From July ”After they stopped laughing, he continued,
“Well, we’re inclined to hire you, but ... uh ... we’re a little
concerned that you might be too good for the chorus!” “No
problem there ... give me a lead!” They all laughed, a bit
embarrassedly and he good-naturedly asked, “But ... what have
you done?” “Aaaah, there is that,” said I. “But,’” he continued,
“We have decided we are going to offer you the job.”
THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND AUDITIONING (CONTINUED)
“When do you go into rehearsal,” I asked.
“Next Monday,” was the reply.
“Oops,” sez I … “I can’t do that.”
“If you have a problem, we might be able to work around it.”
“I have just given my word that I would be singing as the
Leading Man (singer) at Tamiment. PA.” which was a well known
resort in the Poconos, where they put together a new show every
week, with all original material. “Once Upon a Mattress”
starring an unknown, Carol Burnett, started there.
“But, you can get out of that … this is Broadway!”
“Yeah, don’t think I don’t know that … but they have been
looking for a lead for months, and I can’t let them down.”
To say they were dumbfounded at my giving up a chorus job in a
Broadway Show to do “Review” work would be an understatement.
I’m certain they thought I was crazy, but I couldn’t go back on
my word. I suspect they grudgingly respected my decision …
although it meant they had to go back to the drawing board.
I also knew that Tamiment would have understood, had I opted for
“Tenderloin,” but it was the principle of not letting them down,
that made my decision for me.
Several weeks later, I went off to Tamiment and jumped into to a
hard daily routine of learning at least four pieces a week; the
shows opening and closing songs, a solo number for me and at
least one duet, trio or a “black out,” or comedy sketch. There
was no music, as Xerox hadn’t been invented yet, so we had to
learn everything by rote. I would, however, write down my own
lyrics, at first, but after the first two or three weeks, we all
just started learning faster.
About week six, my agent Bruce Savan called to tell me the New
York City Opera wanted to hear me again. I had sung for them
eight months previously and Julius Rudel had merely said, “Thank
you.” Four months after that, they had called and asked me to
look at the role of Mr. Easter, In “Street Scene.” I had charged
into New York, from Brooklyn, gotten the score and had
immediately taken it to my coach to learn it. I had no piano. I
learned it four sessions, at a cost of $200. (Unemployment from
Music Man was $55 a week, so that learning was 420 shy of a
Three weeks later, I called and was asked to bring the score
back, no explanation. Later, it became obvious they had used me
as a backup to get their first choice to sign. Soooo … When they
had called for this audition … I had told my agent, “They heard
me before and then cut me loose with the Street Scene event.
Tell them I’m not interested.”
A short while later I began thinking that I hadn’t seen my
girlfriend in six weeks, so a trip to New York might be in
order. Fortunately, Bruce hadn’t called and my audition was set
for Monday at noon o’clock.
I went to New York and my girl and I had a lovely dinner with a
half a bottle of wine apiece and … I got home at three in the
morning (hell, City Op wasn’t’ going to hire me anyway!) I arose
at nine, arrived at Carroll Hollister’s studio at eleven, for a
run-through and arrived a few minutes before noon … to an empty,
I went up to the office and told Cathy Parsons I had to be on a
bus back to Tamiment by 1:40 and Julius met us on stage a few
minutes later, throwing on the lights and sitting down in the
“What will you sing,” he asked. Since I had had a rather late
night and only six hours sleep, I offered Escamillo’s,
“Toreador.” because it only went up to high F’s.
The first verse and chorus went just fine. Julius stopped me
from singing the second verse and said, “Sing the Largo!” (the
Figaro aria) Aaaaugh!
While the aria was my “show piece” and had sung for him at my
first audition … it taxed the full extent of my range, even when
The nice thing about singing every day is that the voice is
solid and usually there when you need it. So, I “girded
my loins” and let fly … The high notes where there and strong.
As I got to the high G’s in the middle, with the A in the
cadenza, my agent arrived with impeccable timing and Julius
waved me off … saving me from having to finished it …with the
long high G at the end.
Julius started talking to Bruce, saying, “OK, we’ll give him a
standard contract …”
I walked outside and Carroll, who had played for virtually every
great opera singer in the business, said, “I have never seen
anyone get into City Opera with less at five or six auditions.”
I replied, “But he didn’t even give me a nod, when I sang even
better the first time.” Carroll gave me that look, of one
bestowing upon the not-too-bright son, the benefit of a father’s
wisdom and experience … “He didn’t need you then.” … “Oh
…” Why hadn’t Carroll said that to me the first time. Nobody
ever told me nuthin’!
The punch line … had I taken the “Tenderloin” contract for
chorus, I wouldn’t have been able to take the New York City
Opera contract … because I would have had to sign a “six month,
no out” contract. …
And, the best part … after a particularly well-received debut,
with the company as Schaunard, in “La Bohčme,” I was able to
sing my first-ever leading role as Giuseppe Palmieri, in the N Y
City Opera production of “The Gondoliers.” I had avoided ever
singing in chorus again … because, ironically, I had simply made
a decision based upon principle.
THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND
AUDITIONING (Part 2)
THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND AUDITIONING
- ABSENCE OF TENSION
THE FLAT TONGUE TECHNIQUE AND HOW DO YOU
MAKE A VOWEL
THE VOICE COACHING THAT MADE MY
- WHAT ARE YOU SINGING?
KILL A COLD IN FIVE DAYS
- A BIT MORE
- MORE SUPPORT