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Squillo talk

Tenor Michael Fabiano has been named the recipient of the ninth annual Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera. 

The $50,000 award, the largest of its kind in the United States, is designated for extraordinarily gifted singers between the ages of 25 and 40 who have already appeared in featured solo roles at the Met. The award, given in honor of Beverly Sills, was established in 2006 by an endowment gift from former Met board member Agnes Varis, who died in 2011.

Photo: Arielle Doneson

98 comments

  • MontyNostry says:

    Auguri, Michael.

    • Rowna says:

      Congratulations to Mr. Fabiano. So far, I like what I hear. I was thinking about this award a little while ago, remembering that Bryan Hymel received it last year, and I thought Jamie Barton would have a shot at it this year. Maybe next year is her, or it could

      • Rowna says:

        argghhh hit send before I proofread -- that’s life when you live with a high maintenance dog! I thought this could be Ms. Barton’s year -- or maybe next year she will get a shot at it.

  • MontyNostry says:

    … and great headline, La Cieca.

  • kennedet says:

    As an native Philadelphian, it is no secret that the Academy of Vocal Arts has a major reputation of producing some the most promising singers to the opera world faster than any institution that I can recollect. Thus,its stellar reputation. Yes, I am aware that there are many who have national and international careers and I expect to receive a list of all the exceptions very quickly. However, the institution also has a reputation of sending young singers with the mature sound that the opera world envies only to see many of these singers “burnt out” over a short period of time. Although, it’s irresponsible of me not to give you names of these victims, they do exist and there are many. My point is that many of these singers from AVA are taught to produce a very mature sound for their age and cannot maintain it into their middle-ages. I am always mindful of this when I see a star emerging. I wish them the best.

    • echosvolla says:

      Seems like a general complication with respect to the American operatic training today, young singers are expected to deliver both big volume and mature sound. Bless these young singers, they work so hard though.

      • kennedet says:

        Agreed echosvolla. Also some of the colleges,universities, etc. conduct their vocal departments like mini-opera companies. The average voice student (whatever that means) is not supposed to be a finished product in the first four years!! Similarly, the politics in these vocal institutions should be transformed into full-scale operatic productions. It’s beyond lunacy!! The examples are far too complex to elaborate here but you can imagine if you are taught a vocal technique in a voice lesson and it’s squandered when you sing in Chorus which is normally a required subject. You don’t change techniques like you change underwear. It can be very damaging, depending.

        • la vociaccia says:

          Kennedet, I completely agree about singing in chorus, at least now. I have older friends who said that they loved required chorus because they were “allowed to sing;” by the time I got to school everyone was made to sing straight tone and warm ups didn’t exist.

          Most singers didn’t develop properly because of it. But it meant nothing to the choral conductors; after all, it didn’t matter if they wrecked everyone’s voices because in a few years there would be a whole new crop of singers to experiment on

          • kennedet says:

            Vociaccia, we had a choral conductor who said he was the recipient of Robert Shaw’s, technique (he actually sat down, discussed and worshiped his vocal ideas)and it became his “mantra”. Therefore he had no respect for any other vocal technique because he in a sense, had studied with the “God of choral conductors”. You can only imagine the visits he received from voice teachers after choral tours, when the singers returned sounding like they were “gargling grits”.I could never understand why these institutions couldn’t find a way of fixing these problems. Curtis Institute, at that time, didn’t have a chorus, so they weren’t plagued with this problem. I’m sure it has something to do with credits, degrees ,etc. vs. a certificate….Who knows.

  • antikitschychick says:

    Saw this on Fb as well…he posted a pic of Peter Gelb handing him the award :-P . All I can say is, congrats Michael Fab!! He is def on the right path to inheriting the Corelli throne and he seems like a smart guy as well…hopefully all will go well for him…and Angela.

    • RosinaLeckermaul says:

      If only the Met would cast him in the leading roles he deserves!

      • la vociaccia says:

        He’s really young though…..I’m pretty sure the Met has plans for him. They probably just want to make sure he’s here to stay, and then they’ll sign him forever

        • redbear says:

          The buffons at the Paris Opera had him open the season in Lucia. They obviously didn’t check his ID.

