Former Bridgeporter, Maestro Tony Pappano, to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth
Phyllis A.S. Boros
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Bridgeport's soon-to-be British knight eschews shining armor -- and for that matter, he doesn't often wear white tie and tails, which is the usual getup for a man in his position.
But on Tuesday, May 15, Antonio "Tony" Pappano -- a 1977 graduate of Central High School -- has an invitation to join Queen Elizabeth at London's Buckingham Palace. And for the occasion, he will be "dressed to the nines," wearing a morning outfit -- daytime formal wear that includes full tails, a waistcoat, tie, striped or black trousers and a top hat.
It is an event that he and his family are not likely to forget: During investiture ceremonies conducted by the queen, this gifted orchestral and opera conductor will be knighted -- transforming him from a common "Mr." to a lofty "Sir." And he might very well be the only former Bridgeporter to have ever acquired such a noble title.
In the maestro's entourage (he is limited to three guests) will be his mother, Carmela Maria Pappano, who continues to live in Bridgeport's North End, in a handsome brick house on Madison Avenue that Tony, 52, frequently visits. Also witnessing the event will be Tony's "kid brother," the non-musical Patrick, of Shelton, and Tony's wife, American pianist and voice coach Pamela Bullock. Pappano's father, Pasquale, a tenor and renowned vocal coach, died in 2004.
"Shock and awe ... happiness and delight" are among the emotions that Pappano experienced when he received a letter in mid-December -- delivered to his office at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he is music director -- announcing that, if he agreed, his name would be included on the 2012 New Year Honours list for knighthood. He accepted immediately.
"I was over the moon," Pappano said, laughing, during a recent telephone interview.
"Like a good soldier, I had to keep the news under wraps (with a few exceptions) until New Year's Day, but I was absolutely bursting," he recalled.
His first telephone call was to his wife; then came ones to his mother and brother.
"The first thing I said was `Tony, I wish Papa was here to see this,' " his mother recalled during a recent visit to her home.
"Tony said he was honored, but that he was just a bit embarrassed.
" `You deserve it,' I told him. `You have worked hard -- and this is the truth.' I have two sons and both are good, respectable and honest men," said Carmela Pappano, adding that both sons call her daily.
"It's been surreal, crazy," said Patrick, 50, of the past few months and the London trip. "I'm just in shock," he added, noting that he and Tony "are very close," with each wanting only the very best for the other. Patrick pointed out that there is very little rivalry between them, inasmuch as each chose a completely different path. Patrick's passion is his family: wife Helen, four children and six grandchildren. An avid soccer player since age 4, he is manager of CarQuest on Main Street, Bridgeport.
In addition to Covent Garden, Tony's other major post is that of music director of Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, in Rome, one of Italy's most renowned orchestras.
(Pappano emailed the Connecticut Post on Friday that the president of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano last week presented him with Italy's highest order, the Cavaliere di Gran Croce/Knight Grand Cross. "It was not expected, but it's true!" he wrote.)
"We were very poor when we started out in London. I feel guilty that we had so little. But my boys had food on the table and a lot of love. They grew up understanding the value of hard work ... of a strong work ethic," Carmela Pappano said.