Can't Help Singing: The Life of Eileen Farrell

Overview

Eileen Farrell is blessed with two voices. A classically-trained dramatic soprano who also loves to belt pop songs and torch the blues, she successfully conquered the worlds of opera and popular music over the course of her whirlwind career. Now, Farrell shares reminiscences about her remarkable professional and personal life.

With candor, humor, and affection, she recalls her New England childhood, her overnight success at age twenty as star of her own CBS radio show, her big ...

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Overview

Eileen Farrell is blessed with two voices. A classically-trained dramatic soprano who also loves to belt pop songs and torch the blues, she successfully conquered the worlds of opera and popular music over the course of her whirlwind career. Now, Farrell shares reminiscences about her remarkable professional and personal life.

With candor, humor, and affection, she recalls her New England childhood, her overnight success at age twenty as star of her own CBS radio show, her big break dubbing vocals for Eleanor Parker in the MGM movie Interrupted Melody, and her many guest appearances on television shows. Farrell discusses her rise to fame as an opera star, from her highly acclaimed performance in Medea in 1955, to her historic debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Alceste in 1960. She also fondly recollects her marriage of forty years to New York police officer Robert Reagan and her life outside the limelight, including her frustrating tenure as a faculty member at Indiana University.

Farrell speaks frankly about her tumultuous years at the Met, where her head-to-head confrontations with Sir Rudolph Bing brought her promising operatic career to an abrupt close after five seasons. While she loved singing the music of Verdi, Mascagni, and Giordano, Farrell reveals that she never reconciled herself to the life of a diva, preferring the friendliness of show business to the aloofness of the opera world.

Populated with such figures as Leonard Bernstein, Arturo Toscanini, Maria Callas, Ethel Merman, Mabel Mercer, and Carol Burnett, this engaging memoir takes the reader from backstage at the Met to behind-the-scenes of the Ed Sullivan Show, providing a fascinating view of opera and the entertainment industry. Eileen Farrell's legion of fans will delight in her inviting story of a career that was like no other singer's.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
If the test of an autobiography is whether the reader comes to know (and like) the subject, then Farrell succeeds admirably with this frank and charming account of her extraordinary career. She doesn't gloss over mistakes or weaknesses; nor does she quote endlessly from her reviews. In short, she appears genuinely modest while being honest about her abilities and successes. Her singing career was unique, with enormous success both in classical music and jazz. She worked with many famous singers and conductors of her time and doesn't hold back her blunt opinions of them. She explains the brevity of her career at the Metropolitan Opera, her controversial teaching career at Indiana University, and her rewarding experience with the Bach Aria Group. Many of her recordings have recently been reissued on compact disc, making this a perfect time for the first book about her career to appear. Recommended for academic and public library collections.--Kate McCaffrey, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Eileen Farrell, one of the most celebrated American singers of the century, shares personal reminiscences about her professional and personal life. In addition to her rise to fame as an opera star, she recollects her sometimes stormy marriage of 40 years, her life outside the limelight, and her love of jazz and pop music. She names names while describing her frustrating tenure as a faculty member at Indiana University, and speaks frankly about her tumultuous years at the Metropolitan Opera. Kellow is executive director of . Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555534066
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 11/9/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen Farrell was born in Willimantic, Connecticut, in 1920. She lives in New Jersey. Brian Kellow is executive editor of Opera News and has contributed to numerous magazines, including BBC Music Magazine, Stagebill, Opera, Stereophile, and Irish America. He lives in New York City and Connecticut.
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