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With over 30 years in professional show-business, David Cangelosi is known industry wide as one of its most versatile performers. The internationally acclaimed opera singer is also well versed in the areas of musical-theater, night club/cabaret, voice-overs, and his continuing career in the classical vocal arts as a recitalist, master-class instructor, and symphonic guest artist.
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October 12th, 2015

October 12, 2015

Many years ago when I made a dedicated decision to leave the ‘night-club/showroom/supper-club’ industry, and embark upon a career in opera, I had a goal in mind:
Make a debut at the ‘Big Four’ by the age of 35 (I was 28/29 years old at the time).  The so-called ‘Big Four’ consisted of (in alphabetical order) Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera.

I have learned many things since arbitrarily setting that goal, such as:
1.) Age related goals are basically unrealistic, and a poor benchmark upon which to peg an accomplishment (due to a variety of variables).
2.) A vibrant industry usually undergoes “Expanding Pie Syndrome”.
3.) Professional objectives unfold along their own time frame.

A brief explanation of points 1 and 3:
*Age is a poor arbiter and should really be discarded from our thinking for this reason…”Man plans, and God laughs.”

*Because “Man plans, and God laughs”; I would fully suggest that one allow for ‘time‘ to take care of certain aspects of your development.  This is not to say that one shouldn’t be proactive with regard to their professional trajectory, but often the ‘timing‘ is just not right…(which also is inclusive of ‘luck’, ‘scheduling’, etc etc).

To address point 2. above, I will just say that while the ‘Big Four’ are still out there to be sure, there are many additions to that original list that now include Washington National Opera, Dallas Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Seattle Opera…and others.  Not to even mention all of the international A-level houses outside the domestic North American sphere.

Still, I had always wanted to be contracted with all of the original ‘Big Four’…so just call me an old-school romantic.

My previous post entitled ‘So What Happens Now?, Where Am I Going To?’ addressed the fact that I had completed a bucket-list of singing roles; but looming just ahead of me this summer was the fact that after 25 years in the real world of professional opera, I was going to make my debut with Houston Grand Opera (H.G.O.)

I have had many other unexpected delights in my career…Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, both Paris Opera houses (Garnier/Bastille), high-end recordings in London and Hong Kong, a feature film that premiered at the Venice Film Festival; and having worked with the world’s finest directors (Opera, Film, and Broadway), the absolute greatest conductors on the planet, and I have sung side-by-side with the most supreme array of classical vocal artists I could have ever conceived.

So you can only but imagine how thrilled I will be next week to debut with the wonderful Houston Grand Opera.  I am well past the age of 35, but ‘time‘ took care of this particular (and very naïve) goal of yesteryear.  So when I hit the stage for not one, but two different productions (Tosca and Eugene Onegin ) in the coming weeks for H.G.O., I will be thinking:

H. (honored)
G. (grateful)
O. (optimistic)

With a large thank you to my agent/manager, and the artistic administration/artistic directors of H.G.O. (Houston Grand Opera) for helping me reach another storied benchmark in my professional life!

I am H.G.O. thanks to H.G.O.


“So what happens now?” “Where am I going to?”

July 9th, 2015

I spoke to a colleague the other night about my first Equity job… the one that got me that ever prized ‘union card’ when so many of us were looking for a break in show-business. It was 1985, and I didn’t attend my college graduation in order to be in Brunswick, Maine to start rehearsals at ‘Brunswick Music Theatre’ (later rebranded as the ‘Maine State Theater’). That was 30 years ago this very summer… and has the time ever flown.

We presented many musicals that summer, the most memorable being a production of Evita, which was still white-hot in theatrical circles. In it, was a song that has stuck in my mind for three decades. “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”. With the following lyrics (and melody) burned into my brain: “So what happens now? Where am I going to?”

Never have those words meant so very much, and never did I expect them to have such an impact on me.

As I sit today in Fairbanks, Alaska I reflect on the fact that with tonight’s premiere performance of Hansel & Gretel, I will have now effectively closed the circle of desire on all the roles that I have ever wished to sing since focusing on a career on the opera stage in 1990. The role of the ‘Witch’ being the only one that has eluded me for decades… until now.

I am extremely grateful that the company with whom I have performed a number of times (Opera Fairbanks) has tapped me to make this role debut. This company means a lot to this community, and the finest singers in the business have come here to perform for just that reason. It also gives us singers an opportunity to try out new material- or recreate comfortable favorites- while having a meaningful seat at the artistic table.

That being said, and with hopes high for a very successful run for all of my wonderful colleagues and myself; I have begun to wonder:

“So what happens now? Where am I going to?”

How lucky am I to actually be able to say that I have now sung all the roles I have ever wished to sing? And make no mistake; I will relish every opportunity to repeat any one of the many roles I have sung–and I have several new roles upcoming that I look forward to premiering as well. But at the same time I can’t help but feel somewhat sad and bittersweet about attaining that which I have always desired: A wish-list now complete.

