|Gio & Gia Comments|
|Art of the Bel Canto Singing Voice by Gio||R.M.S. Titanic|
|Tenors--The Kings of Opera by Gio||Jeanette and Nelson--Two Singing Voices by Gio|
|Jeanette's Merry Widow by Ken Norton||Maytime, The Perfect Movie-by Gio|
|Five Magical Words-by Gio||Ah, How Sweet You Sang Jeanette!|
|Happy Birthday Jeanette #102- The Queen of Hollywood||Nelson--Silver Screen’s Golden Baritone Article-by Gio|
Golden Art of The Greatest Soprano-*
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Five Magical Words
They were five words, but when strung together by Rida Johnson Young to the music of Victor Herbert in 1910 for the Musical Naughty Marietta, they took on a musical spirit that would become the legendary song of the great silver screen star, Jeanette MacDonald. Jeanette MacDonald, born in West Philadelphia at the turn of the last century, was born to sing. As a child she sang all the time, and by the age of 10 was performing with a children’s group. By the mid-twenties she was on her way to becoming a huge musical stage star. When silent movies turned to talking motion pictures, Hollywood sought out stars from the New York Stage, and Paramount, seeing a real Diamond in Jeanette, signed her to a movie contract.
The golden red-headed, green-eyed beauty went west and became an international success. Always taking the high road in life, the new actress and her mother, Anna MacDonald (Jeanette’s father died in 1924) took Hollywood in stride. Where the glamour and glitter went to other stars heads, Jeanette worked hard at perfecting her new craft. She left Paramount and worked at Universal, Fox, Paramount again before go to MGM where she scored a huge success in 1934 playing Sonia in The Merry Widow with Maurice Chevalier. The moving going audience wanted more of the great beauty and in 1935 MGM found a perfect vehicle for their new great singing star, Naughty Marietta.
There were many strings to sew this movie together, and Jeanette played a leading role in making sure it would be the great success it was. She handpicked her leading man; an unknown baritone named Nelson Eddy and worked every day with him, preparing him for the next day shooting. She also worked with the sound and light directors to help improve the lighting affect and the sound (Douglas Shearer won an Oscar for Best Sound), and would apply her own make-up—and then check to see if it was right. Of course it was always right! We would expect nothing less from our Jeanette.
The story is about a French princess (Marie de Namours de la Bonfain) who is forced to marry an Old Spanish Duke. The free spirited woman trades places with her maid, Marietta Franini, and joins a shipload of Casquette girls heading to the New World (New Orleans) to become wives of men there. After an encounter with pirates and saved by a colonial mercenary, Captain Richard Warrington, the two fall in love. Throughout the movie we hear Jeanette and her co-star (Nelson) sing solo songs, but, it is not until the very end of the movie that Victor Herbert’s song, “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life!” creates musical magic. It is with this one song that the all-time greatest singing team of the Silver Screen became immortal.
The scene is truly classic Jeanette, standing in the midst of men and women dressed in the finest costumes of the Louis XIV era: silk and lace, powdered-white wigs, and an enrichment of jewelry adorning the women. Marietta, upon seeing her love leaving the room and knowing she will never see him again, tells her friend Rudolpho, —“Play my song!” The camera pulls away as Jeanette turns around in a full-flowing silk gown and starts to sing Rida Johnson Young’s five words, “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life!” Pouring her heart out to Captain Warrington, she finishes and heads up the stairs when Warrington starts singing the song back to her. Together, standing on opposite sides of the staircase railing, Jeanette, looking down at Nelson with her gorgeous green eyes, and he, staring up into them, as they sing of their love for each—it is at the cinematic moment that music history was made.
From that moment on, the names of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy would be forever linked together. Never in cinema history would there ever be a singing team as great as them. They would go on to make seven more movies, each a rare gem, and each a heart stopper for the millions of fans who fell in love with the Silver Screen Sweethearts.
Our Jeanette has been thrilling us ever since, and every time we see her, our lives stop and our hearts listen as our eyes stare, almost as if we are in a trance, watching the Screen Goddess sing to each one of us alone. Yes, the Golden Diva makes the world turn golden with the sparkling glitter of her green jewel eyes. Five words, but oh what Jeanette did with them, the world will never be the same since she sang them.
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