MARY GARDEN OPERA SINGER
Well it wouldn't be much of a world if we all had the same idea of beauty, would it? Vive la difference and all that - and a fascinating diversion on this thread.
Theda Bara? "I have the face of a vampire but the heart of a woman" I think you must be a bit of a Goth, Haytoner! Mind you, in the few pictures I've seen of her, without
makeup she has a fresh, vulnerable beauty that's tremendously appealing.
I'm glad you're finding something to like in Mary Garden's Scots song recordings because I think her no nonsense, down-to-earth approach is very likeable, and "Comin'
thro' the rye" is one place she does show some humour. A pity that the only picture I know in which she is smiling is the one of her in ler later years at home right at the
start of this thread. She's much more often seen likethis, still a striking woman well into her seventies:
By now it must be pretty obvious that I'm something of a fan of MG, but I don't think I have mentioned the thing that fascinates me above all:
I'm not disparaging the womenfolk of Aberdeen in the late 1800s - though I probably am disparaging of Aberdeen as a city of culture back then, but it never ceases to amaze
me that a lassie from a very ordinary Aberdeen background succeeded in becoming a great and unique star in a world so far removed from here - and one entirely dominated by
men at that time. That's mightilyimpressive to me.
Hi Jim, and anyone else reading this. "By now it must be pretty obvious that I'm something of a fan of MG,". To be honest, I hadn't really considered this, but then I'm pretty slow
on the uptake.
One thing I have been thinking about, which you have doubtless considered is; Would Mary have had any success had she remained in Aberdeen? I don't mean for all of her life
of course, the
answer would then obviously be "no". Say she had stayed in Dee Street until she was 20, that is, after her voice had developed. We could suppose that her same driving ambition
would have seen
her train to the utmost using whatever sources were available. But then what? Would she have gone to USA/Italy/France or wherever in order to further her career? I tend to
think from what I have heard about her, that she wouldhave reached the top wherever she was born and brought up but it would have been via a different path. What do you think?
I have also been wondering how her death was received in the local press so I went down to the Central Library this morning and scanned through the 1967 P&Js. I found the
following but again,thequality is so poor after photocopying and scanning. Also I am not sure if I have done this right but I can always have another go if they are illegible.
By the way, I have changed my mind about Theda Bara.
If Mary Garden had stayed in Aberdeen till her 20s, this dedication from George Gershwin wouldn't have happened:
and if she HAD stayed, well... she wouldn't have been Mary Garden. I doubt that she could have found a local teacher to take her to a high enough standard in the Belle Epoque
style that suited her so perfectly. What Mary Garden knew instinctively couldn't be taught. She may have rewritten a lot of her history, but she said nothing truer than this -
“It is by an art quite different from that of other opera singers that I have found my way, and I want to be judged not alone by my singing or my acting or my stage appearance,
but by these combined into oneart that is entirely different from the rest.”
Her testament prompts another thought. In the arts, we Brits tended both then and now to value only what we can quantify. If Mary had been among the great vocalists like
Melba, or the greatest actresses like Bernhardt, she could have been described as "The greatest ..... of her day". As it was, she was a glorious one-off with whom
comparisons were irrelevant and pointless, and that's something I think theestablishment fears.
The cuttings aren't too easy to read, but they are marvellous and mainly new to me so I might have a bash at transcribing them. Thank you for posting them.
No, I don't think her life could have been any other way than it was!
(So you've dumped Theda Bara? Fickle, Haytoner, fickle!)
Here's a picture of Mary Garden as Carmen that I had not previously seen.
There is some interesting writing on M.G. in the book "Silver Screen in the Silver City" by Michael Thompson. I know that there are a lot of Aberdeen Cinema enthusiasts out there
(Logiexileloon etc.) and presume that they are aware of this book which I recently got from the library. It is priceless for anyone interested in the recent history of Aberdeen as well
as Aberdeen Cinemas. I have to say however that I disagree with the contents of one or two of the captions. It implies that M.G. was always looked on as "our own Aberdeen lass"
by Aberdonians of the day. I think this may be open to debate. It mentions also that she made a public appearance at the Gaumont July 1957 in order to present a prize to the
winner of the annual Evening Express Personality Girl competition. Apparently she was a regular at the Gaumont in her later years.
