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Bernstein did not want to hear Carreras sing Tony
Posted by: AlanScott 07:53 pm EDT 07/29/20
In reply to: I'm confused. Does anyone actually WANT to see opera stars perform musicals? - GrumpyMorningBoy 01:00 pm EDT 07/29/20

"Why the fuck did Bernstein want to hear a WEST SIDE STORY sung by Kiri TeKanawa and Jose Carreras?!?"

Well, he didn't want to hear Carreras. This has been discussed here several times over the years. Bernstein ended up with Carreras, but he never wanted him for the role. Some of the entire mess was that DG very much wanted opera stars.

The story as told in Jack Gottlieb’s book Working With Bernstein is that Bernstein wanted Neil Shicoff to sing Tony, but he declined because the sessions were to start one day after the sessions for his first opera recording, Rigoletto conducted by Sinopoli, were to end. Domingo was suggested but Bernstein reportedly vetoed him because of his Spanish accent.

At a meeting at which Bernstein was not present, Bernstein's manager, Harry Kraut (depicted as an extremely unpleasant man in Charlie Harmon's memoir of his years working for Bernstein), said that he was sure that Bernstein would be happy with Carreras. Bernstein had heard him in London, according to Kraut, and would want him. Others were skeptical for exactly the reason you would think. But Carreras was available and happy to do it.

It turned out that the tenor whom Bernstein had heard in London was the Liverpool-born tenor Alberto Remedios, who was best known for singing Wagner heldentenor roles in English at the English National Opera. Bernstein's annoyance with the entire situation is said to partly explain how unpleasant he was to Carreras but it wasn't Carreras's fault. It was Harry Kraut's fault, and I suppose his own fault for not being more involved.

In the 1940s through the 1960s or so, there was actually much more ”crossover," as they now say, than there is now. It was mostly with less-famous names, but many opera people who sang at New York City Opera and major regional opera houses also regularly or at least sometimes sang in musicals and seem to have done well. We have some of those people on recordings of musicals, and I think most people don't realize that some of those people were opera singers. Not famous opera names but opera singers.

In general, with a few exceptions, I think the current opera singers I've heard and seen in musicals have not successfully made the transition.
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