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PRIVATE LIVES / MARK EHRMAN

Notes From the Singing Executive

March 07, 1993|MARK EHRMAN

Bonnie O'Connor's day job is program coordinator at CBS Entertainment. She acts as a liaison between the network and the production companies that provide CBS with its TV fare. But when her duties as a network executive are over, O'Connor abandons herself to her true love, singing classical music. After 21 years in an office job, keeping her soprano to herself, O'Connor has taken her tones public, performing classical songs, arias and show tunes at the Steinway Hall in Beverly Hills and the Globe Theater in West Hollywood. On May 1, she will sing at the Hollywood Women's Club.

"I come from a very musical family. My father sang. My mother as well. I used to sing duets with my grandmother in church. My cousin sang also. She sang jazz. I used to do that too. I prefer classical.

"I was a music major in college. When I graduated--this was in 1962--there really wasn't anything going on. I'd go on different auditions and they'd constantly tell me, 'Well, your voice isn't seated yet.' That means it hasn't settled and matured.

"I became extremely frustrated. I also had a singing group in 1963. We were called La Petites--a pop group. We signed with RCA but nothing was ever published. We were doing very close harmony, things like 'Taste of Honey.' So, yes, I do have a pop side.

"Anyway, this job at CBS was as close as I could get to any type of performing art. I was going to put the singing on the back burner for a little bit.

"I did little things. I did weddings, little appearances here and there, nothing very important, just things I felt good about.

"I was frustrated with the whole professional track. Then four years ago a friend of mine said, 'I just met this great teacher.'

"I was introduced to (Chilean baritone) Hernan Pelayo. And when I interviewed with Pelayo, he said we could do things. He's been in the business for over 50 years. He sang all over the world and has cut many records. Now he teaches, but since I've been studying with him, he's been getting back in the limelight.

"We do a 90-minute show. We start with a variety of classical pieces--Handel, Mozart, Rossini--then mix in some show tunes. It's a real varied program. We close with the duet from 'The Most Happy Fella,' 'Happy to Make Your Acquaintance' by Loesser. That ends it on a lighter note.

"I am considering quitting CBS. The way things are going, if they continue to move the way I think they're going to move, I would leave this job and sing full time. The future? Well, in two years, I picture myself having been in Carnegie at least a couple of times."

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