Songs of Sinatra in the Twain Center |

Songs of Sinatra in the Twain Center

Linda J. Bottjer

It was an age defined by bouffant hairdos, chiffon evening gowns and men who played it cool.

Among the coolest cats was the Rat Pack-a coterie of stellar entertainers among them Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Leading the Pack was the brightest star of them all, Frank Sinatra.

Come this Friday night, May 27, the luster of the 1950s and early ’60s is sprinkled about at the Mark Twain Cultural Center as the Songs of Sinatra is presented through the vocal talents of Frank Carabetta pianist Dave Lingenso.

The aroma of a breezy, swinging atmosphere will fill air with an Italian-style potluck supper and the film “On the Town.” The audience is invited to come in costume. Pearls and stilettos for the ladies and a little dab of Brylcreem will do the gentlemen just fine, doo-be-doo-be-doo.

Singing Sinatra is not the same as mimicking the beloved performer.

“I am not an impersonator,” Carabetta said. “I sing the intimate and mellow music as he sang in his concerts when he was in his 50s as I am now.”

The show will open with classic ballads like “Fly Me to the Moon” and include show tunes such “Ole Man River.” A selection from saloon songs, known for their lamenting lovelorn lyrics, will also be sung.

Sinatra was a prolific entertainer whose career spanned decades. Multiple generations would gather to hear his tenor voice on the radio or watch him sing on television.

Carabetta’s Italian-American family in Brooklyn was no exception.

“We listened to all the great Italian singers like Tony Bennett and Bobby Darin,” he said. “I think I first heard Sinatra sing ‘My Funny Valentine’ while in my mother’s womb.”

However, when forced to watch his parents’ favorite sing on ’60s variety shows, such as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Carabetta admitted it became a torture. The sirens of rock had entered his soul.

As a guitarist his teen years were spent playing with garage bands.

By age 18 he had joined friends in traveling to Lake Tahoe. At first the snow-filled terrain did not meet his East Coast image of California. He was expecting volleyball and blondes.

The lure of the Sierra Nevada eventually won him over as a full-time woodworker has now lived here for almost 40 years.

In the early 1990s, after learning 10 songs for his role as Sinatra in a musical theater production at the Cal Neva Resort, he finally fell under the charm of “Old Blue Eyes” and his ability to communicate with an audience. The words and music of early and mid-20th century composers and lyricists such as Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter were stories set to music.

“Put a book in front of me, and I am lost,” he said. “Give it to me with a little music and I’ll grasp it immediately.”

Since 1996 he and Dave Lingenso have teamed up as a musical act. Without tuxedos they can be heard singing folk music in area. Even then it is not unusual for someone to request a Sinatra-style ballad.

Carabetta is happy to comply.

“For me it is meaningful that it be heard,” he said. “This music belongs in people’s ears.”

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