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#2254: Willa Cather to Meta Schaper Cather, December 14 [1917]

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Tell Virginia4 that I hope she won't mind that I wore her beads all summer with my green dress! I sent her some old-fashioned books that I used to have when I was little. They are hard to find now, when children have such grand books!

My Dear Meta1;

I want to tell you something about the records I sent you. "The Indian Lament"5 of Dvorak6 speaks for itself. He composed it during his one visit to America7 and the Southwest. The two Spanish songs are sung by Gorgoza8, Emma Eames'9 Spanish husband, who sang under the name of Carlos Francesco until he began to sing in opera. "The Land of the Sky Blue Water"10 I think the best American song of recent years, and nobody sings it so well as Alma Gluck11---since she studied with Sembrich12.

"Home to Our Mountains"13 is old enough, but I never tire of it. I sent two records by Julia Culp14, because she is so much the best lieder singer in the world today. Operatic arias, taken out of the opera and given alone are never quite so satisfactory to me as songs that are complete in themselves. Any slovenliness in singing or thinness in voice shows up more glaringly in records than in an actual recital, and the Culp records come out better than almost any others because she is a great interpretative artist and her diction is so pure and her voice adequate,-- not brilliant, but rich and true. Her singing of Schubert's15 Serenade16 is superb, and it is one of the most successful records ever made. I've heard a score of tenors and mezzos sing it, but nobody does it like Culp.

Galli-Curci17 has the most individual and beautifully colored voice that has come up in my time. The old timers say that Patti18 had that wonderful coloring a thousand years ago. Every one of her few records is more beautiful than the last. I send you "The Last Rose of Summer"19 because I think the sheer beauty of the voice is all the more perceptible in an old song one knows by heart. One must know the words of her songs, because she colors the words so beautifully. This song isna isn't a chestnut to her, of course, but simply, "non sola vergin rosa," a beautiful aria from Martha20. I think her coloring of the vowel '9 90 'O' in 'alone' is magical. I really got weepy the first time I heard it. You must look up the old poem21 and get her shading of every word--- her English is not very distinct. Lord, what a voice! So absolutely unlike any other, as full of changing color as a gorgous gorgeous sunset, and with a vibration in it like some new kind of instrument. If she doesn't overstrain it and ruin it for a greedy American public, and as Malibran22 did, it will be the voice of the next twenty years.

You must send me a list of the records w you have, and I will send you some more someday. I wish I might have a Christmas out there3 with you sometime. There is no real Christmas in a big city, and here2 the war drakens everything. People are so bitter and horrid. I asked a lot of people here to meet the charming German actress, Hedwig Reicher23, last Friday afternoon, and several of them declinesd---said she was a German spy! The worst thing about war is that it looses so many unlovely feelings in people. We can't here Olive Fremstad24 sing this winter, because there will be no German opera. She dined with me here last night, with three other musicains. There was a terrible blizzard outside, but we had a very merry party. As a housekeeper I always feel pleased when I pull ofa formal dinner party successfully. Even with a good maid25, one has to give a day of devoted service to have everything just right. So today I am tired but 'contenta'.

With love and good wishes Willa
Mrs. R. C. Cathe[missing]1 Lander3 Wyoming NEW YORK N.Y. STA.C2 DEC 14 1917 12 M U