          • Rory Williams says:

            Asking before Manou does: Is “buffon” French for “boffin”? :)

          • la vociaccia says:

            I’m not taking the bait. Have nice saturday

            • la vociaccia says:

              But I assume the Paris opera doesn’t have five year casting, so the comparison is irrelevant.

              People act like it’s some massive oversight on the Met’s part because he isn’t appearing every season. He’s about to complete a 14 performance run in a role where he spends half the time singing excerpts from standard Italian arias, and he STILL not getting what he “deserves.”

            • oedipe says:

              The Paris Opera never plans ahead, it’s just an amateur joint.

            • la vociaccia says:

              Oedipe, I did not imply in any way that five year casting was a good thing. It just happens to be the reality of the Met

              This is why I shouldn’t have taken the bait. I defend the Met for not jumping the gun on a young artist and suddenly I’m Insulting The Paris Opera.

              Waste of fucking time

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Oedipe I heard there was recently a good performance of Werther at the Paris Opera. Mind posting some YouTube clips again because I might have missed them in the other threads.

    • Arianna a Nasso says:

      Not sure about the Corelli throne, as he doesn’t have Corelli’s broad physique to support that kind of sound. He’s a rather slender guy, enviably so. Maybe the Shicoff throne, which would be valuable enough in today’s opera world, especially if he can have Shicoff’s longevity.

      • olliedawg says:

        So, I know I might be mightily flamed for writing this, but I loved Neil Shicoff’s work in Hoffman back in the day. He put out such energy, had a wonderful presence, and a great ping. His sound just knocked me out. Is my mind going, or did he also do a run of Don Carlo at the Met? He kinda disappeared, much to my disappointment, as I always thought he’d be a huge star.

        • la vociaccia says:

          Well he lasted a long time, didn’t he? Made his Met debut in what, 1979? The last major thing I remember was the production of LA JUIVE about a decade ago (and I remember his being originally planned for the new production of GRIMES and being dropped, but he was in pretty late career by then).

        • Porgy Amor says:

          I don’t know how far back in the day yours was, but the Hoffmann in the Carsen production (the release from 2002?) was still a great performance vocally and histrionically. He was then in his fifties, and looking it, but it didn’t matter; it felt as though the present-day Hoffman were stepping into these earlier parts of his life, like a vivid dream. Brilliant direction.

        • arepo says:

          No flaming here! I love Shicoff. There’s something very special about his beautiful sound.
          His Eleazar is memorable and extremely touching.

        • Porgy Amor says:

          Shicoff did have a long run at the Met, 1976 to 2006, in a lot of Italian and French roles. Yes, olliedawg, Don Carlo was one of the former. Trivia: He and Hildegard Behrens debuted the same night in Trittico (Giorgetta and Rinuccio). His last appearance was a single Luisa Miller he tried to struggle through; tracheitis was the announced indisposition. Eduardo Villa (who came and went from the Met in a couple seasons) stepped in after the first act. I was brushing up on the history here at Parterre Box.

          • Camille says:

            There is also a splendid Roméo from the mid to late nineties (along with the Juliette of C Malfitano, which runs the circuit on Sirius. Well worth hearing, really well worth hearing.

            • Camille says:

              Excuse me--I meant to say the mid-eighties.

            • Bill says:

              Shicoff is still singing and leading roles.
              Believe he is an Ehrenmitglieder (Honorary Member) of the
              Vienna State Opera and a Kammersaenger as well -
              just this month he sang his first Canios
              there and also will be doing, also for the first time, Turandot Calaf at the Volksoper.
              His performances as Peter Grimes and in Billy Budd were superb -- I think he is about 65 now. Was it not that he left
              performing regularly in the USA as he was
              forced to pay alimony to his ex-wife when
              he sang in the USA? Something like that.
              I always found him one of the most thoughtful and best acting of tenors of his generation (Luis Lima was also a good actor as tenors go). Shicoff has had a long and admirable career and perhaps in time will still remain on stage in character roles.

            • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

              Shicoff, who will turn 65 in June, is indeed an Ehrenmitglieder of Wiener Staatsoper, where he continues to perform several roles each season (Pinkerton and Canio this season). I happened to be in the audience the night they awarded him the title onstage after a performance of “La Juive”in 2003. His acceptance speech was both funny and touching. He has been a KS (Kammersänger) since 1985.

              I was at his first Canio at the end of January and the voice is amazingly intact, and his acting as astute as ever (it’s the old Ponnelle production). It was a triumphant debut for him. I will go to his “Turandot” debut on Friday at Volksoper, although I wonder how he will deal with the high-concept production which (as Anna Russell says, “I’m not making this up, you know”) is set in the insect world.

              I missed his Peter Grimes, but heard several performances of his Vere, which were astounding.

          • Porgy Amor says:

            Shicoff was a Volpe favorite, the star tenor in two noteworthy opening nights of that era, Carsen’s Onegin (controversial then, warmly remembered now) and Vick’s Trovatore (a fiasco beyond salvage).

          • peter says:

            Schicoff was a wonderful Werther opposite Troyanos in the early 80′s at the Met.

          • olliedawg says:

            HildegardB…never warmed up to her voice; in fact, I found her hard to listen to, but, man, that lady put out the most incredible intensity and commitment every time she stepped onstage. It was “Fatal Attraction”: She could NOT be ignored. Alas, another great artist gone way too young.

          • olliedawg says:

            Porgy Amor: Thanks for letting me know my mind is still (somewhat) intact. I remember Margaret Price and TatianaT and Shicoff (who played the Grand Inquisitor? Ramey??). I remember Shicoff blowing everyone away, and Tatiana’s eye patch and crazy little hat and that fan work…poor Margaret didn’t stand a chance…

            • steveac10 says:

              I saw one of those on a trip to NY. It was the season they gave in to Weikl’s demands to sing something other than Wagner. He was a blustery, uninspiring Rodrigo. As much as I love Margaret Price, she was a dowdy, almost blowsy Elisabetta. All I really remember about the afternoon was that it was my first time on the parterre, Troyanos and Ruggero Raimondi were fabulous and thinking wow, that celestial voice (Hong) is going places, and Margaret Price should shoot the gays who styled her wig. Weirdly, I remember the Carlo as being Luis Lima. Which a check of the archives showed some of my memory of the afternoon was a bit faulty. Turns out that was 10 years later.

            • Krunoslav says:

              Before Weikl sang those Posas he sang two Wagner roles at the Met Wolfram and Amfortas; otherwise he did Beethoven’s Don Fernando (with stirring effect on certain posters here) and Strauss’s Jokanaan and Mandryka.

              The unwonderful 1989 Inquisitor was Jan-Hendrik Rootering.

      • antikitschychick says:

        Hey Arianna :-)

        My comparison w/Corelli is strictly in terms of his voice and vocal prowess, but perhaps I should have specified that. Her has a very open Corelli-like top (similar ring and tone..cant comment on volume though). Corelli was def a Hottie with a capital H, or a very handsome man I should say with an imposing physique, true. Michael is much less imposing physically but he is cute, and from certain angles he bears a resemblance to Joaquin Phoenix who is imho the best actor of his generation and my one true love lol.

        I agree with la vociaccia’s assessment in terms of his long term career at the Met. I do definitely think that he should take some risks, but all in due time. I still think he could already be singing Alfredo in next season’s Traviata but I’ve complained about the advance casting thing enough already :-P .

        • antikitschychick says:

          UGH, *HE has a very open, Corelli-like top [register].

        • pobrediablo says:

          Corelli had a very large voice always giving Nilsson competition.

          • antikitschychick says:

            sounds exciting!! The things I’d do to be given the chance to go back in time and hear him live :-P .

            • pobrediablo says:

              Don’t get to thinking that I ever heard him myself. I’m not that old :D

            • antikitschychick says:

              Lol tranqui, I wasn’t thinking that at all as I know I’m not the only young thang round here ;-) .

