November 3, 1917
Page 21
When Mark Twain “Brought Down the House” at His Daughter’s Recital

Clara Clemens Tells How the Humorist Appropriated a Huge Bouquet from Another Admirer’s Arms and Rushed with It to the Stage of Old Mendelssohn Hall She Related the Story of Her Own Musical Ambitions and Tells How They Are Being Realized—What It Means to “Find a New Voice”—Tribute to Her Teacher

IT was in New York at the Hotel Gotham that MUSICAL AMERICA’S interviewer again met Clara Clemens. Our last encounter had been at the singer’s former home in Munich about four years ago.
In her self-contained manner, behind which withal there lurks a spark of her witty parent’s humor, Miss Clemens proceeded to explain that distant goals in life were often reached at a snail’s pace and particularly was this the case with some singers. Said she with the slightest of twinkles in her eye: “At the age of five I was made acquainted with the piano and a number of years later I was duly initiated into the world of song, with a ‘brilliant future’ before me, according to the opinion of various prominent musicians in Vienna. If the future was to be ‘brilliant’ it was not an immediate future, in any case, but a lagging one.”
When asked if Mark Twain had shown any interest in his daughter’s work as a singer, Miss Clemens replied:
“Very much indeed. He was always ready to take me wherever we thought I might be benefited. I recall my first New York concert in Mendelssohn Hall. That evening father was exceptionally cunning. Of course, he arrived late at the concert, just as Mrs. H. H. Rogers was passing down the center aisle with a floral arrangement for me. This reminded father of his sins. Realizing his guilt, he exclaimed: ‘Why, of course, she must have some flowers—blest if I didn’t forget all about that.’ And promptly taking the huge bouquet from Mrs. Rogers; he passed down the aisle and handed the flowers up to me over the footlights as his special offering amid the frantic applause of the delighted audience. But unfortunately he didn’t live to witness the advent of ‘my new voice.’ I regret this all the more when I remember his many acts of kindness to help me in my work. First I studied in Vienna, then we went to London, where I worked with Marchesi, then to Italy, where I spent some time studying in Florence. Later I came to Munich, then to Paris, always working and seeking a pure vocal method that would lead me m the right direct1on, until I was to find what I sought upon my return to New York. Here it was Mme. Delia Valeri who revealed to me the long-sought secret and who gave me—’a new -voice.’ You see there are about 150 places in the human throat from which the voice may find an exit—but there is really only one good place, one proper place for the emission of the voice. And hitherto I had succeeded with uncanny certitude in discovering every one of the 150 places in my vocal apparatus, but never the one good one. This Mme. Valeri disclosed to me so convincingly that I became quite another singing person. And when the metamorphosis was completed, no one was more surprised than I at the facility with which it had been accomplished. How? Simply with the aid of constant, well-considered exercises under the guidance of this highly endowed teacher.
“When I speak of having a new voice I am not only guided by my own senses, or by the confident pleasure I now have in singing, but largely by the opinion of the many musical connoisseurs and other professional singers who heard me sing at the Fine Arts Building in Bar Harbor and elsewhere, and who expressed themselves in such a manner that I know my voice sounds as it feels.”
When asked whether she had no operatic aspirations, Miss Clemens facetiously remarked:
“No, not as long as I am a contralto. Should I ever be reincarnated I should hope to come to earth as a soprano. Then an operatic career would appeal to me. But, as it is, the contralto rôles in the standard operas I find so horribly uninteresting; nothing but old witches and somber mummies, or accessory figures that seem to play but very incidental parts in the plot of the opera.”
Clara Clemens with her “new voice” will be heard at her initial New York recital in Æolian Hall on Nov. 26, prior to entering upon her regular concert activity of the season. —O. P. J.


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