Morristown Onstage Gives Former Opera Singer A New Choice
Morristown ONSTAGE gives former opera singer a new choice
By JAMES LENT Editor Jan 23, 2017
Editor’s note: The following is part of an ongoing series focusing on participants in the talent show Morristown ONSTAGE to be held Wednesday, March 1 at he mayo Performing Arts Center.
MORRISTOWN – Growing up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Joe Paggi knew he could sing and that his young voice brought pleasure to those who heard it.
He liked singing so much that when he enrolled in Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., he chose to major in vocal performance. His studies were more classical than pop at school. He performed in an opera each of the four years he was there from 2009 to 2013 – Mozart one year, Monteverdi in another, a Francis Poulenc work, even Steven Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.”
But Paggi was never quite sure if his aspirations were something possible or merely pipe dreams.
So, he also had a second major as a fall back: international economics. Coming out of college he wasn’t sure if his voice could measure up to the demands of a singing career. His focus shifted.
Paggi, who is 25 and a Summit resident, now works for Insight Global at Headquarters Plaza in Morristown, a technology firm that finds IT personnel for other companies.
But he never forgot his dream and on Wednesday, March 1 he will give it another another shot when he takes to the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) stage to sing Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” in the 10th annual “Morristown ONSTAGE,” the fundraiser talent show for the Morris Educational Foundation, the non-profit fundraising arm of the K-12 Morris School District.
Paggi had focused on a classical music career and had fallen for the music of Puccini during his Notre Dame studies.
But Paggi discovered toward the end of school one thing that might keep him back.
“I realized I didn’t find as much love in singing that kind of music as I once did.” he said.
He began a shift to lighter, more popular works that better suited his gentle but pure lyric tenor voice.
“Josh Groban is a perfect voice that crosses over both worlds,” Paggi said.
Paggi didn’t do much singing professionally but would perform for friends and at his church, where he particularly enjoyed, and still does, suited to singing the two major Ave Marias, by Schubert and Bach/Gounod. He said he’d like to make a Christmas CD someday.
Paggi is a Catholic who attended Catholic schools all his life from kindergarten through Notre Dame.
“The church means a lot to me,” Paggi said. “My dad used to take me to 7 a.m. mass every day before he went to work.”
His turn to more secular singing style is what led him to Morristown ONSTAGE. He had heard about the competition through a friend whose mother is on the Morris School District Board of Education.
Paggi admitted he was a bit nervous heading into the audition in which he would be competing with 60 other performers vying for a spot in the final group of 16.
“I had sung often when I was younger but I was nervous going into the audition because I haven’t done as much recently,” he said. “But once I started singing it all came back to me.”
Paggi makes no bones about what Morristown ONSTAGE means to him. “I want to see if I should pursue this, if I can move people,” he said. “I don’t need to win, I just want to have an effect on people and this will tell me if I do. This is my first step to see if it could lead to something.”
He’ll find out in a little more than a month if it does.