Perhaps the answer lies in some of the other lyrics in the same song from Evita:

“Call in three months time, and I’ll be fine.”

Looking forward to this, and many more wonderful nights on the opera stage!

A very thankful,
David Cangelosi


And then…Spring

April 11th, 2015

And finally I awoke this morning to the glories of Spring:

The sun broke over the East Side of New York, and bathed my Upper West Side 35th floor New York residence with a golden glaze.  An hour-long exercise walk in Central Park after morning coffee, found me in the company of many other New Yorkers…some walking, some running, some jogging, while others strolled with their dogs.  A rite of passage in the form of Little League baseball teams take over certain sections of the Park.  I note that some baseball mitts were actually bigger than the boys who donned them–don’t worry, they will grow into them!  I pass the same iconic tree that is still barren of leaves, but so glorious when eventually filled out.

I missed the company of my wife, worried about the well-being of my father (although I had just spoken to him), and thought fondly of my mother who has been working so very hard to see to my father’s transition home after his terrible accident in this city almost 4 months ago.  I then went to rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera, chatted with our Director about an upcoming project that we will do together, headed home when the artistic team was finished with me, and made a healthy lunch.  After several iterations of FaceTime with my wife,  I sit in the sun on this wonderful balcony that overlooks the entirety of New York as the city hums below.  I pen a short note of condolence to my brother’s companion who just lost her mother, and I listen to the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast as I write this entry.  So much to worry about, so much to think about, so much music to prepare, so much skyline to try to take in.

Somehow today it doesn’t really matter, because Spring has finally arrived to New York City; and the troubles of the world somehow seem manageable…at least for today.

Thank God for Spring; for what would Summer, Fall, and Winter do without it!!


April 11, 2015

Tears, Jeers, and Cheers

January 27th, 2015

January 21, 2015

The close of 2014 and start of 2015 found myself and my family in a state of panic as my father suffered a devastating head injury while visiting me in New York City. What was to be a fun visit for my parents to see me perform at the Metropolitan Opera, and then stay through Christmas, turned to absolute tragedy when my father misjudged a curb and sustained a traumatic brain injury–courtesy of the pavement–on Christmas Eve. While other injuries were also present, it was the brain-bleed that worried the Neuroscientists the most. An associated seizure 7 days later on New Year’s Eve did not help our spirits, as I felt certain that my father would die on New Year’s Day after seeing him laying almost lifeless, and certainly helpless, in the ICU. Unable to hold back the TEARS, my wife, my mother, and certainly I were as crestfallen as imaginable. We sent my mother home to Cleveland the next day, clearly sensing her exhaustion from a week-long vigil in and out of Mount Sinai Hospital. More tears from us both as we said goodbye at the airport. My wife and I stayed behind to monitor events for the next week, but my mother was uncertain that she would ever see my father alive again. As if by a miracle from an avalanche of prayer, my father awoke that January 2nd, 2015; his left side paralysis had abated, and he even began talking again. He was weak to be sure, had a touch of pneumonia (likely from aspirating some food a few days before), but he was still with us… with no recollection of the seizure. He was eventually transported back to Cleveland where he is now in a struggle to heal on all fronts, and regain some mobility and independence. Time will only tell.

With a turnaround time of only three days, I rushed from New York to Cleveland via medical ambulance, and from Cleveland to Chicago by air, just in time to regroup and head to Hong Kong for a much anticipated debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. (More on that below.) Just before boarding was to begin on our 777-200 aircraft at O’Hare International Airport, an announcement was made that a maintenance ladder had punctured an exit door on the very aircraft we were about to fly. Needless to say, the aircraft was taken ‘out of service’. Audible JEERS were levied and lobbed at gate agents…but really at United Airlines in particular… and more likely the maintenance team that punctured the aircraft door. Not knowing what was going to happen next, I headed back to the International First Class Lounge, but received no immediate answers. ‘Lo and Behold’, another 777-200 was located (Chicago being a UAL hub), bags were transferred, and we were on our way about 1 hour and 45 minutes late. All in all, not too bad given the circumstances.

Sixteen hours later, a safe landing in Hong Kong, followed by being whisked away via private car to my hotel, represented the beginning of my next adventure–not just the end of a long plane ride. After a day of rest, my colleagues and I embarked on history as the HK PHIL became the first Asian-based symphony to tackle the presentation of Richard Wagner’s fabled ‘Ring’ cycle. With one opera per year being presented, this represents a four-year total project, which is inclusive of recordings as well as performances. The very intense and brilliant Jaap van Zweden leads the forces, and conducts with complete authority. At the time of this writing, I am preparing to sing tonight’s final general/complete run-thru of Das Rheingold, which clocks in at 2 hours and 45 minutes and has no stopping point. There is much anticipation ahead of these series of performances, and I can only hope that at the end of this odyssey I will be able to report that CHEERS capped off the TEARS and JEERS that preceded.

One thing is for certain:

As much as we wish to control our lives and our destinies, some circumstances defy our usually reasonable attempts and expectations. I have an idea of what tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year will bring. I know this because I have a ‘schedule’ that tells me so. However, we will never be able to know what is really going to happen until it has actually passed and become part of our life’s history. It is my hope that a kinder, gentler immediate future in is the offing… because I am really exhausted right now!!

**UPDATE:  Indeed, cheers prevailed in Hong Kong! CASCADES of them…!!



From Gamble Auditorium to List Hall

November 10th, 2014

November 10 (my birthday), 2014

After graduating from Baldwin-Wallace College (now Baldwin-Wallace University) 30 years ago, I had never stepped foot back onto campus to speak to students, present a masterclass, or even sing an alumni recital.  This all changed recently thanks to an invitation from an old classmate (Nanette Canfield) who has run the School of Music/Conservatory as its Assistant Director for quite a few years now, as well as the intercession of a few faculty members and friends in the Cleveland area.

I spent two days on campus and was escorted through new buildings and newly renovated elder facilities.  I could hardly believe my eyes, but would surely have expected some changes after three decades.  I was thrilled beyond measure at the turn of every hallway corner, as well as experienced a few flashbacks regarding my struggles there as a student.

As I explained to the aspiring students in a Friday lecture, I was actually glad to have never been back until now. I felt that I hadn’t anything to say before this point, and also felt I had nothing to ‘give’ by way of offering advice–professionally, personally, or musically.  I did, however, feel that I had something to say and give NOW in the academic year 2014/2015.  After providing a full lecture on Friday, which included several probing questions from students; I tendered a Saturday masterclass in Gamble Auditorium featuring 8 of the finest young singers I could have ever hoped to hear at this august undergraduate institution.  The class attracted the entire teaching team from the vocal wing of the university (which included some current working colleagues from my performance career), members of the community, plus early musical influences of mine from over 37 years ago in the Cleveland area.  Needless to say, I was moved in large degree.  I departed, being told that I was an ‘inspiration’ to these wonderful young students; and received similar follow-up responses once I got back to New York for rehearsals at the Metropolitan Opera.  The aspect of being a so-called inspiration is important because of what will now follow… so please read on.

I left Cleveland, Ohio and immediately came to my lovely apartment in New York City that I have had at Lincoln Center for well over a decade.  We began rehearsing the next day for Die Meistersinger, which is one of the largest single-opera undertakings in the entire canon.  I quickly moved from one end of the spectrum as the person who was DOING the inspiring–to becoming the one was now BEING inspired–by the entrance of the legendary James Levine into List Hall for music rehearsal.  He is, and remains, the most celebrated Artistic Director, Music Director, Conductor, and all around Musician of our age.

The delight and absolute satisfaction with which he dispatches a musical rehearsal is beyond anything I have ever witnessed.  I recognized this when I first began rehearsing for my debut in Das Rheingold with Maestro Levine at the Met quite some years ago; but in reality this love-fest began decades earlier when I first became aware of him as he conducted Met broadcasts that I viewed on PBS as a very young and dreamy-eyed voice student in high-school.

The ease with which he conducts, the language he uses when providing advice/instruction to the singers, the complete satisfaction that he exhibits while conducting, and his absolute respect for the musical score which he seems so privileged to conduct, makes one feel as if he is actually inside the score himself.  It is hard to explain in words, but those of us who have been so honored to work with him know what I am trying to feebly express via the written word.

All I can really say, is that during the 6 hours of music rehearsal that we have had (2 separate 3 hour sessions), I forgot all of my problems, worries, and concerns both big and small.  I simply wallowed in the greatness of the miraculous score of Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, in which Maestro Levine seemed as a humble vessel who was–in the most simple (but clearly very complex) way–bringing it to life.

Being one who inspired at my Alma-Mater a week or so ago(???)… maybe.

Feeling exhilarated and inspired still, after well over 37 years in professional show-business…DEFINITELY!!!!




All Hands On Deck at ‘Vann Vocal Institute’

September 30th, 2014

September 30, 2014

When your body (and your wife) finally tell you to throttle back, you had better listen.  Therefore I write this entry from my bed, bored to tears, but still panicked over what must be done in the next few weeks.  The Vann Vocal Institute in Montgomery, Alabama is an intense week for me to be sure; but the planning begins months and months in advance with the final 4-6 weeks posing a particular drain on me.  Coordinating this event–beginning for ME on Saturday October 11 (with others soon to follow)–which features a ‘Celebrity Recital’ by our faculty/artists, and LOTS of teaching, lecturing, and masterclasses to our students, as well as social obligations as the Program Director can be tricky indeed while navigating a full performance calendar.

