This weekend marks the 20th annual Sergio Franchi Memorial Concert on the grounds of the late tenor's estate in Stonington.
In the 1960s and '70s, Italian American tenor Sergio Franchi was one of the hardest-working people in show business. With his bright lilting tenor voice, Franchi was featured in countless TV variety specials, headlined in Vegas, starred in the Broadway show "Do I Hear A Waltz?," and appeared dozens of times on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Connecticut residents remember fondly his appearances at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford.
Franchi died from brain cancer in 1990. Four years later, Sergio's widow Eva started the first Sergio Franchi memorial concert on the singer's estate in Stonington as a way to keep Franchi's memory alive.
This year's event is expected to attract thousands of Franchi fans for an afternoon of music, including a concert featuring the winners of the Sergio Franchi scholarship competition. Giant screens will broadcast highlights of Franchi's career.
Before the concert, visitors will get a rare glimpse into the singer's personal life. "You can walk into our home. Sergio was an avid antique and art collector," said Eva Franchi. "[You can] see his memorial museum, with [Sergio's] first baby picture, to the very last picture of his life. You will see his career, his life, and antique cars. Sergio was a great antique car collector."
The theme of this years's concert is the 1960s, the decade when Franchi's career took off. Everyone is encouraged to dress in their best '60s garb.
The grounds of the Franchi Estate open at 11:00 am on Saturday morning. The concert gets under way at 2:00 pm, and proceeds benefit the Sergio Franchi Music Foundation.