, of either sex."



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Post  Devotee #1 on 6th September 2008, 21:11

Mexican opera star Gild Cruz-Romo said she was influenced by Deanna Durbin - "The local convent would show movies and I would go to the movies and see Deanna Durbin, and I wanted to be just like Deanna Durbin!"



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Post  Devotee #1 on 12th September 2008, 20:06

The great Joan Sutherland was a fan of Deanna Durbin. She loved Deanna's movies and said she had a beautiful voice and natural acting style - "She made it all look so easy. I wish I knew how she did it!"



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Post  Devotee #1 on 12th September 2008, 20:08

The world renowned American baritone, Lawrence Tibbett once described Deanna Durbin as "The modern Jenny Lind."



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Post  Devotee #1 on 1st April 2009, 20:41

Grace Moore (1898-1947) who was a famous American operatic soprano and actress in musical theatre and film, said in comparison to herself, Deanna Durbin was the better singer.



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Post  Devotee #1 on 17th August 2009, 20:46

Mary Leo born Kathleen Agnes Niccol (1895-1989) was a famous singing teacher. She was originally a violin teacher, but in the late 1930s she heard a recording of Deanna Durbin. Mary was so inspired by Deanna's natural beautiful tone, flexible technique, vocal range, and graceful poise, that she decided to devote her time to teaching singing. Mary Leo's pupils included Malvina Major, Kiri Te Kanawa, Heather Begg, Mina Foley, Judith Edwards, Elisabeth Hellawell, and Patricia Price.

Famous opera singer Malvina Major:



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Post  Devotee #1 on 28th August 2012, 19:27

Lauritz Melchior (1890-1973) was a Danish and later American opera singer. He was the pre-eminent Wagnerian tenor of the late 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and has since come to be considered the quintessence of his voice type. Between 1944 and 1952, Melchior performed in 5 Hollywood musical films for MGM and Paramount Pictures. In 1947, he put his hand and footprints in wet cement in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Deanna Durbin with world famous opera star Lauritz Melchior:




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