Funny lady Joan Rivers once described opera trio The Sicilian Tenors as “The Three Tenors meets the Rat Pack.” Since then, Aaron Caruso, Elio Scaccio and Sam Vitale have embraced it.
“It’s not your typical opera,” says Caruso. “We do arias and classics but that’s not the whole show ... we like to have fun up there.”
“This isn’t the opera, this isn’t the MET,” adds Vitale. “I don’t want anyone looking at their watch and thinking this is too formal.”
The Sicilian Tenors return to the Weinberg on Friday night for their fourth annual Christmas show. In addition to their standard blend of classics and more contemporary music like selections from Broadway shows, The Sicilian Tenors also will sing a number of Christmas songs at Friday’s family-friendly concert.
“We’ll do Rudolph which isn’t typical for us,” says Vitale. “We also do a sing-along with a song the whole audience will recognize.”
Vitale is a father of four — Katy, 26; Sal, 25; Jon-Thomas, 23, and Janette, 22, and the grandfather to two boys, Gabriel, 4, and Caleb, 2. Vitale, his wife and their kids moved to Frederick in 2006, where he works as the president of a Xerox agency along with Sal and Janette. Three of his children will be in the audience on Friday night and The Sicilian Tenors will offer a salute to Jon-Thomas who is deployed in the United States Air Force.
A family man, Vitale says he is excited to welcome another Frederick family on stage with The Sicilian Tenors for a second year in a row Friday. Frank Plumer and his three children, Antonio, 12; Julia, 9; and Cecilia, 7, wowed audiences last year on the piano and with an astounding rendition of “Ave Maria” from a then 8-year-old Julia.
“I feel like we have Frederick’s own Von Trapp family,” says Vitale. “The audience just eats them up.”
Also joining The Sicilian Tenors for the second time is the choir from Linganoire High School.
“We showcase them and we also do songs with them which I find particularly rewarding,” says Caruso. “A lot of those kids are budding musicians themselves.”
Caruso, who lives in New York City, met Vitale when they were both students at the University of Michigan, although Vitale is 10 years older than Caruso because he spent nine years in the Air Force before enrolling at Michigan.
After college, when Caruso moved to New York to continue studying opera, he met Scaccio. The three formed The Sicilian Tenors in 2009.
Since then, the trio has performed all over the country in a variety of venues from Carnegie Hall to more intimate night clubs. Depending on the venue, Vitale says the music changes.
“We could either just be formal and operatic tenors which we do ... but to tell you the truth, that’s a small market,” says Vitale. “There’s a lot of Sinatra fans, Dean Martin fans, people that like that Rat Pack stuff as well.”
Caruso adds that people are often hesitant about The Sicilian Tenors’ music because they aren’t sure what to expect from three guys singing opera. But he assures audiences a Sicilian Tenors show is unlike any opera show you’ve ever seen.
“The type of show that we do is appealing to many different types of people,” says Caruso. “The most common comment we get is, ‘You know, I’m not really into that type of music until I saw your show and [now] I would come back.”
The Sicilian Tenors released their first album during the summer and have shows lined up throughout the remainder of 2012 and into 2013. The group has plans to perform everywhere from Marco Island, Fla., to Sicily, Italy. Despite the opportunities to perform around the country and around the world, Vitale says there is something special about the annual Christmas show in his hometown.
“I’ve been singing 20-plus years in Italy, New York, Canada, but I’ll tell you, the shows that we are doing now, it feels like there is so much love in the theater,” says Vitale. “It’s almost like walking around Disney World; that’s what it feels like when we do these shows.”