Fortunately, the ‘human capital’ (aka: the Montgomery Symphony administrative ground team) in Montgomery is first rate!  It would be impossible to do all of this without them.  The success of this program ultimately rests with this program’s backbone…one Kimberly Wolfe, the new Executive Director of the Montgomery Symphony organization, and her team.  She is busy organizing radio, television, and print media spots for me, plus a few early outreach events.  President Cameron West of Huntingdon College, our host for the week, is also checking-in regularly to make sure that we have everything we need.  Generous local donors (Jim Wilson & Associates) step in to provide first rate, private jet transportation and housing for all of us, while I am busy playing travel agent and party planner to everyone.

In the end, this is all in service to our students from five states and the local community.  We raise private funds in order to bring all programs to the students and community free of charge…so the fundraising also never ends.  I pause to give thanks to two major Chicago Arts Foundations for their continuing support to an area of the country that is not part of their direct purview; they do so because of my association with them…and this is the most humbling aspect of all. I can only hope to do justice to their funding, and remain inexplicably grateful to them.

Calling: “All Hands On Deck”!

My wonderful faculty and I are about to invade the friendliest city in America.  Historic Montgomery, Alabama!


David Cangelosi, Program Director
Lori Phillips, Soprano
Elizabeth Bishop, Mezzo-Soprano
Richard Troxell, Tenor
Raymond Aceto, Bass
Dr. Elizabeth Buccheri, Senior Vocal Coach
Kelly Kuo, Vocal Coach
Dale Williams, Masterclass Pianist





Build It, and They Will Sing!

July 26th, 2014

July 26, 2014

As I sit in Denver International Airport awaiting my flight to Tokyo and my next work assignment; I am reflecting upon the past four weeks of intense work at Land of Enchantment Opera Institute (LOEOI).

There are more summer vocal study programs out there than you can shake a stick at these days…with everyone, in any exotic locale, trying to get in on the act. It is a full-court press of sharp marketing and big names, all in an attempt to lure young singers to their special program… always for a fee.

Italy, Germany, Sicily, France, Prague, Austria…the list goes on and on. Not to mention the plethora of such programs to be found in the sexiest of American cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Gallup… WAIT A MINUTE… WHERE??… GALLUP? (As in, New Mexico?)

Please allow me to continue.

These programs usually proclaim “intensive” language study, voice lessons, and vocal coaching with some of the world’s finest practitioners. They produce concerts and operas; often at little or no cost to the public (but often at a large cost as well). Several of them deliver the goods as advertised, while others leave participants disappointed… and broke!!

Gallup, New Mexico may seem an odd location to house a summer opera institute, and I would agree. Nestled amongst the Navajo Nation, with glorious mesas on one side, Indian casinos on the other side, and Historic Route 66 slicing it all in half; it would hardly seem to be the place where artists of renown would gather to teach the classical vocal arts. I would have agreed whole-heartedly, until I accepted an invitation to teach for four of its five weeks at the behest of my friend and colleague Peter Strummer, basso par excellence.

His mission: Teach the next generation the rudiments of true classical opera and voice.

His vessels: Active, world-class colleagues.

The results: Amazing.

The grounds aren’t fancy, the accommodations are only basic, the main building creaks (but not from old age), and there is no air conditioning. But the students who come are some of the finest and most talented I have ever had the pleasure (and challenge) to instruct. Jaw-dropping young talent that made me wonder what irradiated agriculture field their vegetables came from in their youth. But there they were, in Gallup, NM singing and studying their heart’s out.

Were there frustrations? You bet!

Were there tears? Guaranteed!

Were there defaults? Absolutely!

Were their breakthroughs?? You better believe it!!

Will more come next year? You can bet the farm on it!

Overall, this is a low-cost program when you add it all up. But no matter what these students have paid; they got their money’s worth and a whole lot more! I know this because I was one of their instructors and Master-class teachers; and I don’t allow much sway. Neither did the other outstanding instructors/mentors that were brought in to pass their knowledge along. There is a lot of great young talent out there, and many of them found their way to Gallup, NM this summer. I eagerly promoted this program, because I knew I was going to be there. But more importantly, I knew every OTHER faculty member that was going to be there as well.

I was challenged, and I was fulfilled. But most of all I was impressed with the level of dedication and drive that thankfully still exists out there for the classical vocal arts.

I run my own small vocal institute in Montgomery, Alabama (The Vann Vocal Institute) whose faculty has boasted some of the world’s finest; therefore, I know the challenges that my colleague Peter faces with his extended program of five full weeks that is packed with concerts, recitals, fully staged operas, and lots and lots of instruction.

But in the end it’s fairly simple:

Build it, and they will sing!!




A Cunning Little Production

May 14th, 2014

May 14, 2014:

When I was contacted a year and a half ago about participating in a concert version of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, I told my agent/manager: “Great, no problem; it’ll be fun.  Little did I know how much fun it would be…but how much ‘work’ it would be too!!  Below is the link to an interview that I just completed regarding this entire process for Cleveland Classical.  I have also enclosed the full text of the article by Mike Telin.  Best of luck to the entire wonderful cast for this week’s opening of what is a groundbreaking idea of presentation!

