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Soaring at 1,500 Feet With Michael Fabiano, Opera’s Risk-Taking Tenor

The New York Times | by Michael Cooper | February 28, 2017

05FABIANO1-superJumbo-v2“He’s either going to be fantastic — or dead.”

That was the verdict of some of opera’s keenest vocal judges a decade ago when they awarded Michael Fabiano, an explosively talented tenor who was 22 at the time and pushing himself hard, a career-making win at the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. A decade later, he is one of the most exciting, sought-after singers in the world — but the fatalistic warning was still ringing in my ears a few Sundays ago when Mr. Fabiano, who likes to pilot planes on his days off, took me for a flight.

As we buckled into a small Piper Archer at Essex County Airport in New Jersey, near his childhood home, Mr. Fabiano rattled off a battery of safety instructions that went well beyond the usual flight attendant script: where to find the fire extinguisher, how to brace yourself over the instrument panel if necessary, how to unlatch the door in case of a crash landing. He cried “Clear prop!” then started the propeller, and up we went. I found myself wondering if I would have felt safer flown by a singer who was not quite as well-known for risk-taking — or perhaps by a baritone, or anyone other than an impassioned tenor.

“Safe never wins,” Mr. Fabiano, 32, said in an interview, explaining the philosophy that has guided everything from his choice of roles to his decision to act on a lifelong dream and get his pilot’s license, despite the dangers. “I’m very, very big on preparation. I take prepared gambles.”

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Interview: Michael Fabiano on Faust

Limelight Magazine's Editor, Clive Paget, heads backstage to meet American tenor Michael Fabiano ahead of his appearance in David McVicar's production of Gounod's Faust, for Opera Australia.

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