Two tales of jubilation
It’s Sunday afternoon. I play our “Three Tenors” DVD on television. I watch it twice. (I must be starving for inspiration.)
For four hours I glom onto every detail of the movie; each close up of the Three Tenors plus Maestro Zubin Mehta. Zubin’s baton never stops. His entire body becomes a communication device for the Tenors. And then there are the orchestra members and choral ensemble, who are placed amid palm trees, garlands of flowers, and 12 columns that change from blue to lavender, depending on the mood and dynamics of what is happening on stage.
When Plácido Domingo sings “Granada,” his booming voice resonates throughout the stadium as he carefully measures the exact amount of phonic energy needed for each note.
José Carreras shifts gears singing “With a Song in My Heart.” He’s the romantic of the three tenors, and is given a Richard Rodgers piece. He shifts between mellow and bravado seamlessly.
Enter Luciano Pavarotti, the bear with the golden voice. He strides forward to the lip of the stage, throws wide his arms and embraces the cheering audience. (He hasn’t sung a single note, and they are cheering). With a telling look, he composes himself, and gives us a Puccini aria that brings 50,000 people rise to their feet.
There are a dozen television cameras strategically located, two enormous screens to magnify every nuance of each Tenor’s face, so those in the uppermost bleachers see as much as front row seats This is a night of great jubilation, and no one is left out. The Tenors, Mehta, and each musician, gives their best effort, but without Tibor Rudas imagination and determination, it would not have happened.
I worked within the web of Tibor’s creative genius for 15 years. Tibor’s secret to success is he trusts his artistic vision and sees it through to completion. He cajoles, demands, shouts, encourages, and ignores phrases like, “it can’t be done.”
Six years later, Lee Rudas gives her husband a two-day birthday celebration in Monterey, California. Friends, family, and worldwide associates are invited. It’s Tibor’s 80th birthday. (Incidentally, Tibor lives to be 94 and many more chapters are written). A gathering of 200 of his most intimate acquaintances arrive. We are put up at several swanky hotels in Monterey (complimentary of the Rudas, of course).
Lee organizes spa visits for the ladies, golf at the Pebble Beach course, and luxury bus tours to Big Sur. To cap it off, a black-tie gala is planned for the final evening. The ballroom is jammed; a full-sized orchestra is playing lively swing music. Midway through the evening, a thought enters my mind. I ask Lee if she would care to dance. She says “yes.” Lee has a pixy sense of fun locked up inside her and we score high for our dancing aplomb.
When the music finishes, Lee and I walk past Mr. Pavarotti’s table. He glances my way, our eyes meet, and he speaks quietly, “you are very good.” What generosity of spirit from a great man. Obviously, his words are still safely locked in my innermost memories.
Ron Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org