I’m an Italian and my emotions are just under my skin…. There’s just a purity and rawness in her singing that goes straight to my heart and my gut and it always has. There’s such expression in her voice.
I grew up on Long Island … and they used to show old movies on television at 10 and 1 o’clock. I saw Busby Berkeley musicals and Bette Davis movies. Davis wasn’t the most beautiful actress but she was the most courageous at the time. I was maybe 8 or 9 years old when I first saw her. I used to cut school and feign illness just to see Davis. My mother never knew this because she was off at work.
We started working together in 1976. I learned more from acting for him than four years at Juilliard. There’s a simplicity and paring down, a stripping away of control. I love it when he directs me because it’s his material.
He’s a task master when it comes to pitch and what is considered Broadway singing — no bending of the note, no swooping. I was in “Company” this year at the New York Philharmonic — at the after-party, he gave me a note and I wanted to smack him. Well, I didn’t want to smack him. But this was two hours after the production closed…. Basically, [he said] I was slurring two words and that I recovered. It’s his music and his lyrics so of course he’s going to notice…. It takes a lot of concentration and discipline to sing him as written. When I see musicals in New York today, I usually don’t know if I’m watching “American Idol” or a Broadway performance. It should be as precise as an operatic aria.
Photo: Viva Vivanista – photo by Rob Rich © 2011 robwayne17aol.com
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.