Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hidden Talents

I've seen this three times and still can't watch it without becoming ridiculously overwhelmed:

[via Sullivan]

Labels: hidden talents


Blogger Molly Stevens said...

It's the leap of faith. The against all odds attitude. Oh, and the humbleness. Tears every time.

6/13/2007 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Cooky Blaha said...

might i suggest a post on the hirst interview @ artnet....few juicy bits could be ripe for a thread here.

6/13/2007 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Cooky Blaha said...

...nice voice btw

6/13/2007 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

As if I'm not enough of a life sap as it is, thank you, Ed, for sending me through about five more Kleenex boxes.

aka--"The Paul Potts of unloved and undiscovered Art Bloggers"

6/13/2007 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I'm forced to watch Idol every season, my family are Idol, mad. My cooky neighbors vote 3 to 400 times for contestants. That was the best, ever. Kind of harkens back to the who's an artist post.

6/13/2007 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I originally wrote in an intro that made that connection Mark, but decided against it. No need to interject anything else here, I think. His singing speaks for itself.

6/13/2007 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous ml said...

Wow. Double wow.

6/13/2007 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous -j. said...

Opera singers hiding in the general population rock!

This strapping young man is the younger brother of two high school classmates. A year after I went off to college, his mother walked in on him making up lyrics while he vacuumed. No one ever knew he even liked opera. He'd never sung in choir or a band of any sort. Needless to say, he was embarrassed as hell.

Legend has it--after some strong persuasion from his mum--he reluctantly sang for a U of M voice professor who had trained Pavarotti at some point. He didn't know a word of Italian and still had to make up lyrics. Her reaction mirrored Simon Cowell's. Upon collecting her jaw, she offered him free voice lessons for his last two years of high school. (Not sure if he had to quit the football team or not...)

From there, Juilliard followed by the world.

Gave us all a case of the who-knews and a massive sense of local-boy-done-good pride. Last I heard, Joey's off in Europe again performing.

6/13/2007 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

Simply wonderful and inspiring! I did some research and read that he did study with Pavaroti. I am not sure if he tried to make it in the opera world and had difficulty, but if true then we do have a case similar to Ms Frankel. Interesting.

Its all about finding the audience. I also read he was offered contracts by 3 different recording companies!

6/13/2007 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

I've had season tickets to the opera for ten years (first The Met and now Houston). He can "call himself" an opera singer if he wants, but I wouldn't. Maybe he'll make it as a gondolier for the next Biennale if he practices harder.

P.S. In re the other thread -- and also about "finding the audience" -- you could argue that he couldn't "call himself" a singer until Simon Cowell said so. (I just hope Cowell was being charitable. Until I saw that clip I was actually a huge fan of Simon's.)

6/13/2007 07:11:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...


He is brilliant
Love it

6/13/2007 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous cjagers said...

His performance and humility almost make the show look trite - as if he rose above judgment - wow.

6/13/2007 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Rubbish. Where is your objectivity?

As Henry says, you people need to see more opera.

Me, I'm into Heavy Metal - you get the same "gossebumps" but none of the treacly Hallmark sentiment.

Cheaper, too.

Lest you forget, most art sucks.

6/13/2007 11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous cjagers said...


"objectivity"? I love opera, and I love this video exactly BECAUSE it appeals to my subjectivity. It affects me personally. Nothing objective about that at all.

6/13/2007 11:47:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

yeah I get it. The guys crooked teeth do it for me - I hope success doesn't fix them.

One time I had the opportunity to go see Sheryl Crow a circa Lance Armstrong.

It was great, Sheryl up there in her low rise boot cut white hotpants.

"Every day is a winding road," she sang - but not in Italian.

Now I'm back in NY, watching the boob tube and I wonder if all those milf and daughter Crow lookalike combos in the audience are still swaying along or if they've moved on to other cultural giants.

Gives me goose bumps.

6/14/2007 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I'll take it all back if you like "American Movie" though.

6/14/2007 12:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Those goosebumps, the beauty that makes your eyes tear up, the sublimity that arises from the individual and yet transcends him, is something we used to ask of visual art.

6/14/2007 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I am not an opera buff (only seen a few in my entire life, and only listen to it a home on the rarest of occassions), but even I could see where the performance was technically flawed (it's "Nessun dorma," not "Nessun-a dorma," no?).

So I listened once without watching the video (to see if it was the audience reaction, his looks/demeanor, or some other factor leading me to respond so emotionally to his performance). A few flaws I hadn't noticed originally (how quietly he sings the second "Nessun"...his somewhat overpronunciation of the "ch" in vincero...etc.) were even more apparent.

However, so were a few of the places where his phrasing and the quality of his voice were so gorgeous that none of that mattered. I've listened dozens of times to Pavarotti sing "Nessun Dorma" (his rendition was the BBC theme song for the World Cup back in 1990), and while it's technically perfect to my ear, it never gave me the goose pumps Potts' version did. Potts interjected something so human into that performance it made my heart want to leap through my chest. Technically flawed, is everything truly human.

