As an Academy of Vocal Arts graduate, having been in school at the same time as marvelous tenors like James Valenti, Jesus Garcia, Shawn Matthey, etc., I couldn’t help but observe with great interest incoming classes, exploding with both raw and refined talent.
Michael Fabiano came to my attention as he attended AVA. From the very start, listening to Michael you just have to sit back and wonder. What in the world? Did he grow up in Italy among opera singers? Has he been listening to opera recordings from birth? How is it that a young man can sing with such understanding of the nuance and line of the highest tradition? Knowing first hand the incredible depth of tradition that pours out of Chris Macatsoris (Musical Director at AVA), as well as the talented staff of teachers and coaches, I am sure this has contributed significantly; but having heard Michael sing before going to AVA, I am still dumbfounded. Ladies and gentlemen, this really is talent of the highest order. The raw element comes already refined to a large extent. Clearly, he has a predisposition to hear and learn. But is also a dedicated and diligent student.
There is one thing that cannot be learned in any studio: beauty of tone. You either have it, or you don’t. It is, in my estimation, the number one predictor of success for a career. Next in line is musical line: the ability to deliver the human truth of the living character as intended in part by the composer and librettist, and especially as intended by the spirit of the moment as it flows through the artist and orchestra. When an extremely beautiful voice becomes an oracle of this truth people will do anything to hear. Then comes the refinement of technique. If beauty of tone, communication, and technique are embodied in one singer, they quickly become something of legend.
Michael Fabiano… If you speak to him, as I have, he will quickly tell you that he is still learning much. Clearly, this is a humble person, a tenor on a quest to perfect himself. He is not happy with awards and publicity. The Met or Covent Garden are wonderful places to sing, but Michael Fabiano wants more. It is clear from his singing that he aspires to know how to be a truly great opera singer, not just a famous one singing in famous places. How else would a young man such as he have accumulated a latent sea of nuanced knowledge of language and musical line from which he can draw so generously? Where would this communicative skill and almost temerarious abandon into the character emerge save a carefully crafted mental image and artistic goal were present in the mind? It is clear to me that his skills are very far from random luck – which makes his presence even more of a mysterious gift.
I particularly LOVE Fabiano and Donizetti. I think this is a perfect match and I would love to see the greatest opera houses in the world staging every major Donizetti opera with Fabiano as the lead. His is just a perfect voice for this repertoire. He would seriously do well to consider this, if I may humbly say. He could be today’s Donizetti tenor without equals. I know Puccini is alluring, especially for a tenor of such passion and rich tone… But I would just love to see him bring Donizetti back on the map the way Pavarotti did. There is a noble character and patrician expressivity in his voice and fraseggio that particularly suits this repertoire – a very Italianate quality.
Michael’s recent performances of Lucia di Lammermoor and Lucrezia Borgia have caused a huge stir in the opera world, and rightly so! Listen to this Youtube clip of his Lucrezia Borgia.
The Wall Street Journal wrote:
Tenor Michael Fabiano as the son, Gennaro, shows why he is in such demand in the big opera houses.
You know, I had prepared a series of clips ranging from his Met victory to his Lombardi and other wonderful clips. I went back and forth, and just scrubbed them all… not that they weren’t worthy – quite the contrary. However, I think this clip along with excerpts from his Lucia in Canada that you can hear at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHce18CzuwY were just perfect examples of why I think this is a truly great tenor in the making – and particularly suited for Donizetti at the moment.
Of his Edgardo critics wrote:
Tenor Michael Fabiano is showcased in the role of Edgardo, Lucia’s love interest…he delivers with a flashy confidence, and an unmistakable charisma animates all his big numbers. His raw intensity takes the second act finale to a level of dramatic clarity that makes the plot seem, for just a split second, remotely plausible. Here is a tenor to watch.
Now, I know how tenors think. Some will want a technical critique. Well sorry to disappoint you. I have great hopes to see Michael Fabiano fully emerge as a leading tenor – at the very top. Among young tenors, he is undoubtedly among the best in terms of sheer quality of voice, musicality, and honesty of tone. He doesn’t fuss around, he doesn’t cheat… it is a very honest, generous voice at all times.
When my father visited Gigli in Rome in the 50s he found the maestro studying at the piano. He was seeking to uncover a technical issue that had eluded him… This is the kind of dedication I see and hope to always see in Fabiano, because his talent is great and it deserves great patience and meticulous study for as long as he feels called to do what he does. Clearly God gave him a gift.
My advice? As a tenor, I would say: study always. As a man I would say: continue to be humble and have faith as you do.
I am in awe of your talent and wish you great success on stage, and even greater off stage.
(read more about Michael at the CAMI website)