I first met Marta Eggerth when I was profiling her for the New York Times on the occasion of a new CD release. Our interview took place seven decades after her first Times interview, when she was arriving in America for a Hollywood screen test before signing with MGM. Eggerth was a big European star of film and song in the 1930s, made two films with Judy Garland in the 1940s, conquered Broadway in the 1950s with her husband, the tenor heartthrob Jan Kiepura, and released her latest album at 93. She continues to give cabaret evenings at the Cafe Sabarsky in New York, where, in an echt Viennese ambience, she brings across, with a remarkably fresh sound and amazing musical sensitivity, music that was written for her by people like Emmerich Kalman and Franz Lehar.
Yesterday Marta's son, Marjan Kiepura, e-mailed to let me know he had put up some videos of his mother on YouTube. There are plenty of recordings on YouTube of Eggerth in her prime (most of them audio tracks with accompanying movie stills), but these new offerings, made when she was only 80, capture some of the air she's brought along, like a pressed flower, into the 21st century. She still has a remarkably fresh sound -- a reminder that a voice can last for many years if it's treated properly, with good technique, and not forced to sing things that are too big for it.
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