Such an exciting time ahead. Filled with opportunity to feel alive and sing and share music.
In a world where I am entering literally the adult prime of my life for a voice grown in size, now become a true spinto, leaning towards dramatic, my luck is that the world of opera has gone crazy and after 35 you are supposed to slink off and what? For what? 40 and you are supposed to be done? We would never have had Flagstad, who debuted at 39 in her true voice, and so many other voices that grew into their instruments, the way fine wine gets better with time. It was and is supposed to be that way with voice too.
I have never ever been dutiful and done what I was told to do, why start now? I have been singing since I was 9, made my debut in 1980 in Aida in Utah, 1982 at La Scala, 84 at the Metropolitan Opera… we are looking at a 30 plus year career of singing! I have a little more to say in my soul and in my singing, so I resolve to sing. I find an industry more like MGM, and figure and face is everything. It isn’t just presentation, that is important, but it isn’t everything, yet so many have drunk the Kool-Aid and bought in to this gotta dance, gotta sing, gotta….whatever, but look good and be prepared to show a lot of skin. Luciano did warn me this was where it was all going and I did not help matters by growing larger than I should be, and certainly I played recluse better than Garbo. Listening to what is presented on stage, I felt, why not. Get back in the parade. I don’t want to sit back, hide. I want to fight for this art form I love. I hate when they call it a dinosaur, then they say it is dead. It isn’t dead, they aren’t good enough to kill it. It adjusts, but it has to keep the core of what it is to go forward.
I am true to my old fashioned ways, same message I gave at the beginning of my life in music is the consistent one I still offer today. Stay true to the music, let the words carry the story, fill it with noble sound, and get out there and leave everything on the stage….
Listening to Anna Netrebko the other night, who sang a wonderful Lady Macbeth, she did what I love and she gave it everything she had. I admire her so much, and she enjoyed a terrific success, and it helps that I like her a lot. She has always been herself as much as one can before the public, and she is one of the few I will actually go and see, this next Saturday matinee I hope, if I can get in. Happy news when something sells out and it might just do that.
Why do I love this? Because it is generous and giving and ample….. what I like in singing…. I don’t have press people running around for me, telling everyone, I just do it, and those that come and hear me, see and hear that.
My advice to everyone singing, wanting to, or trying to, or studying to? Just do it, have love for what you are doing, be humble in the face of the greatness of the music , make sure your style is correct in the utterance of the composer, and have nothing but pride about be a singing instrument, a living Strad . Being an opera singer is a disciplined privilege and an honor, and working towards being a really great communicator is something special. Working for, and living in the words given to you to express the composers time and feelings, yet, when you have thought about it, couldn’t they really be your own? Haven’t we all loved and lost, and won? Wanted someone who did not want us back, or couldn’t love someone who wanted us? Had to please our families, appease their expectations of us, fulfill their hopes as well as our own. Politically charged times are exactly like the times most of the supposed dinosaur operas were written in? Far from dead, opera has a lot more to say… and I guess so do I!
Opera is so screamingly relevant now as it ever was, it just doesn’t seem to have people as trusting of its greatness.
And so, we continue. Pray to be worthy and go forward. Happily, at this writing I am looking forward to a weekend in Canada, presenting a fabulous group of young Canadians,all under the watchful eye of a young PhD scholar who happens to sing really well, in fact as gorgeous as she is, so is her voice. Hate her. Mary-Lou Vetere is a throw back. A properly, beautifully raised young Canadian girl, from a third generation Calabrese family…. and she is every bit that, Italian to the core. You cannot imagine how good she is…It will also be very interesting hearing this studio she works so hard for, filled with fantastic talent, and presenting it in a sanctuary is perfect. A refuge. An oasis. Young people in LOVE with the Art and inspired. I feel blessed being around this and it renews my spirit. I have chosen to do it differently,this evening will be like nothing you could imagine. Opera will come alive right in front of your eyes….
Nov.13th, 2014 Aprile Millo presents the Vetere Studio in OPERA SPECTACULAR! At the gorgeous Trinity St.Paul’s Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Then NOV 15th, 2014 immediately after, …is a recital with me.….same bat-time, same-bat place, well one half hour later for my concert at 7:30 with the amazing virtuoso pianist, Linda Ippolito, a fantastic attorney and a very accomplished concert pianist. Featuring Guest Star Gustavo Ahualli, a rich-voiced baritone from The Teatro Colon, and Mary-Lou on accordion, Merynda Adams, on harp and possibly the organist from the St. Paul’s Church as they have a massive organ on stage….and some surprises…..maybe.
Then dashing back to New York for the rare privilege of singing for Duane Printz and her amazing Teatro Grattacielo as they celebrate their 20th Anniversary in New York. An evening of seldom heard Verismo pieces, and I have the august opportunity and emotional chance to celebrate also two great friends of mine who were so very fabulous in so many roles but in these kinds of roles that demand attention to word and line and truthful heartbreak, they reigned supreme, they even knew some of the composers! Licia Albanese and Magda Olivero, and Carlo Bergonzi, all who just this year, within a few months of each other, crossed into the Paradise they would bring us every time they sang… . I will light a little flicker of their flame that night and sing in their memories what I was asked to sing…. the Third Act from Leoncavallo’s amazing “Zazá” with some terrific colleagues and Maestro Israel Gurksy, and a piece my mom studied with the composer herself, Refice. Licia sang together with Muzio on tour,alternating roles, and she gave me a great compliment after she heard me sing this scene for a Gala At AVA, saying she had never heard anyone do it since Muzio as well as me….she was crying when she said it…it will be hard to sing it that night to be sure. The Last Act death and transfiguration of Cecilia in the beautiful music that was penned by a priest who adored Claudia Muzio’s voice. He wrote her a sacred opera on the life of the patron saint of music. Cecilia. Nov.18th at the Skirball Hall in New York.
We arrive at end of November and I return to a brand new production of Tosca in Genoa beginning the 20th of December with Maestro Auguin and with Gregory Kunde and Carlos Alvarez. We could have something special here. Working feels good, serving music feels best. I cannot wait to sing again in that vital and wonderful theater filled with people who believe in the power of opera and in the beauty of it’s message. Italy after all…of course , they would know.
I am enjoying this so much….those of you who read and understand what this means to me, pray for me. I want to please Puccini, the public, his dearest Granddaughter, Simonetta, who I have come to adore. And most importantly, I want to serve music, feel it’s glory around me. We will see if the roses still bloom, and I think I see a few new buds springing up, and that is strong good news, because it will be winter! Here I go, down the path that life leads me…. it’s the best thing I have in life, the gift that God gave me…. In this depressing time of people ringing death knells for the opera, I want to get out and fight for it… I am not alone! This is just the start and so much more to come!
Come find me on this walk, and come say, alla Puccini, “hallo!”.
Gather ye rosebuds while thee may….. I plan to do so, with everything I got, and with so much joy and gratitude!!!