Opera librettists take their inspiration from novels, novellas, plays and legends, but rarely from a daily comic strip. “The Adventures of the Vixen Sharp-Ears,” a serialized cartoon by Rudolf Těsnohlídek and Stanislav Lolek in the Czech newspaper Lidové novini gave Leoš Janáček the idea for his comic opera, The Cunning Little Vixen, for which he wrote the libretto himself.

Is it children’s entertainment? The characters include animals, birds and insects, as well as a few human beings, but Janáček himself seems to have intended it to be a philosophical reflection about the cycle of life and death. The plot is open to a whole spectrum of interpretation, “but I can tell you that this production will appeal to the widest public components possible,” said tenor David Cangelosi, who sings the roles of the Schoolmaster and the Mosquito. “It just has something for everybody – the littlest of kids straight through to the most seasoned opera or symphony goer.”

The Cunning Little Vixen, a made-for-Cleveland production designed specifically for Severance Hall and directed by Yuval Sharon, will feature animations by Bill Barminsky and Christopher Louie of Walter Robot Studios, projected on three giant screens. The opera will be performed on May 17, 20 and 22 at 8:00 pm and May 24 at 2:00 pm. The 90-minute production involves a large cast of singers, with The Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Children’s Chorus conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.

David Cangelosi feels this production is the most innovative multi-media integration he has ever been involved with. He points out that many companies including the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera have incorporated projections into productions, “but this is the first time we’ve been asked to sing with our heads through a porthole and have bodies projected onto us,” he said with a laugh during a recent telephone conversation. “So we are integrated into the projections, not just having them behind us. It’s been hilariously fun because we’re being told what to do and which direction to look, while having no idea what our bodies look like, although we were able to see the animations early on during production presentations, so we do have some idea.”


Another feature of the production Cangelosi finds fun is the use of masks. “These masks that have been created for us by Cristina Waltz are incredible. I must say there’s been a lot of laughter during rehearsals as we try to get the portholes open and our heads through them. I’m a mosquito and the mask has this gigantic stinger for a nose. So until I became used to it, I was bumping into everything backstage. It’s been really funny.”

Throughout the conversation Cangelosi speaks about the fun he and he fellow cast members are having. He attributes that to the director, Yuval Sharon, who is constantly in a good mood. “He laughs a lot and you can’t help but laugh with him. He enjoys a good joke — both telling one and receiving one. And if we struggled a little bit early on, it wasn’t the kind of intense struggle that leads to frustration. It’s been a struggle that has evoked laughter.”

When first approached about the project, Cangelosi had only a vague idea about the form the production would take. “The earliest reports were that it was going to be a semi-staged Cunning Little Vixen.” As time passed, it became clear that this was going to be one of the most innovative productions ever — a fully-staged opera with animated accoutrements.

“Fully-staged” had its own innovative twists. “At first we thought, great, all the audience will see is our faces, so we don’t have to learn any staging,” Cangelosi said. “This is going to be really easy. Then we discovered that the portholes were on different levels so we would have to climb different staircases backstage. Then we realized that we would only be animated as animals. When we are in our human incarnations we are going to be onstage in costume complete with wigs.”

The innovations continue with the location of the instrumentalists. “The orchestra will be seated on three different levels using pit formation. Maestro will be on the lowest level with a good portion of the orchestra a short level up, with another portion on the next level. Then you have the stage level — I call it a tiered display. I think that as soon as they enter the hall, even before a note is played, people are going to realize that they are about to see something completely different.”

Cunning Little Vixen incorporates both an international and local cast. “Everyone from top to bottom is as first rate as any I have worked with at any opera house anywhere,” Cangelosi, himself a Parma native, said. “We hope the audiences love it as much as we have had fun preparing it. Because that is exactly what it has been, a great joy.”

A Day In My Life

January 5th, 2014

I have been asked on occasion to write a few articles for our trade publication: The AGMAzine.  Below is a copy of the article which has (or will) recently appeared.  This may be a good way to kick off the year 2014…since I have rehearsal later this morning to start the post holiday season!

A day in the life of an opera singer has many permutations depending upon the time of year, or where in the performance calendar one happens to be.  On this particular day in late September, I have only begun my daily processionals into the opera house by a week or so… in this case, the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  As a multi-decade principal artist of this august organization, I have by now seen almost every post, from General and Artistic Director right down to the fine doormen and service staff, change hands.  There is an old saying:  “Hang around long enough and you will become part of the establishment”.   I know just about everyone here, and everyone knows me (for better or worse, in the case of the latter).  But make no mistake, in the dynamic environment of a major international opera company; some things are always changing, while others never do.

