David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2 — Good Deeds, Husbands and Wives

Good Deeds

• When Emma Calvé first traveled to Paris to get singing lessons in preparation for an operatic career, she sat by an attentive elderly gentleman on top of a stagecoach. Unfortunately, the elderly gentleman was a little too attentive, for when she fell asleep, he put his arm around her waist. This awakened Ms. Calvé, who slapped the elderly gentleman with such force that everyone in the stagecoach realized what had happened. The stagecoach stopped, voices were raised in discussion and argument, and a young man gave Ms. Calvé his seat inside the stagecoach and took her seat by the elderly gentleman on top of the stagecoach.

• In Nashville, Tennessee, a group of musicians was playing at the airport. They were playing Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line” when Mr. Cash, carrying a garment bag, walked into the airport. Of course, Mr. Cash recognized the song and the musicians recognized Mr. Cash, who walked up to the microphone, and joined in on the singing of the last part of the song. The audience of about six people gave an enthusiastic ovation, and Mr. Cash smiled, then picked up his garment bag and headed toward the security check-in.

• When Marian Anderson was young, she showed great talent as a singer, but of course she needed special training to develop her talent. Her church raised money so she could be trained for a year by famous voice coach Giuseppe Boghetti. He was so impressed by her talent that he coached her a second year for free. Ms. Anderson became a world-famous singer and the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.

• Paul Robeson was a kind man. When Yousuf Karsh, the famed photographer, took his portrait, Mr. Robeson sang some spirituals for him. Mr. Karsh was so impressed by their beauty that he said that he would like for his wife to hear them. Mr. Robeson called her and sang for her over the telephone.

Husbands and Wives

• Luciano Pavarotti was amazed that Joan Sutherland could sing Amina at full voice during a dress rehearsal in the afternoon, then sing Violetta at full voice during a performance that evening without showing any fatigue. When he confessed to Ms. Sutherland that in contrast to her he felt tired, she replied that he was not properly controlling his diaphragm. Therefore, Mr. Pavarotti told Ms. Sutherland’s husband, “Excuse me, but I am going to put my hand on your wife’s stomach.” She then demonstrated to him the proper control of the diaphragm.

• Country singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill became attracted to each other while performing in their Spontaneous Combustion tour in 1996. Right before going on stage, Tim proposed to Faith, who didn’t answer right away. But when Tim returned to his dressing room after singing on stage, he found Faith’s answer written on his dressing room mirror: “YES!”

• Giacomo Puccini enjoyed hunting pheasant. While living in the country so he could work on composing a new opera, he used to hire someone to go to his composing room and play the music he had written so that his wife would think that he was working on the opera when he was really out hunting.

• Sir Rudolf Bing once sat near Mr. and Mrs. Richard Strauss as they attended a performance of Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. Sir Rudolf was astonished when he heard Mrs. Strauss tell her husband, “There, you see, Richard. That is music.” Mr. Strauss did not reply.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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