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 Post subject: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 1911
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:00 pm 
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Victor III
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music is time travel and strings moments in time together like nothing else I know -- Kathleen Lane
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This record is not music, but it is a rather rare record from 1911 of the very popular and well known, at the time, English actress Ellen Terry. Her most often performed role was Portia in The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare. While on tour in the USA she made the only voice recordings of her known to exist. There were five records made and this is one of them. Though she was English, she only recorded in the USA. Gramophone released the same records on their label using the masters from the Victor sessions. I thought it might be of some interest. I find it fascinating but not something I would listen to over and over necessarily.

The backside of the record has a label containing the speech she gives on the record. I included an image of it below.

(Double-click the video above or click this link to watch the video on YouTube in HD.)


https://youtu.be/XDriY7YxJpE

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-- Dan

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 Post subject: Re: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 19
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:51 am 
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Victor I
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Location: Redruth, Cornwall, U.K.
Thank you for posting this. Terry's tricks of style – the emphasis on 'and', the cello-like vibrato on the vowel of the word 'crown', the huge drawing-out of the line 'It is an attribute to God himself' – are a world away from anything one would hear now; to my ears at least she seems to be almost as much singing the lines as speaking them.

Oliver Mundy.


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 Post subject: Re: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 19
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:19 pm 
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Victor III
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music is time travel and strings moments in time together like nothing else I know -- Kathleen Lane
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Location: North Oregon Coast
Oliver, it is interesting to hear how she performed this piece a bit more than 100 years ago. She was from the 19th century and it seems things tended to be blown up a bit theatrically in that time. Similar to novels of the time, very flowery and a bit overdone. It does show a deep understanding of the text but I find it a bit distracting and unclear when done like this. I much prefer things from the mid-20th century forward much more. Styles got much more "realistic" which makes them easier to comprehend. I did see a short silent film video of her performing (obviously without sound) and it made me wish I could have seen her live. It must have really been something.
-- Dan

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 Post subject: Re: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 19
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 1:58 am 
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Victor IV
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Thanks for posting this excerpt from Shakespeare by the great, but to most people today, forgotten actress, Ellen Terry. She was one of the greats! Born the same year as Thomas Edison, 1847, the beautiful picture below was taken of her at age 16 right in the middle of the American Civil War, time-wise that is. She wasn't there of course. The Pre-Raphaelite artists painted her in many of their paintings. She also acted in many of George Bernard Shaw's plays when they premiered.


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 Post subject: Re: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 19
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:08 am 
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Victor V
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marcapra wrote:
Thanks for posting this excerpt from Shakespeare by the great, but to most people today, forgotten actress, Ellen Terry. She was one of the greats! Born the same year as Thomas Edison, 1847, the beautiful picture below was taken of her at age 16 right in the middle of the American Civil War, time-wise that is. She wasn't there of course. The Pre-Raphaelite artists painted her in many of their paintings. She also acted in many of George Bernard Shaw's plays when they premiered.


That is a superbly beautiful photograph, which could hold its own against anything shot today. :rose:

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 19
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:19 pm 
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Victor III
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E. H. Southern and Julia Marlowe made a series of Shakespeare records at about the same time. The Romeo & Juliet "Balcony Scene" even has an instrumental obbligato accompanying parts of the speeches, underlining the almost singing quality of the delivery. I find it lovely, but wouldn't want to hear it that way too often. It's interesting to note that early John Gielgud recordings show a bit of the vibrato-enhanced "singing" style as well.

Oddly, the Edwin Booth record of Otello's first speech, one of the earliest recordings of a noted actor (and the oldest actor on record?) shows almost none of this, and sounds very modern.


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 Post subject: Re: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 19
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:27 am 
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Victor III
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Interesting recording. Thanks for posting. In an era before electrical amplification and microphones I wonder if this type of delivery aided the ability to fill a large auditorium with speech that could be more clearly heard

S-B-H


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 Post subject: Re: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 19
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:30 am 
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Victor II
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I have this record also.(Patents Label) It seems to be very low volume, so quiet that I wonder how it was heard on an acoustic machine.


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 Post subject: Re: Merchant of Venice Mercy Speech Act IV by Ellen Terry 19
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:34 pm 
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Victor III
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music is time travel and strings moments in time together like nothing else I know -- Kathleen Lane
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:23 am
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Location: North Oregon Coast
howardpgh wrote:
I have this record also.(Patents Label) It seems to be very low volume, so quiet that I wonder how it was heard on an acoustic machine.


Yes it is pretty soft and I always had issues understanding it on my phonographs. When I digitized it I increased the volume almost by ½ which makes things much easier to hear and understand. She likely needed to be a bit closer to the recording horn. But, with a singsongy voice like hers that could project to fill a theatre without amplification there was likely some fear of blasting.
-- Dan

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