I am up early on this day (6:00 a.m.) since the schedule indicates that I’ll be rehearsing some of my big scenes today.  Those paper rehearsal slips located in our artist mailboxes in the rehearsal department, have now become a thing of the past.  I head to my iPad to look at the new online schedule that we now receive daily via email while the morning coffee percolates.  A quick glance through my emails, then it’s right to that schedule.  Yes, I remembered correctly, an 11:00 a.m. start… and I had better warm up my voice this morning!  A few sips of half-caff coffee as the WGN Morning News plays in the background.  Can’t stand the damned iPad keyboard when I must write an email to my manager/agent about a free time period that I would like filled on my calendar; so it’s up and out of my comfortable lounge chair and into my office to get my laptop.  I write that snarky email, read it over and over again, send it off to my agent, and then perseverate over it for the next 20 minutes.  “Why won’t they hire me?” I ask myself.  “Am I too old?” “Have I gotten too expensive?” “Do I not sing well anymore?” “Did I do something wrong?” …wait a minute… “I have never even sung there, how could I have done anything wrong!?” I finally tell myself.  Look at the clock; I’m going to be late for my 7:15 a.m. spin class at the gym.  Out of the chair, into my gear and out the front door.  Leave the gym by 8:15 and back home by 8:25.  Pour another cup of coffee and take a quick look at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” before heading into the shower.  Lip trills while shampooing gives me confidence… ”lots of resonance in here”, I say to myself.

It’s 9:15, but I wait until 9:30 to sit at my piano and start the vocal exercises.  Easy does it at first.  Computer ‘ding’ tells me I have email.  I glance through the junk correspondence and focus like a laser-beam on the reply from my agent.  He promises to call Houston again… (yeah, yeah, that’s what they all say.)  I want to be out of the house by 10:15 but thankfully I have a contract in quadruplicate that I must sign for a future engagement before I depart… one copy for me, one for AGMA, one for my agent, and one for the company.  “Well, at least I have somewhere to work in the future” I tell myself.  Envelope, stamp, return address? ‘Check!’ Got ‘em all; and into the outgoing mail on my way out.

I enter the Stage Door, and there he is, security doorman extraordinaire Mr. Holliday (one of the great things that hasn’t changed)!!  “How ya feelin’???” he says with a smile, and comes around to give me a hug.  “You know, just trying to stay busy my man”, I reply.  Into the building and say hello to Gabby and Sal in the rehearsal department (two new members of our Lyric Opera family).  “You have mail in your box, Mr Cangelosi!”…“Please, call me David… ”  How nice, an invitation to the opening night party for the Madame Butterfly cast.  No time to deal with that, as I must rush up to the music library on the 6th floor.  Wendy, the Librarian, helps me pull several scores that I need for current and future reference.  I duck into one of the practice rooms for five more minutes of warm-up, then on to rehearsal room 200 right on time! 

It is the start of a four-hour rehearsal with so many familiar faces in the stage management staff, with hugs all around almost every morning.  Everyone is in a good mood (Maestro Armiliato, James Valenti, Amanda Echalaz, Christopher Purves, Mary Ann McCormick,  just to name a few), including our wonderful understudy/cover cast; and I think how lucky I am to be working with such great colleagues.  A break after 90 minutes sends most of us to the washrooms, or the coffee pot.  Hello to John Coleman in the elevator and Lucy from wardrobe in the hallway, a hug to Marina whom I have just seen for the first time since arriving back, a schedule clarification from Ben, a favor to ask of Josie and Amy in the rehearsal department, a shout out to ‘Junior’, Mack, and Charlie (stage-hands)… all on the way to the coffee pot.  DAMN, no one has made any fresh coffee!!!  Stage manager Caroline Moores calls over the system-wide intercom (in her ever elegant English accent): “The Butterfly staging rehearsal will resume in 5 minutes, all principals and maestri to Room 200 please.”  (Didn’t really need coffee anyway, I tell myself.)

Back in the rehearsal room:

I am surrounded by delightful people, stunning vocal talent, fabulous pianists, and outstanding conductors, directors, and choreographers.  We laugh as we make mistakes, compliment each other as we work, ask for a costume piece or prop that we have forgotten, lumber up the raked stage, trip up a stair, or lose our balance slightly on a ramp.  The set is new, and we are getting our bearings.  “I love this job”, I sigh to myself.  “Thank you Lord”, I whisper in virtual silence, as we all attempt to stay relevant.  We check our cell phones for emails, sneak out a text message to our friends and loved ones, or look at photos on these hand held marvels and wonder what we did before they existed as a ‘palm accessory’.

We finish our work after 4 hours (but we usually rehearse for 6); there is more to do, but I am done for the day at the opera house.  I stop by the FedEx Office to make a few copies of items I need, then head home.  I live two short blocks away, by design.  Sometimes we have 2-3 hours of break in between rehearsal periods, and commuting long distances in between became too much for me about 10 years ago.  Because I’m so close, no matter the circumstance, I never have to worry about being late and can always run home in between rehearsals or for lunch.

