Asked what his dad, James Noble, a highly respected band director at Peru High School for 25 years before his death, would say, Tim smiles. “I don’t know. He would probably be incredulous. I think he’d really be proud. I wish he were around.”
His dad died in 1972 at the age of 50 from a heart attack. He was around long enough to see Noble do a Broadway show, but not long enough to see him do opera. In fact, Noble didn’t see his first opera until he was 32, after he arrived at IU to study that form of music.
Until then, Noble had achieved great success performing pop. Among other things, he had been part of the famous Fred Waring choral group, the Pennsylvanians, and toured with the popular Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra.
After his studies at IU, Noble became one of the greatest baritones in the world. He launched an international career of more than 40 years that took him to the most famous opera stages, among them New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam, the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.
He has performed at revered venues, such as the London Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.
In February 2014, he will have been performing for 50 years.
But that “body of work” is behind him now — and when I ask him to compare the joy of teaching vs. the joy of performing, he bubbles forth:
“Teaching is the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. You can take all of the performances … My dad would be proud to hear that. I learned so much from him.”
There’s a slight pause, then: “The immediacy of singing is wonderful. As I got older, there wasn’t any pay off once the performance was over, except for the money.”