Seen here: Howard Hart (seated) with Adam Nestle, editor and producer at WCAT as they discuss recording techniques for the introduction of one of Hart’s pre-recorded opera singer interviews.
Photo by Brianna Randazza
Howard Hart is the creator and host of the website and podcast Speaking Opera. He grew up in Massachusetts. His paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother were opera enthusiasts. With them, he listened to Metropolitan Opera Saturday matinee broadcasts hosted by Milton Cross. From these seeds, a love of opera grew.
Howard worked as a classical buyer in record stores in Boston and Harvard Square in Cambridge, and later in New York City where he moved in his early thirties. Living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, he attended Metropolitan Opera performances on a regular basis, hearing many of the great voices of the day. With his extensive retail knowledge and experience, he was able to start his own business to promote classical recording labels and the artists who recorded for them.
Among his other activities during this period were radio interviews for the leading classical music programs at stations WKCR, WQXR and WNYC in New York City where he acted as guest host. The artists he interviewed include Elisabeth Schwarkopf (co-hosted with Tim Page, noted writer, scholar and personal friend), Renata Scotto, Eleanor Steber, Lucia Popp, Bernd Weikl, Louis Quilico, and Licia Albanese.
This website and podcast are a labor of love. Like all undertakings of this kind, a tremendous amount of work is required. All the earlier interviews took place in the homes or hotel rooms of the singers involved. Many were originally preserved on analog open-reel or cassette tapes and needed to be transferred and processed to improve the sound via digital technology. The encouragement and indispensable assistance of Adam Nestle, editor and producer at WCAT, is acknowledged here. With Adam’s help, including hours of editing, a major improvement in the sound of these tapes from the 1980s was achieved. His knowledge of IT (Information Technology) and podcasting was invaluable.
Howard began the website and podcast with the goal to share the aforementioned interviews with others. Going forward, the focus will be on currently active singers, composers, musicians, authors in the field of operatic performance and scholarship, specialists in the field of audio recording, as well as those who have retired, fully or partially, from performing and/or teaching.
Those who are interested are encouraged to follow the upcoming interviews on the website, speakingopera.com , as there will be photos and articles that will not be available on the Speaking Opera Channel on YouTube , where audio and video reviews will be posted. Your host looks forward to sharing this journey with those who are interested in opera and its performers, past and present.
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.