The 2015 Halifax Summer Opera Festival Featured Performer: bass-baritone Evan Adair

Artist Name: Evan Adair
Voice type: bass-baritone
Role you’re singing this year: Frank Maurrant in  Street Scene

How did you first get interested in opera or musical theatre? 

I’m from Raleigh, North Carolina, and I didn’t consider opera an option as far as my career goes until my freshman year of college. My family encouraged me to be in every choir I could perform with, but large-scale productions were never watched or considered. After declaring my major in music I was surrounded by people who spoke of shows and artists that I had never heard of. My accompanist, a grad student at the time, decided to have weekly opera nights to get me better acquainted with the community- I’ve been in love with it ever since. 

When did you start studying voice? Where are you studying now?

I started taking lessons during my freshman year with Dr. Jeanne Fischer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the fall I will begin a Masters Program at Appalachian State University.

What came first for you, theatre or music?

Music definitely came first, primarily via the radio and church. As my repertoire of choral pieces expanded so did my circle of contacts, many of who had an impact on my decision to study voice in college. 

What are your dream roles?

I would really like to play Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, which was the first opera that I ever watched. I was impressed with his arias and how they resemble the patter sections in many Gilbert and Sullivan pieces. It’s an interesting and hilarious role that I would love to do later in life. As for the near future- Any bass-baritone role from Don Giovanni, my favorite opera, would be fantastic.

What roles belonging to another voice type would you love to sing?

The title role in Carmen is one of the most consistently enticing characters in the repertoire that I’ve seen; portraying her character would be an honor. Two pieces that I would like to study are Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turnadot and Co Chvila from Janáček’s Jenůfa. The first piece is simply a powerful aria that is indicative of brilliance in the voice and technique, and the second is one of my favorite arias to listen to because it’s rife with emotional struggle. 

Who are your favourite performing artists?

One of my favorite vocalists, and coincidentally the reason that I love German Lieder, is Phillipe Sly. His voice is dark and rich, and his overall demeanor communicative at every moment. I also enjoy the work of Cecilia Bartoli.

My other favorite performing artists come from outside the realm of vocalists. Martha Argerich is a Argentine pianist who exemplifies natural talent, dedication to her art, and sheer expertise. I also enjoy the Martha Graham Dance Company- particularly Tadej Brdnik and Lloyd Knight, who bring precision and grace to the masculine form.

How can we keep opera a relevant art form for young people? What is the future of opera?

There have been many times where I’ve tried to introduce or perform a piece to someone outside of music- they’ll know the piece, but not it’s origin. Over time TV shows and movies have incorporated specific arias and other “classical” excerpts to communicate things that simply cannot be left to stage and screen, but the problem is that the pieces themselves are remembered while the greater work from which they spawn is left to antiquity. It’s our job to make people realize that opera is more than just background music setting a tone for another scene- it was and continues to be a complex and emotive art form that can be enjoyed as much as any movie or show today. As a matter of fact the Metropolitan Opera House has started streaming live operas to local movie theaters to promote this idea. We have to bring opera to others and promote it as the brilliant spectacle of current talent that it is. 

What are you most looking forward to about this summer?

Meeting musicians from various walks of life- working with and learning from others who enjoy this art as much as I do. Our passion for music has led us to perform with each other, and I truly look forward to enhancing my own passion alongside these excellent people.

Thanks, Evan! Are you a participant or staff member this year? Why not submit your own answers to our questionnaire

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