Tenor James Valenti just won this year's Richard Tucker Award.
Some call it "the Heisman Trophy of Opera." It's a $30,000 prize recognizing an American singer poised on the edge of a major international opera career.
That's a bit late, considering that Valenti has already sung at many of the great opera houses of the world, including La Scala in Milan. You'll hear James Valenti sing in our live broadcast of La Traviata from the Metropolitan Opera tomorrow at noon.
Valenti's gig at the Met didn't start well; he got food poisoning the night before the opening.
He told the New York Post: "I was up half the night throwing up. I woke up and thought, 'I worked too hard to get to this day, I'm not going to let anything ruin it!' So I drank some Gatorade, ate a little bit of pasta and walked onstage not thinking about anything else but the singing."
If you were lucky enough to hear James Valenti sing at the Minnesota State Fair many years ago, you can say "I knew him when." He performed at the MPR booth at the fair when he was a young artist with the MNOpera. He was also in the MPR studio last month when he returned to MN Opera to sing the lead in La Boheme. You can hear that performance and interview here.
And feast your ears -- and eyes -- here: