November coincidentally brings me to performances one week after the other of operas performed in concert. I really enjoy singing these kinds of performances. While the grandeur of opera with all the possibilities and effects of a set, costumes, lights and dramatic staging are part of what makes the art-form so special and powerful, it is quite refreshing now and then to strip it down to the bare bones and let the music alone do the talking. For those who don’t know what a “concert performance” of an opera is, it is simply the cast of singers standing on stage, often times using the score to reference while singing, and performing the opera with all the dramatic interpretation and intention communicated solely through their singing and minimal, stationary physicality.
First I will sing Colline in La Bohème with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra on November 15, conducted by Music Director Gregory Vajda. It is always a pleasure to work with Gregory, a true Mensch, with whom I sang the Baritone solo in the Brahms Requiem with Symphony Silicon Valley and, before that, La Bohème at Atlanta Opera. Also joining in the reunion from the Atlanta Bohème is baritone Andrew Garland as Schaunard. We form quite the dynamic red-headed duo as the Frick and Frack of the opera. Also in the cast will be Anton Belov, who sang the Count to my Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera New Jersey years ago. It’s a small opera world, ladies and gentlemen. That said, I’m looking forward to working with the other cast members who are new to me as well. It’s always fun when the first music rehearsal feels like the first day of school. Old faces and new.
The following week, I make my first outing with Oroveso in Bellini’s Norma with Baltimore Concert Opera on November 22 and 24. This is the kind of repertoire my voice was made to sing, so I am particularly excited to have my first taste of this role. Such incredibly beautiful and powerful music to be sung in this opera. Now that I think about it, I believe this is probably the first opera gig I’ve been involved with in a long time where I don’t already know anyone in the cast. How exciting!!!
Book, Music and Lyrics by GERALD FRIED
Directed by CHARLES MARYAN
Gerald Fried is an Oscar and Grammy-nominated, multi-nominated Emmy-winning film and TV composer, playwright, librettist, woodwind performer (jazz and concert), and actor. He co-wrote the Emmy-winning album Roots with Quincy Jones.
This inventive staging of the Emmy winning composer’s jazz-flavored oratorio features Kimberly Sogioka as the narrator, Mauricio Trejo as Les the Least, Scott Bearden as Satan, Matthew Curran as the Lord, and Elizabeth de Trejo. Fried conducts the 8-piece jazz orchestra which includes trumpet player Lew Soloff of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Charles Maryan directs.
Structured like Bach’s perennial favorite “St. Matthew Passion,” “Les the Least” is a comic, musically inventive alternative to the traditional holiday oratorio repertoire.
Very pleased to be making my debut with Hawaii Opera Theater, singing Angelotti in Tosca. Performances April 26, 28, and 30 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
Let’s face it. All gigs are not created equal. Sometimes you play big roles you can sink your teeth into. Other times, smaller and less fulfilling ones. Sometimes you’re in awesome places and sometimes you’re spending weeks in somewhere you’d prefer not to stay another day. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is one of those magical situations where I’m playing a smaller role that leaves me relatively stress-free and often times rehearsal free, while I happen to be in one of the great vacation destinations of the world. Honolulu! Life is good.
In all seriousness, though, it would be a lot less enjoyable if the company and cast weren’t such a pleasure to work with. From top to bottom, everyone here at HOT has made us artists feel incredible welcome and right at home. The cast is fantastic. Such a pleasure to work with such fine talent and beautiful people.
I’m very happy to be returning to Opera Memphis to sing the role of Collatinus in
The Rape of Lucretia
by Benjamin Britten
Conductor – Steven Osgood
Director – Ned Canty
Performances April 4 and 6 at Playhouse on the Square
It is a wonderful cast and practically a reunion of American Opera Projects’ Composer and the Voice people. In addition to our conductor and director having been a part of it, four of the eight cast members were formerly singers in that program. It is fantastic to work with such talented artists, old friends and new.
