In this post, I thought that I would highlight an American operatic tenor who is still singing and teaching. I am going to post several pieces that Mr. White has done, and if the pieces are not in English, I will give a translation. For the pieces sung in English, Mr. White’s diction is so impeccable that you will understand the words as he sings them. Above all else, White eschews mannerisms. His style is straightforward, even if what he is singing is sentimental. He lets the music express itself through him. The aria from Le Roi d’Ys is especially gorgeous. Listen for the placement of the air and the tone. White has studied with many famous voice teachers, and he has learned that placement of the air and the tone makes all the difference.
Yeats/Traditional, Down By the Sally Gardens, Robert White
Vainement, ma bien aimée – Lalo
Puisqu’on ne peut fléchir ces jalouses gardiennes,
Ah! laissez-moi conter mes peines
Et mon émoi !
Vainement, ma bien aimée,
On croit me désespérer :
Près de ta porte fermée.
Je veux encore demeurer !
Les soleils pourront s’éteindre,
Les nuits remplacer les jours,
Sans t’accuser at sans me plaindre,
Là je resterai toujours !
Je le sais, ton âme est douce,
Et l’heure bientôt viendra,
Où la main qui me repousse.
Vers la mienne se tendra!
Ne sois pas trop tardive
A te laisser attendrir !
Si Rozenn bientôt n’arrive,
Je vais, hélas mourir!
Since these jealous retainers will not be softened
ah, let me tell you of my suffering
and my emotion!
In vain, my beloved,
do they think they can put me off:
close by your shut door
I am determined to stay!
The stars may fade,
nights replace days,
without blaming you and without complaining
I shall stay here forever!
I know what a sweet soul you are,
and the hour will soon come
when the hand which now pushes me away
will reach out towards mine!
Do not take too long
to allow yourself to melt;
If Rozenn does not appear soon,
Alas, I shall die!
The material concerning Mr. White’s background has been taken from his website https://robertwhitetenor.com
Mr. White is the son of the tenor Joseph White (known as The Silver Masked Tenor on early NBC radio). Mr White too was a child star on radio.
His classical career began in earnest in 1959 when he was tenor soloist at Carnegie Hall with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. He then joined Noah Greenberg’s New York Pro Musica as soloist, touring the US and Europe in highly acclaimed performances of Medieval and Renaissance music.
Opera performances include works of Handel, Mozart, Smetana and Bizet with the Wexford Opera, the Monte Carlo Opera, and the Arizona Opera, among others. He premiered Paul Hindemith’s opera “The Long Chrismas Dinner” under the composer’s direction.
Mr. White has sung for five U.S. Presidents, Britain’s Queen Mother and Prince Charles, Monaco’s Royal Family, and Pope John Paul II. He has recorded extensively for RCA, EMI, Virgin, Sony, Arabesque and Hyperion with colleagues Yo-Yo Ma, Samuel Sanders, Placido Domingo, William Bolcom, Joan Morris, Graham Johnson, and Stephen Hough in music ranging from Beethoven to Richard Rodgers and Edouard Lalo.
Mr. White studied voice first in Rome, then with Sergius Kagen and Beverley Peck Johnson at the Juilliard School where he received his Masters Degree in Voice in 1968. He studied on full scholarship with the legendary Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau, France.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Mr. White sang ‘Songs of the 21st Century’ in a program of modern works written especially for him by some of America’s most celebrated composers, including Gian Carlo Menotti, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Ned Rorem, Lowell Liebermann, Richard Hundley, Libby Larsen, Sheldon Harnick and Thomas Z. Shepard, Ben Moore, and Milton Babbitt.
To this day, White maintains a highly successful singing and teaching career. He taught voice at the Manhattan School of Music from 1986 to 1990, and has been a member of the Juilliard Voice Faculty since 1991. He is also on the CUNY Doctoral Voice Faculty.