My Lost Kentucky Home

By Roger Neil

Sound of the Hound guest blogger
I’ve been listening to recordings made in the 1930s and early 40s by the black American contralto, Marian Anderson. She’s one of my very favourite singers, not only among altos, and one of the finest songs on the CD is her rendition of Stephen Foster’s ‘My Old Kentucky Home’.

marian anderson

It seems such a pity that so many of Foster’s songs – which include ‘Campdown Races’, ‘Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair’, ‘Oh! Susannah’, ‘Old Folks at Home’ (also known as ‘Swanee River’), ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ and ‘Old Black Joe’ – are no longer deemed PC in modern America and have fallen out of the repertoire.

Impoverished, Foster died in Manhattan in 1864, aged just 37. America’s Schubert!

If you  have loved this article by Roger Neil you can find more articles on the Official Roger Neil blog.

 

Nellie Melba and The Star Spangled Banner

The Hound is pleased to welcome our newest contributor Roger Neill

 

 

 By Roger Neill

As we all know, a vital ability in life is to respond creatively to an unforeseen threat quickly and decisively.

The great Australian diva, Nellie Melba, was set to sing Rosina in The Barber of Seville in San Francisco in 1898. Nothing unusual about that. It was one of her regular and best roles.

The problem was that the opera is set in Spain and, at that moment, Spain was threatening to invade and lay claim to Cuba. War appeared imminent and anti-Spanish feeling in the USA was running high. At the performance, although Melba herself was treated courteously by the audience, the barber, Figaro, was roundly booed.

What to do?

It so happens that in Act 2 there is a singing lesson where the composer, Rossini, allows Rosina to perform a song of her own choosing “ad libitum”. In San Francisco, the piano was pushed on stage, and Melba, a fine pianist, accompanied herself singing one of America’s favourite songs of the day, Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home”. And, when the applause had died down a little, she followed up immediately with “The Star Spangled Banner”.

A local reporter noted: “People rose in their seats and cheered themselves hoarse.” The audience wept – the diva with them. Problem solved.

Sadly there are no recordings by her of those songs, nor of The Barber of Seville, so here she is singing (dazzlingly) the Jewel Song from Gounod’s Faust in 1905

 

If you’re a SOTH subscriber following by email please go to the actual blog to get the full posting.

Love this article and want to read more by Roger then go to  http://rogerneill.blogspot.co.uk/