by Philip William Tropea


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, March 28

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781441505286
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Publication date: 10/05/2009
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Giovanna Parisi (my mother) was born in Boston and attended the Boston Conservatory of Music. She was fluent in four languages.

After she married Salvatore Tropea, they moved into my grandparents' home at 1029 Avenue X in Brooklyn, New York.

After she married Salvatore Tropea, they moved into my grandparents' home at 1029 Avenue X in Brooklyn, New York.

When I was born, my mother's facial paralysis decreased by 90 percent. Not one to quit, my mother resumed singing and thrilled parishioners as the soloist of Our Lady of Grace Church on Ocean Parkway. She also began teaching piano and voice in our home.

I grew up listening to my mother's beautiful voice in church and during her students' lessons. She never encouraged me to sing because she didn't want me to suffer the same fate as hers, but I fell in love with singing. At age eighteen I secretly studied with her former teacher.

My father had a heart attack at age forty-nine and suffered for six years until he passed away. My mother passed away at age fifty-one, and my wife and I took my two younger brothers and sister into our home with our four children-Philip, Dianne, Joanne, and Charisse.

I sang in local nightclubs and on WHBI-FM radio's Summer Showcase in Nutley, New Jersey, at age twenty-two. By popular demand of radio listeners calling in, I was asked to star in a series of broadcasts, sponsored by Hormel Foods.

A schoolteacher, Sam Pomerantz, became my manager and arranged an audition with Mitch Miller for his popular TV show. Mitch wouldn't hire me. He thought that I had great potential as a soloist and would become lost in a chorus. His TV director, Jim Stanley commented,"You have the timbre of Lanza with the ability to be better!" He referred me to a very popular singer, Guy Mitchell, who asked me to sing in his nightclub act at the Shell House in Long Island.

I worked full-time to pay the mortgage and my growing and extended family's needs-in addition to my vocal and operatic repertoire lessons. I sang throughout New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey.

In 1970, I developed an irritation on my vocal cords. Dr. Nigro, a leading NYC throat doctor, warned me that I must not utter a single word, no matter how soft. In addition, he told me not to hum or whistle for at least six months or I would ruin my vocal cords and destroy my voice forever. I tried desperately not to stress my throat and voice when dealing with the children or anyone else. I walked around all day with a pen and a pad at home, work, wherever I went, and wrote everything rather than risk one spoken word.

After six months, the 'Rock of Gibraltar' was gone from my vocal cords, but my throat felt inflamed and hoarse. It took me a year to get my confidence back and start singing again. I did so but cautiously, with trepidation and anguish.

I was chosen for a show entitled Discovery '71 in Carnegie Recital Hall.

A soprano friend of mine, Mayda Prado-Testa, a student in Maria Callas' master class at Juilliard, encouraged me to audition for Callas. My audition application listed "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci and "Addio alla madre" from Cavalleria Rusticana, and I was chosen.
When I told my coach of these two audition arias, he convinced me that my developing lyric-spinto voice shouldn't take on such dramatic arias as yet. He recommended lighter arias, "Ch'ella mi creda" from The Girl of the Golden West and "De' miei bollenti spiriti" from La Traviata.

In the Juilliard audition, I began the aria "Ch'ella mi creda" wonderfully, which has a high B-flat note in the beginning. Suddenly Callas' voice rang out from the darkened balcony, "Mr. Tropea, I chose you because I was looking for a dramatic tenor." My stunned accompanist swung around on his stool, and his hand accidentally swept the sheet music high into the air. "But you changed your arias. Next!"

I can still vividly remember the seven sheets of music of the two arias wafting weightlessly in the air. Callas taught me a lesson-follow through no matter what! A letter from Juilliard informed me that "Madame Callas' master class will continue with the same students. Thank you and good luck with your talent."

I performed leading tenor roles in Tosca, Pagliacci, La Traviata, and Cavalleria Rusticana with the Bronx Mini Opera with Maestro William Gunther and also with a touring group of singers for several Broadway plays. On Memorial Day 1972, I entered Saint Lucy's Church in the Bronx late, expecting La Traviata to be in progress. State Senator Mondello and Maestro Gunther saw me enter and led me to the stage.

"Phil, you are singing the lead role of Alfredo tonight. The tenor and conductor are held up in a Memorial Day traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge."

In 1979, I auditioned for the Sisca brothers of New York, whose father, Michele, at the turn of the century, had an Italian restaurant and published a magazine entitled La Follia. Enrico Caruso was a regular diner, and Michele published Caruso's famous caricatures. Caruso became a godfather to one of the brothers, a medical doctor. They referred me to Giulio Gari, a former Metropolitan Opera leading tenor, who chose me to sing the leading tenor role in Puccini's Tosca at Bernard Baruch College.

As I rehearsed with the lead soprano, I became dizzy and began to lose my balance. The sound of the piano and the voice of the soprano attacked my ears like an explosion. The best doctors in New York City concluded that there was nothing wrong with me.

In 1980, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I gave up my lifelong dream of singing and moved my family from The Bronx, New York to Ridgefield, Connecticut. I desperately hoped that the peace and quiet of this small town would help me, but my symptoms became worse.

A year later, in 1981, a local ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Monroe, reviewed my two-year-old test results from New York City. He administered a 'caloric test', which indicated that my right auditory nerve wasn't functioning. The doctor ordered A CAT scan, which revealed an acoustic neuroma on the right side of my brain. He referred me to the world-renowned ENT specialist Dr. William House in Los Angeles.

After a week of tests, it was confirmed that a large tumor was growing inward, crushing my brain. The operation to excise the tumor was performed by ENT specialist, Dr. House and neurologist Dr. Hitselberger on June 1, 1981. The resulting constant head noise, slight imbalance, and right ear (irretrievable) deafness are a small price to pay for being alive.

Like my mother, I started singing again. In 1986, I studied with Mario Lanza's musical mentor, conductor and biographer, Constantine Callinicos in New York City. I cherish his autographed biography, The Mario Lanza Story, which he gifted to me. After my mother, it was Mario Lanza's magnificent voice that inspired me to sing. Lanza, which many considered to be the American Caruso, also inspired tenor Sergio Franchi, The Three Tenors, Domingo, Carreras, and Pavarotti.

From 1993 to 2000, I created and hosted a three-hour radio show in New York and Connecticut, which in 1995 was rated no. 3 by Arbitron. I featured romantic music ranging from Broadway to opera and interviewed many famous personalities such as: Robert Merrill, Sherrill Milnes, Jerry Hadley, Tony Randall, Skitch Henderson, Mrs. Sergio Franchi, widow and sponsor of The Sergio Franchi Music Foundation, the curators of the Mario Lanza Museum, and aspiring musicians and singers.

I am now residing in Palm Harbor, Florida with my wife Phyllis. I'm singing better than ever and still crusading for romantic music.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews