Aldo Maurissio
The Tenor
Born: Buicita, Italy, 1955

Aldo Maurissio was born in1955 in Buicita, a small town in southern Italy. His parents, Amelia and Giseppi, were produce merchants. Beside Aldo, they had four other children, Maria, Amelia, Luigi and Francesco. From early childhood, Aldo had a perfect tenor voice. He was judged to be the finest in his region. He sang in the church choir, at weddings, for parties, and just about anywhere he could find to share his wonderful gift. He won a national singing contest to sing for the Pope and traveled to the Vatican at age 14. It was a great honor, and was greeted to a hero’s welcome when he returned to his town. There was a parade and a proclamation that every year there would be a day designated as Aldo Maurissio Day. His goal was to sing at the La Scala Opera House in Milan. He studied opera in Rome and perfected his gift. He had some success after he graduated, but found living in a big city too stressful. He missed his family and friends, and longed for a different life.

Aldo’s cousin Sergio, had immigrated to the United States to study architecture. He moved to Chicago and worked for a large architectural firm. He wrote Aldo long letters about his life in Chicago, writing detailed descriptions about what he saw and did. He went to hear jazz and blues, saw plays, and attended the Lyric Opera on a regular basis. The one thing he saw, that surpassed everything else, was the G.E. Circus. He wrote Aldo, telling him about the amazingly beautiful and voluptuous woman who looked as though they had just stepped out of a Renaissance painting, the enormous elephants that danced with the grace of Fred and Ginger, high wire daredevils, and the music that seemed to come from heaven. There was a band led by the infamous musical genius, Guy Withers. Sergio had never seen such a wonderful and magical gathering of talent from all over the world. He told Aldo that he must come to see this for himself.

Aldo was so intrigued by his stories that he booked a flight for Chicago. After he landed, he contacted the main office of the circus to get their route schedule. They were playing in a small town in Kansas. He and Sergio went to see them. Aldo cried when Guy Wither’s picked up his accordion and began to play. He saw all the faces around him fill with expressions of joy, wonder and even sadness. He loved the fanfare, the lights, the warmth and life that filled the Big Top on that day. He knew that his wonderful gift could be part of this amazing experience. After the Grand Parade, Aldo approached the band stand where Guy Withers was folding his sheet music and placing his Mother of Pearl accordion back in its case. He convinced Guy to let him audition, singing acappella. Aldo sang the same song he sang for the Pope. Guy had never heard such a voice, which brought him to tears. Aldo has been with the G.E. Circus for ten years. He is considered to be the Carusso of the Big Top. The sound of his voice makes woman of all ages faint and swoon. He is grateful that he is able share his gift with so many people.

Martin Charles
Born: Oklahoma, 1950

Since early childhood, Martin had a very serious stuttering problem. His parents and teachers tried everything they knew to help him overcome his socially debilitating affliction. Other children constantly teased him. Girls would laugh and imitate him. He had no friends, was very lonely and could never express his thoughts and feelings. He was bright and excelled in his studies, but his inability to communicate caused him to be very shy.

His third grade teacher, Miss Shepard, was in charge of the school Christmas pageant. She asked Martin if he would try out for a part, perhaps the narrator. At first, Martin said no and began to cry, but Miss Shepard convinced him that he needed to try and offered to coach him every day after school. After a few sessions, Miss Shepard noticed that when Martin was performing in front of someone, his stuttering almost completely disappeared.

The big day arrived, and Martin’s family sat nervously in the audience. They knew how devastated Martin would be if he started to stutter in front of so many people. The lights dimmed, the curtains opened and there stood Martin, alone in the center of the stage, lit by a single spotlight. His tiny costume sparkled and he began, “Laaaaaaadddddiees aaand Geeenntalalmenn” and then something magical happened. The words began to flow from his lips, like a Shakespearian actor. His voice grew stronger and stronger. The words became beautiful notes, and he made it through the entire performance without one mistake. Miss Shepard stood in the wings watching her young student with tears streaming down her cheeks. Martin’s parents were sobbing. The other students couldn’t believe their ears. From that day on, they never made fun of Martin again.

Martin has never lost the feeling of that first day in the spotlight. It is strange but true – to this very day, Martin still stutters except when he is standing in the center ring under the big top. Then, his words flow with flawless ease.