Saturday, April 16, 2011

Special guest star: David Lomelí, part the second

David Lomeli, from agent's web site
You will recall, gentle reader, that we published part one of my interview with the lovely an talented David Lomeli earlier this week.  Go here to read that part.  We left off with a discussion of how Nemorino was a perfect role for his New York debut.

Do you have any more performances Nemorino in your schedule?

There is talk of a new production in Berlin.  The Deutsche Opera is a second home, like San Francisco Opera here in the US.  The Intendant there gave me my European debut in Basel in 2008 in La Boheme in a new production.  That was the first time I got noticed.  I was even nominated for a Gramophone award.  Jonas Kaufmann beat me, so that's not so bad.  I was from nowhere, and this guy gave me the opportunity to do it in a new production, and that led to Glyndebourne and Lille.  And now he moved to Deutsche Opera, and he offered me things.  He was waiting to see how Elixir went here, and now I think it could actually happen.  

In opera, singers are booked years in advance, and now I have a lot of Rodolfos lined up--that was my first big punch in the opera world.  

So how is your German?

It's so hard!  I speak perfect Italian, perfect Spanish, of course, and I think decent English.  I went to an international school for 12 years.  There were three international schools--Japanese, German, where Rolando Villazon went, and British.  I used to say "bloody" a lot, but I try to curb that habit.  You know, that's why Rolando's German is impeccable, and his French is better than his English.  I can defend myself in German just enough.  I try to make an effort when I am singing something in another language (referring to the opera house), to really try to, so I'm doing Rosetta Stone a lot for French, and I can defend myself a little bit.  

German is hard.  When I've studied it in Young Artist programs, it was taught in English.  To learn a language in your second language--not a great idea.  In San Francisco, in the Adler program, we had a fantastic teacher from the Goethe Institut.  She would say, "David, what's happening?  You're smart!  You're an engineer!"  I would say "I'm learning German in English.  Give it to me in Spanish and I'll be fine."  I would be the star in French and Italian, but I was in remedial German.  But French and Italian are Romance languages like Spanish. 

(I commented that it's not hurting him a lot if he's getting hired in Germany so much) It's hard because the guys at the door don't speak anything.  You come there, and it's like "Ja!"  And I'm like, "Hi!  I'm singing there tonight! Look--there's my name on the poster! It's my debut! Can I come in?"  I went to do my audition at the Bayern Stadtsoper (Munich), and the guy wouldn't let me in!  He wouldn't let me in at all!  I had to call my agent, and he didn't answer, and I was going to be late, and I had to warm up and everything!   Finally Rene Pape came in.  He had sung the Verdi Requiem in LA when I was a young artist there, so I went to him and said, "Rene!  Remember me?"  Of course he didn't, but I told him I couldn't get in, and he helped me.  Now I always try to enter with someone else who doesn't look German.  I come 40 minutes early and find people and if we don't get in, we're all trying to solve the problem together.  

That sounds embarrassing.  I try. I don't get cast to sing German.  There's not an awful lot I can sing except lieder and Tamino.  I love to sing Tamino!  I sing Dies Bildnis--you know for auditions you have to prepare your five arias, and ....

Taminophile and another tenor
What are your five?

I always start with Rodolfo.  It's always there.  I always include Questa o quella or Quanto è bella, depending how I feel. They're very similar--nice, short second aria, and an opportunity to act, to show the Duke or Nemorino.  And for French I used to have Pearl Fishers--can you imagine that was my very first French aria ever?!  My teacher handed it to me, and in my ignorance I just sang it.  Later I realized it was really hard, but I was already singing it.  But unfortunately it's not something that gets you a lot of jobs, so I switched to Faust as my French.  Sometimes I sing Pourquoi me reveiller, but that sometimes gives a different impression.  Sometimes people hear Pourquoi me reveiller and they think you can sing Cavalleria Rusticana and Tosca.  Faust keeps the right impression.  I sing Tamino all the time.  And I used to sing Street Scene--Lonely House--as my English piece.  

Also it depends on which job I'm going for.  My management will tell me to use a particular aria.  I use the Italian Tenor aria from Der Rosenkavalier.  (I commented that would be fabulous for him.)   That was my debut on the San Francisco Opera stage.  I really like it--it's great.  You get paid.  You sing one aria of a minute and a half--extremely hard.  You always get reviewed. The three girls are killing themselves, and you're like "See you!  I'm done for the night!"

What is the dumbest question an interviewer has ever asked you?  That's my fallback question if I go blank!

You know, sometimes they ask personal questions about other people, and I don't know what to say!  One guy asked me what I think about my "nemesis", [another young tenor whose star is rising].  I'm like, my nemesis?  He's married to one of my best friends, and actually, of the tenors of my generation, he's the one I respect the most.  He sings very well, he's a great looking guy, he's a great musician, and I admire him a lot.  We're the same age, and we have our own careers.  We are Facebook friends, and Twitter friends, but we have never sung together or met.  My nemesis?  I hope I can meet him in Santa Fe when [his wife] is doing Faust and I'm doing Boheme, so we can eat some enchiladas or something.   We'll be two of the next Three Tenors one day.  Dreaming doesn't cost anything!

