An Introduction by Dario Vanni
To all fellow singers and great appreciators of voice and music: I welcome you. The music and the performances you will hear in this series represent both a personal and professional legacy, a recorded reminder of a life lived with love, focus, sacrifice, hard work, discipline, and the joy of sharing. I feel privileged and honored to bequeath to my children, family, loved ones, and those who may read this (but whom I have not had the privilege to meet) the fullness of this musical opus. Those things which I hold worthy of releasing to and sharing with the world come as a result of both a labor of love and spiritual purpose. What gifts we are born with have the potential to be developed, crafted, fine-tuned, and, ultimately, given as living testimony to any who would enjoy those gifts. It is my hope you shall enjoy these vocal time capsules. Thus I leave you this, my musical “last will and testament”.
A professional music person is a lonely hunter, for the hours, days, and years spent in the discipline do not afford one a normal social life. Early on, I tried to combine a normal family life with a career—and failed. All that was left in me when the outside world was drained away was the drive to be the best I could be with the talent I was given. I knew, early on, I was in love with the Goddess of Music and she assured me that as long as I remained true to her, all good things would come my way. And they did. Diligent study occupied the first years, then a debut in opera, and, from there, the live stage, concerts, and twilight of the great supper clubs of America.
The recorded music on the twelve or so CDs, available through my releasing company, represent the only medium in which my legacy has been preserved.
What music did I love best? people have asked me. For pure vocal attainment, I would say both the operatic and Neapolitan recordings; for voice color, drama, and characterization, I would say the Broadway volumes. For eclectic reasons, I would then choose the International Hits as well as some of my jazz-blues work. Very close to my heart, because of my very early exposure to the original artists who sang them, the jukeboxes and the ethereal atmosphere which was created for a shy country boy in a town with only one radio station thirty-five miles away, is the American Popular Music Songbook, which includes albums like The Last Crooner, The Movies’ Greatest Hits, Jukebox Million Sellers, or The Great American Love Songs. Finally, but surely not the least of these considerations, are the albums Be (Reflections), and Cry (The Anatomy of a Tear). The last two are companion albums, designed to be both entertaining and educational, to be used in classes and seminars as well as to be purchased and enjoyed as a musical sharing. Why? Because I have always felt that music is a natural healer and spiritual accelerator, i.e., it can help one dig deep down and heal the emotional wounding we all share and bring us to a state of well being: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. As I’ve grown older, this sharing has been especially dear to my heart, because it is another way for me to give of myself – of who I really am.
Although I cannot always answer every single e-mail that is sent to me, I do my best and invite you to communicate what you feel when you listen to my music. I value your observations, as one learns in the reflection from others. Some of you will listen to this music quietly, privately in the still of the night in your parlor or bedroom; others will share it and say, “Hey, listen to that high B-flat!”; still others will take the lyrics and music to heart and notate their feelings and grow as a result of it. And yet, others will come to my seminars to spend a day or two collapsing their emotions until they can finally be true, whole, and open with self.
As an entertainer, I have “spanned the globe” of vocal music. I have been on the opera stage, sung in Broadway productions, concertized in wondrous places, given years of showmanship performances in the finest of supper clubs where customers would spend $600 for a night out with dinner, drinks, and a show, where millionaires rubbed shoulders with the common folk or members of the underworld. I have sung in English, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, Yiddish, Swedish, and German and blazed trails into bi-lingual musical arrangements as an ambassador of song. I “lived” in a tuxedo for years and met some of the most fabulous and real people, sang in the snow, wind, rain, and in the heat of Santa Barbara’s Fiesta de Las Flores before a crowd of 29,000 people celebrating down State Street. I sweated in dressing rooms looking for the right make-up before an opera, panicked over trying to remember lyrics or entrances, got propositioned by the mafia to join the ranks of those excellent American-Italian singers such as Sinatra, Martin, Bennett, Damone, Frankie Laine, Mario Lanza, Jimmy Roselli, etc.
In the recording studio, where most of what you will hear was embossed onto reel-to-reel analog tape, I studied keys, tempos, dynamics, rhythms, and arrangements in order to determine how I would sound on the stage. I do have a few “live recording” masters and here one observes me as the world knew me as a performing artist. These recordings were a labor of love, often prepared and executed by pros like arranger-flautist Jules Newman, guitarist Phil Masuto, jazz sax great Vim Carter, keyboardist Dave Cherry, the wonderful trumpet of Gil Evans, New York bassist Dennis Fiennes, and many others who have now been forgotten through the years. The anatomy of a singer is a complex thing: one part desire, one part selfish drive, one part wounded child, one part lover of women, one part spiritual questor, one part the little country boy who still remembers quiet days and nights by the sea in the pine tree forest of central California, enjoying the endless ocean beaches, the Santa Lucia mountains, little streams trickling down mountainsides, swimming in the pool at Hearst Castle with young pals, getting lost adrift at sea on a fishing trip . . . but most of all, the atmospheric peace and well being in a protected Brigadoon hidden in the fog, wind, and sunshine of a world now gone.
for your enthusiasm and support, for I am deeply appreciative to every one of you who have listened to and enjoyed a Dario Vanni album or two. Thank you and always remember that music is one of the
quickest ways to the universe and well being. Be well.