Monday, December 9, 2013

ARTIST PROFILE: Bass Harold Wilson

Bass Harold Wilson
ARTISTS CORNER:  Bass Harold Wilson will make his Sarasota Opera debut this winter as Daland in this season's production of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman.   Mr. Wilson has already established a respectable career worldwide performing regularly with companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and in concert at Carnegie Hall.  We caught up with Mr. Wilson as he prepares for the upcoming season.  We asked him to answer a few questions about his life as a singer and what he is looking forward to the upcoming winter season with Sarasota Opera.

Q. Where are you originally from and where do you make your home now?
A. I grew up in Charlotte, NC. I currently live in Mount Holly, NJ which is about 40 minutes from Philadelphia, PA.

Q. What drew you to become a singer? Was there a specific “Aha!” moment of clarity 
A. I always enjoyed singing, but it wasn’t until I scored the highest marks during an All-State Choir audition that I realized I had some talent.

Q. Did you have other career aspirations in the works before you decided on singing?
A. I also studied Computer Science at University, but decided to put all my effort into Music during my Junior year.

Q. What can you tell us about this character? Why should the audience care about him?
A. Daland is a blue-collar worker, the Captain of a ship. As his daughter grows up, he really hopes to find someone to take care of her. He jumps at the chance to marry his daughter off to the Dutchman. Of course, the gold and jewels he would receive in exchange for her hand in marriage don’t hurt his enthusiasm.

Q. What are you looking forward to most about performing this particular role?
A.  I am looking forward to working with old friends and new ones. I’m also looking forward to working in Sarasota.

Mr. Wilson as Ramphis in Aida
with Opera Birmingham
Q. Is there something unique about your process when preparing a role for performance?
A. I have the unique opportunity to continue to work on many roles with my mentor and teacher Giorgio Tozzi who passed away in 2011. He left a wonderful legacy of recordings. One of his most famous recordings is singing Daland with George London as the Dutchman and Leonie Rysanek as Senta. I always listen for how sings a phrase. Where he takes a breath and which words are the most important to him. These are the things he would have told me in a lesson. I do not try to have the same sound he had since every voice is unique.

Q. Beyond the musical work, what other kind of preparation/research work do you incorporate in the learning process? Historical? Character study?
A. I often try to read the book/play that a libretto is based on. I always try to pay attention to people everywhere I go. There are so many different types of people out there, and I use these observations as a character study for the roles I’m preparing.

Q. Thus far, what is the most bizarre experience you have had during a rehearsal?
A. I was once in a production where the director and the tenor almost got into a fist fight.  

Mr. Wilson as Osmin in Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio
with soprano Kathleen Kim at Minnesota Opera
Q. During a performance?
A. Roberto Alagna jumped into the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Tosca. I was singing the Jailer and we were supposed to play chess against each other (don’t ask me why, but it’s a part of the new production). Cavaradossi should give up the match by laying his King down on the board. Instead Roberto “raked” all of the pieces onto the floor. Some of them went into the tracks of a trap door that was needed for the finale of the opera. I spent the next couple of minutes picking up every last piece while trying to stay authoritative and sing my lines at the same time!

Q. Do you have any pre-performance rituals? Performance superstitions? Good luck charms?
A. I’m not very superstitious.

Mr. Wilson as Oroveso in Norma with Tulsa Opera
Q. How do you relax in between performances? What hobbies do you enjoy at home and “on the road”?
A. I am an avid golfer. I bring my clubs on all of my gigs (weather permitting). If I’m not rehearsing, you will probably find me on a golf course. I’m available for any Member-Guest tournaments during my stay in Sarasota! ;o)

Q. How do you stay connected to family and friends when you are “on the road”? Do you keep a blog? Website? Facebook? Twitter?
A. I have a website (, a personal Facebook account, and a Twitter account (but I rarely use Twitter). I could be convinced that there is merit in have a “Fans of” page, but as of now, I do not have one.

Do not miss Mr. Wilson in his upcoming performances in Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman which runs for 7 performances between March 1st and March 23rd, 2014.  For more information and tickets, go online at or call (941) 328-1300.

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