Larry Rivellese had a few words for host Steve Harvey last week before The Villages’ opera singer took the NBC-TV network stage in L.A.
“I told him, ‘Steve, I’m going to hit it out of the park,” said Rivellese, who was contacted by NBC after a story about him appeared in Villages-News.com. It told of Rivellese’s passion for opera and softball.
Rivellese spent most of Easter Week in L.A. filming a segment for Harvey’s upcoming series, “Forever Young.” It is produced by Ellen DeGeneres. The series — which features the talents and stories of unique older Americans — will debut on June 21 for NBC.
Rivellese, 71, stunned the audience and surprised Harvey, after The Villager belted out “Nessun Dorma.”
“Larry,” Harvey told him after the song, “you really did hit it out of the park.”
It’s nothing new for Rivellese, who grew up in New York City studying opera and rooting for the Yankees. Eventually he became a plumber, but never lost his love for opera or baseball. He came to The Villages about 13 years ago and performs for local groups.
Last year, NBC saw a video on Villages-News.com of Rivellese singing opera and, also, a picture of him in his softball uniform.
After months of waiting, NBC flew Rivellese and fellow Villager Betty Camporeale out to the West Coast to film the show. Also, NBC sent a camera crew here to film Rivellese in his Village of Belvedere home. They also filmed him singing, playing softball, driving his golf cart and watering his lawn.
“It was fun when they came here,” he said. But the real fun was in L.A.
“It was amazing; they treated me like a star and we had a great time,” Rivellese said. NBC provided him with a wardrobe, make-up, a music director and just about anything else he needed. The staff did professional photo shoots and screen tests.
“They even gave me a haircut,” Rivellese said. “I told the barber: ‘I hope you’re not the guy who cuts Steve Harvey’s hair. I don’t want to be bald.’”
Harvey was unaware of Rivellese’s singing talents and opera training. The show’s producer never told Harvey of Rivellese’s powerful voice.
“Steve thought I was going to sing a Sinatra song,” The Villager said. After hearing “Nessun Dorma,” Harvey and the shows’ producers and stage crew were impressed.
“They all came up to me and told me how good it was,” Rivellese said. Steve Harvey told him, “now, millions of people are going to hear your voice and know who you are.”
For Rivellese, it was a once in a lifetime experience.
“I’ll never forget it; it’s like a dream come true,” he said. “It may lead me to other opportunities in music.
I just want to thank the Villages-News.com for all you did for me. It wouldn’t have happened without you.”