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Can't Help Singing
The Life of Eileen Farrell
Eileen Farrell, Brian Kellow

1999 • 256 pp. 27 illus. 5 1/4 x 9"
Opera / Biography - Musicians & Composers

$29.95 Hardcover, 978-1-55553-406-6

The long-anticipated memoir of one of the greatest and most celebrated American singers of the twentieth century

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.

Reviews / Endorsements

“When I heard the opera and jazz recordings of Eileen Farrell, it was a complete revelation to me. And now this fascinating book gives the background to the singer's personality. No wonder that her art is so great, because she has a heart, intelligence, and sense of humor as big as that fabulous voice.” —Cecilia Bartoli

“Candid and straightforward, this book brings to mind Eileen Farrell's recording of 'To This We've Come' from The Consul. When I was asked to record this aria, my response was no thank you-the perfect recording already exists and it's Eileen Farrell's. Like the recording, Ms. Farrell's book with Brian Kellow gets directly to the heart of the matter.”—Renée Fleming

“Thank heaven Eileen Farrell couldn’t help singing. I can’t help loving her. I can’t help loving this book. It’s lusty, funny, warm, and no holds barred. It’s Eileen! It’s a treat.”—Beverly Sills

“I had known that Eileen Farrell was a great soprano. Now I know that she is also a great storyteller. This account of her life and career is candid and amusing. It is also a revealing look at the world of music-concert, opera, and popular-and those who inhabit it.”—Edwin Newman

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.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:52:44 -0500