By James A. Drake
I am both honored and pleased to be able to once again present Dr. James A. Drake as our guest author today. A recently retired college president, James A. Drake is a distinguished author of seven books, four of which are biographies of great opera singers of the twentieth century. Although not a musician (he earned a doctorate in philosophy and taught primarily in social-science disciplines before he became a university administrator), Dr. Drake earned the confidence of the legendary soprano Rosa Ponselle, with whom he collaborated on her autobiography for Doubleday and Company. With a foreword by Luciano Pavarotti, the Ponselle-Drake collaboration yielded excellent reviews and was named "Music Book of the Month" by the National Book Clubs of America in 1982. The book was also promoted during a Metropolitan Opera broadcast in the 1982-83 season. By that time, Dr. Drake had been selected by Sara Tucker, widow of the celebrated tenor Richard Tucker, to write an authorized biography of the great singer, who had died in 1975 while at the peak of his career. For the Tucker book, Luciano Pavarotti again contributed a foreword, and the biography was officially released at a special event hosted by maestro James Levine at Lincoln Center. Once again, Dr. Drake's newest work received a "Music Book of the Month" award.
"As a primary asset," Kolodin continued, "Mr. Weede has a voice—a big voice, moreover, which fills the opera house with ease and doesn't require the forcing to which he sometimes resorted. But it has quality as well as size ... [and] he was entitled to the robust applause he received."
Speaking of Weede's voice at the time of his early success as Tonio in Pagaliacci, De Schaunsee described it "as a big voice, but not a beautiful voice in the usual sense of that phrase--not in the class of Lawrence Tibbett, or John Charles Thomas, or Leonard Warren and Robert Merrill.”
Robert Weede died in Walnut Creek, California, on July 9,1972. But through his numerous recordings and radio appearances, and the relatively few television appearances he made, he earned a form of immortality that few artists experience in their lifetimes.
JAMES A. DRAKE