I arrive home by 4:00 p.m., but my workday hasn’t finished.  Seated in my study chair… the one that faces away from the television, I crack open that score of Cunning Little Vixen.  Czech isn’t my best language, and I struggle mightily trying to put the text to the rhythm.  I’ll be singing it with the Cleveland Orchestra in the Spring, and it’s got to be perfect.  That’s what a lot of folks simply don’t understand; we work at home in silence, or at our pianos for hours on end, and do not get paid for it… that’s just part of our profession.  I grow weary, frustrated, and angry because the text just won’t come out!!  C’mon David, c’mon!!!  I slam the score shut and curse my lot…

I make a light dinner, pay a few bills online, check in on the news of the day, FaceTime my fiancée, and call my parents.  But still I see that score sitting on the piano… it taunts me.  I hate you, you ‘Cunning Little Vixen’; I can bear you no more today.  The phone rings at 6:30 p.m. (7:30 in New York), I recognize the number.  It’s him.  “Yes John”, I answer without saying hello.  “Daaaviiiid, Houston just hired you for back-to-backs in 2015… what do you think? ”

“I love you John… and thanks for this.”
I guess I CAN study that Janacek score for another 45 minutes before ‘calling it a day’ after all… .


The Age of Envy

December 17th, 2013

This article below was excellent. Mr. Reich’s appearance last weekend on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” has proven yet again that his ‘broken record, same old, one-note, sour tune’ still resonates with tin-ear followers. I have spent 35 years in show business in an attempt to bring joy to a world with my meager talents, live life, and be a good citizen…and to do so as a working artist.

Thankfully, there have been grand men and women, and the dreaded, hated, reviled “corporation” that have made this possible to a large extent. I also gainfully employ some of my artist friends to help pass-on the procedurally conservative ‘artist’s skills’ to the next generation at an annual symposium in Montgomery, Alabama. A generous real estate developer flies us to the event in his private jet…because he WANTS this for his community, and to help salvage our budget.

Why??? Precisely because many of our young aspiring artists are from the more economically challenged sector of his community. All students attend for free, thanks to the donations of other like minded philanthropists.

Take a lesson from the Barack Obama play-book Mr. Reich:
“We must do this in a balanced manner.”

The President, of course, was talking about deficit reduction (another subject altogether). But I’m talking about sating a spiritual hunger…which also has it’s noble place in a civilized society…

Charitable giving must also be done in a ‘balanced manner’, and at the sole discretion and directive of the donor themselves.


The Age of Envy
The most embarrassing sin produces the worst politics.
By Kevin D. Williamson
Of the seven deadly sins, envy may not be the wickedest, but it is the most embarrassing. To be possessed by envy is to admit a humiliating personal inadequacy: We do not envy others those attainments that we think we too might achieve, but those we despair of ever possessing. Wrath, greed, pride, lust — all assume a certain self-possession. Sloth and gluttony are practically standard issue in times of plenty such as these. Wrath and pride are the sins of great (but not good) men. Envy is the affliction of the insignificant. It is the small man’s sin.

Which brings us to Robert Reich, who, having practically made a cult of envy, has taken to abusing the well-off for their acts of charity. Professor Reich, a ward of the taxpayers of California (at $246,199.84 per annum) and a federal ward before that, is persistently unhappy about how other people use their money, and he scoffs that America’s rich philanthropists are phony and self-serving, investing too much in opera and ballet and fancy colleges, and too little in feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. He particularly resents the fact that our tax code encourages such giving, with deductions that reduced federal revenue by some $39 billion last year — federal revenue that could have gone toward employing men such as Robert Reich.

This calls to mind Edmund Spenser’s description of Envy personified: “He hated all good works and virtuous deeds / And him no less, that any like did use / And who with gracious bread the hungry feeds / His alms for want of faith he doth accuse.”

Professor Reich being Professor Reich, you can guess how his argument unfolds. (If you have read one Robert Reich column, which is one too many, you have read them all.) He writes: “As the tax year draws to a close, the charitable tax deduction beckons. America’s wealthy are its largest beneficiaries. According to the Congressional Budget Office, $33 billion of last year’s $39 billion in total charitable deductions went to the richest 20 percent of Americans, of whom the richest 1 percent reaped the lion’s share.” It goes without saying that he makes no attempt to compare the apportionment of charitable tax deductions with charitable donations — that would only complicate things and invite an unpleasant encounter with reality.

For a sense of perspective, consider that that $39 billion in tax deductions was associated with $316 billion in charitable donations. Our innumerate class warriors dismiss philanthropy as a complicated tax dodge for the rich, but in fact tax deductions amount to about 12 percent of total charitable donations, meaning that our wily robber barons have figured out a way of beating the taxman by . . . giving away far more money than they receive in related tax benefits. Even if Professor Reich got his way on tax rates and they went up to 90 percent at the top, you still don’t come out ahead by giving away money.

