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THE PLASTIC ART                      93
of the fifteenth century. I have seen singers interpreting the Bergerettes of Weckerlin in costumes of the Middle Ages. I have even seen one of the most famous opera singers of our time appear as Messalina in a spangled dress.
I am sure that each of these singers to whom I have just referred would answer me: "But we make money! We are popular! We have success!" But why not make money, be popular, have success, and, at the same time, accustom the public to the most complete ex­pression of art ?
I am speaking here of women only. The male singer is, I think, forever condemned to appear in this modern abomination called evening dress, until one sensible, tasteful, and courageous man will break the rule and appear in some appropriate costume. The priest dons a robe for his religious service, the judge dresses in a toga to pronounce justice. Why should Art be delivered in the detestable banal­ity of a frock-coat and patent leather shoes ?
There is no department in dramatic art where more horrible crimes are committed than in the costume department. In my memory will ever live the most extraordina­rily costumed Cleopatra of a very popular

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III