Jim, I thoroughly enjoyed our get together on Saturday at the M.G. Tea Rooms. Once again time passed too quickly and much was left for us to chat about another time. Nice now
that we have seemed tosort out the biscuit situation to everyones satisfaction. I will magnanimously decline to mention the fact that a Blueberry Muffin costs almost four times that
of a plain shortcake biscuit. Before you bring it up,I admit that some of the crumbs left on the settee were due to my own carelesness.
Looking forward to the next meting Jim.
I wasn't aware of the Garden references in "Silver Screen" so I checked them out. They give a pretty fair imporession of Mary Garden's films and her low opinion of them, especially
"The Splendid Sinner", which I believe was made in spare time left at the end of filming "Thais". She said, "I made 'The Splendid Sinner' in three weeks, and I hope nobody in God's
world will ever see it again. I have heard many films called the worst film ever made; I am sure those who make such judgements never saw 'The Splendid Sinner'"
All the same, wouldn't it be fascinating to see either of her films now? Sadly, I'm not sure that they exist other than in scraps.
Hi Jim, I was at the library today trawling through micro film for a completely unrelated subject that I knew occurred in summer 1957. I loaded in the E.E. for May and this was on
the very first page. Just shows you how easy it is to find something if you are not looking for it. It is an interesting little article isn't it. I photocopied the complete page of course but
can you believe I was stupid enough to crop the date from the top of the page? (I suppose that having met me you can readily believe that).
Haytoner, this is great. Even without the exact date, 1957 is good enough because I don't think the last part of Mary's life is that well documented. Michael Turnbull gets
through it in very few pages, but then his book is mainly about her life in singing. Al these local cuttings you have unearthed make fascinating reading.
As mentioned, the 1957 cutting about M.Gs. I discovered completely accidentally within 5 minutes of browsing. Since then I have spent many hours browsing through various
years of the E.E. and come across nothing about her. However, in the book "Silver Screen in the Silver City" I came across mention that the film "A Splendid Sinner"was
reviewed in the E.E. of September 15th 1919. So naturally, part of my days work at the library was devoted to looking for this. Unfortunately, I could find no review of the
film on this date. Fortunately, I DID find a review of it in the September 16th E.E. I photocopied it of course, and if you want to see it, just go along to the Central Library
Local History Department and you will find it still there in the second photocopier from the right. I didn't realise I had left it there until I got home and sorted out the 22
photocopied pages that I had taken today. I have checked my bag three times and is simply not there so I will need to copy it again next week. For what it was worth, the
"review" itself consisted only of two or three lines claiming that it was a great film. It was shown in the Electric Theatre and all the films being shown that week were reviewed.
The previous day, the shows were advertised. Not only did I take a copy of this, but I had the foresight to take it home with me for a change. Again, the quality is really poor
How amazing to see that advert for "The Splendid Sinner" in the local paper and to know that it was, in fact, shown in Aberdeen. I wish I had your patience and resolve,
As we know, Mary had a somewhat lower opinion of the film!
This is a still from "The Splendid Sinner"
A rather weird image if you ask me, with an even weirder caption: "Pals, they call Mary Garden and Madge Kennedy at the Goldwyn Studio, where the singer has just completed
her newest motion picture, which she calls "a gorgeous thing". Here she is seen on the last day of her studio work on this production saying au revoir to the piquant Madge
Kennedy and telling her that sh'd give a fortune for her eyes and smile."
Hi Jim, I was back at the library today, working my way through the microfilm copies of the local papers and I came across these;
1955 November 12th Evening Express
1955 12th November P&J
1956 20th February P&J
And as a bonus I remembered to take them out of the photocopier this time.
There's probably a lot more about her in the local papers during the time she lived in Aberdeen because she seems to have loved being in the public eye in her home town.
So I'm building up a nice little collection of clippings. I have two copies of them all of course. Hopefully we can meet up again soon but I think I will have to work next
Saturday, so perhapsthe one after that?