A TIME TO SING by Dorothy with Lanfranco Rasponi Kirsten


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Opera star Dorothy Kirsten, recently most renowned for the freshness of her voice after 30+ years at the Met, makes no attempt to write a full chronological autobiography here. Instead, after a brief memoir of her early days--pre-WW II radio work as a pop singer, discovery by diva Grace Moore (""We'll make her a star. She has it!""), studies in Italy, first roles in Chicago, major debuts--Kirsten moves from subject to subject, chatting pleasantly. She tells how she prepares a role, outlines her vocal-health regimen. (Unlike other singers, Kirsten reminds us frequently, she never took roles that were too heavy for her.) She comments on fellow singers--mostly in blandly admiring terms, but with a few needles: ""Marilyn [Home] is a longtime friend, and it worries me to hear her press on the bottom so much""; with Giovanni Martinelli, ""I had to plan every move carefully to keep my own identity""; Pavarotti's extra poundage ""did interfere considerably with our love scenes."" (Bjoerling remains tenor #1 for Kirsten.) There are chapters, too, on Kirsten's lively 1962 tour of Russia; her movie/radio/TV career (""irresponsible"" Mario Lanza, ""thoughtful"" Frank Sinatra); her repertoires at the San Francisco Opera, the Paris Opera, and the Met. (""I have never been one to push or demand as otherS have, and this was probably a drawback in my dealings with Mr. Bing""--though Kirsten never hesitated to turn down Bing's tempting but unwise casting ideas.) And Kirsten winds up with sound commentaries on favorite roles--including Charpentier's own personal advice on Louise--plus reminiscences about world tours. An undramatic scrapbook from a dramatic prima donna, then, with hardly a tear or a laugh--but fans of Kirsten and her Puccini-centered repertoire will want to browse through these good-natured, sternly professional jottings.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1982
Publisher: Doubleday