Theodor Wachtel

The most perfect singer that I remember in my Berlin experience was

Theodor Wachtel in this respect, that with his voice of rare splendor,

he united all that vocal art which, as it seems, is destined quite to

disappear from among us. How beautiful were his coloratura, his

trills,--simply flawless! Phrasing, force, fulness of tone, and beauty

were perfect, musically without a blemish. If he did not go outside

the range
f Arnold, G. Brown, Stradella, Vasco, the Postillion and

Lionel, it was probably because he felt that he was not equal to

interpreting the Wagnerian spirit. In this he was very wise. As one of

the first of vocal artists, whose voice was superbly trained and was

preserved to the end of his life, I have had to pay to Wachtel the

tribute of the most complete admiration and recognition, in contrast

to many others who thought themselves greater than he, and yet were

not worthy to unloose the latchet of his shoes.

Recently the little Italian tenor Bonci has won my hearty admiration

for his splendidly equalized voice, his perfect art, and his knowledge

of his resources; and notwithstanding the almost ludicrous figure that

he cut in serious parts, he elicited hearty applause. Cannot German

tenors, too, learn to sing well, even if they do interpret Wagner?

Will they not learn, for the sake of this very master, that it is

their duty not to use their voices recklessly?

Is it not disrespectful toward our greatest masters that they always

have to play hide and seek with the bel canto, the trill, and

coloratura? Not till one has fully realized the difficulties of the

art of song, does it really become of value and significance. Not till

then are one's eyes opened to the duty owed not only to one's self

but to the public.

The appreciation of a difficulty makes study doubly attractive; the

laborious ascent of a summit which no one can contest, is the

attainment of a goal.

Voices in which the palatal resonance--and so, power--is the

predominating factor, are the hardest to manage and to preserve. They

are generally called chest voices. Uncommon power and fulness of tone

in the middle ranges are extremely seductive. Only rarely are people

found with sense enough to renounce such an excess of fulness in favor

of the head tones,--that is, the least risky range to exploit and

preserve,--even if this has to be done only temporarily.

Copious vocal resources may with impunity be brought before the public

and thereby submitted to strain, only after long and regular study.

The pure head tone, without admixture of palatal resonance, is feeble

close at hand, but penetrating and of a carrying power equalled by no

other. Palatal resonance without admixture of the resonance of the

head cavities (head tones) makes the tone very powerful when heard

near by, but without vibrancy for a large auditorium. This is the

proof of how greatly every tone needs the proper admixture.