The Jacksonville Symphony has been good to me. Last season I sang Colline as well as the bass solo in Beethoven’s great 9th Symphony. Not only is it a fantastic orchestra, but they treat their artists so well. Naturally, I’m always looking forward to returning there for a pleasant stay and top-notch musical experience. When it also involves working on one of the masterpieces of one of the greatest men ever to leave his mark on the world of opera, I’d say it appropriate to consider myself….. WINNING!
I will be singing Lodovico in Otello by Giuseppe Verdi. I’m particularly honored to take part in this production as it will be the last opera Maestro Fabio Mechetti conducts before stepping down from his many years as Artistic Director of the Orchestra. Apparently it is his favorite opera and he has chosen it as his last production there.
I am so looking forward to working with a fantastic cast of singers in this show.
Otello by Giuseppe Verdi
OTELLO: Eduardo Villa
DESDEMONA: Barbara Shirvis
IAGO: Stephen Powell
CASSIO: Dinyar Vania
EMILIA: Elise Quagliata
RODERIGO: Matt Morgan
LODOVICO: Matthew Curran
MONTANO: Gustav Andreassen
A HERALD: Hugh Patterson
Yes indeed. It seems to be the year of Colline for the red-headed wonder. For my third one this year, I’m very pleased to be making my début with Opera Memphis on Nov. 9 and 11. It has been a fantastic experience joining this company in what seems a time of major rejuvenation under the leadership of the talented and contagiously charismatic Ned Canty. I’ve known and worked with Ned over the years with American Opera Projects and am so happy to see him thriving at the helm of his own ship, with everyone on board here loving what he’s bringing to the table.
It’s a fantastic cast! Beautiful voices and very talented and fun colleagues. It’s so nice when a familial vibe develops so quickly. Most in this bunch are new to me, but I do know a few. In addition to Ned, who is directing this show, I know conductor Ari Pelto from back in my grad school days at Indiana University. He was assisting Maestro Pallo on my first production there, Arabella, when I sang Count Waldner. That was such an incredible experience. Ari is a great guy and I’m so happy to reconnect with him. Our Musetta is Zulimar López-Hernández, who also sang the role in my last Bohème at Opera Grand Rapids. With her fiery Puerto Rican spirit and an effortless, shimmering soprano to match, she’s perfect for the role. So it goes in the opera world. It’s a strange little extended family, we singers, always crossing paths with each-other here or there. After quickly bonding with the other cast members here that I did not know before, I will look forward to working with them again in some other corner of the world and on who knows what repertoire.
After this production is done, I’m home for a quick few days before heading back to Jacksonville, FL to sing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony again with the Jacksonville Symphony. It’s the same quartet of soloists, but this time we’re performing in Daytona Beach. I love working with that orchestra and Beethoven’s 9th is….well…Beethoven’s 9th. Can’t wait!
Is this what it feels like to grow up as a singer? I’m dipping my toe in to see how it feels to swim with Wagner. (No. Not the river Rhein. Not yet, at least.)
It is my great pleasure to announce that I will be singing the role of Daland in Richard Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), with Opera Roanoke. I’m excited to take on this great role that I associate with the great bass Giorgio Tozzi, who I had the honor of studying with at Indiana University. It is also very fortunate that I have the opportunity to do a meaty role like this for the first time with a top-notch conductor. The Opera will be conducted Maestro Stephen White, who I worked with last summer at the Phoenicia Festival.
Who knows? Maybe this will mark the commencement into a whole new arena of repertoire! Ich freue mich!
Awww Yeeeeah! Just when the career needed a little spice, the perfect role comes along.
This weekend I will be among the brave and sinfully talented souls putting on the first act of the work in progress, The Enchanted Organ.
I play the aging German porn star, Helmut Langeschlange. I know. Total type casting! Think Dirk Diggler in Boogie nights at the end of his run when the new young stud of the day has come along to replace him. Das geht nicht!!!!
