Friday, May 05, 2006

Memories of Franco Corelli and Jerome Hines both born 1921, both died 2003.......... part 2

Singing the night I recieved bravos from Franco Corelli...

This is us all without dogs!!!

In this second chapter of memories and stories I am going back and reading my journals which I have always kept and writing down some of the stories I have of Corelli and Hines.
I saw Jerome Hines much more than I saw Corelli, as he and his wife were mostly in Italy but made periodic stops in NYC at their apartment on 57th and 6th Ave.
It was called the Hemisphere House. ... How we would all meet would be that Jerry Hines would give me a call and say "Hello Baby!....The Corelli's are in and could you pick them up in New York and join us for dinner". Well most often I could do that. Sadly there were a few times I could not.
Once I had become friendly with the Corelli's I would get calls every now and then from them.
One day at Jerry Hines's house Corelli asked me who was my favorite soprano of all time? I told him the soprano who's voice I loved best was of another age. Louisa Tetrazzini. He looked at me, and said "really??" I told him I enjoyed the sound, range, and quality of her voice. He said "She is my favorite too" ...I was amazed by that...Considering who he had sung with, he liked the voice of Louisa Tetrazzini best!
So I made him a tape of my collection of Tetrazzini records and he was so happy and said he would spend his evening listening too it. He called me at home to thank me again the next day.
Now he did not know I worked now and then as a singer, we never talked about it... till one day my phone rang as I have written in my journal for November 27, 1998 "The phone rang and it was Mrs Corelli (Loretta) "Hello Jack, just wanted to give you a call and say thanks again for the tape, we loved it". I told her I was happy that they did and look forward to seeing them again. At this point Franco jumped in and said "Jack, it is so nice that we have met you, we both like you very much" "Could you join us to see the Barber of Seville?"
Last minute notice was great except for this night I had a job to sing!! Oh damn!...I told him I sadly could not as I had singing gig to do....
He asked "Do you sing?" "What voice?" I told him I was a tenor..He responded "bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo!!" I was very happy to get a bravo from Corelli......and I think I sang a lot better that night as I was in my own little happy cloud. But sadly I was not able to join them at the opera.

Perhaps one of the more amusing adventures with the Corelli's took place on December 6th 1998 I wrote all about this day in my journal as it was quite an adventure as you will see....

"At about 11:00 pm last night Jerry Hines called and asked if I would like to dinner and join the Corelli's again. I told him I would be delighted too. He said that he would pick them up and I said I would save him the trouble and pick them up at their apartment.
I arrived at their place at 12:00 noon Sunday. The weather was incredible at 12:00 noon it was already 71 degrees F. I parked in front of the place and went in to the front desk to say I was there.
They came down the Elevator, Franco came bounding out of the elevator and shook my hand he was followed by Loretta and dog! We hit traffic right took us close to an hour to get out of NYC on 7th Ave going to the Holland Tunnel...We had little small talk Corelli said " The weather is changed because the world has changed on its axis...California weather is here" He had an interesting habit of reading all the signs of banks and stores as we went by....
We finally made it through the tunnel and he said " So clean the road" I didn't understand right away, but soon realized what he meant was no traffic. Mrs Corelli asked me several times if I knew where I was going?.....I told her I know my way very well...Franco added "No worry, Jack is king of New Jersey".

Now Jerry Hines's wife Lucia had been suffering from Lou Gerig's disease and the Corelli's want to get flowers...Now on a late Sunday afternoon... that is not too easy..I took exit 135 on the Garden State Parkway and I saw a Shoprite Super Market...and I pulled in as we discussed if this would be good. Franco said yes, Loretta said No! Then they started to argue in Italian...
Then a truce was declared and "WE" Franco, Loretta, Me, and the Dog went into the store.
I told him that the dog would not be allowed into the store, so he was wearing a trench coat and he put the dog inside his coat so the dog's head was looking out the top of his coat under Corelli's chin.
I wish I had a camera on me as the image was priceless and funny.

Then we wondered over to the area where they had flowers..and a rather tough looking woman was behind the counter...Corelli said loudly ..."Hey Lady" "I wanna 18 roses..the best a roses" "Pink" as he pointed to the red roses...She grabbed the red roses..."No Lady...I want a Red" as he pointed to the pink roses...I could see the lady behind the counter start to loose her cool...At this point Mrs Corelli went behind the counter to supervise...much to the dismay of the flower lady.

Soon The Corelli's were arguing again in Italian...Pointing to various flowers and the lady behind the counter..It was quite a scene! Finally Franco waved his hands and walked away...while Mrs Corelli supervised the flower production.

Soon the flowers were ready and Franco said "We take the flowers to the car" We went outside and Corelli was singing a little and the dog was moving around under his chin and we packed the flowers into the car and slowly walked back to Shop Rite...
As soon as we walked in there was a big scene going on as Mrs Corelli was driving the baking staff crazy...and finally stormed out saying "they have no good cakes here!!"
So we followed her.....and I said I would get the car...So I ran over to the car and started driving over...
Corelli came into the street and razed his hand yelling "Hey Driver!!!" like he was hailing a cab...So we all laughed and got into the car and drove over to Villa Lucia, which is what Jerry Hines calls his honor of his wife.

Jerry Hines had a son named Russell who had Downs syndrome As soon as we arrived Franco would play with Russell for a half an hour or so playing claps hands...He would say to Russell "Can you say Franco?...Can you say Jack?....Can you Loretta?.".and Russell would try to say the names. I had a 1905 Victor III there so we could play some records for Lucia... and Jerry Hines was playing with the horn marching through the house singing "Di Quella Pira" in bass range using the horn as a megaphone..Corelli said that "Jerry is indeed the greatest of voice teachers..But a awful tenor" We had dinner and had lots of laughs and Then back home. A great day.

That was quite an adventure! Dinner was wonderful and we sang around the table..I took the Corelli's home and I did indeed get lost!!! We had a great time laughing all the way home....What a great day. Thank you Jerry!

End of part 2

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love both Franco and Loretta's arguments, reminds it shows they really had spirit. This is a wonderful story.

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