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December 4, 2012

Family and Opera

It is 10.30 in the morning and my adorable terminator and princess have just left the building. I am sure that most of my neighbors are thankful that they are now spared the constant rustle and bustle a 6  and an 8 year old inevitably bring with them. On the other hand here I am, missing them terribly already which brings to the fore the, arguably, only really serious problem that one has to live with in order to have an international operatic career; long periods away from loved ones. I mean, really? How can you not miss someone who tells you that you are still a great, graceful skater despite the fact that your skating prowess is not unlike a drunken bull in a china shop?

I think few established opera singers would argue that there is anything more difficult than being away from one’s family and friends. Skype and long weekend trips make it easier but the latter still doesn’t really replace the beautiful everyday moments like picking up your kids from school or tucking them into bed. I have flown to Malta at crazy times, sometimes immediately after concerts, just to be able to pick my children from school the next day.

This is one of the reasons I take a sabbatical off singing professionally a couple of months a year and it is also why you might see me, very early, checking in for a flight sporting a face that should really be still resting on the pillow.

In the end the most beautiful sounds I have heard to date are the spoken words ”papa.” Of course the phrase ”you are the best dad in the world” comes in at a very close second….

Comments

  1. Lovely heartfelt description of – as you say – the most difficult part of the job.
    When I started gathering interviews for my book about tenors, it was pre-skype days. And for some of the guys in the late 1990s, they were just starting to carry laptops with them. I heard lots of stories of calling home every day to stay involved that way… flying home in the middle of rehearsals or between performances (to the dismay of opera company management) for a quick visit… and some who lost the connections forever.
    Thanks for this description of a part of your world – and bravo for scheduling the annual vacation for yourself.
    ciao,

  2. Bente Smidt

    I really understand that it may be difficeult. I’ve often thought about it regarding other singers, especially my favourite soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, whom i’ve followed for decades now. You spend so long periods of being away from home. We must all be very grateful to you that you’re dedicating so much time and energy to your singing.
    I’ve just received the CDs with the greatest tenors of the world. I love it, and recommend it to all my friends. Thank you!

  3. Rosa

    Te admiro como cantante y mucho mas como persona, por tu gran humanidad.
    Tengo un hijo que es Director General tiene dos hijos de la edad de los tuyos y solo les ve los fines de semana.

    Gracias por compartir tus sentimientos con nosotros.
    Estoy deseando de verte en el Baluarte el 14 de enero

  4. I always feel rather sorry for singers when they mention being away from their families for long periods of time. I’ve read articles with other tenors who mention just bawling with homesickness, and it makes me want to give all you wonderful musicians a hug and all my gratitude for sharing your wonderful music with us. It was nice that your kids got to join you and help you with your ice skating. Hope you get to be with them again soon!

    • admin

      there are way worse things in life and we are so privileged to get to do what we love for a living. thanks for your feedback!

  5. Christine

    What lovely heart- warming comments! Really enjoyed reading. Keep this up and God bless you and your two special bundles of joy.

  6. Joanne

    Joseph…. I can understand perfectly how you feel…..God Bless You and Keep you strong. You have a beautiful family …. treasure every moment you can.
    Shame on us who just come and listen to a performance and most of the time do not appreciate or realize what huge sacrifices you Singers have to do.
    Keep Up the Good Work….:-)

  7. Vincent

    Joseph,
    You have such a wonderful gift and what a great joy it must be for you to share it with the world of music. Your many fans realize the sacrifices that you make to share your voice with them. You are one of the greats!! Thank you for your gift!!

  8. Anne Boardman

    Joseph -

    I have always admired the effort you put forth to spend time with your children. And as they grow older, you’ll need to work even harder but the rewards are certainly there. My husband and I have worked very hard to maintain solid relationships with both our children and actually to parent them (this seems somewhat rare in this day and age.) It hasn’t been easy at times and we didn’t have careers that take us all over the world like you do. However, now that my youngest is 31 (Vicki) and my oldest is 33 (Billy), we can truly say that we have participated in the formation of two fine adults that we can also call our friends.

    All the best.
    Anne

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Joseph's Blog

April 8th, 2014

Defending the indefensible

On the 3rd of April my daughter turned 10. Having a child is such a priceless gift and big responsibility and that is why any responsible parent should  invest all the love, time and money in the child’s formation, with the hope, that such child will grow up into a responsible and considerate individual…

A Maltese family recently had their child stripped away from them in such an unnecessary and irresponsible fashion after she associated with someone who should have been a source of guidance for their daughter and not, as it seems, the road to her absolutely tragic demise. I therefore couldn’t believe my eyes when I found myself reading actual messages of support, on the internet and in various forums,  for this teacher. A “teacher” who abused his position of trust by sleeping with his minor student, sometimes in her father’s own home,  and planned their supposedly joint “suicide” over a number of days. I have the greatest sympathy and pity for his parents, especially since they are known to be a decent lot but I find it very hard to conjure a lot of kind thoughts for him I am afraid.

What is even more unbelievable are those who are stating that this is a “rich” vrs “poor” situation or a battle of ”classes” of some sort. Are the latter going insane? Are they actually saying that the death of this 15 year old girl, a daughter, a cousin, a niece etc, is less serious or tragic because she hailed from a prominent and well off family and the perpetrator is poor so he should have our sympathy? I also read that this happened because she was “disturbed.” Even if she was, since when does this warrant or deserve a death sentence?

There is no denying that sometimes, some of us, lose the plot and the correct sense of perspective. Another example is www.timesofmalta.com,  the web portal for Malta’s most prominent and respected newspaper. It had recently  ran two stories; 1. the killing of migratory birds 2. the killing of dozens of Syrian toddlers and pre adolescent children slaughtered in the conflict. Both stories had the same, very visible, exposure on the site. As yet, the story about the bird killings had literally hundreds of comments and the one about the slaughtered children, which included pictures of the dead children, had perhaps 8 comments. Now of course I am really sorry that beautiful migratory birds where shot out of the sky but this is no way comparable to the death of innocent children who’s only crime was being born in the wrong time and country. The hundreds of comments should have been on the story about the dead Syrian children and its really sad and telling that this was not the case.

Our collective morality needs an urgent retune and to all of you out there who think your problems are insurmountable please to think again. Help is at hand and much closer than you think…