Beyond stealing altar offerings from the almighty god of revenue, our philanthropists offend Professor Reich’s sensibilities in another way: They don’t give to the sort of enterprises he wants them to give to. “A large portion of the charitable deductions now claimed by America’s wealthy are for donations to culture palaces — operas, art museums, symphonies, and theaters — where they spend their leisure time hobnobbing with other wealthy benefactors. . . . These aren’t really charities as most people understand the term. They’re often investments in the life-styles the wealthy already enjoy and want their children to have as well. Increasingly, being rich in America means not having to come across anyone who’s not.” Unsurprisingly, Progressive America’s favorite non-economist-who-plays-an-economist-on-TV does not bother to document what he means by “a large share.” Giving to art-and-culture organizations amounted to just over $14 billion in 2012, or about 4.5 percent of charitable contributions, far less than was given to health, human-services, or public-benefit organizations. There are a fair number of single organizations that run into the billions per year, including YMCA ($6.24 billion), Goodwill Industries ($5 billion), Catholic Charities ($4.4 billion), and the Red Cross ($3.12 billion).

Professor Reich is writing in a very old tradition, one that is especially familiar to Catholics: Why spend money on beauty when there is necessity? Protestants have a long and rich tradition of abusing the Catholic Church for its supposed wealth — why not auction off the Sistine Chapel and give the money to the poor? The egalitarian liberal’s equivalent: Why incentivize donations to Princeton when we could be spending that money on food stamps? I like to imagine Robert Reich at the Nativity: “Gold? Frankincense? Myrrh? Try something useful!”

Why should we, things being as awful as they are, encourage such frivolities as take place at Lincoln Center?

A question, though: If spending on art, music, and culture is self-serving when private citizens do it, what is it when government does it? Essential, necessary, crucial — of course. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs by itself spends some $150 million a year on precisely that sort of thing. The state spends dozens of millions more. A good deal of that money goes to subsidizing theater, including big-ticket theater. In my role as a theater critic, I am constantly surprised by how many shows selling tickets for north of $100 are publicly subsidized. It isn’t huge money — without public support for the Manhattan Theater Club, that $120 ticket to see Laurie Metcalf in The Other Place (excellent, be sorry if you missed it) might have been $125 instead. But it adds up: a few dozen millions from the state, a hundred million from the city, a billion and a half from Washington.

Try cutting a piece of that and you’ll hear howls about how vital every farthing spent in the service of culture is. Unless you’re David Koch, in which case it’s “Thanks for giving the New York ballet a nice place to perform, now please die.” I wonder how many New York balletomanes know that the David Koch in the David Koch Theater is that David Koch. Perhaps it is the urge to put one’s name on things that so offends Professor Reich and his colleagues at the Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy.

Or he might contend that government spending on arts and culture does go to important causes, such as bringing us interviews with Robert Reich on NPR and subsidizing screenings of his dopey documentary film.

At its root, this is not about tax revenue or the woeful state of the federal cash-flow statement. This is about envy and its cousin, covetousness. Progressives know that they will always enjoy disproportionate influence in the public sector, but they are vexed that there exist large streams of money that are, for the moment, utterly outside their control. They convince others — and themselves, probably — that they are driven by compassion, but they are in fact driven by envy: Note Barack Obama’s insistence that tax rates on the wealthy should be raised even if doing so produced no fiscal benefit — it’s just “the right thing to do,” he said, necessary “for purposes of fairness.” The battle hymn of “Nobody needs that much money!” has a silent harmony line: “And I get to decide how much is enough!”

Prayerful people bargaining with God over lottery numbers no doubt imagine that they would do some worthy things with that money, on top of buying a Ferrari. Progressives imagine all the wonderful things they could do with other people’s money, and no doubt some of them are well-intentioned. But envy poisons whatever good intentions they have, which is how men such as Professor Reich come to write resentful indictments of people who are, remember, giving away billions of dollars of their own money. He’d prefer their money be given away by him, or by bureaucracies under the tutelage of men such as himself. As the moral philosopher Hannibal Lecter put it: “He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet? Do we seek out things to covet? No. We begin by coveting what we see every day.”

Megan McArdle once observed that in our public discourse, “very rich” is defined as “just above the level a top-notch journalist in a two-earner couple could be expected to pull down.” There is no envy like the envy of a $250,000 man in a world of $250 million men, as Robert Duvall’s crusty newspaper editor explains to a financially frustrated employee in The Paper: “The people we cover — we move in their world, but it is their world. We don’t get the money — never have, never will.” But being in that world, they learn to covet, which helps explain why Professor Reich’s old boss, Bill Clinton, ended up with $50-odd million in the bank after a lifetime of public service.

Americans gave away $316 billion in 2012, and will give away as much or more this year, and Professor Reich composed 731 words to explain the problems related to that. He should have composed two words, especially relevant to this season:

“Thank you.”