Tenor George Komsky shines among classically trained singers who are defining their niche in the developing market of Pop/Opera. As a light lyric tenor with a ringing upper register, George came to national attention when he appeared on the first season of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Singing the much-covered 1986 ballad Caruso by singer/songwriter Lucio Dalla, George dazzled the audience with his smooth phrasing and free and open tone. The song fit like a glove.
Sunday afternoon September 7, at 3:00 pm, George will be performing at the Napa Valley Opera House (NVOH) – safe and secure – vibrating the walls with his pleasing tone. His show will include Donizetti’s Una furtiva lagrima (L’Elisir d’Amore), a group of Neapolitan favorites, contemporary classical hits including Vivo per lei and The Prayer, along with a preview of material from his forthcoming album.
Bay Area fans remember his sold-out performance at the Herbst Theatre in 2010. This past December he appeared at Davies Symphony Hall as a guest artist with jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. Their combined rendition of the ballad/art song Con te partiro has been a consistent hit along the tour. Also on the bill — the ultimately glamorous R&B/Electronic Soul superstar, Sy Smith. The mix of musical styles and strong, individual talents proved to be one of the season’s major highlights. George and Sy continue to tour with Chris Botti and his genius ensemble. The troupe is about to embark on a world wide trek that will take them to Poland, Russia, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, then to Newark, New Haven, Princeton, Milwaukee, and on and on.
“I’ve really enjoyed this last year of touring with Chris Botti,” said George. “It’s been a really good and healthy learning experience for me. Of course, when you’re around professionals of the calibre of Chris and his group, you can’t help but learn by osmosis. The travel can be a little taxing, especially when you’re doing four shows in four nights – every night a different city, early flights, a rehearsal, and then back to the show. It can be a bit of a grind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So far, It is the most interesting and rewarding professional experience of my life.”
“The tour is on-going, we know our schedule through April 2015. I also spend my time working on original material and studying – maintaining what I’ve already learned. I almost have to wear two hats – classical and contemporary. Chris’ shows are outstandingly dynamic and different. There are jazz elements and the classical element that I bring to it, along with Sy Smith who brings soul to the show. Building my own show now, I’m going to start incorporating my original music. I’ve met some very talented producers in L.A. and Germany who have taken me under their wing. We’ve been working diligently at finding what is the best material for me as an artist. Some of that is what I write myself. So, it’s about half and half.”
“After the show in Napa I’ll be on a plane for Vancouver. I have to catch the jazz cruise that Chris is a part of. I’m turning 29 on September 9 – which is the day I board the cruise. We do the show on September 11 and after that we go to Europe. Then I really want to finish the album. We’ve been working on it for a long time. Because I travel so much, it’s like two steps forward, one step back. When the album is finished, then I can concentrate on the show which will incorporate all the things that are in the studio now as well as the Neapolitan repertoire. I’m hoping by December we’ll have a better idea about a release date.”
George and I compared notes about the classical tenors who influenced our earliest listening experiences. His list includes Pavarotti, Tito Schippa, Juan Diego Flórez, and Beniamino Gigli. My record collection extends back to Franco Corelli, Allan Jones, and Sergio Franchi. All of these tenors performed the variety of Neapolitan songs that George gravitates to and which he will bring to the Napa Valley Opera House and include in his recording. But these days, the recording industry is not as it was for our hero singers and their solo albums. I asked George if he and his team had secured a label.
“That’s a very challenging thing to do. They are signing fewer and fewer people now. You basically have to come fully formed. I’ve taken my time with the album because there is no room for error. They want a completely finished product and the singer is expected to do his or her own artist development. What producers used to be a part of, they now not only don’t have the money for – they don’t have the time. Now, when you approach them, the artist has to have a fully-formed album and fully-formed concept of who they are. It’s totally different than what it was. If you’re not in the Top 40, you have to build everything on your own. My audience is a niche audience. I have to build it from the ground up. That’s why this album is so important. It’s difficult to put together a modern show. You can’t just be the person who comes out and does a classical repertoire. Because, if you are that person, you should be working in opera. And that makes sense. But if you try to do something in-between, you have to prove yourself.”
Touring with Chris Botti has gained George Komsky world-wide exposure. It looks like audiences everywhere are more than ready for his classical vocal chops and the contemporary flair he brings to his presentation of timeless material.
“At the end of the day,” says George, “you still have to find your own voice and what you do best. How do you convey the meaning of a song to an audience? You can listen and learn from others, but it’s always a question of what you are going to do and how you sound. How do I prepare for a show like this? It’s a challenge. But, it’s one that I love.”
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: NVOH