Ponselle would arrive at the theater several hours early and turn all of the heat off in the dressing rooms because she believed the heat affected her voice. She would check the back stage area frequently and while the other poor singers froze, she was perfectly contented! Being the true superstar that she was, not one dared disrupt her routine but left her alone.
In listening to Ponselle's commercial recordings and to those few precious live performances that exist with her, one can hear an extraordinary voice with an impeccable technique and not hint of a problem or hesitation with the top of the voice. What a shame she was so tormented by her own fears and imagination. We can only be grateful that she did not shy away from the recording studio because her legacy has assured her place as one of the greatest singers of the twentieth century and one of the most beautiful voices of all time. The totally seamless vocal line from bottom to top and the dark coloration of her voice that was consistent throughout makes her truly unique and a treasure in the annals of operatic music.
Compare the two performances above. These two are her commercial recordings of the two La Vestale arias, Tu che invoco and O nume tutelar.
This performance is a live performance from the Chesterfield Hour in 1936 of Tu che invoco.