Sometimes I write about people who become so real to me I feel as if I know them. Telling their stories becomes much more than simply doing a lot of research and then condensing it. Often I feel a kinship with them because I may have experienced something they experienced, or have been in their homes, or in the places they visited, or in their shoes. Sometimes we did the same things, or sang the same songs. Sometimes literally.
Christine Adler was a turn of the 20th century classical singer. She lived for many years in Bedford, in a house that for a long time I dreamed would be be mine, and a house that I’ve actually been in. I’ve stood at the same mantel she must have stood by; I’ve climbed the same stairs, and looked out of the same windows. At the time, I had never heard of Christine Adler. That didn’t come till much later.
When I did discover her name, I found out that we also share a love of classical vocal music. She was a contralto, the lowest of female voices, although that means something different today than it did in her day. In her day, a contralto included what we call mezzo-soprano today, and includes some of the great operatic repertoire sung by characters such as Carmen, Delilah in “Samson and Delilah”, and Amneris in “Aida.”
I used to sing some of that repertoire too, back in the day, so when I read in the old Brooklyn Eagle pages that Mrs. Adler sang this piece or that piece, I know the piece, and I know what was needed to sing it well. Christine Adler also sang the equivalent of pop and show tunes, because she enjoyed working and entertaining, and she also was a gifted teacher. Although I’m too young to have been taught by her, I certainly could have been taught by someone that she had trained, albeit in that student’s later years. It’s possible; after all, my own real life voice teacher lived to be over 100 years old. So here is the story of Madame Christine Adler, a true diva. (more…)