CHRISTINE RANKL, wife of the recently ap-
pointed music director of the Australian Eliza-
bethan Theatre Trust, copies scores for her
Perfect command of five languages and the ability to make shirts and copy scores are just some of the attributes which make Christine Rankl the perfect wife for her husband, Karl, who was recently appointed music director of the Australian
Elizabethan Theatre Trust.
THE Rankls, who ar-
rived in Sydney at the end of March, will be in Australia for three years. They will travel to Bris- bane soon for the opening of the opera season there on June 20, and then tour Sydney, Melbourne, and
The five operas in the 1958 season will be "Carmen," Peter Grimes," "Fidelio," "Lohengrin," and "The Bar-
ber of Seville."
Tall, hazel-eyed Mrs. Rankl, who has made more than half of her husband's 55 shirts, thinks nothing of cop- ing with the washing and iron- ing when Karl uses three or four shirts a day during rehearsals.
She finds time to swim nearly every day, make her own clothes, cook her hus- band's "plain Austrian meals,' act as his secretary, and also work at the exacting task of copying his scores for the
"It took me a whole year to copy his third symphony,'
Mrs. Rankl said, with her quick, shy smile, "but, of course, you can do only a
little at a time, it's so hard on
Her husband, she said, has
written five symphonies, a
number of chamber works and an opera—"Deirdre of the
Sorrows"—which shared first prize in a Festival of Britain competition, but has never been performed.
Christine Rankl is ever ready to talk about her famous husband—how he be-
came the first music director
of the newly formed Covent Garden Opera Company in 1946, and how, from 1952 until recently, he was princi- pal conductor of the Scottish National Orchestra.
But she is reluctant to talk about herself.
"He is the musician of the
family," she insists. "He is the important one."
Mrs. Rankl, who neither plays a musical instrument nor reads music, nevertheless
has a deep understanding of her husband's work and helps him in any way she can.
Like him, she was born in Austria, and has lived most of her life in Vienna. For more than 12 years now she has lived in England.
I thought this accounted for her perfect English, with no trace of accent, except per- haps the suggestion of a Scot- tish burr. But she explained that she was taught English—
and French and Czech — at school.
"Then my family thought I should go to England to get the correct inflection, so when I was 18 I went for a year as a mother's help."
She smiled her quick smile again, remembering.
"I don't know that I did my little charge much good, and the family certainly worked me hard," she said, "but I loved every minute."
Mrs. Rankl gives the im- pression that she has spent practically all her life "lov- ing every minute of it." Her sense of fun is contagious,
and she has a gift for mimicry that would earn her a living any day as an entertainer.
She insists she could earn her living as a chicken farmer, as she grew up on her parents'
"My husband says that when he retires we will go somewhere and keep chickens, for he doesn't like the eggs I buy in the shops.
"But conductors don't re- tire; look at Toscanini! If we should, though," and her face became wistful, "I should like to go back to our house in Salzburg, which looks towards
the lake and mountains."
A painting of their view is almost the only thing from home, apart from clothes, that the Rankls brought with them.
"It is our talisman," she said, touching it gently.
Christine Rankl is not serious for long. She has a fund of stories, and tells one against her husband, whose English is not as good as hers:
"After a long rehearsal one day he saw that the chorus was getting restive, so he de- cided to tell them the story of another conductor faced with a similar situation.
"This conductor had bel- lowed forth to the chorus, 'Ladies, you must be more pregnant!' He meant, of course, 'praegnant,' the Ger- man technical music term for 'precise.'
"My husband told this story and the chorus dutifully laughed. Then my husband made it really funny by add- ing, 'lt happens so easily, you
"Of course, the chorus howled, and he couldn't offer another word of explana-