Tales of an opera singer

12 JUL 2011

by Alek Shrader  09:05 h;
published in: Opera, General

Alek Shrader (c) Peter Schaaf
Hi. My name is Alek Shrader (though that’s probably been made pretty clear at this point) and I’m an opera singer (also clear). I don’t really like to talk about myself, so I’ll sum it up in three words: American, tenor, eh… I’ll save the third word for later. I’m happy to say that I’ll be singing Ferrando (the blonde one) in Così fan tutte for you this season at the Salzburger Festspiele. I’m even happier to say that things are already going very well – quickly, but well.

After only seven days of rehearsal, director Claus Guth has successfully led the intrepid cast nearly through act 1, and quite far into act 2. “But wait,” you say, “didn’t he direct Così for the Salzburg Festival in 2009? It’s probably the same production.” Nay! You’re only half right, dear reader. This is an evolution of the 2009 production, with fundamental similarities but also a refinement and progress in concept. If you’re familiar with the 2009 Così, you’ll notice what I mean; if you’re not, don’t worry. The experience will be new for the entire audience, not the least because of an (almost) completely new cast.

Reprising Don Alfonso, Master Bo Skovhus is the only returning singer from 2009. Things have certainly changed in the house of Alfonso: instead of Christopher Walken ala Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice, he has become a mysterious watcher, only too aware of the matters of love. His similarly-themed sidekick Despina is played by the wonderful Anna Prohaska, with whom I have had the pleasure of working with twice before. The lovely sisters are sung by Maria Bengtsson (Fiordiligi) and Michèle Losier (Dorabella), and their beaus by Chris Maltman (Guglielmo) and, well, me. Due to the fact that Michèle is Canadian, Chris has graciously agreed to re-replace Guglielmo’s aria “Non siate ritrosi” with the original “Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo” due to all the Canadian references in the text. Intrigued?

Speaking of music, we’d be lost without Julien Vanhoutte, who is leading rehearsals until conductor Marc Minkowski arrives on July 12. We’re offering a (nearly) complete Così fan tutte; the only number completely cut is Ferrando’s aria “Ah lo veggio” (much to all of our benefits; no, you don’t have to thank me). So, (practically) all the recitative, (most of) the entire musical score, and (definitely) packed to the brim with drama and hi-jinks! Thrills! Chills! Oh yes, there will be mud.

Until next time!