2 September 2014 | blanche-2
lovely singing, but not really about Jenny Lind
As far as I can tell, the incidents shown in this film did not happen to the real Jenny Lind, portrayed here by Grace Moore.
Lind was the "Swedish Nightingale," an opera and concert performer in the 1800s who was brought to America by P.T. Barnum and madly hyped. There is no way to hear her voice today, alas, but some writings have stated that she was probably not as good as some of her contemporaries, but she was a favorite of several composers and given tons of publicity by Barnum. She apparently sang coloratura; in fact, once she sang a Rossini aria for Rossini, and it was so interpolated, when she was finished, Rossini said, "A pretty little song. Who wrote it?" In this story, Lind meets a composer (Reginald Denny) who falls for her and writes for her, eventually going blind. Fiction, as far as I can tell, as Lind married Otto Goldschmidt and had a long and successful marriage, and three children.
This story is very melodramatic and, done in 1930, a lot of the acting and sound bugs hadn't been worked out yet. One thing that is true is that Lind did suffer vocal problems and a famous teacher did help restore her voice; however, her problems didn't begin while she was on stage in Norma repeating the Casta Diva (repeating arias was often done in the old days when there was a loud and long ovation).
Moore sings from the above-mentioned Norma and La Fille du Regiment. What makes the film watchable is Moore's singing. She had a beautiful voice. Like a lot of the early sopranos, the top wasn't 100%; I can never figure out if it was the way they were recorded or taught. However, her debut was in Der Freischutz as Agathe, which leads me to believe she had a sizable lyric coloratura voice. However, given that these early singers sang everything, maybe not. It's not known why she retired from opera in her late twenties; it could have been that she found it too hard on her voice.
Anyway, enjoy Moore's lovely singing.