, June 2013
Readers interested in the life and art of George London will be amply rewarded in this DVD.
Both documentary segment and the footage section present rare archive material.
He was without doubt a memorable singer, and his later travails make for sad viewing. As to what extent he was a singer-actor that must remain something of a vexed question. Like many a famed singer, he ‘acts with the eyes’ though sometimes the rest of the body fails him, dramatically speaking but at all times he certainly acts with the voice.
We hear from his widow, Nora, and from colleagues and critics; from Neil Shicoff, Catherine Malfitano, Deborah Polaski and a number of others. We don’t truly learn much about his student years and about his steady ascent of the international ladder until his great successes in Bayreuth and beyond. We can see that his singing and acting of spirituals was a touch problematic; he lacks Tibbett’s gravitas, for one thing. His Scots brogue in Lord Randall doesn’t convince as much as fellow Canadian John Vickers’ singing of similar songs.
London was nevertheless an admired colleague and artist and this portrait goes some way towards demonstrating how much he was liked. Importantly, most of the source material is in reasonable shape and there need be no worries on that score. I would say the second half is the more valuable, given its intrinsic artistic merit. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review