It’s Rainin’ Men … the Men of ‘Silent Night’

Liam Bonner (baritone, Lieutenant Audebert)

0860

Where are you based when not performing?

New York City.

What advice do you offer aspiring artists?

Be yourself.

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring three things, what would they be?

My personality wouldn’t allow me to survive on a deserted island; Castaway was very traumatizing for me

What is your dream role?

Germont in La traviata

 Are there any favorite backstage stories/moments you would like to share from this or previous performances that our audience might enjoy?

Ewa Podles and I were doing Ballo together in Houston and since we were both finished at the end of the first act, we hung out in the dressing room on opening night drinking the bottle of champagne given to us as a gift until it was time for the curtain call. She told me her life story.

What are your top three favorite operas?

Marriage of Figaro, Don Carlo, Billy Budd

Have you ever had hot dish, and if so what is your favorite variety?

I have had “hot dish”, but in Pittsburgh (where I’m originally from) it’s just called a casserole. My favorite is zucchini casserole.

Where do you feel you delivered your strongest performance?

As the title role in Halmet with Washington National Opera.

What has been the most challenging piece you have worked on and why?

Stravinsky’s ‘Les Noces’  – besides the fact that it’s musically challenging, it’s also in a rural Russian dialect that even my Russian speaking colleague had trouble learning.

How has music changed your life?

I never planned to make a career in music, but I can honestly say that I can’t imagine it any other way. I am aware of how blessed and fortunate I am to be making a living in this profession.

Gabriel Preisser (baritone, Lieutenant Gordon)

2674

Where are you based when not performing?

Orlando

What advice do you offer aspiring artists?

Stay out of debt and follow your passion.

Where do you feel you delivered your strongest performance?

Figaro in Barber of Seville with Owensboro Symphony.

What tends to be the most challenging element of performing?

Making new and fresh every time.

Are you really as scandalous as they say you are?

I love to have a fun time, let’s leave it at that.

Are there any favorite backstage stories/moments you would like to share?

Tenors… Agh…! “Where is the Count for his entrance?” Holds the show… Oh turns out he is taking a shower backstage. He thought he had enough time between scenes and was getting sweaty the poor thing… Tenors!

What are your top three favorite operas?

Falstaff, Giovanni, Il Pagliacci

What is your dream role?

Rigoletto

How long have you been working with opera?

About 8 years

What has been the most challenging piece you have worked on and why?

Postcard from Morroco, complex music and subject matter.

Michael Nyby (baritone, William Dale)

0404Nyby

Where are you based when not performing?

My wife and I just moved last month to Toronto from Vancouver.

What advice do you offer aspiring artists?

The most helpful thing I ever learned was how to accept disappointment from defeat or rejection.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

Mozart, Verdi, and Indiana Jones

Where do you feel you delivered your strongest performance?

In the shower every morning, but unfortunately I have not been able to attain to the same level of genius on the stage.

What tends to be the most challenging element of performing?

For me it’s usually the first entrance in a performance, but once I get past the initial nerves, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

What is your favorite Twin Cities destination?

I have a running route through Boom Island Park, around Nicollet Island and over the Stone Arch Bridge. It’s gorgeous in the autumn.

If you had to choose a different field of work, what would you choose?

I would probably be working as a mechanic in a neighbourhood mountain bike store in Vancouver.

Are you really as scandalous as they say you are?

Yes. Absolutely. No question about it.

Are there any favorite backstage stories/moments you would like to share from this or previous performances that our audience might enjoy?

Yes, but decency prevents me from sharing in a public forum!

Have you ever had hot dish, and if so what is your favorite variety?

Yes, because I have attended Minnesota Opera’s famous Church Basement Luncheon. I’m not sure what was in it, but I remember it had French’s fried onions as the top layer.*

(*editorial note, Green Bean Casserole)

Ben Wager (bass, The French General)

3040

Where are you based when not performing? 

Philadelphia, PA

What advice do you offer aspiring artists?