“The Enchanted Organ” is a burlesque opera that celebrates sexuality and satirizes the porn industry, while parodying four hundred years of the operatic tradition. Composer/librettist team Gordon Beeferman and Charlotte Jackson, with renowned director Beth Greenberg, bring their trademark wit and polymorphous perversity to this journey through “the Magical Kingdom of Porn” –an underground kingdom where past and present, straight and queer, and living and dead converge. Drawing on influences as diverse as classic 70s porno soundtracks, baroque oratorio, Ancient Greek hymns, and the Nutcracker ballet, this work-in-progress is as close as you’ll get (or want to get!) to “aural sex.”
Come one, come all! (Do I dare? I can’t resist! Okay…) Everybody’s cumming!!!
I’m at it again with the coat. This time in Michigan, I believe another new state for me. Actually, I have not only never sung there, but I think I have not yet even been to Michigan. So this is a win for me professionally and personally! A win for Michigan, no doubt. Boys and girls, the adventures and conquests of a wandering minstrel are boundless.
May 4th and 5th, I will be singing the role of Colline in the Opera Grand Rapids production of La Bohème. I love doing this show and look forward to developing a relationship with this company as well as working with another cast of talented singers and crafty Bohemians.
After I’m done in Michigan, I fly home one day and fly out again the next, heading back to Jacksonville, FL, where I also sang Bohème earlier this year. It was all around a fantastic experience working with the Jacksonville Symphony. They are a wonderful sounding ensemble and conductor Fabio Mechetti is simply fantastic to work with. So it is a great pleasure to return to work with them again.
This time, I will be singing my first Beethoven’s 9th, May 10-12, which I am very excited about. As bass soloist, I have the distinct honor of introducing the famous tune of the Ode to Joy. Very cool.
It’s been a whirlwind of travel and singing for this red-headed bass as of late. After a very successful run of Figaro in El Paso last weekend, I was home for a day before saddling my horse for the trek down to Baltimore to sing my first Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor March 23 and 25 with Baltimore Concert Opera.
My good friend Brendan Cooke and his posse have done amazing things with the Baltimore Concert Opera since they started it 2009. Actually, our second and final performance, Sunday, March 25, will be their three-year anniversary. The performances are held in the breathtaking and historic Garrett-Jacobs Mansion.
Last night was the opening and it was nothing short of a major triumph. Sold out house and a top shelf cast, we brought it to the people and they got what they came to see! (Why do I like saying things like that so much?) It is a beautiful thing what is going on here, because not only are emerging talents being discovered and cultivated, but so is an audience. I’d say this post about last night on Facebook covers it pretty well, just how great a job this company is doing as presenters of good music and ambassadors for this great art form.
Brendan is not only a great guy, but truly a great leader and visionary for our art. He has done amazing things on a shoe-string budget over the years and success has come with both hard work and refreshingly outside-the-box thinking. One of their big hits is the open auditions held every year, where audience members hear the new talent just as the company does as it considers singers for future casting. It’s a winning situation for everyone. The company gets to see people in actual performance and how an audience reacts to them. The audience gets that coveted “behind the scenes” glimpse into the process of how singers are heard and a little bit of what it’s like from both sides of the fence. For the singers, it is a very welcome alternative to the typical and traditionally stuffy, uninspiring audition situation. I know that I, for one, hate auditioning and rarely show my best in those situations. How can you? Half the time, they’re not even looking at you as they are writing or doing god knows what else. I remember one guy ripping up papers while I was singing. The stories go on and on. But in this case, it’s a real performance, so in a sense, that audition pressure is off and it’s just fun. Taking it a step further, Brendan makes great videos for promotional efforts on the web.
In what was I think their first auditions, I sang Als Büblein klein, from Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor. In an effort to appeal to the beer and football types out there, the video of my audition was turned into this great promo titled, “Overcoming Objections.”
The company is at a critical point in its development from a dream out of someone’s home office, to a sustainable organization. They have just received an amazingly generous donation in the form of a $20,000 matching gift. So all funds raised will be matched up to the first $20,00. Think of it as a Groupon deal for $40,000 for the price of $20,000. Now we just need people to show the love and help make sure that the “deal is on!”
Show the love, people!
By the way, did I mention the second performance is also sold out? This company needs the resources to do bigger and better things, bringing it to more people.