Today’s New York Times, carries a nice obituary for John Reed, one of the great word guys of the century. He wasn’t an author, yet I mention him here because of his performances, which unlike most singers, depended on his masterful delivery of words. He was the leading performer of Gilbert and Sullivan’s patter songs at the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. Here’s his performance of Willow, tit-willow, the love song from The Mikado on youtube.
Reeds characters were always the antithesis of romance novel heros, un-macho but not without yearnings. As Judge Scaphio explains in Utopia Ltd:
Never! I have often marveled at the fairy influence which weaves its rosy web about the faculties of the greatest and wisest of our race; but I thank Heaven I have never been subjected to its singular fascination. For, oh, Phantis! there is that within me that tells me that when my time does come, the convulsion will be tremendous! When I love, it will be with the accumulated fervor of sixty-six years! But I have an ideal–a semi-transparent Being, filled with an inorganic pink jelly–and I have never yet seen the woman who approaches within measurable distance of it. All are opaque–opaque–opaque!
A fine singer and actor who can deliver such lines and be understood in the last row of the second balcony.