Say, don’t you remember Toti Dal Monte?

No, of course you don’t. Not unless you’re Italian, and a long-time opera goer, and getting pretty elderly by now — about as old as I am, for example, which is quite a lot so. Anyway, she was a soprano, and dearly beloved by Italian opera lovers in the decade of the 19-hundreds. Also the decade of the 19-teens, and twenties, and thirties, and even forties, because say what you will about Toti Dal Monte (not that that was her birth name, but it was the one she sang under, pretty much all over the world, for all those years), she had staying power.

Her favorite role. I think, was Mimi, the woman who supported herself (in extreme poverty) by making knick-knacks for fashionistas and fell in love with the also impoverished artist, Rodolfo, in one of my own favorite operas, La Boheme.

That’s the one I saw her sing, in the Royal Opera House in Naples, Italy, in 1945. At the time she was on, I would guess, the Naples leg of her maybe third or fourth final farewell tour. She was dearly, dearly beloved by just about every opera fan (which is very close to every living human being over six) in Italy. They were right to love her, too. I can attest to that, because in 1945 the voice was still beautiful.

The body, on the other hand, maybe not so much. In general build she was shaped more or less like a pumpkin. There’s a bit in the first act of Boheme where her brand new boyfriend, Rodolfo, is supposed to sweep her up and carry her across the stage. Sweeping and carrying were not available in that performance, though. Her Rodolfo was no taller than she was and a bit on the pudgy side himself, so they settled for him putting his arm around her shoulder and she kind of leaning against his side as they strolled across the stage.

Ah, memories, memories.

 
But listen, I’m not telling you all this just to give my recollections a little airing. I’ve got a problem here.

As I said, I saw this performance in 1945, and I’m absolutely positive of the date because, although I was in Italy before that, it was 1945 before I could wander around Naples on my own. But I looked up Toti in the Wikipedia the other day, and it says flatly that she retired in 1943.

So what do I do about that gross error?

I did what I was supposed to do. I looked up the instructions the Wikis supplied for such cases, and what it says is that I should be a good citizen and correct the error.

And how do I do that?

It doesn’t say. I read all the material about how the Wikis work and how much they need money, and all the rest of their backchat for the viewers. If there was any instructional material that says who you’re supposed to contact with your correction, however, I couldn’t find it.

So — do any of you know how you go about making a correction? If you do, will you please tell me?

17 Comments

  1. Brenda says:

    There’s tabs above every Wikipedia article. The default is “Read”. Next to it is “Edit”. Choose that one and correct any mistakes. If you want to (or feel the need to) justify your change, add an entry in the discussion page for it.

    Note that in many cases, they will ask for a reference. I suppose you could link back to this blog entry, but that usually doesn’t count. If there is a reference for the fact of Toti’s retirement in 1943, you could try and follow that back. Maybe someone just copied it incorrectly.

  2. Eric says:

    Not sure if I know how to go about it other than Brenda’s note above. But, looking at the Italian Wikipedia page and with a little “Google Translate” action thrown in, I can tell you that the Italian page has it right as the 8th paragraph starts with “In 1945 he(translation hiccup?) retired from the stage”.

    Seems like if you could translate Italian, you could perform a “major” edit on the English page and fix this problem.

    FYI, the French, German and Spanish pages are wrong too.

  3. Jason Wodicka says:

    To expand on Brenda’s point, Wikipedia is very strongly biased against the addition of any information that’s not already confirmed elsewhere, as a sort of safeguard against endless arguments of one person’s recollection against another. This has vexed some people, who can’t correct glaring inaccuracies on such obvious things as their own biographies. I’m not sure it’s the best policy, but it’s certainly the policy in place.

    Thankfully, the Italian article on Toti Dal Monte, on which the English article is based, has the correct date. So if you want to make the change, you can cite the Italian article as having the correct retirement date of 1945. (I don’t read Italian, but Google Translate did a very good job of making the date of retirement obvious after I ran the article through it.)

    And thank you – without this random blog posting today, I’d probably never have heard of Toti Dal Monte, despite her fame and talent.

  4. Doire says:

    From Movingfinger at Live journal who was repeatedly rejected by the security code.

    Commenting over at Fred’s website is broken and bounces every security code I copy and type in in any browser I have, but if someone could forward him this he might find it useful:

    According to the Times archives, Toti dal Monte was performing as late as 1947 (The Times, 3 January 1947, reviews a reappearance after some years), so the 1943 retirement can be taken safely with a grain of salt. I suggest you call a reference librarian—the NY Public Library is used to getting questions like this, and may even be able to find a notice about the concert you heard.

  5. I.T. says:

    Fred, have you already read the information on Wikipedia editing beginning at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Contents/Editing_Wikipedia ? And have you created an account yet? If so, you’re well on your way to making the edit. (Caution: it can be habit-forming!)

    Brenda’s point about references was taken. I’ve found two things of possible interest:

    At http://www.abitofhistory.net/html/rhw/body_files/d_body.htm , one finds the statement “Her public performances were rare after 1945, but she maintained a successful career as a vocal teacher, and gave occasional concerts.”

    And http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/October%201945/11/774464/EDITORIAL , reproducing the October 1945 issue of “Gramophone”, there’s a letter from a Captain Roger Wimbush stating “Toti dal Monte is living in Venice and singing in Padua.” Even allowing for lead times (about which I’d imagine you know a thing or two…), it’s probably safe to date the Captain’s to some time that same year.

    Hope that helps!

