Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nicolas Slonimsky on Val Rosing

[From Perfect Pitch]
In concert recitals Rosing could get away with anything as long as he was confident that his accompanist would follow him through all his vagaries. But a real disaster befell him when he undertook the lead role in an Eastman School production of Gounod's Faust. He knew the arias, but the recitatives were beyond his power of retention. He sang in French, and as usual was not sure of the words. For safety's sake he planted scraps of paper with words written on them in the scenery for the garden scene, which had a lot of recitative in it. At the last moment, a misguided stagehand removed the crucial scraps from the trees and bushes. Rosing began his recitative, went to a corresponding bush, fumbled around and found nothing. He had no other recourse but to keep repeating the first line from his aria, "Salut! refuge chaste et pure!" It was only thanks to his supreme self-assurance that he pulled through.
More on Val (Vladimir) Rosing here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

PERFECT PITCH is a wonderful book. There are lots of musicians I lament not being able to meet (Tobias Hume, HIF Biber, Buddy Holly etc) but included in the list would be Nicholas Slonimsky.

The description of his gig with Frank Zappa in the book is inimitable!