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One of the more unusual 2-minute wax cylinder recordings made by Edison: a vocal violin imitation performed by the famous opera singer and vaudeville star Edith Helena.


Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
 
Company Edison's National Phonograph Company
Cylinder # 9556
Category Vocal violin imitation
Title Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
Performed by Edith Helena
Circa June 1907
Announcement "Vocal violin imitation, Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, by Edith Helena.  Edison record."
Edith Helena, ca. 1910 (image courtesy of 'The Record Collector' magazine, collection of Arthur E. Knight)

Coloratura soprano Edith Helena began singing in vaudeville, moved to opera, and later returned to vaudeville.   She recorded just two 2-minute cylinders for Edison, both were of her vaudeville specialties.   Her recordings for other record companies included many operatic selections.

In part due to her enormous 4-octave range, her most famous vaudeville act was her imitation of a violin.   She would appear to play the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana on a violin; she was actually singing the violin part.   This became clear to the audience as she put the violin down before the end of the piece.

Does anyone else hear what I think I hear at 1:32 into this recording?

To hear Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana  —

For help playing these sounds, click here.

    No. 9556, "Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana," by Edith Helena is a vocal imitation of a violin playing Mascagni's well known composition.   It is one of the most novel and at the same time most clever Records so far made for the Edison catalogue.   Miss Helena sings this on the vaudeville stage, playing a violin in pantomime the while.   In our Record the final notes are sung just to convince the listeners that the violin is being imitated.
— April 1907 Edison Phonograph Monthly [announcing the June records]


— This cylinder of the month is from the collection of  Art Guenther —

                                       


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