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The "Nationality" Of Singers
Mary Garden

I see that the U.S.A. has issued a stamp honouring Enrico Caruso. I'm sure that there is no harm in this, provided that we don't forget that Caruso was Italian. A friend tells me that Caruso became an American citizen, but I hope that the next article I read doesn't call him an "American tenor".

But this has happened to other singers. Here are some examples:

An elderly Scottish lady recently drew my attention to a song book called Heart Songs published in 1909. There was a picture of Mary Garden, soprano, and underneath was printed:

"An American singer of world-wide renown, she was born in Chicago ..."

As every elderly Scottish lady knows, Mary Garden was a flower of the land of the heather and was born in Aberdeen. And besides, her favorite song was "The Blue Bells of Scotland".

Canadian singers have also suffered. Tom Burke was a great English tenor in the first half of this century. When he visited the United States in 1920, a reporter asked him what he thought of American singers. Burke replied in part:

"And speaking of Americans, I must add that the reputations of your singers abroad, such as Edward de Giovanni, Carlos Hackett and Forrest Lamont, are most enviable ..." (Quoted from The Lancashire Caruso by John D. Vose)

Two of the three "Americans" mentioned were Canadian. Edward de Giovanni (sic) better known as Edward Johnson was from Guelph, Ontario; and Forrest Lamont was a native of Athlone, Ontario.

Jeanne Gordon was described as an American contralto in the November 1925 issue of The Musician, and the article describes a recent honour that she received:

"Miss Gordon has been accorded the signal honour of appearing on the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season ... She is, we believe, the only American girl to have this distinction awarded her since the days of Geraldine Farrar."

No mention was made that Jeanne Gordon was born in Wallaceburg, Ontario, and received her early training with Dr. Ham at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. (See Roll Back the Years for further information.)

As Canadians, we want the world to know that this land has produced its fair share of great voices. But, at the same time, we must be careful. I'm a great admirer of Bob Goulet, but I have to remind myself occasionally that he was born in Massachusetts.