Diary of a Redneck Opera Zinger

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Disclaimer: Well, here's my book! I like to think it's equal parts auto-bio, inspiration, and unrepentant potty humor. WARNING, if you're sensitive and precious, you probably won't be amused. Turn back. But if on some rainy afternoon you find yourself in need of a few giggles, I hope you'll find some here. (Jay Hunter Morris) Meet our opera "zinger" (yes, with a "z" – read the book to find out why) – Grammy-winning tenor Jay Hunter Morris, Metropolitan Opera's Siegfried in Wagner's Ring. Born in Paris, Texas, Jay was propelled to international fame after his big break in October 2011, when Met director Peter Gelb brought him in at short notice to substitute for a sick colleague, and he sang superbly this difficult role in front of a Met Live in HD worldwide audience. These are his incredibly funny memoirs. The gifted singer has a phenomenal talent for self-deprecating black humor (and linguist acrobatics – all spelling and grammar idiosyncrasies are done in purpose for a true Texan feel), but is also touching and admirable in his love for the art form, his family, and his values. This very entertaining book will not only make you laugh (hard!) but will also inform you about the joys and hardships of the operatic singing profession. (Luiz Gazzola, Senior Editor, Opera Lively Press)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Opera Lively Press (April 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615793878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615793870
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.4 ounces

Customer Reviews

No One Does it Better than Jay

15 people found this helpful.
 on June 22, 2013
By Barbara Rogers Wilson
Although I’m a 78-year-old grandmother, with a PhD in Literature, and a lifetime of serious academic scholarship behind me, I found Jay Hunter Morris’ “Diary” totally delightful. I laughed out loud during the first half–Morris may have a potty-mouth, but he is authentic and natural in his storytelling. My family is from the South, and trust me, Morris has the style down pat. Not only is he the greatest Siegfried I’ve seen and heard in my long lifetime, but he’s a down-home teller of funny stories. More than that. His last pages, about his stunning break as an under-study who by a sudden fluke got the role of a lifetime, are a moving account of how hard it was to reach that moment at Lincoln Center. Few of us opera-lovers realize how much disappointment and downtime opera zingers must endure for their brief moments of glory. Morris speaks for all of them, in a voice uniquely his own. Write on, Jay!

Like many other reviewers here I was expecting an autobiography

One person found this helpful.
 on March 13, 2015
By Jeff Doyle
Like many other reviewers here I was expecting an autobiography. It’s definitely not that. It also took me a little bit to get past the corn-pone, Southern-fried dialect. And by “a little bit,” I mean maybe two pages. By the third page I was chuckling, and by the end of the first story I was laughing out loud.

Tales from a Transcedent Tenor

 on September 14, 2015
By Appalachian refugee
Humor, artistry and humility–rarely found in combination, these are qualities of this Tenor-on-Tour (as well as a Tenor-in-the-Making). Jay Hunter Morris begins his career by relying on work instead of luck, and he now maintains his work with gratitude for the results of work and luck. His singing the role of Siegfried after cancellations by a star and his understudy is a legend in the annals of opera. Eight days before opening night, Peter Gelb asks JHM to take the role, and Morris goes on stage without even a dress rehearsal. The audience and the reviewers swooned.

What a fun read! Such an intriguing inside look!

One person found this helpful.
 on February 11, 2015
By Amazon Customer
While listening to Jay Hunter Morris singing Siegfried, I always assumed he had German parents or his father had been stationed in Germany, so that Morris had become fluent as a child – his German is so precise.

Great Fun But Disappointingly Short

One person found this helpful.
 on July 15, 2013
By Robert B. Lamm
For content – or, rather, what there is of it – I give this book five stars. I’ve read lots of opera biographies, memoirs and the like, and I love most of them (not all – for example, even though I love Regine Crespin’s singing, her memoir was a huge pity party). Jay Hunter Morris’s whatever it is (not a bio and most definitely not a “memoir”) is terrific; I love that he’s crude and self-deprecating and all that. I also love that he doesn’t spend much time, if any, dishing other singers – in fact, he goes out of his way to say how honored he is at being Placido Domingo’s understudy. It all proves to me that he’s a regular guy and maybe even a man’s man.

Anecdotal delight

 on August 1, 2014
By M. Stueben
Delightful overall, thanks to the publisher for making it available. Having said that, some of the entries are laugh-out-loud (as in LOUD), while others are more “maybe you had to be there for it to be as funny as he remembers it” — so, a bit uneven. I first heard of JHM watching the Met Live in HD telecast of Wagner’s Siegfried — first performer I’ve heard sing the role that had a sense of energy and humor — much less dull than some performers I’ve heard sing the role! But in addition to his singing, I was impressed by the personality that came through in the interviews that came both before and between the acts. I started looking for other information by or about this fellow — and eventually came across this collection. Some — but not all — of the entries are about performing and the world of opera, but that is merely a part of his comments and stories about life. While his “unrepentant potty humor” occasionally had me rolling my eyes, much of his humor is self-deprecating. Charming overall, but yes, a bit uneven. I look forward to reading more from JHM.

A Fun Read

8 people found this helpful.
 on June 2, 2013
By David N. Loesch
I am a big fan of Jay Hunter Morris whom I first encountered as Pinkerton in a Seattle Opera production and was most favorably impressed. I heard him again in Seattle a few years later as Erik in the Dutchman and again thought him excellent. I watched his Met debut as Siegfried in the live in HD broadcast and was bowled over. The intermission features revealed a handsome and charming Texan with brains and a great sense of humor. What a likable guy! The look on his face during the curtain calls was priceless. He looked like a man who had just climbed Everest and was in a state of disbelief by the standing ovation he received.

… at the Met playing Siegfried and he makes the best Siegfried ever

 on February 28, 2015
By Amazon Customer
I saw Jay at the Met playing Siegfried and he makes the best Siegfried ever!!! So, I had to get his book, and I love it! His sense of humor, his unpretentiousness, his willingness to make a fool of himself is priceless.

Five Stars

 on February 27, 2016
By S. M. Lewis
Seriously funny by an amazing opera zinger! Literally fell out of my chair laughing. Bravo!

Singer or writer?

One person found this helpful.
 on May 18, 2014
By M. S. Harper
I know Jay can sing and very well. What a wonderful insight into a struggling singer and how the world looked to him. He writes just like he talks in his East Texas vocabulary. The stories that he tells are very funny without being vulgar. I laughed until tears came rolling down my face. Some stories were not as funny, but shows how tough a zinger needs to be.

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