            • kennedet says:

              Well, I’m glad that I was old enough to have heard Corelli live. He had a thrilling prescence and the audience loved him. I will never forget his last measure of Celeste Aida. He was definitely from the “park and bark” school and made many of us angry when he ignored ensemble or anything that had to do with acting. He literally seemed to be doing silent vocal mannerisms during performances!!…as if he was constantly swallowing or preparing for a high note. It was very distracting. Many of us can only imagine what his Otello would have sounded like.

            • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

              Gee, thanks for making me feel so… ancient. Corelli was the star of my second Met performance -- “Roméo et Juliette” -- and I heard him more times than I can count: Don Carlo, Alvaro, Turridu, Radamés, Rodolfo, Cavaradossi, Calaf (many, many times), and Werther. I was also at the Bing Gala in 1972, so I did get to hear that one glimpse of what his Otello might have been.

            • antikitschychick says:

              Sowy Jungfer :-P . Don’t mean to make anyone feel old, just meant that all ya’lls who did get to hear him live are a privileged bunch. I just love that man’s voice to bits! I think I actually might have swooned had I heard him live.

          • figaroindy says:

            As I recall, Corelli was the one who was quoted as saying “Who is this woman? she has deafened me!” when singing with a soprano, but I’m pretty sure it was Eileen Farrell, not Nilsson. One gets the idea that Farrell’s voice was larger than both Corelli’s and Nilsson’s from that statement.

            • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

              Corelli’s quote was with respect to Farrell. I heard them all and they were all very large, impressive instruments for whom the size of the old/new Met auditorium held no terrors. Nilsson’s voice was more laser-like, concentrated, intense and penetrating. Farrell’s was more columnar and rounder. Nilsson had the more secure top. Despite the quote, Corelli could certainly hold his own with either lady.

        • operaassport says:

          Joaquin Phoenix? His range runs the gamut from a to b. Also, very very creepy. I always imagine the people who find him interesting and attractive probably find the Unabomber a hottie :)

          • antikitschychick says:

            Oooh the Unabomber, now there’s a fine specimen indeed! :-P .

            • operaassport says:

              Bingo!

              I always thought Shicoff sounded like a pig in heat. Screechy and lunging after notes, especially in his later years. And it’s hardly fair to say he had a 30 year MET career as he was absent for at least 10-12 of those years when he didn’t set foot in the US because of his divorce. When he finally returned his voice was a shambles.

              I saw a Tosca in Chicago with him (and Millo? Not sure) about a decade ago I think that was the very definition of the word filth.

          • redbear says:

            I have a Unabomber opera story. A friend got me a ticket to the famous Vickers Tristan in Chicago. I was at National Airport waiting for the plane to Chicago when the plane was announced as late. Caught another and made it to my seat two seconds before the overture. It turns out the original plane, coming from Chicago, had a bomb go off in the baggage compartment but landed safely at Kennedy. It was his first.

        • kashania says:

          Yeah, I hear a bit of Corelli there too. And some Carreras.

      • Regina delle fate says:

        The Schicoff throne -- love that expression -- would do very nicely for a lot of young singers. I wish we had some candidates over here for the Craig, Remedios and O’Neill “thrones”.

        • MontyNostry says:

          As I said on here the other week, I don’t think I appreciated Shicoff enough when I saw him in the 80s and 90s. Back then, I thought he was a bit faute de mieux (ie Domingo), but my views have shifted considerably since then. And I agree with Bill that Lima was a superb actor -- his Don Carlo was particularly intense.

          • MontyNostry says:

            By the way, am I the only one who thinks of Gene Wilder every time I think of Shicoff? Something in the eyes and anxious demeanour.

        • Krunoslav says:

          Let’s not forget the Johnston throne, the Swift throne, the Mee throne, the Lawton throne and the Winslade throne.

          Most of all, the Bostridge throne:

          http://tinyurl.com/lelgzc6

  • Camille says:

    Many, many congratulations to Michael Fabiano on the receipt of this honor and here is hoping the money will be spent on the best coaches and advisors, and always remember—Festina lente

    Perhaps he is unaware that he’s also a recipient of the highest of Camille’s Commendations: he is INTERESTING.

    (zinka should be dancing a jig about this news!)

