From Johnson's Kids to Lemonade Opera    (Victoria Villamil)  (1-55553-635-2)
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From Johnson's Kids to Lemonade Opera    (Victoria Villamil)  (1-55553-635-2)
B0021. From Johnson’s Kids to Lemonade Opera – The American Classical Singer Comes of Age. Victoria Entier Villamil.  Boston, Northeastern University Press, 2004. 336pp. Index; Bibliography; Photos; DJ. - 9781555536350 1-55553-635-2

CRITIC REVIEWS:

"Ms Villamil’s history is well written, clearly organized, and palpably affectionate….A lengthy appendix provides biographies of the important singers of the period, and the book has many photographs. This is an absorbing, readable, rags-to-riches story of the triumph of the American (and Canadian) opera singer."

- Ralph V. Lucano, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 2005



"The years 1935 to 1950 were crucial ones for the development of the American classical singer - that's the uncontroversial thesis of Victoria Villamil's 'FROM JOHNSON'S KIDS TO LEMONADE OPERA'. Fifteen years might seem a rather short span, yet the book is crammed with names and events, facts and figures. This was an extraordinary time....Indeed, what's most admirable about Villamil's study is the concision with which she chronicles the careers of so many singers."

- Andrew Farach-Colton, GRAMOPHONE, Aug., 2005



"Villamil builds a sweeping panorama that moves with incredible speed as the individual stories get caught in this fabric of time. Her prose is crisp and colourful. While filled with a wealth of detailed information, this is not a dry, pedantic book. It’s a great ‘read’….Villamil’s book is a masterpiece of rare and precious research."

- Harold Bruder, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2004



"American baritone Lawrence Tibbett created an overnight sensation at the Metropolitan Opera in 1925 when the audience stopped the performance of FALSTAFF to honor their compatriot for his exceptional talent. Tibbett's now legendary curtain call foreshadowed a startling new era for classically trained native singers who rarely received the public recognition or respect given to their European colleagues. In this absorbing work, Victoria Etnier Villamil chronicles the extraordinary time from 1935 to 1950 when American artists, who felt intensely inferior to foreign performers, journeyed from being unappreciated in their own country to standing without apology on stages at home and abroad. Drawing on exhaustive primary research and extensive interviews, Villamil tells the remarkable story of a generation of American opera singers whose profession, image, and art were forever altered by the upheavals of World War II, as well as sweeping cultural and technological changes. The author's in-depth look at these breakthrough years explores such defining factors as Edward Johnson's drive to "Americanize the Met" in his first seasons as general manager, the impact of the microphone on singers and singing styles, and the importance of radio and motion pictures in introducing classical music voices to wider audiences. Villamil also considers how travel restrictions imposed on European artists during the war unlocked opportunities for American artists, and the role of political and Jewish refugees in enriching music education and training in this country. In addition, the author discusses thoroughly the founding of the New York City Opera, the rise of regional and smaller opera companies, including the enterprising and popular Lemonade Opera, and advancements for African American classical singers. Brimming with entertaining anecdotes and colorful figures, both famous and little remembered, the fascinating book concludes with an examination of this crucial period's legacy for the American classical music scene in the 1950s and beyond. From Johnson's Kids to Lemonade Opera contains an invaluable appendix that provides biographical sketches of the over 250 opera and radio singers, as well as art song specialists, featured in this illuminating study."

- Loyal Bluto