A TRIBUTE TO MME.
by Alfredo Vecchio
(Basis of a talk given at the Columbus Club, Park Avenue, New York City in 1986)
I am perhaps in no position to talk about music and specifically about Licia Albanese's art. In some ways, to talk about music in general would be for me perhaps a far easier task than to talk about that most tenuous of subjects, the interpretive arts, and specifically, of Licia Albanese as an interpretive artist. My task seems more complicated still by the fact that I've been personally involved as a so-called fan for 43 of those 45 years we are celebrating here this evening. To talk of Licia's art strikes me as involving an almost awesome reponsibility which in somes ways I should prefer to avoid, for I might rely too heavily on the anecdotal, on the personal and subjective.. on, in other words, the fan's approach to that art. Nevertheless, I will try in these few minutes allotted me to give something of an idea of why Albanese's art moves me as much as it does, and why it has affected me as deeply as it has. In the process I fervently hope that as I talk about Licia's art, the meaning that it holds for me will also have some meaning for you.
I've spent years pondering the "images", shall I say, of vocal and visual beauty Albanese was able to evoke in me. Like all great artists, Licia's specific ingenuity as a singer, the originality of her art, lay in the fact that technique for this artist at least was always a means to an end and never an end in itself: for the salient features of all great art is the ability to connect technique to the emotions. Any other approach would have been for Albanese contrary to the musical sense with which she was born, contrary to musical training she acquired, and, if such exists, contrary to her musical morality. It was this, Licia's uniqueness and musical mastery which drew me, which drew us, into the world of Mimi, Cio-Cio-San, Manon, Liu and Violetta week after week, year after year, inviting me to a place and places I had never been before. It is for all these reasons that Virgil Thompson was able to write of Licia's first Violetta: "She did not sing the role, she recreated it for our times."
As we all know, Albanese's art is capable of the widest range of effects from the tragic to the comedic, from dramatic repertoire to the lyrical and even subrette: and for anyone fortunate enough to have heard her rendition of operetta pieces, she leaves no doubt in the mind that she was born to the operetta form as well as to the rest.
Many have praised Licia's great moments in opera and in song:
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