PE0185. JEANETTE MacDONALD & NELSON EDDY: Ah Sweet Mystery of Life, incl. Songs by Friml, Romberg, Rodgers & Hart, Fox, Victor Herbert, Whiting, Speaks, Abraham & Rasbach. (England) Flapper 7026, recorded 1930-439. Long out-of-print; Final copy! - 727031702627
“Unlike Nelson Eddy, who came from opera to film, MacDonald in the 1940s yearned to reinvent herself in opera. She began training for this goal with Lotte Lehmann, one of the leading opera stars of the early 20th Century. ‘When Jeanette MacDonald approached me for coaching lessons’, wrote Lehmann, ‘I was really curious how a glamorous movie star, certainly spoiled by the adoration of a limitless world, would be able to devote herself to another, a higher level of art. I had the surprise of my life. There couldn’t have been a more diligent, a more serious, a more pliable person than Jeanette. The lessons which I had started with a kind of suspicious curiosity, turned out to be sheer delight for me. She studied Marguerite with me—and lieder. These were the ones which astounded me most. I am quite sure that Jeanette would have developed into a serious and successful lieder singer if time would have allowed it’.
MacDonald made her opera début singing Juliette in Gounod's ROMÉO ET JULIETTE in Montréal at His Majesty's Theatre (8 &10 May, 1943). She quickly repeated the rôle in Québec City (12 May) Ottawa and Toronto. Her U.S. début with the Chicago Opera Company (4, 11 & 15 November, 1944) was in the same rôle. She also sang Marguerite in Gounod's FAUST with the Chicago Opera. In November 1945, she did two more performances of ROMÉO ET JULIETTE and one of FAUST in Chicago, and two FAUSTs for the Cincinnati Opera. On 12 December, 1951, she did one performance of FAUST with the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company at the Academy of Music.
Claudia Cassidy, the music critic of the Chicago Tribune wrote: ‘Her Juliet is breathtakingly beautiful to the eye and dulcet to the ear’. The same critic reviewed FAUST: ‘From where I sit at the opera, Jeanette MacDonald has turned out to be one of the welcome surprises of the season... her Marguerite was better than her Juliet...beautifully sung with purity of line and tone, a good trill, and a Gallic inflection that understood Gounod's phrasing....You felt if Faust must sell his soul to the devil, at least this time he got his money's worth’.
It was not until Nelson was teamed up with Jeanette MacDonald that he had a leading rôle and success in a film. The team made their first picture NAUGHTY MARIETTA, in 1935 and the public fell madly in love with the duo. Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy fan clubs began popping up and Nelson was an over night sensation.
As a team, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy would make seven more films together and arguably become the most popular team in film history. Together, the two were magical. Nelson was in a total of nineteen movies and during that time, he also was busy with concerts and radio. Eddy married Ann Franklin on 19 January, 1939, away from the cameras by eloping in Las Vegas, Nevada.”
-Zillah Dorset Akron