|Bass Kevin Short|
This season, Mr. Short returns to sing the title role in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, a role he has performed at Indianapolis Opera, the Stadttheater Bern, and most recently in Croatia. Continue reading to learn why Mr. Short enjoys singing the music of Wagner and what he thinks makes Sarasota Opera so special that has kept him coming back since 1991.
|Mr. Short as Nourabad in Sarasota Opera's |
2000 production of The Pearl Fishers
A. I was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Charles County, Maryland. Today I’m based between Basel, Switzerland and Miami, Florida
Q. Why Opera? What drew you to become a singer?
A. I had very good instructors/mentors at Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD), the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia, PA), and Juilliard’s AOC (American Opera Center) that were quite influential to me as a young singer. But by the time I was a junior at Morgan State University and had won a few young artist competitions, I was certain I wanted to be a professional opera singer.
Q. What singing did you do as a teenager?
A. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I joined the school choir and I also sang a bit in the choir while attending St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Q. What are you looking forward to most about performing the role of The Dutchman in this season’s production of The Flying Dutchman?
A. I am most looking forward to literally singing every note of this brilliant score again and exploring undiscovered dramatic possibilities. The role is such a tour de force and the vocal and dramatic demands it places upon me are extremely exciting. I’m also very much looking forward to working with my outstanding colleagues, the musical and directing team, and I’m very interested to hear what the typical outstanding Sarasota Opera chorus will sound like with this masterpiece.
|Mr. Short in the title role of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman at Indianapolis Opera|
Q. I find it very helpful to read the libretto first to get a real sense of the dramatic flow or arc of a piece and how my character factors into the overall equation. What is my relationship to or how do I feel about each character in the opera whether I interact with them or not? It’s important for me to find out why I say what I say. I then start at the piano playing a section of my part multiple times to begin the memorization process. I move to the next section the next day while always revisiting the section from the day before. If it’s music that is quite taxing I will often sing it down an octave or better yet, sing it very lightly in the octave. This helps to not start forming bad habits when trying to sing and learn at the same time. Overall there’s a sort of layering process that takes place. I also find it helpful to sing my music in different tempi and mix things up a bit to not become too fixated with only one way of singing the music. This is espcecially useful if I’ve listened to or am familiar with recordings that could influence my interpretation before I’ve had input from the Maestro and director.
|Mr. Short as Pagano in Verdi's |
I Lombardi alla prima crociata
at Sarasota Opera
A. Yes, I find for example, early Verdi and Wagner to be equally difficult to sing because of the tessitura of large sections of their music. Later Verdi is less problemic in this manner. Early Verdi also can require vocal gymnastics when handling vocal leaps. Dutchman does not as much as early Verdi, but there is the added demand of having to contend with the thickness of his orchestration during some musical and dramatic climaxes. A temptation for the Wagner singer is to try to force a bit too much. I think the singer benefits greatly if vocally they approach Wagner as they would singing a good many Italian operas. I also feel that Dutchman is the mist Italianate of his opera.
Q. What do you want the audience to know about the character of The Dutchman?
A. That there may be a personality flaw that causes the Dutchman to have been so unsuccessful in finding a true woman for so many years. He’s also not to be pitied as much as some may want to pity him. It’s his own arrogance in defying nature and God that caused his predicament
Q. What would you say to someone who might be intimidated to try their first Wagner opera?
A. Dutchman is extremely accessible dramatically ,and musically it is some of the most sublime and glorious music one can imagine. If they’ve ever wondered what Wagner is like, then this is the perfect first Wagner opera, and it’s also not a long night at the opera at under 3 hours from beginning to end with intermission.
|Mr. Short as Signor La Rocca in |
Sarasota Opera's production of
Verdi's A King for a Day
A. I absolutely love singing here for so many reasons such as the attention to detail from top to bottom. with everyone working at the company.
Because of the generous amount of time given to the rehearsal process, a singer will really develop and can explore the possibilities dramatically as well as vocally. There are also multiple performances that help facilitate this growth, which is extremely rare for most opera companies in the U.S. Another reason is that Maestro DeRenzi has created an ensemble of singers and orchestra players that understand the Sarasota Opera music making process. Maestro’s musical language and performers that work regularly in Sarasota create an environment and unofficial system that is the closest thing we have in the States to a typical European fixed engagement system.
Q. You have performed all over the world. Do you find audiences behave differently in all the different countries you perform in?
A. Yes, audiences seem to react in the manner and character of the characteristics of their country.
|Mr. Short as The King in Opera Birmingham's production of Aida|
A. I don’t want to elaborate, but the whole rehearsal and performance period this past summer performing Dutchman at the Split Festival.
Q. How do you relax in between performances? What hobbies do you enjoy at home and “on the road”?
A. I enjoy riding my bicycle, drawing,and reading historical books.
Q. What music do you listen to when you are driving in the car?
A. A wide variety. I enjoy listening to opera but also enjoy jazz, classic R&B, and pop music.
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 use Skype a good deal while on the road. Facebook also comes in handy for keeping in touch with family and friends.
Don't miss a note Mr. Short's performances as The Dutchman in this season's production of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman running for 7 performances between March 1st through March 23rd. Tickets are on sale now at www.sarasotaopera.org or by calling (941) 328-1300.