Singing the 1974 Debut Recital
Play Debut Recital
mp3 Home page
glad the Leonard Bernstein pieces are on the website.† There needs to be light-hearted stuff like
Elizabeth:† One thing that doesnít come through in the
website is my comic side.† I did a lot of
comic stuff at the opera.† I did Strauss
operettas were I was supposed to be funny, and I was.† Whatís recorded is all the serious poetic
stuff.† Comedy is something I did in
operas but wasnít my serious singing.† I
played the fool plenty.† Thatís probably
why I only did one Lucia.† They didnít
know I was a dramatic actress.† I did a
lot of comic roles because of the nature of my voice, light and youthful.† I played soubrettes.†
there any good comic roles that you liked?
The work was fine.† When you are
working in an opera house as part of the ensemble cast--they give you a role;
you do it.† The first role I did in Augsburg was in a comic
opera called The Merry Wives of Windsor by Otto †Nicholai.† I sang Frau Fluth.† She was a comical character.† I did Norina a couple of times in Don Pasquale.† Sheís a funny
girl.† There were lotís
of Adeles in Die Fledermaus.† I did soubrettes from other Strauss
operas.† Instead of† Queen of the Night, for most of the
years in Germany
I was singing Papagena.† Sheís a silly girl.†
When I performed
with someone like Hager it was always something serious.† He didnít know anything about my funny bone
and thought it was curious that I was playing comic roles in the opera and the
things I sang with him were all so serious and spiritual like the Mozart C Minor
Leonard Bernstein songs are adorable.
Elizabeth:† There Iím acting the part of a 10 year
old.† The second half of the debut
recital is American stuff like Baby Doe.†
You wonít be singing that in Germany.
Summertime is an
encore piece.† I wasnít going to do the
role of Serina because Porgy and Bess is written as
an African American opera by George Gershwin, who stipulated that in America
only African Americans would perform it.†
He lifted that ban for European opera houses but most of those houses
hire at least the solo ensemble with the correct singers.† Then they black face their choruses, they
canít hire an entire chorus.
about some background on the Debut recital.†
Wasnít it your first public performance outside of a school setting?
Elizabeth:† It was a debut in several senses.† I had left Grosse Pointe as a long-haired
Joan Baez type and gone to conservatory.†
Our parents wanted me to do a debutante party in the old tradition, the
white dress and the red rose and the whole thing.† I said, ďBut thatís not my life.† Iíll debut as a singer, Iíll give a recital.Ē† The appropriate debut age would have been Junior year.† I didnít
feel ready so I waited until í74 and gave what I felt was representative of the
work Iíd done in those 4 years.† I came
home as a very young, but polished ready to go singer.† I wanted my debut for my parentsí friends to
reflect where I was and where I believed I was going.† I wanted to make an impression where they
would take me seriously in my chosen area.†
I think I accomplished that.†
Thereís a picture in the other room you might want to scan of me with a
very large grin on my face, looking very relieved.† This was more of a social occasion than a
music occasion.† It was about and for my
hometown and my parentsí friends.
Wasnít that the first time most of them had heard you sing?
Elizabeth:† It was a revelation for many.† I remember the nicest compliment I got was
from a gentleman who came up to me and said, ďMy wife dragged me to this
concert and, I will tell you, I liked it a lot, I loved what you did. †But please, donít tell my wife because she
will start dragging me to all this stuff.Ē†
I told him, ďYouíre secret is safe with me.Ē
story.† So the event was a recital with a
nice reception afterwards?
Elizabeth:† A very nice reception.† I was aware that I had something to
prove.† I craved their respect,
I didnít want to be like Trumanís daughter.†
I did more hometown performances in later years.† Those are not for your career, those are for
the folks at home.† Once I got a bad
review in the paper for one of them and I wondered, what was he doing at our
party anyway?† I didnít need, want, or
expect a review for a home town gig.
(Interview with Elizabeth Parcells 2005)