Soak up all criticism and advice you can.  When critiqued, always respond with “Yes, and…” rather than a “yes, BUT!”

Who are your biggest inspirations?

War vets.  It keeps things in perspective.

Where do you feel you delivered your strongest performance?

At the Academy of Vocal Arts as Enrico in Anna Bolena.

What tends to be the most challenging element of performing?

Keeping that little chaos-loving demon living in your brain on a leash!  It may sound strange but every performer I know has some version of that voice in his/her head who just likes to cause trouble when you’re trying your hardest to focus and take things seriously.

What do you think makes Minnesota Opera unique from other companies?

Positive attitude and an uncanny sense purpose and cohesion throughout the entire company.

What has been the most challenging piece you have worked on and why?

Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia.  It’s just musically very tricky: unusual harmonic shifts and rhythms.

How has music changed your life?

It has brought into contact with so many different types of people in countless places that I otherwise may not have.  It’s made me say to myself on numerous occasions:  I can’t believe I get to do this for a living.

If you had to choose a different field of work, what would you choose?

I was a Criminal Justice major in college, I planned to go into the U.S. Marshal’s service.  But if I had to choose one, I’d be a studio bassist.

Are there any favorite backstage stories/moments you would like to share from this or previous performances that our audience might enjoy?

I’m probably one of the last people to sing with Salvatore Licitra who was a good enough colleague to escort me down off a horrendously steep rake during a performance of Andrea Chenier because the costume department accidentally switched my boots so the ones I had on didn’t grip the copper plated surface AT ALL.

John Robert Lindsey (tenor, Jonathan Dale)

0779

How has music changed your life?

The biggest thing music has done for me is improved my ability to communicate. I’m very quiet by nature, so being on stage and laying all of your emotions out on the table is an important learning experience. Having the music be the motor behind that emotion is very nice.

What are your top three favorite operas?

Carmen, Otello, and Turandot, for now. That will change by next week. I can’t ever narrow it down.

What has been the most challenging piece you have worked on and why?

I had to do the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia when I was 20 and was absolutely terrified. I was very new to opera, and singing Britten as one of my first big roles was very hard, musically speaking.

Are there any favorite backstage stories/moments you would like to share from this or previous productions that our audience might enjoy?

There was a production in college I did of Marriage of Figaro. One of my best friends was playing the Count, and was supposed to open a window during the second act finale to look for Cherubino. The window, of course, just opened to the backstage area– so three or four of us guys stripped down to our boxers and posed like a model ad in the window, but just out of sight of the audience. He opened it and saw us and started cracking up. We didn’t think he would be able to get it together before his next line, but he did. He told us it was only because he bit his cheek on purpose to stop laughing. Professionalism in action all around, back then.

What is your dream role?

My dream role has always been Don Jose, but since I was lucky enough to do it already, I’m waiting to do Otello now. That one would be fun.

If you had to choose a different field of work, what would you choose?

I would be a personal trainer, I think. Or maybe go back to manual labor stuff like working roofs and lumber mills. I always really enjoyed that.

Have you ever had hot dish, and if so what is your favorite variety?

I grew up on all kinds of hot dish stuff– tuna casserole, frito pie, green bean casserole, shepherd’s pie, the list goes on and on. I think green bean casserole has always been my favorite.

What tends to be the most challenging element of performing?

Staying engaged in a character between scenes can be tricky, particularly if you’re playing one of the many crazy people in opera. If you completely let down it will translate into the next scene, but if you try to get too into it backstage people start wondering if you’ll be committed to an asylum during the run of the show.

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring three things, what would they be?

If we’re talking material things (because I certainly would want my girlfriend and her dog to be there!), I guess I would say as much good cheese as possible, a set of weights to work off the cheese, and a good bottle of scotch for nights next to the campfire as we wait to be rescued.

Do you have Twitter, a Facebook page or website fans can follow?

www.johnrobertlindsey.com

This entry was posted in Throwback Thursday. Bookmark the permalink.