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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

John Ferrante, P.D.Q. Bach Countertenor

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Showing 1-23 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 28, 2010, 7:05:02 PM PDT
Does anyone know for a fact whether Mr. Ferrante (who sang on several of the Vanguard P.D.Q. Bach recordings) has died, and if so, the date and under what circumstances? There is an almost creepy dearth of information about him on the Internet. Any answers/links/other information?

Posted on May 30, 2010, 9:26:15 AM PDT
Well, case in point: no responses to this post! "Curiouser and curiouser"...

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2010, 10:21:25 AM PDT
KenOC says:
You got me curious. I can find only a reference to his role as Opec in The Abduction of Figaro.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2010, 10:28:35 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 30, 2010, 1:00:11 PM PDT]

Posted on May 30, 2010, 10:37:01 AM PDT
Thomas E. says:
I found these quotes:

"Males who sing primarily in parody falsetto are countertenors. The late John Ferrante was a rare example of one who sang both as a tenor and a countertenor. He told me his
head-resonance tenor fundamentally was different in voice production from his parody-falsetto countertenor."

About Russell Oberlin: "He started a career as an educator and trained Willard Cobb and the late John Ferrante."

But you've probably seen those. Other than that, the only thing I can find is that he was born on January 24th, 1925 in Hartford, Connecticut. He was definitely alive in 2007, when he performed at the Spring Opera Theatre in San Francisco.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2010, 11:01:11 AM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Searching AOL/Google for "John Ferrante countertenor" I got 557 hits, although "bargain counter tenor" was among them.

Posted on Jan 19, 2012, 12:16:06 PM PST
Schuplatter says:
I am now listening to a recording of Heinrich Schutz's Seven Last Words of Christ, and the unmistakable bargain counter tenor's voice is there! I know it's a serious work, but I have to laugh.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2012, 5:53:38 AM PDT
My name is John Dennison. I am the Bass on the recording of the Schutz Seven Last Words with
John Ferrante. I have been trying to find out if John is still alive but no luck so far. If you know anything, please contact me Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2012, 2:50:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2012, 3:01:34 AM PDT
I knew Mr. Ferrante; we both stayed at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta during the summer of 1979. I was taking lessons from an Atlanta Symphony musician, and he was performing in a show with, believe it or not, Joe Namath. I read an obituary for a John Ferrante at some point but now I realize it's not an uncommon name. Someone blogged that he performed in 2007; he is four years younger than my mom, so I suppose he is very much with us.

Posted on Aug 30, 2012, 5:51:48 PM PDT
Alas, Mr. Ferrante passed away, probably in the mid-90s, when I swear I saw an obit. This update comes from one of PDQ's pianists, whom I know well and can trust.

Posted on Aug 30, 2012, 6:30:44 PM PDT
KenOC says:
This is odd. Very little information! There are several references to him as having passed away, like "The late John Ferrante was a rare example of one who sang both as a tenor and a countertenor. He told me his head-resonance tenor fundamentally was different in voice production from his parody-falsetto countertenor." One site listing opera singers has him listed with his correct birth date in 1925 but no date of death...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2012, 7:12:25 AM PDT
Chris L says:
Hi John Dennison ,
if you feel inclined, please post and tell us what you think about that recording ?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2013, 9:45:33 PM PDT
R. Brooks says:
I had the incredible fortune of meeting Mr. Ferrante in the early 1970's while I was still in High School in New York. Many years later, I went backstage to meet Peter Schickele after a PDQ Bach concert in Albuquerque. It was in the early 1990's, but I am not sure of the exact date. I asked Mr. Schickele about John and he told me that he had just passed away. He told me that he "died with his boots on...on his way to an audition." I was very saddened by this and I am disappointed that there isn't more information about him available. He was truly one of a kind.

Posted on Nov 14, 2013, 9:21:34 AM PST
E F says:
I too had the incredible fortune of not only meeting, but performing with John Ferrante at a farewell concert honoring the high school madrigal group, of which I was a member. In the summer of 1973, "Canticum Novum" toured Western and Eastern Europe where we performed in churches, cathedrals, town squares, as well as a castle in Spittal, Austria at an annual, three-day choral competition. A wonderful surprise occurred when we were met by Mr. Ferrante at stop on Vienna. As said in the previous post, "He was truly one of a kind." "Smoke PDQs, what can you lose?"

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2013, 9:46:39 AM PST
I am so glad that people remember John Ferrante. John and I did many recordings together when we both worked for the Telemann Society in New York in the 1960's The recordings were for Amphion and I have been hoping that they would be re-released on CD as there are not many recordings of John doing something other than PDQ Bach. John Dennison

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2014, 8:19:41 AM PST
Artist says:
I was a friend of John's in the late 1970s and 80s when I lived in New York. He summered in Sienna, Italy where he taught and one year in the mid-80s, he did not return phone messages I left in the fall when he usually returned. Soon after, I moved to Washington DC. I met his colleague Dana Krueger in 1994 after seeing her perform in a musical adaptation of Arthur Kopit's "Wings" at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. Seeing PDQ Bach listed in her credits, I met her afterward and we reminisced about John. When I asked whether she knew how I could contact him, she looked startled, realizing that I was unaware that he had passed away. I now knew why he had not gotten back in touch with me, and still regret not having had a chance to say a proper good-bye to him.

Posted on Dec 15, 2014, 8:13:39 AM PST
M. Zimmer says:
According to the Social Security Death Index, John Ferrante was born January 24, 1925 and died a resident of New York, New York on May 15, 1987. Given the birth date matches the one above precisely, I have to believe that's the same John Ferrante. So anyone looking for a specific death date here has an answer. Social Security is usually pretty accurate on death dates, less so on birth dates since those are often self-reported (especially pre-1970 or thereabouts).

Posted on Dec 14, 2015, 2:16:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2015, 2:18:18 AM PST
Metta says:
My father knew him when I was a little boy. I even met him two or three times at gatherings with Tony Amato. I very much remember my dad telling me of his passing- the 1987 date sounds about right. I think it was some sort of disease like cancer or something.

Posted on Dec 14, 2015, 11:05:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2015, 11:35:48 AM PST
PDQ Bach says: "Enough about Ferrante. What happened to Teicher?" 😉

Posted on Feb 14, 2016, 10:43:12 PM PST
Gcantory says:
I met John when we both were voice students of Lois Albright in NYC in the early 70's. In addition to being a superbly talented musician, he was a truly funny guy who lit up the room. I never saw him w/o a smile on his face! I'm so sad to learn here of his death.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2016, 6:41:00 PM PDT
L. Cohan says:
yes he passed away while on tour with PDQ Bac in Houston. Ia sure because I was studying with himat the time of hs death. don't remember the year, bt it was n the 80s.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2016, 12:45:11 PM PDT
KenOC says:
L Cohan, thanks. The original poster has been gone for a while, but the rest of us appreciate your information.

Summary: John Ferrante passed away (probably) May 15, 1987. He was then on tour with PDQ Bach in Houston.

Posted on Aug 17, 2016, 1:30:03 PM PDT
RSvK says:
In the '70s, I taught music in Rochester, Auburn, and other cities in NY state. One year on a trip to New York City, I attended a performance of The Fantasticks. During the intermission, I thought I saw John Ferrante but was too shy to approach him. On the way out, I was right behind him and asked whether he was John Ferrante. He said he was and invited me to join him and his friends for dinner. After that, I took him out for dinner or lunch several times when I got down to the city. He was unfailingly friendly and polite with me, a young music teacher. He was considering applying for a role with the Rochester Oratorio Society, which I sang with. I am sorry to hear that he has passed on. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion.
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  23
Initial post:  May 28, 2010
Latest post:  Aug 17, 2016

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