With one look….

•March 26, 2012 • Comments Off on  With one look….

Image

Maria Callas and Nicola Rescigno

Image

Amazing photo of Marian Anderson and the young Leonard Berstein

Image

Lotte Lehmann with Arturo Toscanini

Image

Maria Callas and Fedora Barbieri with I believe Antonio Votto

Renata Tebaldi

“Io Son……..

•March 14, 2012 • Comments Off on “Io Son……..

Image

A face emerges…. a call to life…..!!!

•February 26, 2012 • Comments Off on A face emerges…. a call to life…..!!!

Image

Cannot wait to share my lovely news.  Lovely?  For those who love my work, and love sharing emotion bigger than life, this will be a lovely notice.

So excited…….

•December 31, 2011 • Comments Off on

This year FLEW by.

An eye-opener for health, and for finally taking stock of it.  Boring these tedious disciplines outside of music.  But, so very necessary.  Two years ago for my recital with OONY I had lost in two months and a half over 50 pounds.  In a combination of bad planning a good deal came back on.  Since February I have done this a little differently.  No quick solution but a lasting one.  So since August, some really serious life changing choices were enacted. All natural, hard to do and ultimately successful for phase one.  55 pounds as of today…. hard won.  The back is much better, back to phase two.  By February another 25 pounds.  Why be so forthcoming?    Mail.  Facebook pleas.  Myspace notes.  Website contact.  Many people imploring me to do something to allow me to sing.  They will never know how much they helped effect that possibility.  Besides, the importance of doing it naturally and slowly is to be healthy, and once that is accomplished, LOTS of surprises in store.

Lost a lot of friends this year and I will miss them so much.  Elizabeth Taylor.  How do you say good-bye to that kind of super nova.  The world is a lot less fun and certainly missing a great source of love and light.  Still doing great things from Heaven even now.  The Christie’s auction of her “toys and baubles and beautiful things” fetched over 156.000.000 million dollars.  A record to be sure.  Some of it will go to her Foundation for AIDS for which she worked tirelessly and gloriously.

This is the world of opera I love.  Can you spot all the true legends of voice?  Obviously front and center,  Rosa Ponselle, Martinelli in the back left, and I believe Galli-Curci first right seated.  Love the flowers in the middle and the water stains. I will try to find out who else.  A tour photo of the Metropolitan in Atlanta.  They all look so interesting and vibrant, and grand.

Here we have Paolo Silveri, the great Renata Tebaldi, Lauri-Volpi, Pia Tassarini, Benvenuto Franci and Toti Del Monte.  What a gathering!!  I believe at Lauri Volpi’s house.  Suits and ties and beautiful respect for who and what they represent.

A very pleasant and loving Christmas in New York with my beloved family, missing my handsome brother in Hollywood, doing great things with his music and charisma….. in somma, a very nice if warm, Christmas.  Prepping for the New Year.

Ah yes, dear readers and friends and fans and foes alike, here come we all to a world-changing before our very eyes.  In need of those passionate and resolved in their love and support and unwavering dedication to the world of music and the Arts.  It is a magic worth saving, worth protecting.  The apologies and the funeral for opera MUST STOP.  They aren’t good enough to kill it, but they are rewriting the script. It is NOT passe’, it is revelent and so needed in today’s mechanical and increasingly detached world.

As the ball drifts downward, ten, nine….eight……seven…. at the countdown, I will be, God willing, with my loved ones, and with a prayer in my heart and soul for all those far away protecting us, for all those who have left this world for their journeys home, all those already deeply missed and all those so in my mind who are suffering now.  Peace to all, a lasting, just and honorable peace and a FAIRNESS to all.  Proud of New York for being a state of equality  and proud of so many who strive to make that a reality everywhere all over the world.

To my family, cherished extended family, colleagues, friends and dear little feline and puppy darlings….. Happy and Healthy New Year!!!  Health and happiness to you and all your families.  Find someone wonderful to hug and maybe even kiss this year and start with a heart of full of song and good cheer …..so much to be thankful for, and I am.



So Have yourself, a Merry Little Christmas, now.

•December 12, 2011 • Comments Off on So Have yourself, a Merry Little Christmas, now.

Congrats to all my wonderful friends and colleagues who helped make last night so much of a lovely success.

I am grateful to each and every person who came and helped this Historic little Church……

Viktor Antipenko, tenor  Nicole Piccolomini, mezzo  Christopher Collin Lee,violin  Merynda Adams, harp, Iveta and Gherman to choreography of Melanie LaPatin…. Charles Gaston Currin for playing so beautifully the “Oh Holy Night”  and the fabulous piano and accordion, of newly minted PhD scholar,  Mary-Lou Vetere.

Backstage, for Holy Cross Michael Blecha and the one and only, Father Pete Colapietro, Pastor and Holy Cross Director of Music, Charles Gaston Currin…. and to Tony Award Winner for Excellence in Theater,  truly legendary Paul Huntley for his gorgeous wig,  Eric Winterling Gown, Isabella who dressed me in an Eric Winterling Original creation, Darlene who wigged for Paul who graciously saw to everything IN PERSON, which meant a lot.  Angelina Avallone, expert make-up, and to all those in staff who helped coordinate everything, and to Mr. Gallo of Broadway’s newest Hit, Spiderman, who donated lights and his expertise….. Hope we did well for Holy Cross.

Someone taped with the daunting name operaassasin  filming from the balcony, caught  little tidbits….at the end of the show, with Nicole Piccolomini and an encore Fanciulla aria……  I was so thrilled. I am grateful to him or her for the chance to hear it myself.  I like this gentleman who did the video, he obviously LOVES opera;  he has on  tumbler a great site called Manifesto. Provocative and thoughtful, even just the early entry.  His youtube channel is really new but filled with some very interesting clips as he seems genuinely motivated to preserve for future generations some wonderful moments from opera.  I admire his effort and am grateful for his attention to my work.

Now on to getting in physical shape and to being of service to music and my beloved opera.

Queen for all times

•December 2, 2011 • Comments Off on Queen for all times

Happy Birthday,  to a Queen of the Art of Great Music, one for all time and for the ages…..  Maria Callas……

 

 

To have been at La Scala in this moment……LOOK at what is sitting there scoping each other out.  I believe that this was an arranged meeting, one of two,  this in public of Maria Callas with Toscanini in the hopes of having them collaborate on a Verdi’s Macbeth.  SHE should have done this with him.  So many stories came out of this meeting one will never really know what happened.  I would love to have heard what these two would have done with that opera.  Can you even imagine?

 

What an elegant time for opera.  How gorgeous and beautiful.  I must confess I loved her heavy too.  Her face is impressive and her carriage is so striking…but she worked hard to transform and that she did.  Brava, Maria Callas who I admire so very much for her apt, incisive and compelling understanding of music and the arts. personality and message being important in music.  Her humility and dedication.  God bless and keep you in His most radiant of places, your art, your voice and your heart are not forgotten and give heat to everyone who sings and adores the art form.   Happy Birthday, amazing, wonderful  Maria.     What would you think about todays world of opera?

The Sounds of Christmas

•November 8, 2011 • Comments Off on The Sounds of Christmas


 

 

I love this little Church.  I had so many things happen here, had my Mother’s Funeral Mass there,  grew up there.  In the Sunday Times Magazine fluff that wrote about me they had the nerve to call it a “ratty little church on 42nd Street.”

It certainly has gone through major reconstruction,  and now quite literally shines.  It is overseen by a priceless treasure named Father Peter Colapietro.  I adore him.  He brings the FAITH truly alive and his sermons should be recorded for all time.  SO, in trying to help this fine fellow KEEP the school open, and to help with expenses at the Church, I decided to throw him a fundraising concert of lots of different and enchanting music.  Christmas music and carols, opera, lieder, and all kinds of surprises…..

While I continue to undergo my transformation,  I offer to God and all who read this, the best thing God gave me…. my voice.  I place in service and support for this marvelous little jewel of a church and it’s amazing Pastor.

Come see me if you can make and let’s celebrate a real time of renewal, and remembering a special baby born centuries ago that would change the world.

And so it goes, round and round….

•November 5, 2011 • Comments Off on And so it goes, round and round….

In the midst of a time of transformation, physically.  Happy to say I am almost back to the 50 pound weight loss of two years ago.  Not going to stop as I did but keep going until I have reached my goal weight number one.  It actually feels so much better, I am able to move without problems from the back, which got me in this mess.

Prepping for a lovely fundraiser for my beloved 42nd Holy Cross Church, and the best gentleman I have known as Pastor, Father Pete Colapietro.  You have to see and HEAR him.  He makes the gospel come alive, and keeps it accessible and real.  God bless him.  So some terrific people are stepping up to perform, and help raise money and I just think that speaks to how great these people are and how much they love to make music.  I will post about that event on Dec.11th in a week or so.

I thought I would post,  as I occasionally do, photos of opera greats and share some intensity with new fans of opera and relive some of the glories and beautiful people that actually did exist.  We are told we ALL stood and barked… like Hell we did.  The actresses were alive, the being exulted, the music was respected and maestri weren’t just in a hurry to go home.  Things had respect.  I am sure it exists today, somewhere.  But just for fun, here are some of the singers and enjoy with me their great sense of personality, and commitment.

Great faces every one of them, and I loved the one with me and Luciano, so had to include it.  How great do they seem?  Pride, style,  presence….. and imagine how they sounded?

There’s been an incident at the World Trade Center

•September 10, 2011 • Comments Off on There’s been an incident at the World Trade Center

Restless, unable to sleep. Uneasy.
Watching video tapes of opera, and favorite singers, my soap operas real and in real life, emails  and ….  no sleep.

Studying scores of music, art songs, new melodies.  Still could not calm myself.

Finally a beautiful morning dawned,literally flooding my living room with direct, sunlight from over 9 windows.

Blinding.

Might as well try to lay down- silly, staying up all night.  Bleary eyed, exhausted off I go to sleep, at 8:15 in the morning, Sept. 11th, 2011.

For you reading this you have just seen the bulletins as they appeared to the nation that morning horrifying, in every second passing, with some new detail and act of hatred.

My phone rings, I am between two worlds, and I hear my dear friend Claudia’s voice urging me to pick up. Her voice sounds scared. Mumbling something to stall while I tried to get my eyes open, the sound of her voice stopped me dead.

” You have to go out on your terrace, you have to see what happened.  Two planes just hit the WTC and there are people trapped.  This is awful….!”

You wake up quick with that kind of news, stumbling out into what would be a crisp New York morning, a gorgeous day with sun shining and a cool breeze. Bringing into focus my Navy watch binoculars of my Lt. Commander Step-fathers just in time to acknowledge an almost movie like scene in front of me. The World Trade Center looked like two strangely off chimney stacks billowing smoke and with huge gaping wounds of fire and broken glass and exposed building… Why? Then incomes reports of rogue planes, planes crashing into the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania, most likely heading for the Capitol. We aren’t in Kansas anymore. Terrorism has arrived on American soil.

Still….it didn’t seem real or possible.

I would be witness to a sobering fact that people, innocent people, were murdered in front of me…extinguished in the burning buildings in front of my very eyes, on the hijacked planes which must have tortured those inside. Some were calling their loved ones and they all KNEW they weren’t likely going to make it out alive, and ultimately they would perish used as part of a living missile directly aimed to fly into the buildings at an angle to inflict THE MOST casualties and more THE MOST damage. This would eventually include same scenario flights crashing into the military main command headquarters of the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, near where my Dad is resting in eternal sleep, people on cell phones were alerted to the hijackings and the kamakazi plunges and they stormed the cockpit refusing to go down without a fight .

Honestly I do not remember what I witnessed live as opposed to what I was watching on TV as I went back and forth outside to see what I could.

The air already smelled of burning electrical wires, steel melting like in a welding pit, and it made you choke on soot and very fine particles.

Calling my Mom, who had moved in March to be with us again from the West Coast, she was not in great health. I wanted to unfold this as gingerly as possible.

“MOM, have you had the television on at all?”  “NO, not yet…..should I?”

“Well, not sure what to say, really.  It looks like there was an incident over at the World Trade Center….. we may have something a little sinister going on.”

“You know, in the past someone flew, by mistake, a plane into the Empire State Building…..is this like that perhaps…?”

I said, ” Not to be alarmed, but ……”

“I have been through WW2 nothing surprises.  Stay down, do not worry on me, I am fine.  This is a great country and we will do what needs to be done. Can we help in some way?”

God bless her.

Obviously everyone wanted to help, and that would be evident later in heartwarming and heartbreaking detail.

Outside, in the sky, very shortly after the Pennsylvania crash, NOTHING was in the air.

Voids of blue and clouds and absolute silence…..over New York City.

No noise.  Just the plumes of smoke and stories of those inside and trying to get out.

Then the first tower goes down, and the comments stop on television and even newscasters used to violence and twists of fate, they fall quiet.

The Towers, one by one, melting like a failed souffle’, implode themselves and leave nothing but thick white and grey smoke.

As the first one fell, I shook.  They aren’t supposed to fall. They are built to withstand a plane strike. You feel like you are watching someone get bullied or beaten and you can do nothing.

My little Fire station here, Rescue One, sirens blazing…..all those good guys I knew. Mr. “Handsome Handlebars” I nicknamed one terrific gentleman always so quiet with blue,blue eyes and the perfect handlebar mustache. He is there in this?  All those great guys I knew were there, and many I would not know, were with them as they all headed out to help and evacuate, put out fires, and save the day.

Over 300 hundred men doing good and trying to help those in need lost their lives along with almost 3,000 people from the street, the planes and the two Towers themselves. Gone.

My eyes filled with tears…. There is nothing to say, no words come. I respond in my heart with music.  I thought, if I were in that building hoping to live, knowing I might not make make it, I would want music, someone witnessing me die, have a song for me.  Music is a bridge to another world for me. Always has been.

I hum first, and then I sang softly something to help guide these souls across.  “Nearer my God to Thee.”
They didn’t leave without a word said over them, a prayer, a hymn.

Everyone was a team in this city…. blankets and gloves and masks, water, food, everyone raced to help get people help.

New York was united and actually angry. Telethons and money poured in from all over he world….hearts were raised.  A Nation stood together.

Finding the dead and giving them honor and praise. This was a Father Mychal Judd, a constant guide and help with and for the Fire Department. This immortal shot looks like a painting.

It looked like a war zone, and felt like one too.

I was 38 floors up, and could see the tiny little police boats monitoring the harbors,piers for the cruise ships, all the waterways; they were speed-boats and would bob up and down in the water along each side patrolling, with their signature blue lights on the back….made me feel better someone was watching over us.

No planes in the sky looked strange during the day. It became ominous at night. Friends checking in from all over the world. “All right” was the word used, but it wasn’t really the picture. Defiant, proud of NY, angry at stupid fanatic people who look on life as nothing. True faith? You do not kill. In every faith we have these extremes. Senseless interpretations that justify this type of carnage.

Thoughts of brave people. Doing what made them special. Caring and protecting. and dying for it. Some would not make it out, would not be found.

My cyber buddy whose family lost their son in the collapse accepted that I sing for her and her distinguished family. Amazingly as the stories of his life were recounted people laughed and cheered and cried. What emerged was the “living” picture of a handsome, terrific young man who would live well and courageously and die  doing good for others. He rushed up those stairs with no thought of himself- except to help….God bless you Michael Mullan, and his family.

Here we are ten years later.

My beloved Momma is now with all those heroes and good people on the other side, watching over us. Life and this country picked up, slowly but deliberately. We beat them, sort of, by staying open and living our lives, traveling and being alert. We must now, like Europe for years before us, be ever vigilant to this unique act of cowardice. It is the new way to inflict pain, and bully and annoy.

I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, but Bin Laden’s blatant celebration at the loss of so many people made me aware he had already lost himself a long time ago.

This Sunday, be of solemn remembrance. I shall never forget the feeling of being here in my beloved city of New York. The pride. The fight and guts of so many. Bette Midler’s singing at the gathering for all those who had lost someone, and she sang from her wide open heart, ” THANK you, THANK you, THANK you….you are the wind beneath my wings” pointing to all the heroes and grieving and shocked families and fellow New Yorkers. Liza Minnelli too, singing New York, New York at Shea Stadium in the first game held back after ten days…. we needed her and she delivered knocking it out of the ball park…. and finally,

To all I saw leave, the sons and daughters and fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, that crossed as I watched. I REMEMBER.

To all who would go to War, to protect us, to exact some measure of Justice, and then stay committed during the long and difficult campaigns which have lost another 5,000 lives and more in civilian casualties, some coming home, some not. I SALUTE and THANK you.

And to all my fellow New Yorkers, There is NO ONE who can KEEP us down for long. We fight and we are loyal and we don’t quit.

For my country today…… I am proud, and hopeful and ever grateful for the freedoms and blessings we receive here in this country.

Mr. Obama, please keep extending a hand in Peace. You were right in telling those that fight us, ” you cannot grasp that hand if yours is clenched in a fist.”

May God guide all those with fury to calm, anger to enlightenment, discord with harmony. May He make us hungry for knowledge and less thirsty for power. Keep all out loved ones and the family of Man and Womankind safe here on Earth.

Watch over all your children from everywhere without exception. In my world you come to God as you know him, and call Him as you wish.  I have respect and admiration for all.  I choose to close this with a manifestation of Heaven as I see it, but I want everyone to feel included.

In God I trust…..

So they want Opera Singers to be ordinary…..

•July 19, 2011 • Comments Off on So they want Opera Singers to be ordinary…..

Let me get this right…. ALL the singers today are falling all over themselves to say they are just ordinary folk…. girl next door, your best friend who happens to sing,  just one of the guys…….

I post this glorious photo of an “ordinary” day with extraordinary people…. In Sant’ Agata, the home in Parma of Giuseppe Verdi with his wife, various Ricordi family, his attorney, singers, in fact one of Verdi’s favorites, Teresa Stolz;  and in these very same chairs that are there to this day nestled in a cresh of the house.  Green and lush, little time capsules, with the indents of the illustrious who have sat on them still in eerie evidence.   Ordinary people doing ordinary things.  A place for everything, everything in its place.

