Remembering Pietro Ferraro on year 87 of his birth.
From New York City, 30th October 2011.
By Francisco Chahín-Casanova
Ferraro was born in Altivole, province of Treviso, in the Veneto region of italy, on the 30th of October 1924.
To me he was Maestro.
He was also a dearest Father who nurtured me and prepared me for my life, and not only for my life as a singer.
The year of his death, 2008, I wrote some words for a program prepared to celebrate his life which was given in Brazil. I published it in the ethernet, in my website http://veramusicaltd.com/Veramusica/Tribute.html, in his mother tongue. Three years later, as I sit down to remember him (I do so every day, such as I do with my own carnal Father, Alfredo Chahín), the pain provoked by this irreversible separation is as alive as it was that cold morning of the 18th of January of 2008, when Bea called to tell me that Papa had passed on.
It was very cold outside that morning in Little Compton... but the solitude I felt in my heart at learning this horrible news was even more terrifying to me than the prospect of freezing to death.
It was said to me later that his was a blessed death: he died in his sleep. That was little comfort to me, who would have wanted to have my beloved Maestro in my life for much longer than I did.
After an illustrious career of over 30 active years on the stage, singing in the most important theaters of the world -77 leading roles, amongst them more than 350 performances of Otello-, Pier Miranda Ferraro retired and began teaching. An injury to his lower back suffered during a bicycle accident in the city of Milan was the reason for his early retirement.
For the next 30 years he taught first at the Conservatory of Milan, and then privately at home as well as in other schools that he was asked to direct. Hundreds of singers of all nationalities visited him and received his words of vocal wisdom, accumulated in a life time of study and experiences.
Ferraro was impressive for the strength of his character, yet extremely humble before the greatness of God and His creation. He recognized in every creature the Hand of the Creator. I felt so ashamed many times by his Faith which was not a blind one, but more of a Certainty. Strong as his beliefs were, he was not a fanatic; he respected everyone’s way of conducting his or her life, while maintaing his own code of conduct with pulchritude and was beyond reproach.
He often spoke to me about two things:
- In terms of the craft he would say: “What we sing is the culture, and the culture comes to us in the language...” He would also say: “Devi cantare giusto.” (Your singing must be balanced...)
2)About life: God, duty, family and respect for others.
If one could call it so, Ferraro possessed one defect and only one in my way of seeing things, and it was that when he loved you... you were his forever. And you had no say on the matter. First he would be very curious about you. He would proceed (at least in my case) by looking very intensely at the cause of his curiosity: a scrutiny like that I have not experienced since the day in which he subjected me to it. But then you felt invaded by such warmth and generosity, a feeling that is impossible to describe for me, even twenty years after having met him. He never made you feel uncomfortable, on the contrary, you felt always extremely safe in his presence: He knew the extent and the strength of his energy and he only used of it what was needed, never more. Justice, Balance, were a strong characteristic of his personality.
With him one felt as if all were justified, and all you had to do was to carry on: you had been blessed not in words...
Since his death, the world has changed so little, yet is is so different from the one he left behind almost four years ago.
So many I-pods and computers in the streets, people seem afraid of owning their souls... I know he would say to me.
I wonder if his spirit, wherever it maybe, is aware of all the uncontainable strife that affects all our lives...
And then I imagine that if it is so aware, he would sing to us Simone’s words in the music of the Great Verdi: “E vo’ gridando pace... e vo’ gridando amor!”
A childhood friend, at his funeral, was so right: “Pietro was a Man... who also sang.”
My heart aches in such pain from missing him so...
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