June 15, 2016

Manuel García's Loss of Voice

History is such a curious thing, at once malleable and subject to interpretation. Let us take García's loss of voice for instance. He himself wrote that being made to sing during puberty damaged it. Yet I know of at least one reputable account of his going to Italy for his debut and trying to sound like Luigi Lablache in order to obtain bad reviews which he would send to his father—the same father who beat him senseless onboard a ship bound to New York from Europe. Young men do strange things to become themselves, do they not? (García also tried to sign up to fight in Algeria, but was dissuaded by his mother and sisters.) But this story—if true—certainly doesn't fit the narrative of a vocal maestro who rocks the world.

I've also read quite a few newspaper accounts of a middle-aged García singing solos & duets in public with students in London. Would that be the practice of a singer who had lost his voice? This begs the question: Did García really lose his voice at all? Or did he construct a narrative which suited his purposes? Smart people use what they have, and I believe it is highly possible that García—whose aspirations were at variance with those of his father—was a genius at self-promotion. He used what he had been given: He wrote a ground-breaking book, discovered the inner workings of the larynx, and in so doing became world famous.

Not bad for a kid who did not want to be a singer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments.