JUNE 2011

PERSEVERANCE

Given all of the necessary elements to become a performer, athlete, singer, etc. of consequence, sometimes it just boils down to “How badly do you want it? Years ago, while singing Lt. Cable at Jones Beach Theater (the only baritone to sing it in a major production, at the time), I met a handsome young fella singing in the chorus. His name was/is Larry Farrar, six feet five inches, a theater graduate of a major Texas University … and quite an athlete. We played some tennis together and some half-court basketball and it was all I could do to make it a game (except in basketball where his five inch height advantage was humbling)! At one point I began working with him vocally and he appeared to have a solid lyric baritone, gaining high voice all along. After awhile, I stopped working with him because I was working harder at it than he was. We enjoyed a solid friendship but after a few years, he married and we saw less of one another.

One day the phone rang and it was Larry who apparently had been working with someone else and was having trouble with his high G. At our session, which his wife attended, he gave me his assessment of why the note was not close to consistent and I told him that the real reason .... was because he was just a lazy tenor. At six five with a by gawd Texas attitude that was almost an affront on his manhood! I calmed him down and said “Let’s just see what happens ...” About forty-five minutes later after an intense focusing and lifting and growing with coordinated support ... he sang his forth or fifth specific high note, in a full-out operatic voice. I played it back and asked if he was happy with those high G’s and he allowed they were in fact “terrific,” which was right on! I said, “They’re B flats!” Larry had trouble taking that in but realized he had just opened his voice as never before.

Long story short ... he began singing as an operatic tenor. Before long, he was singing with a beautiful, ringing, big, lyric tenor and was getting attention everywhere. Then he auditioned against my advice–I believed he hadn’t been singing long enough in the repertoire to have build up his confidence enough–for the Amato Opera. He blew his first attempt, leaving the theater and then going back and talking his way into a second chance. He nailed it ... and got the lead in the opera, the name of which totally escapes me now, but the highest notes were only a B flats, which by now ... he owned! I tired to tell him I thought he should sing some less exposed roles first–comprimario–to build his confidence ... but he was on a roll and blew right by my objections; he wanted to sing the role!

He learned it well and rehearsals were progressing nicely until the word came that his father had suddenly died. He left for the funeral, returning shaken, several days later, a day before the first performance. The dress was a bit wobbly but it was good for him to concentrate on the piece instead of sitting at home with his grief.The next night, my only advice to him was, “You have a big voice and the little soprano shudders when you sing a big note. I watched your concern with that, last night. Your job is to sing everything with full support since you have limited experience! Remember what Frank Loesser posted for the Most Happy Fella recording; L. I. G: ‘Loud Is Good!’ ... and don’t look at the little soprano when you sing the high notes!”

Well, he did and when he saw her face, he chopped the support in the middle of the note ... and it was a monstrous crack, heard in South Dakota! He couldn’t hook up his support and marked through the rest of that act and the second act, as well. Tall, wavy blond hair, as comfortable on stage as in his living room ... but his confidence was gone.

Just before the third act, I reminded Larry of the his story about the football game where the Notre Dame was down by two touchdowns at the half to an inferior team was waiting for Knute Rockne to come in and give them hell! He didn’t come and didn’t come ... until just before the time to go out on the field and just stuck his head in the door and said, “Come on girls!” They went out and trounced the other team. I said, “I feel like Rockne! What the hell are you saving it for? Given what you have done so far, you’ll probably never get a chance to sing here again! So just go out and holler!”

And ... that’s what he did ... and out came his wonderful voice and this third act redeemed him to the tune of a standing “O” on his solo bow!

He got better, much better and I decided he should sing for Julius Rudel at N Y City Opera. Remember ... he had one helluva terrific voice! He sang “Che gelida manina ...” from La Bohème and was magnificent ... until he hit the high C ... and didn’t feed through it ... so it cracked! Julius said, “Thank you!” which is what he always said.

Larry walked out of the theater and I didn’t see him until two years later in Connecticut, at a performance of “Two by Two” with our mutual friend, Don Stewart.

I asked him where he had gone without saying goodbye and that I had tried to call him a great number of times. Turns out he had moved to Ohio and was managing four Holiday Inns. He told me he felt, he just “... didn’t have what it takes!”

I had told him many times before–just put the time in and get your confidence and you will be a world-class tenor! Then I told him ‘the rest of the story;’ two weeks after he had sung his audition, Julius grabbed me back stage and asked if I knew how to get in touch with Larry ... because they had been calling him for a week with a contract offer!” I tried to find him for weeks, to no avail ...

Next month, the other side of the coin ...

MAY 11 - ENERGY!

APRIL 11 - EXTERNALIZING SUPPORT

MARCH 11 - THE IMPORTANCE OF DICTION

FEBRUARY 11 - RESPONSE TO LAST MONTHS TIP

JANUARY 11 - LET'S TRY THIS

DECEMBER 10 - THE FUNCTION OF THE MOUTH... IN SINGING

NOVEMBER 10 - BOY SOPRANO TO YOUNG MAN’S VOICE

OCTOBER 10
- TOOLS OF THE TRADE (i.e. LEARNING REPERTOIRE)

SEPTEMBER 10 - TOOLS OF THE TRADE

AUGUST 10 - JOIN A CHORUS (Addendum)

JULY 10 - JOIN A CHORUS

JUNE 10 - HI THERE SINGERS!
 

MAY 10 - SINGING IS WORK

APRIL 10 - THE FIVE “C’s!”

MARCH 10 - LEARNING REPERTOIRE

FEBRUARY 10 - THE TIGHT JAW

JANUARY 10 - BALANCING THE VOICE

DECEMBER 09 - LOVE CAN REIGN - LINK

NOVEMBER 09 - ABSENCE OF EXCESSIVE TENSION

OCTOBER 09 - YOUR OTHER BEST FRIEND - YOUR MIRROR

SEPTEMBER 09 - EVERYONE CAN SING!

AUGUST 09 - LATENT HERNIAS AND OTHER SUPPORT PROBLEMS

JULY 09 - PRINCE IMRAN RAZA STATESMAN/ROCK STAR

JUNE 09 - ANOTHER NATURAL SINGER - DAVID BURKE

MAY 09 -DISCOVERY OF VOIC
E

APRIL 09 - I'M SICK, BUT I HAVE TO PERFORM TONIGHT  Part 2

MARCH 09 - I'M SICK, BUT I HAVE TO PERFORM TONIGHT

FEBRUARY 09 - SINGING IN ENGLISH

JANUARY 09 - GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER (Part 4)

DECEMBER 08 - GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER (Part 3)

NOVEMBER 08 -
GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER (Part 2)

OCTOBER 08 - GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER (Part 1)

SEPTEMBER 08 - HEAVY BREATHING ADVISED FOR JOCKS

AUGUST 08 -  THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND AUDITIONING (Part 3)

JULY 08 -
THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND AUDITIONING (Part 2)

JUNE 08 -
THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND AUDITIONING (Part 1)

MAY 08 - ABSENCE OF TENSION

APRIL 08 -
THE FLAT TONGUE TECHNIQUE AND HOW DO YOU MAKE A VOWEL

MARCH 08  - THE VOICE COACHING THAT  MADE MY CAREER

FEBRUARY 08 - WHAT ARE YOU SINGING?

JANUARY 08 -
VIBRATO/WOBBLE

DECEMBER 07 - BREATHING REVISITED

NOVEMBER  07 - HOW TO KILL A COLD IN FIVE DAYS

OCTOBER 07 - A BIT MORE SUPPORT

SEPTEMBER 07 - MORE SUPPORT

AUGUST 07 - INTRO & BREATHING/SUPPORT