Monday, January 27, 2014

ARTISTS CORNER: Baritone David Pershall

Baritone David Pershall
Photo by Arthur Cohen
ARTISTS CORNER: Meet baritone David Pershall who will be making his role debut as the jealous and vengeful Count De Luna in this season's production of Verdi's Il trovatore.  With his "smooth, evenly produced lyric baritone" combined with his “persuasive” stage presence Mr. Pershall is quickly making a name for himself on stages around the world. This year he joined the roster at the Metropolitan Opera as well as bowed on the stages of Dallas Opera, Virginia Opera and El Paso Opera.  Upcoming engagements include appearances at Washington National Opera, Minnesota Opera, and several appearances at the Vienna State Opera House next season.  Continue reading to learn more about Mr. Pershall and how he came to opera.  

Q. Where are you originally from and where do you make your home now?
A. I was born in Oklahoma City OK, but grew up in Temple TX. I currently live in New Brunswick, NJ and will move to Vienna, Austria in September as the majority of my work next year will be with the Vienna Staatsoper.

As the birdman, Papageno, in Mozart's
The Magic Flute at Virginia Opera
Q. What drew you to become a singer?  Was there a specific “Aha!” moment of clarity?
A. I have always had a love for music – my mother is a piano instructor so naturally that was my first instrument. Through the years I began to take voice lessons. I have always ADORED opera, and I heard my very first one in high school on a record my first voice teacher loaned me. It was not until college when I was studying at Baylor University that I thought I would try to make a living singing opera.

Q. Did you have other career aspirations in the works before you decided on singing?
A. I have always been fascinated with math and the stars.  There was a time I thought I would become an aerospace engineer or astrophysicist

Mr. Pershall as Enrico in Donizetti's
Lucia di Lammermoor 
Q. Singing the role of the Count de Luna will be a role debut for you, correct?  What made you decide to take it on?
A. Yes, this will be my debut singing the role of Count de Luna. I was thrilled at the thought of taking on the part because Il trovatore is one of my most favorite operas.

Q. What can you tell us about this character?  What do you want the audience to know about him?
A. I think this opera tells a special story. De Luna is known as the BAD guy in this opera- which is true to a point. De Luna’s life sort of unravels as a result of love. This in and of itself inspires sympathy. However, the story of De Luna also teaches restraint, in that his life is torn apart because of the obsessive type of love he feels for Leonora.

Mr. Pershall in concert at the Beethoven
Easter Festival in Warsaw, Poland
Q. What is your process for preparing a role for performance?
A. First and foremost I begin technical preparations to ensure my body is up to the task at hand. Then I study the libretto to dig into the psychology of the character in the way he speaks and the way he relates to others. This is followed with a study of the score, which provides clarification on what the composer thought of the character and gives the ultimate indication on how to turn a phrase dramatically. The final step is putting it altogether. These steps provide the most efficient and effective way to communicate with the audience.

Q. Thus far, what is the most bizarre experience you have had during a rehearsal or performance?
A. My pants split in a performance of Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

Q. Do you have any pre-performance rituals?  
A. I pray and ask God to enhance the gifts He has bestowed upon me.

Mr. Pershall as Zurga in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers
at Virginia Opera.  
Q. How do you relax in between performances?  What hobbies do you enjoy at home and “on the road”?
A. I enjoy spending time with my wife, reading, going for walks, and checking out the local museums.

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 call my wife daily when she is not with me. I have a website which people can check out at  I also keep a personal Facebook account, I am on Twitter (@DavidPershall), and people can enjoy clips of my performances on my YouTube channel.  Just search DavidPershallOPERA on YouTube (or you can just click here:

Don't miss the chance to see Mr. Pershall's debut as Count de Luna in Sarasota Opera's Winter Festival production of Verdi's Il trovatore opening February 8th and running through March 22nd.  Tickets are available at or by calling (941) 328-1300.

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