Mark Richter’s troubles began in 1963, when the San Antonio opera lover and arts patron Robert L.B. Tobin heard a young Mel Weingart sing at the Whittle Music Company studio in Dallas. (Richter was not yet born, but this is opera, after all.)
Weingart, a former music prodigy, attended the New England Conservatory of Music after high school. But miserable without his childhood sweetheart, Sandy, he returned home to Denver, married, and went into the hospitality business. He and Sandy moved to Dallas in 1962, where Weingart had secured work at a country club. But miserable again without an outlet for his tenor voice, he’d resumed singing lessons and landed an audition with Lawrence Kelly, founding director of the Dallas Opera. Tobin happened to be visiting his friend Kelly when Weingart sang for him.
“Robert was unbelievably complimentary,” Weingart recalls.