Interview with tenor Michael Imbimbo
by Larry Kellum
On New Years Eve, central Connecticut’s finest will be donning their holiday apparel and enjoying the most gala of gala evenings at New Britain’s Trinity-on-Main, where they will dine on mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres and a 12 course gourmet dinner while listening to the dulcet tones of tenor Michael Imbimbo as he performs the beloved songs of Frank Sinatra. Originally from Waterbury, the 25 year old singer will share the spotlight with the state’s premier chamber orchestra, the Conn. Virtuosi, which will program the predictable and festive Strauss waltzes and polkas under the baton of maestro Adrian Sylveen. Imbimbo is no stranger to Trinity or the Virtuosi, having recently appeared here in two supporting roles in the Conn. Lyric Opera’s brilliant “Tales of Hoffmann” production on November 4.
On Dec. 9, via Skype technology, local music critic and reporter Larry Kellum interviewed Imbimbo on his upcoming appearance here in the Hardware City. Here are some highlights of that leisurely mid-afternoon conversation…
LK — “When did you get started as a singer, and how did you first connect with the Conn. Lyric Opera?”
MI — “When I was eight or nine I sang with the St. Thomas Boys Choir in Manhattan. I was a boy soprano who went to baritone and then tenor, which is a common progression for male opera singers. I was a voice major in college in Montreal, and then was making the rounds auditioning in the San Francisco area where I was living. As for the CLO, I read an ad where they were auditioning singers for their performance of Ravel’s “Heure Espanole” at Tunxis last summer, and I was hired for the role of Gonzalve.”
LK — “Was that your official operatic debut role?”
MI — “No. That was actually Tamino in “Magic Flute”.
LK — “What type of voice do you have now — opera, crossover, musical theater?”
MI — “I am currently a generic lyric tenor. I’m still a little young yet — most male singers develop a “Fach” (specialty, niche) in their early 30’s when the voice fully matures.”
LK — “Explain what the auditioning scene is like for an opera singer. I already know how it is for models and actors.”
MI — “Its fiercely competitive — there could be as many as 400 singers on any one audition. Now, they are all in New York, because this is the time of year that the big European houses send their scouts over for new talent. Basically, you show up with two arias prepared — if they take the time to listen to both. One shows the range and agility of the voice and the other the sheer beauty and legato of your sound.”
LK — “How do you feel about crossover (ie – when an opera singer sings non-operatic music), and why is it that some opera singers like Dorothy Kirsten, for example, sound completely different in Puccini than they do in a rock song or Christmas carol?”
MI — “It is easier for women to sound different than men — they belt more from the chest register in modern music..Its a tricky thing — basically an issue of having vibrato vs. no vibrato.”
LK — “Why Sinatra songs for this concert? Do you idolize him, and will you be impersonating him?”
MI — “No, I’m. definitely not a Sinatra impersonator. I grew up listening to his music as a kid and I like it — its a good fit for a New Years setting.”
LK — “Any future dream roles, or major plans?”
MI — “Well, I would like to get into the German festival circuit, and I hope to sing Lenski in “Eugene Onegin” someday, but right now, I just want to continue perfecting my technique and singing what I enjoy wherever I can.”
For reservations, tickets and more information on this New Years celebration, and/or the remainder of the Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra’s season, or the performances of Mozart’s hilarious opera “Cosi van Tutte” in March, please visit www.thevirtuosi.org or call 860-229-2072.