Thursday, January 2, 2014

ARTISTS CORNER: Bass Jeffrey Beruan

Bass Jeffrey Beruan
Bass-baritone Jeffrey Beruan is excited to be returning to Sarasota Opera after successful performances as Acciano in I Lombardi alla prima crociata, The Bonze in Madama Butterfly, Lodovico in Otello, and Morpheus in the world premiere of Little Nemo in Slumberland.  Upcoming engagements in the 2013-2014 Season include a role debut as George Benton, the Prison Warden in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking for Madison Opera, a role and company debut singing Pluton in Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers for Gotham Chamber Opera, and a role debut as Sarastro in The Magic Flute for Lyric Opera of Kansas City.  Read about what Mr. Beruan is looking forward to this coming season at Sarasota Opera.

Q. Where are you originally from and where do you make your home now?
A. I am originally from Shawnee, Kansas and I now live in Chicago, Illinois.

Jeffrey Beruan as The Bonze in
Madama Butterfly at Sarasota Opera
Q. What drew you to become a singer?  Was there a specific “Aha!” moment of clarity?
A. My “Aha” moment would have to have been during my first summer program.  I was in Logan, Utah singing with Utah Festival Opera.   I could not believe how amazing all the singers were, how much fun I was having, and that they were going to PAY me to sing!

Q. Did you have other career aspirations in the works before you decided on singing?  
A. I went to college with the intention of getting a music education degree because I wanted to teach choir and/or band in a high school somewhere, but that’s about it.

Q. You are singing two different roles this season; Ferrando in Il trovatore and Papal Legate in Jérusalem.  What can you tell us about these characters?  Why should the audience care about them?
A. Ferrando is the gap between Conte de Luna, Sr. and Conte de Luna, Jr.  He was there from the beginning and genuinely wants to catch the gypsy that killed the count’s brother.  He is well respected, an amazing story teller and a true leader.  The Count can always rely on him.

Papal Legate is a Legate to Pope Urbain II.  He has come to bring the news that the count has been appointed leader of the Crusades.  He is a representative to the Catholic Church.  He is well respected, and makes him available to the count for he holy advice that he needs.

Jeffrey Beruan as Acciano in Verdi's
I Lombardi alla prima crocciata
Q. What are you looking forward to most about performing these particular roles?
A. The bulk of Ferrando’s role is in the first 10 minutes of the opera. However, he gets to tell the spooky and horrifying story of what happened to the count’s brother.  There are a bunch of different colors to the scene that I am looking forward to bringing out!

Papal Legate is a little different.  I get a few wonderful singing moments that I look forward to pumping out, but I’m more looking forward to getting to know Jérusalem as a whole, since I may never have the opportunity to be in the opera again.  I was in I Lombardi alla prima crociata as well in 2011 so I’ve already had fun seeing the similarities and differences between the two operas.

Q. Is there something about your process when preparing a role for performance?
A. I have to know what every word means before I sing a note.  I may not know what every word means from the very beginning, but I at least need to be able to reference my score or libretto so that I’m not just singing syllables.

Q. Beyond the musical work, what other kind of preparation/research work do you incorporate in the learning process?  Historical?  Character study?  
A. I try to go through and find any factual historical references and look up what I can to see how it relates to the opera.  Also, since I generally play characters who are older than I actually am, I will look at how some of the great singers moved while doing this role to help inform my movements.

Mr. Beruan as Zuniga in
Carmen at Portland Opera
Q. Does your preparation process differ between a role you have performed before and a role you are doing for the first time?  
A. It depends on how long it was since I did the role, but yes, I can just get right back into the music and the drama.  There’s a lot more leg work when you’re doing a role for the first time.

Q. Before you were a principal artist, you spent two seasons as a Sarasota Opera studio artist.  Do you feel that experience helped to prepare you for your upcoming role as a Principal Artist?  If yes, how so?   
A. Actually, I spent two seasons at a Studio Artist, and yes, it was very helpful!  First of all, I already have a pretty good idea of the expectations that are on me from day one.  I can prepare and coach the roles in a way that, I believe, fits with Sarasota Opera standards.  I also feel that I will have a support system around me, who want me to do well.

Q. Thus far, what is the most bizarre experience you have had during a performance?         
A. I can’t think of any for a rehearsal, so I’ll give you two from separate performances:

1.  The paramedics came in during a scene I was involved in, in a small theater, and took a woman out who had had a heart attack.

2.  The other was also in an intimate theater setting.  I was involved in a stage combat fight and was thrown to the ground near the edge of the stage.  It must have been convincing, because a gentleman from the front row rushed out of his seat to help me!

Q. Do you have any pre-performance rituals?  
A. I try not to eat too much prior or during a performance.  I don’t want to be hungry, but I also don’t want feel heavy or gummy. I also like to get to my place off stage early and pace.

Q. How do you relax in between performances?  What hobbies do you enjoy at home and “on the road”?
A. I enjoy watching tv/movies, exercising, cooking.  Generally, I just try to relax and shut my brain off for a little while!

Q. How do you stay connected to family and friends when you are “on the road”?  
A. The cell phone is my most consistent way of staying connected. But, I will also use Facetime or Skype.

Mr. Beruan as Polyphemus in Handel's Acis and Galatea at Madison Opera
See and hear Mr. Beruan this season in both our Verdi offerings this season; First as Ferrando in Verdi's Il trovatore opening February 8th then as the Papal Legate in Verdi's Jérusalem opening March 8th.  Tickets are available now online at or by calling (941) 328-1300.

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