By Kristi Kates
Theres a phantom lurking in Traverse Citys Opera House this week,
but this time hell be spending all of his time onstage, rather than
in the cellar.
Awarded the distinction of the worlds longest-running Phantom in the
The Phantom of the Opera (and also nicknamed The Iron Man of the
Mask), singer/actor Franc DAmbrosio is a stage phenom.
Hes portrayed the Phantom in over 2,600 performances of the Tony
Award-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical - one of the
best-known and most well-attended plays worldwide - and brings his
expertise to even wider audiences with a show of his own, in which he
performs a setlist of Broadway classics.
We obviously cant have the entire Phantom production here - its
just too small of a stage, explains City Opera House General Manager
Diana Barrie, but we are so fortunate to be able to have Franc make
BRONX TO BROADWAY
Born in the Bronx, New Yorks northernmost borough, DAmbrosio grew up
in a family of bakers, attended a Connecticut music school after
graduating high school, and soon found himself studying at the Vocal
Academy of Lucca in Italy. It wasnt long before legendary tenor
Luciano Pavarotti took notice of the talented singer, and invited
DAmbrosio to study with him.
DAmbrosio returned to New York and made his Broadway debut in
Sweeney Todd- and his visibility would serve him well yet again when
Francis Ford Coppola saw him onstage and snagged him to play the part
of Anthony Corleone, the opera-singing character in The Godfather III.
Directly after his work on Godfather, he was cast in the title role
of Phantom - and he remained the Phantom, the role that so far has
most defined his career, for almost a decade.
Following his history-making Phantom run, DAmbrosio was
well-deserving of a vacation. And this dedicated performer did... not
Instead, he caught the eye of another entertainment-industry heavy,
namely soft-rock performer Barry Manilow, who cast DAmbrosio as the
lead in Manilows national tour of Copacabana, which would stay on
stages for a year.
Next, DAmbrosio embarked on a one-man show of his own dubbed Franc
DAmbrosios Broadway, which, in combination with his second solo
show, Franc DAmbrosios Hollywood, would keep him on the road for the
next five years, including over 150 sold-out events. His solo act has
made him an informal box-office busting trio with fellow Phantom
alumni Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, as performers whose
careers after Phantom were also wildly successful in the theater-music
Today, he continues his take on the Broadway tradition with a new show
hes created, called Ill Be Seeing Youz: A Bronx Boys Musical
Perspective of World War II, which features stories from DAmbrosios
own family, plus popular war songs from 1939-1946.
And - somehow - hes still fitting in a schedule of solo shows, too.
Good fortune, as Diana Barrie pointed out earlier, for any Broadway
musical fan living within driving distance of the Traverse City Opera
Franc DAmbrosio will be appearing at the Traverse City Opera House on
Thursday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20/$35 via
www.cityoperahouse.org. For more info on and videos of Franc
DAmbrosio, visit www.francdambrosio.com.