Monday, January 12, 2015

ARTISTS CORNER: Baritone Sean Anderson

Sean Anderson, one of Sarasota Opera's favorite baritones, returns to Sarasota Opera this season as The Count Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. In previous seasons, Mr. Anderson has won critical acclaim for his performances as von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, George Milton in Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men, and Iago in Verdi's Otello 

Recent performances have included Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore at Knoxville Opera, Zurga in Pearl Fishers at Opera Southwest, and Dandini in La Cenerentola at Intermountain Opera. Continue reading to learn more about this dynamic and versatile artist. 

Q. Where are you originally from and where do you base yourself out of today?
A. Born in Manhattan (New York, not Kansas), raised in Mississippi and Ohio. I am currently based in South Carolina with my wife, Erika and our 6 year old, Naomi.

Sean Anderson as von Eisenstein in
Sarasota Opera's
Die Fledermaus
Q. Why Opera?  What drew you to become a singer? 
A. My father, Alfred Anderson, was an opera singer. He also taught voice and opera at University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Akron in Ohio.  I first became truly aware of what he did for a living around 7-yrs old during a production of Man of La Mancha in which he played the role of Cervantes/Quixote. I made myself a spear out of a broom stick, armor out of cardboard, and a helmet out of aluminum foil, and marched around the house singing “I am I Don Quixote!” at the top of my lungs. I’ve been hooked on theater ever since.

Q. What singing did you do as a teenager?
A. During my awkward years, I was in marching band and performed Shakespeare with a community theater company. After my voice changed, I was in several high-school choirs, including one that met every morning at 7:10am. I was also in a local show choir, and, of course, nearly every opera Dad’s students performed at the University. I made my operatic debut as Harry in Britten’s Albert Herring when I was 10. 

Q. What are you looking forward to most about performing the role of Count Almaviva in this season’s production of The Marriage of Figaro?
A. The Marriage of Figaro may very well be my favorite opera. Whenever I see it, I hear and experience something new. While I’ve performed just about every section of the role (in concerts, auditions, etc.), I have yet to perform it in a full production. I’m very excited to finally debut Il Conte (the Count), a role that, in my opinion, plays right to my wheel-house.  
Sean Anderson as The Pirate King in The Pirate of Penzance. 
Q. You have sung the role of Figaro in The Barber of Seville but now you are playing the role of Figaro’s employer. Are you afraid of suffering any kind of character identity crisis?
A. Who wouldn’t enjoy getting to be the loveable Figaro? That said, I don’t think I’ll have any problems. It’s always fun to play the antagonist.
Sean Anderson (left) as George Milton in Sarasota Opera's 2013 production of Of Mice and Men. 
Q. What do you find most challenging about this role?  What do you enjoy about it?
A. Without doubt, the recitative. Effective acting while singing so many foreign words is a great challenge. I’m striving for as much accuracy and character as I can achieve. My goal is for the audience to understand the text without having to look at the supertitles.

I enjoy that the Count has so many different moods and colors. Throughout the opera, the character displays a wide spectrum of emotions, perfectly reflected and enhanced by Mozart’s music.
Sean Anderson as the villainous
Iago inVerdi's
Q. You have sung both wonderful comedic and tragic serious roles at Sarasota Opera. Do you have a preference of one over the other?
A. Not particularly, but the variety is nice. At other companies, I’m only regarded as appropriate for one or the other. Maestro DeRenzi has gently pushed me in many directions I wouldn’t have thought to go on my own, for which I’m grateful.

Q. Are there any famous Count Almavivas of the past you admire or enjoy listening to?
A. My father, Alfred Anderson

Q. You have been a steady presence at Sarasota Opera for several seasons.  You must enjoy singing here? 
A. Of course! Any artist wants to work with the best, and the best are consistently found at Sarasota Opera!

Q. What do you think makes Sarasota Opera so special from other opera companies?
A. The rapport we have with each other and with our audience. Seeing so many familiar faces over the years creates a family-like atmosphere that is wonderful to work in.

Sean Anderson as Marcello in
Puccini's La boheme
Q. Do you have any pre-performance rituals?  Performance superstitions?  Good luck charms?  If yes, why?
A. Experience has shown that a light meal (usually a smoothie of some sort), plenty of water, and a quiet hour reviewing my score makes for good performances. I am not superstitious.

Q. How do you relax in between performances?  What hobbies do you enjoy at home and “on the road”?
A. I exercise and read. At home, my hobbies consist of taking care of a 6 year old. On the road, I love to get friends together for board games. 

Q. As you have been to Sarasota Opera for several seasons now, what do you enjoy doing in the area while you are not in rehearsal or performing?
A. Actually, I am not really a beach person, but I do enjoy the many wonderful restaurants in the area. I also frequent the FST (Florida Studio Theater) when I'm in town.

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 Facebook a lot, and my family and I like to talk via FaceTime on our phones. I can’t imagine what life was like for my mother and father while he was on the road during his performing career. He would sometimes only get to make one call to her a week – from a payphone! Unbelievable.

I’m in the process of creating a new website, but you can keep up with my performance antics by liking my profession Facebook page: SeanAnderson, Singer.

Don't miss seeing Sean Anderson as the Count Almaviva in Mozart's most charming comedies The Marriage of Figaro opening Valentine's Day, February 14th and running for 9 performances through March 27th. Visit or call (941) 328-1300 for more information and tickets. 

No comments: