(b Albalate de Cinca, 28 Dec 1893; d La Coruña, 30 May 1938). Spanish tenor. He studied at the Barcelona Conservatory and then in Milan with Luisa Pierrich, whom he later married. He made his début in 1919 at Trieste in Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini, then sang in Vienna (1920), Rome (1920–22, including the première of Zandonai’s Giulietta e Romeo), Monte Carlo (1921), Madrid (1921–2) and Buenos Aires (1922), in Rigoletto, Aida, Tosca and, above all, in Carmen. He appeared at the Metropolitan (1923–5), at La Scala (1924), where he returned to sing Calaf in the first Turandot in 1926, and at the Teatro Colón from 1922 to 1927; his Paris début, singing Cavaradossi, followed in 1928. His repertory included Lucia, Pagliacci, Andrea Chénier and Manon. He had a beautiful voice remarkable for its colour, range, evenness, sensual warmth and ease of inflection and expression, and was considered by Puccini to be the ideal performer of his works. He had also an exuberant and passionate temperament, but lacked taste and style, and failed to care for his voice, so that by 1928 he was already in decline. His virtues and failings are vividly exemplified in many recordings.
J.A.León: ‘Miguel Fleta’, Record Collector, xv (1963–4), 99–108 [with discography]
G.Gualerzi, ed.: ‘Tavola rotonda su Miguel Fleta’, Discoteca, no.41 (1964), 17–22
A.C.Saiz Valdivielso: Fleta, memoria de una voz (Madrid, 1986) [with discography]
Fletcher, Alice Cunningham
(b Cuba, 15 March 1838; d Washington DC, 6 April 1923). American ethnologist. She devoted herself to the study of the Great Plains Indians, so completely winning their confidence that she was privileged to gather data and record ceremonials and rituals not usually witnessed by non-Indians. While living on the Omaha reservation in 1881, she became interested in the education of the 24-year-old son, Francis, of Chief Joseph La Flesche. She took him to Washington where he lived with her, as her ‘son by adoption’, until 1910; with him, Fletcher wrote an important monograph on the Omaha tribe (1911).
Fletcher, who was an assistant at the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology from 1882, began collecting ethnological and musical data in 1883 among the Omaha and Dakota Indians. She also wrote about other tribes and kinship groups and transcribed hundreds of songs including the first complete record of the Pawnees’ Hako ceremony. Initially she notated melodies by ear, having her informants repeat each song until she was satisfied that she had an accurate transcription. Soon after the pioneer field use of the Edison phonograph by Jesse Walter Fewkes in 1890, Fletcher adapted her procedure to incorporate it and that enabled her to obtain a greater quantity of material. Her wax cylinder recordings (1893) of Omaha and Osage songs were mostly published by the Peabody Museum; the originals were transferred to the Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress.
Fletcher’s discussions and articles generated considerable interest in the scientific and aesthetic value of Indian music among other ethnologists and musicians. Fewkes, an ethnologist, and Benjamin Ives Gilman, a psychologist, followed her with their own pioneer work, applying scientific methods to the analysis of Indian melodies. For technical consideration of the music she collected, Fletcher turned to John Comfort Fillmore, with whom she worked closely from 1893 to 1896. As a result Fillmore became a prolific author of articles on American Indian music. Contemporary American composers began to use Indian music in their compositions: the first was Edward MacDowell in his ‘Indian’ Suite for orchestra (op.48, 1890); others included C.T. Griffes and Arthur Farwell.
Fletcher was also active in organizations, and held various offices in learned societies. Her publications include 46 monographs on aspects of Indian music and ethnology.
‘The Elk Mystery or Festival: Ogalala Sioux’, ‘The “Wawan”, or Pipe Dance of the Omahas’, The 16th and 17th Annual Reports of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, iii (1884), 276, 308
‘Glimpses of Child-Life among the Omaha Tribe of Indians’, Journal of American Folklore, i (1888), 115
‘Leaves from my Omaha Note-Book’, Journal of American Folklore, ii (1889), 219
‘Hae-Thu-Ska Society of the Omaha Tribe’, Journal of American Folklore, v (1892), 135
with F.La Flesche and J.C.Fillmore: A Study of Omaha Indian Music (Cambridge, MA, 1893/R)
‘Indian Songs, Personal Studies of Indian Life’, Century Magazine, xlvii (1893–4), 421
‘Music as Found in Certain North American Indian Tribes’, Music [Chicago], iv (1893–4), 457
‘Love Songs among the Omaha Indians’, Memoirs of the International Congress of Anthropology: Chicago 1893, ed. C. Staniland Wake (Chicago, 1894), 153
‘Some Aspects of Indian Music and its Study’, Archaeologist, ii (1894), 195, 234
‘Indian Music’, Music [Chicago], vi (1894–5), 188
‘Indian Songs and Music’, Papers of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, xliv (1895), 281
‘Indian Songs and Music’, Journal of American Folklore, xi (1898), 85