Why must an opera singer beg to be accepted for doing something so fabulous?  Today in opera we must feel like everyone is one of us. Every other profession trips all over itself to inflate and boast about it’s greatness and importance.  Men who play with an orange leather ball think it special enough to have a press conference about taking their talents to South Beach !  But opera singers have to be “down to earth”,      or the “People’s Diva”?  Okay, I get the marketing angle, and the two people currently trying that are truly wonderful people and great talents,  but why?  What is so difficult about letting people hear you do something NO ONE else does,  with gorgeous voices….?

In a time of GLEE yet, and AMERICAN IDOL,  we have singers apologizing for their accomplished selves? What a brain surgeon does is very extraordinary.  You don’t want your brain near an ordinary doctor.   Your love of music used to be entrusted to those who gave their lives in service and study and sacrifice.  You had to study very hard and have the intangible on your side.  A voice with a special quality,  a magia,        a magic, making those who hear you want to hear you.  And then not insult anyone’s intelligence by slaughtering languages, and styles, and … well, you get what I mean.

Opera to be really opera cannot be small.  It must rule out needing a magnifying glass. What’s wrong with that?  There is enough in life saying, be quiet, full into line, be an adult child, seen but not heard. Opera is your chance to break free and feel something big, and passionate.  Nuance,  inflection, personal touch and feeling, big or small defines the chance for a truly intimate experience, but opera is about BIG feelings.

WE SING everything. That is not normal, it is divine. It is special.  When Luciano opened his mouth to sing lo those many innocent years ago on Johnny Carson’s Late Night Show, people saw someone nervous, and hopeful, and AUTHENTIC…. and special….. and then he sang.  Rare and one of a kind.  Everyone listening knew they were in the presence of something extraordinary.  It made them feel special, like they were of a part of something different and evolved and yet accessible, a culture, an expert sharing his life and passion. At the very least it was something that sounded pretty and they aren’t stupid, they know.  Why must opera dumb itself down, when left to itself, on it’s own merits, it continues to enchant?

Here is the very magnetic, amazingly beautiful in voice and person, Renata Tebaldi out for an ordinary stroll that became a throng of admiring fans and people struck by the specialness of the effect on the public she had…..who was this?  How does she drive them this crazy…?

I love to  post some of the fabulous singers that came before….. why?   Because they are closer to what I like…..   Look at this face….  Alive and handsome, the wonderful Italian baritone,  Gino Bechi.                        What an intense, beautiful expression.  Followed by another Italian great, Aldo Protti…..

Toti del Monte,   showing a personal charm and allure…..

The archives in Italy are filled with RAI Uno and Canale 5 interviews from the Arena and the various cities with  opera festivals and opera houses, with a “cooking” Barbieri, or a Corelli prepping for a show or shopping for Christmas gifts, or a Sutherland going for a stroll, simple day to day things,  yes.  But behind it was the total awe about what and how they did what they did…. They never apologized,  they never belittled their profession, they never made light of the difficulties….. it was a life of sacrifice and dedication…..

Verdi says it best:

“To me it seems that art practiced in this manner is no longer art, but a trade, a diversion, a sport, something to run after, to be made, if not successful, at least notorious at any cost. The feelings aroused in me are disgust and humiliation…..”

and then,

” Journalists, singers, players, choristers, and directors, etc etc.. all have to contribute their stone to the edifice of publicity, to make in this way a cornice of nonsensical trifles that add nothing to the merit of the opera and may quite possibly detract from it’s real value. It is deplorable, utterly deplorable… All I desire for this opera is a good and especially an intelligent production from the vocal, instrumental and scenic point of view. As for the rest- a’ la grace de dieu”

                                                                                                          Could he be any more handsome?  A perfect physique du role….  a GOD.

A love struck, thunder-struck Don Jose in Carmen.  There would be no Escamillo for me……

I hope to be back in form by end of this year to continue my service to music,  the body smaller and easier to move and breathe, and more in keeping with the current trend, but I hope I will not be the only one saying that opera is a divine world, where you gain entry on the sounds emitted by one of your own species, who in turn, takes you somewhere FAR from ordinary…. please, young artists, don’t let them tell you you aren’t a special being doing a very special service ….. bringing opera and all it’s magic into a new time and a new century, intact.  Not a hybrid that bares no resemblance to the real thing.  I have said it before and I will repeat here,  Opera has nothing to apologize for…..