RICHLAND -- Singing isn't just about talent. It's about blending talent with the drama of music.
Once you learn the importance of this melding, the doors to Broadway can open a lot easier, says world-renowned tenor Franc D'Ambrosio of New York City.
D'Ambrosio, who is known for his long-running portrayal as the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway sensation Phantom of the Opera, arrived Thursday in the Tri-Cities for a Community Concert Series performance tonight in the Richland High auditorium.
But he won't be singing any songs from Phantom by himself. He'll be joined by Laurie Trescott and Greg Rose, both of Kennewick, whom he chose from a cadre of 15 singers who took part in a master class with D'Ambrosio. The students also auditioned for the parts of Christine and Raul on Thursday.
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D'Ambrosio, with the help of judges Robin Rilette, the music director of Northwest Public Radio, along with Jan Paul and Val Wenner, both well-known Kennewick vocalists, narrowed the 15 singers down to six finalists.
From there, D'Ambrosio chose the two winners.
Trescott, a 22-year-old CBC student, is thrilled for the chance to sing with D'Ambrosio.
"I have always loved musical theater, so this is very exciting," she said. Trescott studies voice with DaveCazier at CBC and is a member of his FreeForm vocal jazz ensemble, which recently took top honors at the Reno Jazz Festival.
She and Rose will sing the duet All I Ask Of You from Phantom at the Community Concert performance. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. today. Admission is by season ticket, or individual tickets which are $20 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are available at the door.
D'Ambrosio's first Broadway show was Sweeney Todd, which is where Francis Ford Coppola discovered him and cast him as Al Pacino's opera-singing son Anthony in Godfather III.
Pacino's advice: "He said to me one day, 'Franc, everytime I feel like acting, I lay down and wait for it to pass,' " D'Ambrosio said.
D'Ambrosio spent more than two hours with the group of young singers listening to their voices, as well as giving them advice on singing careers.
"I really do love to teach, as much as I love to perform," he said. "It's so important for young singers to know how to blend music with the dramatic, how to tell the story. And not sing it, but communicate it."
To do that requires exposing themselves to an audience with as much drama as talent, and knowing that it's not just about singing a song but singing an opinion, he added.
Though the young singers were nervous during their solo auditions in front of the master, D'Ambrosio got them to relax with his sense of humor.
"I read all of your bios and it appears you're all honor roll over-achievers. I was stealing hubcaps at your age," he quipped.
But when it came time to define the purpose of the master class, D'Ambrosio was all business.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org