    • steveac10 says:

      I’m Pleasantly surprised. Based on recent and future casting at the Met, I had assumed the next Sills Award was a lock for Alek Shrader -- because it was a boy’s turn, and the Met seems refreshingly immune to “Barihunks” these days. Not that I think Shrader is a substandard singer, but because a god old fashioned Italian tenor is something the house really needs.

      • kashania says:

        god old fashioned Italian tenor

        Well, most people would say that Corelli sang like a god. :)

        • antikitschychick says:

          Here here Kashania!! He certainly did :-P .

          • manou says:

            What do we hear here? Eggcorn?

            • antikitschychick says:

              We here at parterre hear many different thangs…its a cacophony of opinions…but a fun one, with grammatical mistakes included lol…serves me right for trying to write coherently in 100 degree weather w a screaming child behind me :-P

      • la vociaccia says:

        Not that I think Shrader is a substandard singer

        He’s not substandard; he’s bad

        • pobrediablo says:

          I still remember how envious Fabiano was of him during those auditions. Then, he bitched about Grigoletto. All in all, drama queen. With emphasis on queen :D

          • oedipe says:

            Gee, behind the scenes between the two casts of the Paris Lucia must have been barrels of fun!:D

            • pobrediablo says:

              He had posted on FB something to the effect of “Vittorio Grigolo in the other cast -- it will be interesting” or something. I can’t find it now.

          • la vociaccia says:

            I thought that at first, but then after hearing The Shredder in an art song recital (you don’t understand…..the horror.), I realized that it wasn’t that Fabiano was jealous; he was fucking furious that people were acting like it was impressive for someone to be popping out tiny, tight, colorless high Cs and acting like they were impressive simply because they were Cs.

            With the Grigoletto, he had a right to be upset but that’s singing in Italy for you; unorganized and stressful. I wonder if he even got paid….

            • Maury D says:

              This is just silly. I was at the auditions that year and he sang it quite well--sure, you can quibble about style and stuff (I liked it) but this “tiny, tight, colorless” stuff is just some kind of embellished distaste. He wasn’t Jon Vickers. People who sing “Pour mon ame” generally aren’t.

            • la vociaccia says:

              So you heard him for a grand total of six minutes, seven years ago. I heard him sing art song for an hour and a half just over a year ago, and everything above the staff (literally everything above f natural) was pinched, without color or any resonance, and I won’t get into his non-interpretations because Gaultier M explained it perfectly.

            • operaassport says:

              Shrader is perfectly fine in a small house like St. Louis but that voice doesn’t translate well to the big barns but I’d rather hear it than Shicoff as I’d have something to look at.

            • la vociaccia says:

              I mean, I heard him in Weill hall, decidedly not a big barn. It still made little impact.

            • Maury D says:

              So you heard him for a grand total of six minutes, seven years ago.

              --you say, in response to me, in response to you talking about exactly the same thing. Read up two comments if you’ve forgotten, but don’t act like I’m the asshole in this conversation.

            • la vociaccia says:

              Well, here’s the thing Maury (and I apologize for how I responded; very uncalled for): I found it difficult to believe that a (highly successful) leggiero tenor would have a more secure and integrated top at age 25 than age 31, so I assumed that whatever state his high notes were in when I saw him
              last year could only have been better than how they were in 2007. I was skeptical to judge him based on the film of the auditions because most of the voices seemed to be leveled out until they all were the same volume.

              But to bring this back to my original comment, I don’t think Fabiano was jealous; I think he was annoyed

          • La Cieca says:

            I realize we’re not journalists here, but if you’re going to say that someone is envious because he “bitched” about something or other, do you think you could hold off on that until you have something just a little more concrete than “something to that effect that I can’t find on Facebook right now?”

        • Regina delle fate says:

          La V -- I wasn’t much impressed with his Gonzalve at Glyndebourne. It’s an okay, somewhat reedy voice. Elliot Madore’s Ramiro, on the other hand…..hot and beautifully sung. The only reason I might go back to see Glyndebourne’s Don Giovanni this summer.

