Short Story. Episode 2. A Summer to Be Remembered

Short Story. Episode 2. A Summer to Be Remembered

Short Story. Thursday? Yes, today is Thursday and we’ll enjoy a new episode of A Summer to Be Remembered by Bob Mitchell. Here the first one. Have a nice day Yareah friends!



On the back: a bio, another Gary-Cooper-look-alike picture, and reviews of concerts and operas he had sung with numerous regional companies.


He asked me if I were interested in singing. Flushing with pride I announced that someday I hoped to be up on stage with him.

He smiled graciously. “Really? That’s wonderful! Where do you study?”

I mentioned Mansfield STC. He knew of it, but was not familiar with its programs. At that moment the elevator stopped at his floor, so I picked up his suitcase and led him to his room. By the time we reached it he was holding forth about the dos and don’ts of making a career in singing. I listened intently. As I unlocked the door he asked if I were a tenor or a baritone. “I can’t quite tell from your speaking voice,” he observed.

“Well,” I began hesitantly, “I think I’m a tenor, but my teachers tell me I’m a baritone.”

He told me I should listen to my teachers. If they all said so, then it must be right. “You could ruin your voice trying to sing out of your range,” he added.

As he slipped off his coat and threw it across the nearest chair, he proceeded to demonstrate the proper way to breathe and produce a sound. It was an impressive sound indeed. I thought the windows would crack, and the people in adjoining rooms would begin to pound on the walls. He didn’t ask me to sing, so I asked him what I had to do to become a professional singer.

“Well,” he started, but paused to sit down. “That’s a difficult question to answer,” lacing his hands together thoughtfully. “We all came into it in our own way. No two stories are alike.”

“Do you need an agent,” I began quickly, “or a manager, or someone like that? By the way, what does an agent do, and how is that different from a manager?”

“Whoa! One question at a time!”

I apologized.

“It’s okay,” he continued. “This is a tough business. Have you read any bios of singers?”

I shook my head.

“Well, you should,” he emphasized. “You’ll get an idea from them. But—and this is a big caution—bios are about the ones who became famous. That only happens to a few, so you can’t really go by their stories either. It’s kind of like baseball. Think of all the kids who want to become big league baseball players.” He paused. “Remember when you were a kid?”

I nodded.

“There are millions of kids all across America that want to be Mickey Mantle. But how many Mantles are there?” He paused and thought for a moment. “For that matter, how many baseball teams are there?” He laughed. “A lot more than opera companies. But then there are a lot more kids that want to be baseball players than opera singers,” he mused. “Well, you have both the majors and the minors. Opera is a bit like that. We have the major houses, such as those in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and so forth, and then there are smaller companies—we call them “regional,” sort of like the minor leagues. But even they can be tough to get into.”

I asked him if you need an agent to get into the regional companies.

“An agent can help. But regional companies generally hold auditions looking for local talent, unlike the major houses, which hold auditions for chorus and small roles. So you have a better chance to sing roles at the regional level. It all depends. That’s what I mean when I say nobody’s story is just like anybody else’s. It all begins with your teacher. If you can study with someone who is well connected, one who knows people, conductors, stage directors, agents, well, IF that teacher likes you—and that can be a big IF—he, or she, can help you. I think that’s how most us, people like me I mean, got our start—from our teachers.”

I said that it sounds like you have to find a teacher that not only can teach you to sing, but can help you get a career started as well.

“Oh, yes!” nodding his head for emphasis. “Well, look, kid, I have to run. I’m sure there’s someone downstairs looking for a bellhop…”

Picking up the cue, I jumped to my feet, “Oh, yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Thank you. I appreciate your time.” And I beat a hasty retreat. I still wonder if he tipped me. Maybe he thought his sage advice was sufficient.

Episode 3: Next Thursday

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Bob hold a B.S. degree in Voice and Opera from the Mannes College of Music in NYC (1964). For thirty years he sang opera at night and on weekends while pursuing a career in marketing systems at Scholastic, Inc., the New York-based educational publisher. Later he earned a Master of Divinity degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NJ), and served as a co-pastor with his wife for seven years. Now retired, as he looked back at the forty-plus roles he sang, he decided to share his story of courage, persistence, and sacrifice.

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