The 3 Musketeers of the Opera at Chez Vito

March 10, 2012 at 10:40 AM | Posted in Anthony's LPs, Music, Opera | 1 Comment
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Corena, Valletti, Gabriele, Siepi

Of all the albums in my Uncle Anthony’s collection, the one that evokes the greatest emotion for me is The 3 Musketeers of the Opera at Chez Vito. It is a home movie sort of LP and rare. Chez Vito was a nightclub in New York City, big in the fifties, when nightclubs were the thing. The 3 Musketeers, famous then and famous forever, were the tenor Cesare Valletti, the comic bass Fernando Corena and the magnificent bass Cesare Siepi, whose voice was stilled not long ago. On this LP they were joined by the soprano and reigning diva of Chez Vito’s, Leyna Gabriele. But these are just facts.
In the forest fire of my initiation into opera, though a grown man by then, I sat at my Uncle’s knee as he played one album after another. He fell for opera in the fifties and so his heroes and heroines became mine: Tebaldi, Callas, Siepi, Valletti, de los Angeles, Milanov, del Monaco and at the top, Bjoerling. We did not live close by, as he was then in Atlanta and I was in New York and then Chicago and so each meeting was one I looked forward to and I think Anthony did as well.

As I think about those days, as I would ask about this opera or that singer, I was reliving my introduction to baseball when I would ask my father over and over as to who was his favorite player and was Joe DiMaggio really better than Mickey Mantle, was Whitey Ford the best he’d ever seen? With time, we move on but those talks never leave us. Nothing ever leaves us.

Back in those days, my Uncle offered me this special album but I declined, as I wanted to listen to it with him. He’s been dead now almost three years and I have only now played it again.

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  1. Wonderful post. If only our sons were so attentive to our pearls of wisdom.

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