B0880. Svengali's Secrets and Memoirs of the Golden Age. J. H. Duval. New York. Robert Speller & Sons, 1958. 181pp. Originally appeared in serial form in THE MUSICAL COURIER. Very good hardback, w.numerous news clippings neatly glued in and neat pencil notes & underlining throughout, obviously by a most knowledgeable person.
“Maestro J. H. Duval was the voice coach of famous opera singer Titta Ruffo, and THE NEW YORK TIMES called his book, Svengali's Secrets and Memoirs of the Golden Age, ‘Recollections of an authority on bel canto’. OPERA NEWS reviewed the book with the following comments: ‘J. H. Duval's SVENGALI'S SECRETS AND MEMOIRS OF THE GOLDEN AGE is a small and very special book that possesses instantaneous appeal for all who rejoice in the mere sound of a beautiful voice....The last part of the book, containing practical and vocal advice on how to make a career, will appeal not only to aspiring singers but to the layman, for it is filled with observations, examples and anecdotes. Mr. Duval's little book is an absolute ‘must’ for all lovers of opera as revealed through beautiful singing’. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS OF SINGING BULLETIN said of this book: ‘Fascinating volume...one of the twentieth century's foremost authorities on Bel canto reminisces intriguingly...no dull textual moments...no recent book is better adapted for a place among the literature to be found on the table in vocal studio waiting room’. From his studio in the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, Maestro J. H. Duval taught or coached many singers of the last century. In his book he also reminisces about his association with d'Annunzio, Puccini, Maurel, Massenet, del Puente, Ruffo and other leading singers and composers of the first six decades of the twentieth century. This book is a ‘must read’ for any teacher of voice and is a classic book on music within global culture, belonging in every library collection on the wonderful world of music. Any aspiring Pavarotti of the twenty first century must surely read Maestro Duval's authoritative book on bel canto, for as reported in its obituary of Luciano Pavarotti on 6 September, 2007, THE TIMES (London) said that Pavarotti ‘built up his infallible technical security from a strong foundation of bel canto’. THE BOOK EXCHANGE of London said of Maestro J. H. Duval and his classic SVENGALI'S SECRETS AND MEMOIRS OF THE GOLDEN AGE: ‘One of the present century's greatest authorities on bel canto provides a fascinating picture of famous singers...very pleasant... reading includes valuable advice’.”