Uniting Into A Proud National Family

Licia Albanese - New York, New York
Broadcast during the 1950s
Licia Albanese
Photo courtesy The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation

I have been an American now for eight years. I was born in a small town in Italy. I cannot separate from my personal philosophy my feeling about my new country. For me, America has always meant strength, enormous vitality, unlimited faith in the future. Lately I have been troubled to see these things made little by timidity and pessimism. This challenges my beliefs.

Last year, my first child, a son, was born. He is an American and he is going to grow up in a free world of many exciting things, and I want fear to be alien to him. I am trying to set him an example. Every year I travel back to Europe to visit relatives and friends. This year I shall have the added pleasure of traveling with my son. I expect that my family will find him quite large for his age and, perhaps, a trifle naughty. For my son is a very fearless little animal, who is well nourished and much loved. He is not accustomed to the words “don’t” and “mustn’t,” and I imagine his first spoken word will be, “Why?”

I think my son is the kind of child he is because he feels loved, he feels very much part of a family. In his own way, he knows that he is not alone. Well then, I must cultivate this same healthy feeling myself, to have an optimistic and confident outlook toward life. Community life, I think, is the key. But really, I don’t think I personally appreciated how much it meant until the birth of my own son. Since then, I have come to regard it as my way of saying, “Yes, I have confidence in the future and that’s why together we are planning and working to provide for that future. Now with a child of my own, I look forward to the future with more happiness, more enthusiasm than ever before.

Today, like any woman, I could wish for a much more tranquil world in which to bring up my child, but I have always believed what comes, comes. Yet, if out of uncertainties of the present I can draw closer to my neighbor and if by our combined efforts we make each other feel part of a proud national family, then I believe we will whip fear, the sickness of our generation, the sickness which threatens positive personal beliefs.

Italian soprano Licia Albanese made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1940 in “Madame Butterfly," a role for which she was identified throughout her long career. Albanese taught master classes around the world, and she created a foundation in 1974 to assist aspiring singers.