Many years ago in New York with my beloved idol of all idols, the voice of and the soul of a real angel, Renata Tebaldi when she was honored at Sunday Mass by then Cardinal O’Connor. There too among her friends is the cherished Tina, who I got to see it Italy and who made this trip even more special…. spending time with her and her little puppy, Bonnie Tre…. and Giovanna Colombo of the Commite’ Renata Tebaldi who are opening this splendid museum in Early June, and the fabulous Marisa…. what a joyous chance to see them and spend time in Renata’s gorgeous apartment in Milano. It felt like she was there… she was and is always near…. and beaming radiant smiles from on high. Powerful amazing soul on Earth, can you imagine how powerful in Paradise? Love and miss her and it meant the world to me to spend time and catch up with the amazing people there. Tina is so adorable and brilliant. What a great lady she is too.
The manifesti outside the historic Teatro Carlo Felice. So very proud to return to Italy in a house that really takes real opera seriously, run by amazing people and filled with young and vital people who don’t think of opera as anything other than thrilling and viable and far from dead. MY kind of people… Loved my colleagues, the maestro, precious and amazing saw every one through the opera with class and knowledge and humor…and I adored him.
Masterpieces came easy to him. This atmospheric, hypnotic opera Il Tabarro, caught me deep. The world that exists for a little under an hour will haunt you the rest of your life.
Venice. How much of my life was spent there….. I encountered so many versions of myself it made me laugh. How very magical and beautiful, mysterious, full of history and real beauty. This was my very breathtaking view of the waters and boats and sights of Venice, right outside the window. What an amazing way to wake up….!!!
She is fixed on the road ahead, waiting for someone or some event, and he sits staring at her throughout all eternity….
This is so timeless, the look, the beautiful carving, the human quality captured, the passage of time. Love him.
This is how I feel before, during and after a performance…. looking to God for inspiration, for protection, hop0ing to feel his pleasure as I use the gifts he gave me. So very aware without that spiritual connection for me, I would wither away on the vine, it becomes a paycheck and ego… with the connection it becomes something akin to heaven on earth.
For years I never wanted to see where Verdi lay in eternal sleep, at last where his blessed remains sleep. I want to imagine him alive forever, and when I did finally arrive to pay my respects and give gratitude for how this man has shaped my life in melody and message, I could very much feel him alive still. Like Puccini, buried in the wall that his piano is pushed up against in the room right next to his resting, Verdi rest in the center of his home built for singers to retire, to feel safe and end out their days in dignity . How perfect Verdi is surrounded by music as well. As I made my way to his tomb, in the open cortile that surrounds it, a fabulous voice of one of the residents was signing a part of the music of Puccini (!) from La Boheme. I said loudly “Viva Verdi”…. but still loved it that someone would be singing that well just as I visited this man from Parma who so changed my life. Thank you for that wink long ago in Busseto when I was 20 and searching for your approval before the first time I sang in the Voce Verdiane concorso. First time I ever sang with orchestra, Hugh Ross conducted, and the Angelo Campora the finals. At your statue, you winked when I said sing through me…. I will be your vessel if you wish…. and boy did you. Winning by unanimous decision, the 18th edition of the Concorso Voci Verdiane in 1978. Thank you for this, and all the magic and glory you give the world in your music…. I will love you till the day we get to meet in Heaven, I hope.
Simonetta Puccini, a rare, adorable, amazing woman. We felt like we knew one another before…. so comfortable and happy I was to meet her, and to share with her my first Tabarro. She was so gracious in her praise, said she has never enjoyed a performance of this opera more and that I was very communicative and with such colors of voice and style, it had changed her perspective on this glorious opera. Not every day to hear such praise…. and I recount it only to share with my friends and fans this woman’s vitality and support for her Grandfathers music. She works tirelessly to bring success and continued support to his masterpieces and I outright adored her. Graciously giving me a private tour of the Torre Del Lago, on a day right out of one of his operas.
Raining, violent waters, pouring cascades and blistering winds, yet I never felt safer. I thrived in it’s emotion, loved the feel of the place. Passion. The house felt like he was going to come in any minute. His final resting place, pictured below, was so luminous and radiantly alive, I felt happy for him and all those that lay with him in that tomb. There was a hint that he had arrived in the paradise he gave us a glimpse of on earth in his very human, compelling and compassionate stories. One has to believe that Verdi and Puccini are in a Paradise built by their sacrifices and their gifts and talents…. their melodies built them their rightful place in Heaven. I see the spiritual in everything and probably annoy the ones who don’t believe there is a “here after….”
Then amazingly, another rare moment that rang so deeply inside me I could hear bells for hours….. seeing my dear friend, Tina Viganò, long time cherished friend and accomplished confidante of the great Renata Tebaldi. I cannot tell you the joy and happiness I had being with her and Giovanna and Marisa, and hearing all the plans for the official opening of the Commite’ Renata Tebaldi’s museum in her honor in Busseto. My dear friend, Mary-Lou Vetere a devout Tebaldi fan as well, was bocca aperta at all the amazing knowledge of Tina and the fantastic stories recounted about an historic voice and career of Tebaldi….we could listen for hours….and the little puppy extraordinare, Bonnie the 3, which I called Bonnie Tre…. very adorable indeed. No words can express really how I felt being in the apartment of Renata, where again I felt the radiance of this amazing artist and friend so many times. How I missed her, but could feel she was close.
A real great man is in residence now….. he makes me proud to be Catholic….. so excited for all of us.
This tempest that accompanied my visit to Torre Del Lago. Perfect passion and emotion and inside, radiant and happy LIFE. He seemed like he would walk right in at any moment. Simonetta Puccini, in a gracious rare personal tour of the house and areas, became a dear friend the night of the Il Tabarro in Genova. I feel like we were friends already for a long time. Love her, and look forward to helping her in any way I can.
So these are ramblings, scattered photos, and little snaps of a return to life, to something I love more than anything, to sing. To feel God’s pleasure as I do. I have missed it so, and now am determined to return to physical form, not yet accomplished, and give everything I have left to this art form that has made me rich beyond measure spiritually, and in every way distinguished my voyage this life, in ways I will never know how to say thank you enough for……. Thank you Mom and Dad, and all who started me on this walk…. those who have sustained me along the way, the composers and inspirations that have nourished me, and all those who walk it with me….. thank you Lord for this amazing chance to be of service once again…..