So you're off to France.  When do rehearsals start in Lille?

They already started, two and a half weeks ago!  They were very nice, and allowed me to arrive late because of Elixir.  It's Macduff, not a main character.

I'm going to miss this cast (NYCO's Elixir cast).  We're all young.  Adán (José Adán Pérez, the adorable Belcore in Elixir) was my roommate in LA, and Marco Nisticò (Dulcamara), Adan, and I were in Israel together and in Chiari, in those pay-to-sing programs, years ago.  The two ladies were lovely and marvelous artists and passionate people, extremely funny, great friends.

It will be a change.  People who sing Lady Macbeth and Macbeth and Banquo--psychologically, vocally, they in another stage of their lives. And here's this young guy coming in late singing Macduff.  Also here we're doing comedy (in Elixir) and now I'm going to the most dramatic piece around, and I have to sing about my children being assassinated, so it's going to be a drastic change.

How do you prepare for that kind of a transition, or do you just have to live through it?

One of my best friends is a Broadway singer/actor/dancer, and he came to help me prepare here, to help me with certain parts an to make notes about what I was doing.  Scott (A. Scott Perry, the director of Elixir) had given me a great notes, but of course he had to focus on the big picture.  So my friend came to some rehearsals and helped me with some of the fine touches.

And then we started to work with Macduff a little bit.  Of course I have to work with what the director is doing, and it's strange.  I've seen pictures.  It's a revival of a Glyndebourne production.  It's a trailer park.  and it's all in whites and blues and everyone has white paint on their faces.  We tried to develop a character, so I will arrive with an ideas about Macduff, and then I'll adapt it to what the director wants.  We had an intense five days with it.

And I worked with Chuck Hudson, a fantastic acting coach from Merola/Adler program, who has a actor's studio for singers in New York.  He came when I was working on Nemorino, and I asked him to help me with Maccduff.  I'm not a father, and this is something I don't have experience with.  We had very deep, very emotional working sessions.

So I'm looking forward to this challenge.  I don't do these things.  The most dramatic role I've done so far is Edgardo.  Rodolfo, Werther, Nemorino are very me in certain ways.  Faust was very hard because it was nothing like my own experience.  It's hard that these roles are written for younger voices but they require the most experienced actor/singer--Faust, Macduff.  You have to have a lot of wrinkles already.

Are there any roles you never want to sing again?  Anything you want to sing that is really not your fach?

I'd like to go back to do more Mozart.  I'm doing a lot of Donizetti now, which I enjoy, so I can't complain.

I have to say I struggle with La Traviata.  I don't think Traviata is my thing.  It's a role that is not high, not very low.  The character is one-dimensional.  It's cartoonish.  He's like Adina.  It's unfair that people judge Adina.  The character is one dimensional until her last aria.  It's the same with Alfredo.  Violetta is the one who goes so far (as a character), but Alfredo doesn't do that.  You have to be content to have the best seat in the house for a great Violetta.  I've been very lucky to have Anna Netrebko and Elizabeth Futral and Patricia Cioffi.

I have it again in Houston this December, and I'm happy because it's with Albina--I can't pronounce her last name (n.b., I'm not surprised--it's Shagimuratova).  She's a phenomenal singer.  Like Joan Sutherland--a phenomenal singer.  We're singing Lucia together in November, then Traviata in December in Houston, and then in San Francisco Rigoletto together.  Our voices pair well together.

If it's not an extraordinary production or phenomenal conductor, then....  I wanted to do it in Houston because Patrick (Summers) is there.  I love Patrick, and he was very supportive of my career when I was at Adler.  Otherwise Alfredo is not a role I'd like to go back to again.  I don't get a lot of satisfaction vocally or character-wise.  You listen to De miei bollenti spiriti and it's like, Oh, it's over?  And that high C (in the cabaletta) is the most difficult one, the way it's written.  I do the high C in Faust an Boheme and other roles, but this one is the most difficult.  I do it and have never cracked, thank God!

I'd love to sing the big Italian roles.  Hopefully one day.  Before I die I have to sing Calaf.  No matter if it's in my bathroom, and I have hire and orchestra to make it happen. I love that music! I love Andrea Chenier, I love Cavalleria Rusticana.  But also I love Bartered Bride and Rusalka.  I love Slavic music.  Also I love Lensky (Eugene Onegin).  I have good Russian.  I've done Lensky on concerts, and I get asked to do it.  There's a project to do Bartered Bride in Prague, and I'm dying to do it.

What were you expecting me to ask that I haven't?

You've been great.  You haven't asked boring questions like some I've gotten lately, things that are in my profile.  I like to talk about roles.  It's very hard to find someone who identifies with what I'm talking about.  You're a tenor and you have the same vocabulary.  I saw your name--"Lover of Tamino"--and I thought,  Yeah, it's my kind of guy.


Abigail said...

Wonderful interview! You have a real talent for conveying personality - yours and the interviewee. I hope to see lots more interviews by you.

Taminophile said...

Thanks Ab. Now please to be clicking some ads and making your Amazon purchases through my store, mkay? **wink**