Hi Derek and Lee Ann: Another terrific
collaboration! Thanks and kudos to you both.
Derek: After reading your myth-debunking essays and "The Opera Singers Said...," anyone with an ounce of sense should have no difficulty disabusing his or her mind of annoying misinformation picked up in good faith from Lanza’s detractors. Unhappily, however, there will always be a handful of incorrigible malcontents who, for example, would rather believe the trumpet player who stated that Lanza’s voice was enhanced by sound engineers than famed conductor Franco Ferrara, who asserted that Lanza’s was “a big voice, and anything but small.” If I may slightly paraphrase writer Franz Werfel (of Song of Bernadette fame): For those who do not want to believe, no explanation is possible (emphasis mine).
"The truth is that it is not in the least necessary for a singer to read well. It may be convenient for him to be able to learn new music quickly, but how long he takes to learn it in private is his own affair. The audience pay to hear the finished performance, however long it has taken to prepare, and never expect to hear, or want to pay to hear, a singer singing a part at sight.
"For the singer, sight-reading can be no more than a convenience. I would go further --- in some ways, good reading is a disadvantage. A bad musician must sing the stuff so often, to drill it into his memory, that at the same time he sings it into his voice.
"The only academic requirement of a singer, then, is that he shall be able to sing accurately from memory at a performance."
Here's a great thread that's well worth revisiting.