Former Met tenor now drives a school bus

‘There is quality in Mr. Bologna’s voice,’ wrote Bernard Holland in the New York Times when Philip Bologna was among 11 winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council’s 1984 Auditions.

Philip was getting parts around the country at the time, but not enough to feed a family. It was reported that ‘he supports his wife and two children by working in a General Motors parts warehouse.’

These days, he drives a school bus in Rochester Minnesota.

He loves his work.
philip bologna

Read here.

It would be interesting to hear from Philip how opera let him go.


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  • I’m inclined to think that driving a school bus is more important than being an opera singer. And I say this as an opera singer who walked to school.

    There’s certainly so shame in stopping being an opera singer. The life isn’t for everyone.

    • This situation must be common, since the problem in this profession is that many are called, but few are chosen. For those who don’t quite make the grade, some have abilities in other directions to become, for example, doctors or lawyers. For many others, if a music career doesn’t work out, the only alternative, like here, is stable, but relatively low-paid employment.

  • I think the article is quite clear about what happened; lots of time on the road, not making a lot of money, needed to be closer to the family. The life isn’t for everyone, and it’s useful to make people understand that not everyone becomes a lavishly-paid superstar, and for even those who do well, the gigs can dry up.

    Also, it’s inaccurate to call him a “MET Tenor.” He won the MET’s national auditions, which has been an important step in a lot of careers. But much as I don’t like the term generally, I would think it would apply to people who have sung solo roles a number of times at the MET.

    He seems to be happy with his life; more than be said of many.

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