Grace Moore stars in "One Night of Love," a 1934 movie also starring Tullio Carminati and Lyle Talbot. Carminati plays a renowned vocal teacher, Giulio Monteverdi, who takes a young aspiring opera singer, Maria Barrett, under his wing. Still scarred from a disastrous love affair with a former student, Monteverdi makes it clear that the word love must never be mentioned. Maria isn't worried; she believes she's in love with another (Lyle Talbot). Nevertheless, the two fall in love but don't admit it. When Monteverdi's old student reappears, Maria becomes jealous and turns into an uberdiva.
This delightful musical was a huge success - the operatic selections are wonderful, as is the title song, which was a big recording success for Moore. Moore's voice is absolutely beautiful. Female singers were trained a little differently in those days, often backing off of their high notes. Moore does a little of that but has a glorious extension above high C. Her best singing is in her rendition of "One Night of Love"; unfortunately, the opera selections sung by "Maria Barrett" were vocally wrong for this charming lyric coloratura. Moore herself has a nice warm presence on screen, though I read once that she had an unfortunate resemblance to the comedienne Joan Davis. From certain angles, that is true, but she was photographed carefully and looks lovely throughout the movie, slender and beautiful. Due to marrying a Frenchman and living part-time in France, working at her opera career, concertizing and eventually entertaining the troops, Moore only made 9 films. She died in a plane crash in 1947 at 49 years of age.
The opera selections were, as always, on the strange side. Only in Hollywood would a lyric coloratura with a weak lower register and no chest voice sing Carmen! From the sound, female singers also were not taught to do a mix on the lower notes. The role for Moore in Carmen is Micaela, which is indeed the role she played. Surprisingly, she also in real life did Tosca and Butterfly, which must have been total disasters. Her Butterfly, the finale of the film, is not good, particularly at the end. Her voice just isn't powerful enough, nor should it be - she wasn't a spinto or dramatic soprano or even a big lyric! The voice suffers, occasionally falling out of placement in the middle range. "Sempre Libera" was a series of wrong and skipped notes. And she scooped like crazy. This is nitpicking, but I would have preferred to hear some "La Boheme," Mimi being her Metropolitan Opera debut, or the Jewel Song from Faust, or Micaela's aria, all of which suited her voice perfectly, and all of which she sang during her career.
If you love opera, you'll love "One Night of Love" for its glorious music and the elegantly-voiced Grace Moore.
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