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Subject: Frank Drake
From: Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 6 Dec 2016 15:42:15 +0000

text/plain (20 lines)

Hello all--
I met Frank when I was in grad school at the University of Texas in the mid-1970s.  One day in probably 1974 I went into the record store where he worked--I hadn't yet met him at this time--and went to purchase one of the new Callas reissue of Forza on Seraphim.  Frank was a big Callas fan, as some of y'all probably know, and he told me that the Ballo had also been reissued, engaged me in conversation about Callas, and then invited me to his house later in the week to listen to the tape he had recently made of her Dallas recital.  I was disappointed to learn that di Stefano did not perform that night--I believe it was Earl Wild who took his place--but we had a very pleasant evening listening to the tape and talking about Callas and opera in general.
I remember another time I was walking down the main drag at the University, and Frank was playing Mado Robin's Lucia mad scene over the store's loudspeakers that were suspended over the sidewalk.  I was walking under the speakers when she hit that high Z or whatever it was at the end of the cabaletta.  I went in and told him--probably a big harshly, I'm afraid--that I didn't think that was the best way to win converts to opera.  No matter.  It was all just part of his enthusiasm for the art form.
Frank had key phrases, some of them based on the names of operas, that he would drop into the conversation when they happened to fit.  The one I remember best is "Lakmé or leave me" (speaking of Mado Robin, whom I have always loved, by the way). 
We did not see each other again after I moved to Houston and he moved to Chicago (I believe he sang with the Chicago Symphony Chorus for a number of years), but we did reconnect a couple of times through posts on opera-l.  I used to enjoy the way he signed his posts "Franco di Chicago."  I heard a few months ago from a mutual friend in Austin that he was ill.  I hope he is at peace.  I'll always be grateful to Frank for letting me hear that Callas recital tape, possibly the very first pirated recording I ever heard.
Mike Leone
[log in to unmask] il Leone!

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