    • zinka says:

      I JIG a lot..especially when Michael finished “La mia Letizia’ in the Lommbardi..and when he sang the “ghost aria’ from the Avery Fisher Balcony. He is special..has that what I call “chiaroscuro” tone..dark and brilliant at the same time.
      He also loves crazy La Pumna stuff…..CH

  • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

    By 1970, it’s not like Corelli hadn’t experienced a significant decline. I love this rhetoric that says singers “must wait” and then which worries that once they’ve arrived their shelf life will be too short.

    • la vociaccia says:

      Given that Fabiano has referred to himself in interviews as a “medium weight lyric tenor” I’m going to take his word that he is in fact a lyric tenor perfectly content singing lyric roles until he feels ready to sing bigger roles.

      Besides, it’s not like he’s singing an endless stream of Almavivas and Ottavios; Edgardo isn’t a small sing. In the 1960s Sandor Konya and Richard Tucker would sing it. He’s also been doing Duca which also isn’t exactly a wimpy part, he’s done a bunch of Rodolfos which definitely isn’t something an irrationally cautious tenor would sing, and he’s about to do his first Faust.

      • Gualtier M says:

        Two things about Fabiano’s voice 1) the middle is substantial and has a dark, sinewy core. Suggests that spinto parts are in the cards as he matures. We’re talking Don Jose, Cavaradossi and maybe Manrico. Shicoff is a good comparison. However, if he wants that 40 year plus career that Shicoff is having then he is wise to let the voice develop naturally. 2) I hear problems in Fabiano’s passaggio and top register which seems to be produced with a great deal of muscular tension. So a quick move into heavier repertoire would be vocal suicide in my opinion. He needs to sort out that top register which his teacher, Bill Schuman should be able to sort this out and hopefully the recent successes show that it is falling into place. Fabiano’s top notes sounded good as Alfred in “Fledermaus” but I heard effort in the “Lombardi” though that medium-weight Verdi type role seems to be his natural metier.

        As for Alek Shrader -- he is purely a light lyric tenor. I also have heard some muscular tension (stiffness around the jaw?) when he produces his high notes which causes them to lose color and ease. For a really good-looking man he seems very uncomfortable with himself -- no social ease and very self-absorbed. A friend who attended the same recital that La Vociaccia did mentioned that he was stiff, awkward and edgy in his interactions with the audience.

        • kennedet says:

          Agreed Gualtier, regarding Fabiano. It’s definitely spinto sounding but I feel he might need to change the sound to have more ease on the top notes and I don’t think he or his voice teacher would be willing to do this at this exciting time of his stature. Schumann seems to be the “God” of voice teachers these days and many are seeking him out. Giordano also studies or coaches with him. Time will tell.

  • actfive says:

    I attended that Shicoff-Troyanos Werther and was blown away by both singers. Shicoff remains my favorite Maurizio (with Scotto’s Adriana), Lensky, Hoffman. And then he topped them all with his magnificent Eleazar.
    And, I last heard him as Cavaradossi with Millo’s Tosca at Chicago Lyric in 2005--a performance termed “filth” by another poster. His tenor was a little rougher by then, but both divo and diva sang and acted up a decidedly non-filth storm.

  • zinka says:

    With all the recordings around..itt is hard to see a singer and NEVER have heard him before..i did hear some Fabiano on Youtube before the Lombardi..but in NO WAY was i prepared for that sound…bright/dark/brilliant..and the audience went ballistic.
    He is so smart about choices of repertory and if you read him on facebook,you witness a very very bright, well-rounded young man..(not a Bonisolli!!!!)..No one deserves this more and I am so happy for him…Best of luck to him and a great career starting up/..CH

  • figaroindy says:

    very much looking forward to a chance to see and hear Fabiano live (I am in South Florida). Loved him in “The Audition.” Also liked Alek Shrader, though. I recently moved to FL from Indiana, and had to finish my current season tickets at Lyric of Chicago this weekend, and saw Shrader in “Barbier” -- enjoyable, some nice moments….not brilliant, but quite good.

    Also saw their new production of “Rusalka” with Ana Maria Martinez and Brandon Jovanovich -- had never seen this opera before, and it was wonderful -- and I LOVE Jovanovich’s voice!