Wednesday, April 3, 2013

ARTISTS PROFILE: Tenor Heath Huberg

ARTISTS CORNER:  Tenor Heath Huberg made his Sarasota Opera debut while a Studio Artist singing the roles of Peppe in Pagliacci and Delil in Giovanna d'Arco in 2010.  Mr. Huberg has since returned each season to perform such roles as Giles Corey in The Crucible, Cassio in Verdi's Otello and this season as a principal artist making his role debut as Nadir in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.  We asked Mr. Huberg to answer a few questions about his life as a singer, what he learned as a Studio Artist with Sarasota Opera, and what he is looking forward to this season with Sarasota Opera.

Tenor Heath Huberg

Q.  What drew you to become a singer?

A.  I was involved with local community theater, high school musicals, other theater projects, choir, and band. I had a lot of success growing up as a musician and thought that music may be the way to go. However, college is where opera took hold of my career path. 

Q.  Did you have other aspirations besides music?

A.  A few.  I was relatively gifted in science and math and thought that may a possible career path.  Also, growing up in a farming community presented other opportunities along with family businesses. I also contemplated going into the Navy out of high school, but decided that I wanted to go to university instead.

Heath Huberg as Nadir in
Sarasota Opera's The Pearl Fishers. 
Photo by Rod Millington
Q.  What are you looking forward to in performing this role?

A.  I think the opera The Pearl Fishers is radically under appreciated.  It has stunning moments of the most beautiful music and very thrilling moments that brings an audience to the edge of their seat.  Besides being able to perform this piece with exceptionally talented colleagues, I have the opportunity to help bring the drama to life.  To explore and divulge the intricacies of a character and a culture that is far detached from our normal, and to get to do this on a stage that has many happy memories for me, is what I am looking forward to most.

Q.  Is there something unique about the process you go through when preparing a role?

A.  I don't think so.  I begin by translating every part.  Then I speak the text to find the correct inflection, emphasis...etc. Only after that do I put the words to the rhythm and notes.  I do like listening to several different singers approach to the role.  I believe that by cultivating other ideas and approaches, I am able to inspire and refine my performance.

Q.  What other preparation/research work do you include?

A.  I try to read as much as possible, whether it be historical documents, books, or online resources.  Also, in some cases, I find it useful to watch movies with historical contexts or period set pieces.  

Tenor Heath Huberg as Cassio in Sarasota Opera's production of Verdi's Otello.  Photo by Rod Millington
Q.  How does preparation process differ between a new role and one that you have already performed?

A.  Having already performed a role makes life so much easier.  It is a case of intense reviewing of the text, story, characterization, historical context, music and preparing mentally as well as vocally.  While it is ultimately easier to prepare an all ready performed role, it does still require a lot of preparation and time.

Q.  Before you were a principal artist you were a studio artist. Did this help you prepare you for you role as a principal artist?

A.  Most definitely.  The Sarasota Opera Studio Artist program gave me valuable performance experience, both in concert/outreach and on stage.  It has also helped me refine my preparation process and general performance practices.

Q.  What is the most bizarre experience you have had in a rehearsal and/or performance?

A.  I was in Santa Fe Opera's Young Artist program and had the opportunity to be in a world premiere opera: The Letter.  Santa Fe Opera is famous for not only some wonderful productions and singing, but for its open air theater with beautiful vistas and brilliant enchanting sunsets. On two seperate occasions mother nature had her way during a couple of performances.  The first was a dense layer of fog that rolled in covering the stage, pit, and audience as the ghost of the protagonist's lover appeared to confront his killer: the protagonist.  The second, mother nature kicked up a wicked thunderstorm with high winds that threatened to bring down the set around us (stage hands held the set in place as the performance neared its end). Also, the wind sent dishes and other props flying.  It even made the roll-out stage cover churn like waves on the gulf.  Needless to say, the performance ended shortly there after and the bows were cut short.   

Tenor Heath Huberg as Giles Corey in
the 2011 production of The Crucible.
Photo by Rod Millington
Q.  Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

A.  Nope, just resting up and reviewing music.

Q.  How do you relax between performances? Any hobbies?

A.  While in Sarasota I like to spend time on the beach and go to Baltimore Orioles games.  I like to golf, read, and spend time with family and friends.

Q.  How do you stay connected with family and friends while you are on the road?

A.  I skype and call my family and friends in order to stay in touch with them. Also, I maintain a facebook account to share my experiences with people while on the road.

Q.  We have patrons that travel from all over the United States to see productions at Sarasota Opera.  Do you have strong connections with any particular towns our patons might have in common?

A.  I am originally from Milford, Des Moines.  I did my undergraduate work at Simpson College in Indianola, IA and my graduate work at New England Conservatory in Boston, MA.  I also spent a good amount of time in Salt Lake City, UT as a resident artist with Utah Opera.

Look for tenor Heath Huberg in upcoming productions at Sarasota Opera.  Subscriptions for the 2013-2014 Sarasota Opera Season are now available online at or by calling the box office at (941) 328-1300. 

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