I first discovered Jean Madeira as a little boy. My brother and I were opera fanatics and eagerly waited to buy new opera recordings as our small budget would allow. Basically we’d badger our father who would give us enough money to eventually purchase a new recording—something Dad didn’t understand as he was a jazz man and a great saxophonist. So how did my brother and I end up liking opera?
As children, we were lucky to have an opera company about 30 minutes away. Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, N.Y., watered the seed that would prove a life-long passion for opera, singing, and performing. After seeing a local production of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, we were off to the music store. Enter Jean Madeira. We spied her recording of Carmen high on the record shelves. Together, we came up with enough money to buy the set.
And now, some 40 years later, I am still as mesmerized as I was then by her voice—the rich, dark, and penetrating sheen; the deep and solid chest re...
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