Friday, September 26, 2014

Six Questions with Robert Orth

Six Questions with...



Robert Orth, baritone
Voltaire / Pangloss, Candide




1. My favorite thing about being a singer is: Getting to live inside the greatest pieces of music ever written, and then getting to share them with enthusiastic audiences.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: Exercising the self-discipline involved to learn the score, and always living with the insecurity of getting future jobs.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is: Chanticleer's Christmas concerts are unforgettable.


4.  My favorite American operas are:
Candide, Nixon in China, Moby Dick, Dead Man Walking, The Grapes of Wrath, and too many more to mention.


5. People would be surprised to know that: When I was 3 years old, I memorized the Old Testament story of Jonah and the Whale, and recited it while standing on a chair behind the pulpit at a Sunday School convention.  I was adorable.
 

6. Describe your favorite moment on stage: One of my favorite moments on stage was doing Nixon in China as part of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the composer John Adams conducting.
 
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
Q:  How is it that you are and always have been the hottest baritone in the business?
A:  I would answer modestly, "moisturizer."
 

Come hear Robert sing Voltaire / Pangloss in excerpts from Candide as part of American Kaleidoscope at the Overture Center this Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets at overturecenter.org or 608.258.4141.

Five Questions with Jeni Houser

Five Questions with...


Jeni Houser, soprano
Cunegonde, Candide



1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:
Creating something new and spontaneous every time I perform.  With live orchestra and colleagues, each and every performance is fresh, even though the music and story may have been around for quite a long time.  I love the feeling of improvising a bit even as you perform previously-rehearsed material.

2.
The greatest challenge in being a singer is: Staying physically and mentally healthy in the midst of a demanding audition season or performance schedule.  A cold can completely wipe out your ability to do what you have trained for.  And this is a taxing career, so sleeping, exercising, and eating well are incredibly important, along with seeing friends and taking time for yourself.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is: Bobby McFerrin with the jazz ensemble at Lawrence University - he had everyone in the audience improvising and laughing and glad to be alive.

4. My favorite American opera is:
The Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore.


5. People would be surprised to know that:
I can sign the alphabet backwards and can name all 50 states in alphabetical order in one breath.




Come hear Jeni in excerpts from
Candide as part of American Kaleidoscope at the Overture Center this Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets at overturecenter.org or 608.258.4141.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Six Questions with Daniel Shirley

Six questions with...

Daniel Shirley, tenor
Candide in Candide

 

1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:  That my colleagues and I are part of a 400+ year-old tradition of singing.  Even though opera is and always will be relevant, the craft defies the modern world, which is so obsessed with instant gratification.  We purvey a tradition that is bigger than all of us.  And there is a weird comfort in accepting that it cannot be "mastered," only gradually understood over the course of a lifetime.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: Being away from the ones you love.  Others have given the same answer to this question, and they are absolutely right.  That, and also wearing a heavy woolen costume previously worn by someone with B.O.  That's pretty rough, too.
 

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is: Alison Krauss and Union Station at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  When the whole band sang, the tuning was so precise that the pews shook.  (Yes, you sit in pews at the Ryman, the "Mother Church of Country Music.")

4. My favorite American Opera is:  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  It's an opera, it's a musical, it's everything, from the sublime to the horrible.  Sweeney is one of my "desert island" pieces, along with the Matthew Passion and The Marriage of Figaro.  This is a completely honest answer and not an intentional plug for our production in February... but since I'm on the subject, Madison Opera is doing Sweeney in February and I am SO EXCITED I CAN BARELY STAND IT.  [Ed. note:  Daniel will sing Anthony Hope in the Madison Opera production.]


5. People would be surprised to know that: 
I did not go to college with the intent of studying music.  I wanted to go to law school and then practice entertainment law.  Could not have named you three operas until the age of 19.  Though I had been singing and playing bass for many years, I had no professional musical aspirations until my 20s.

6. Describe your favorite moment on stage. 
My answer here is less a specific moment, more an experience.  My middle school choir director was a brilliant musician who inspired fearless singing from all of us knuckleheads.  Those performances are some of my most cherished memories from my entire life, musical and otherwise.  Watching people react, cry, laugh, rise to their feet because of singing - this is when I first discovered that there is power in music, in particular the music made by the human voice.

Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).

Q:  Where are you from?
A:  Despite sojourns in Tennessee, Indiana, Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina, and no matter where on this Earth I will ever live, I will always be a Mississippian.  My lovely Yankee wife, on observing my enjoyment of the brisk Midwestern fall temperatures, has on occasion mislabeled me a (shudder) Yankee.  But this, actually, can never be so.

Come hear Daniel in excerpts from
Candide as part of American Kaleidoscope at the Overture Center this Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets at overturecenter.org or 608.258.4141.

Six Questions with Alan Dunbar

Six questions with...
 
Alan Dunbar, baritone
Maximillian in Candide



1. My favorite thing about being a singer is: Taking on new and interesting characters every time I get on stage.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: Getting enough sleep.  And trying to explain what I do to people unfamiliar with careers in the arts.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is: Frigg, Sw├ąp, and Julie Fowlis at the 2008 Lotus World Music Festival.  Such energy and skill!
 
4.  My favorite American opera is: 
That's easy: Dead Man Walking.  Well... also Sweeney Todd and A View from the Bridge (can I have three?).


5. People would be surprised to know that: I never graduated from high school (or with a GED), but I just finished my doctorate.

6. Describe your favorite moment on stage:
A specific moment would be singing Sweeney Todd's "Epiphany" and "Have a Little Priest" as a part of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Scenes.  More generally, any moment I can stand in the wings and watch my colleagues on stage - it reminds me how lucky I am to do what I do!
 
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
Q:  Dream existence?
A: 
Opening an organic pizza farm (look it up if you're unfamiliar with the concept) that has a small resident opera company to perform for people enjoying good food and drink in an idyllic rural setting.  Someday...
 

Come hear Alan in excerpts from
Candide as part of American Kaleidoscope at the Overture Center this Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets at overturecenter.org or 608.258.4141.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Six Questions with Anna Laurenzo

Six Questions with...




Anna Laurenzo, mezzo-soprano
Paquette in Candide





1. My favorite thing about being a singer is: Getting to become someone else on stage.  It's such a learning experience to try out different character mannerisms and habits that I would never do in real life.  And how could I fail to mention the crazy fun costumes!

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: The inability to see your instrument.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is: The Dvorak Violin Concerto in A with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2011.  What a powerful piece!


4.  My favorite American opera is: 
There are so many!  I am so excited about the future of opera, but to narrow it down:  Of Mice and Men by Carlisle Floyd, A Streetcar Named Desire by Andre Previn, Doctor Atomic by John Adams, and Glory Denied by Tom Ciupllo.


5. People would be surprised to know that: I was a gymnast for 10 years!
 

6. Describe your favorite moment on stage: I love the moment just before the curtain opens, no matter the show.  There is a quiet energy that starts to bubble up as I listen to the overture and do my final preparation.
 
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
Q:  What is your favorite all-American food?
A:  I'd have to say Buffalo wings or any derivative of that (buffalo chicken dip, buffalo chicken nachos, etc.)



Anna is one of Madison Opera's 2014/15 Studio Artists.  Come hear her in excerpts from Candide as part of American Kaleidoscope at the Overture Center this Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets at overturecenter.org or 608.258.4141.