  6. Rich says:

    As Brenda says, there are tabs above the article (on the left side there are tabs to switch between the Article and the Discussion page for it, and on the right side are tabs for Read, Edit, and View History). If you click the Edit tab it will allow you to update the entire article at once, or there are also “[edit]” links across from every section heading that will confine the editing to just the corresponding section.

    The 1943 retirement year seems to have been taken from the equivalent Italian Wikipedia article (neither of the other two sources listed mention her retirement), however that article has since been updated to give 1945 as her retirement year. I thought that was sufficient justification for even I (who never heard of her before today) to correct it, so I did. Also I added a link to this blog entry to the list of references. Normally a blog entry might not be considered a proper source (though you are an eminent author), but since it’s a small article that’s not particularly well-sourced already, I think anyone who might be interested in learning about her would welcome being pointed to your recollections.

  7. JJ Brannon says:

    It shows 1945 now on the English Wikipedia version, no thanks to me.

    I checked the Italian edition of Wikipedia, Fred, and it cites 1945.

    There was a change on that edition last month, so if someone goofed earlier, you’re not the only one to catch it.

    JJB

  8. sjl says:

    It’s fixed, thanks to Touseol, who cited this blog post (plus the fact that the original article in the Italian Wikipedia has been revised to show her stage retirement as 1945).

  9. Richard Bensam says:

    Just as a side note: if any Wikipedian sticklers require further confirmation beyond one individual’s first hand experience that Toti Dal Monte was still performing in 1945, you can Google a relevant phrase such as “Toti Dal Monte 1945″ and it turns up other references to her activities that year. For example, the October 1945 issue of UK publication The Gramophone, noting on page 11 that “Toti dal Monte is living in Venice and singing in Padua”:

    http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/October%201945/11/774464/EDITORIAL#report_paragraph

    (Does this Internet thing still amaze anyone else, or is it just me?)

  10. Carl Hommel says:

    Someone named Touseol has already done this, with the comment “Equivalent article in Italian Wikipedia has since been revised to list retirement year as 1945, also corroborated in blog post by Frederick Pohl which I added to the list of references”

    The reference added is
    Remembering Toti at thewaythefutureblogs.com

    Congratulations, you’ve now entered another publishing venue!

  11. Tod says:

    OK,,, from a quick look at wikipedia dot org.
    Go to the “Edit” tab (top right) and you’ll get the info you need.
    The info on the top of the edit page talks about getting an account and logging in, but, the way I recall it from 2 – 3 years ago when playing around… you can probably edit the page without logging in.

    HOWEVER, logged-in or not, you STILL have to wait for the editors to O.K. any changes.

    Tod

  12. Rich Rostrom says:

    What Brenda said. It’s that easy.

    That’s why Wiki is so powerful, and so vulnerable.

    Anyone can add information, correct errors, or fix bad writing.

    I’ve done all three. (It appears I have exactly 2,000 Wikiedits recorded.)

    It also means anyone can vandalize any article, or spread misinformation, or suppress information he doesn’t like. (Some people “camp” on an article, deleting or reverting any edit which does not conform to their views. One prominent Wiki administrator was recently expelled from the organization for “camping” on articles related to “global warming”, and using his administrator’s powers to suppress any material that did not conform to the “consensus” – including factual material from authoritative sources.)

    Wiki has made a huge amount of useful information conveniently available to to the general public. This would be impossible if everything had to be passed on by editors. And no organization could afford to pay for the amount of style editing contributed by volunteers (like me).

    Also, “professional” references are often erroneous, and sometimes deliberately corrupted.

    So I remain a champion of Wikipedia.

  13. John H says:

    Ain’t the Internet grand?

  14. Rich Rostrom says:

    As to Toti Dal Monte: I never heard of her, which is a little surprising. I’m not an opera buff, but I listen to WFMT (the Chicago classical station), including their shows on musicians and singers of the early record era (i.e. those that left recordings to be played). Lots of singers from that era have been mentioned, but never Dal Monte that I remember.

    Perhaps she didn’t record much.

  15. Rich Rostrom says:

    Tod:

    You are correct: one can edit Wikipedia without logging in, except for some protected articles. Your IP address will be recorded, though. (Vandalism is almost always done from an IP address instead of a login. Very often the owner of the IP address is a school somewhere: some kid being a smart alec.)

    You are also wrong: Wiki edits are posted immediately, with no approval required. If every Wiki edit had to be approved, the project would bog down completely.

  16. Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey says:

    Were I in Fred’s shoes, I would just ask somebody who is experienced at editing Wikipedia to change the article. (And indeed, as SJL points out above, this has been done by “Touseol.”) Unless I WANTED to acquire a fascinating new hobby.

    Heck, Fred has written for the Brittanica, so why not contribute to Wikipedia, too?

  17. Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey says:

    With some diffidence, since the subject of Wikipedia has come up, I’ll mention that I have been moved to create an article for Inga Stephens Pratt Clark, known here as Inga Pratt. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inga_Stephens_Pratt_Clark

    Not only was she presiding over the goings-on Fred describes in the society of SF writers, but she illustrated a lot of books, her fashion drawings were noted by a commentator on that art, she co-authored a couple of stories, and she married not only Fletcher Pratt but also Dr. John Clark.

    I thought an article was in order. I leaned heavily upon Fred’s writings but also employed author-bio references, directories, and even a magazine squib Fletcher wrote about Inga. Those with more experience and skill (I’m lookin’ at you, Rich) are invited to look it over; doubtless there are ways in which it could be improved. I’m new at this.

    In the course of this work, I learned that Wikipedia has no article about the Hydra Club. Nor Bernard de Voto, nor Basil Davenport.