6/14/2007 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Nesssun dorma was the best possible aria selection. It's not only gorgeous, but it mirrors the contestant's own story: it's about prince who has grown up in poverty, his throne lost, but who tomorrow is going to have everything he ever dreamed of. Lovely choice, even if some of the lyrics were shouted.

6/14/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Henry said...

Ed-a - "Nessun-a dorma" is howa Pava rotta signsa lotta thinga too. Issa kinda annoya, butta sokay in a granda schema. (And sometima kinda cute).

But Pavarotti's Rigoletto and L'Elisir discs don't just give me goose bumps, they leave me in paralysis. His Questa o quella and Posente amor are Acts of God. (If you click, don't watch the execrable video, just listen). Sorry to get crazy here, but opera is special to me, and I've had music in my life since piano lessons at age four.

Maybe I should just enjoy the story and give the guy what credit I can, but opera isn't contemporary art. Or Bjork. It's a conservative artform, still a Renaissance or Classical one. You can't paint the King's eyes okay, but paint his mouth like a whore's. You can't do two or three nice handstands and make it to the Olympics. Simon didn't ream this guy out ungraciously because he doesn't know opera.

Yesterday we were talking about quality and quantity. A few nice notes might be coincidence, or beginner's luck. You can't build a career on them. You don't get credit for posing here and there. You get credit for doing the difficult things that come between the poses.

I use different criteria when I listen to Handel, Verdi and Wagner than I so when I listen to Messaien, Cage, Glass or Zorn, just as I use different criteria for Michelangelo and Warhol.

Sorry again. I'll go have my mocha now.

6/14/2007 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I know what you're saying Henry. Like I said, I don't know opera, but I know opera buffs and everyone of them would agree with your assessment, I'm sure.

I think it's a bit much to expect Simon to ream this modest, likeable guy given that his performance, still, despite not being great opera perhaps, still had the crowd on their feet. Watch the response of the judges, Piers is nearly about to cry, Amanda looks as if she's fallen in love, and Simon goes from an expression of sheer dread to genuine admiration. Perhaps it's all relative to the preceding performances, but this is not a "singing" contest, like American Idol, but rather a talent contest, and in that context, I think your ability to entertain counts a great deal. Simon didn't say he sang it well...he said the performance was fantastic, which it was. The drama of it, all of our expectations being set so low before he began, to then discover not only can he do the song justice (and I'll insist despite its problems that he did indeed do it justice) but at certain points pour so much beauty into it that altogether it lifted the spirits, well...that's simply too rare to nitpick over whether it's great opera or not IMO.

6/14/2007 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Sroka said...

I don't care about how technically proficient this guy was or wasn't. That's not interesting to me. What I love about this video is the idea of an overly humble person, who's been too shy to show his talents, breaking free. Someone whose dreams are scoffed at (and admit it, when we all saw him say he wanted to sing opera, we all scoffed "him? seriously?"), yet who goes and proves us all wrong.

6/14/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are visual artists out there like him. Away from the cities, pudgy, with crooked teeth. How will the world find them?

6/14/2007 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Nessuno (nobody, masculine form) and nessuna (nobody, female female) do actually have that last vowel. Nessun is just the poetic version of the word, and if you elide from "n" to "d" you do kind of get an a in there.
You schtanda wot amma say?

6/14/2007 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

It wasn't the Met auditions. It was an amateur talent contest, and in that context he was indeed fantastic. There has to be a point where we recognize potential and encourage it rather than shooting it down for not yet being the best in the world yet.

I think there's a parallel to the art market, where very young artists today are expected to have a defining style. No one is willing to let talent be a work in progress anymore.

6/15/2007 07:27:00 AM  
Anonymous gemma said...


... for more tears
enjoy Carreras-Domingo-Pavarotti;=related&search;=

Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o Principessa,
Nella tua fredda stanza
guardi le stelle che tremano
d'amore e di speranza!

Ma il mio mistero e chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun sapra!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo diro,
quando la luce splendera!
Ed il mio bacio sciogliera
il silenzio che ti fa mia!

ll nome suo nessun sapra
E noi dovrem, ahime! Morir! Morir!

Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle! All'alba vincero!
Vincero! Vincero'!

No man will sleep! No man will sleep!
No man will sleep! No man will sleep!
You too, o Princess,
in your virginal room,
watch the stars
trembling with love and hope!

But my secret lies hidden within me,
no one shall discover my name!
Oh no, I will reveal it only on your lips
when daylight shines forth!
And my kiss shall break
the silence that makes you mine!

Nobody will discover his name
And we shall have to die, alas! Die!

Depart, o night! Set, you stars!
Set, you stars! At dawn I shall win!
I shall win! I shall wi

6/16/2007 08:08:00 PM  
Anonymous skipvancel said...


6/21/2007 09:45:00 AM  

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