Monday, January 9, 2012

Cast Corner - Keith O'Brien

Back again with our "Cast Corner" series, we are excited to introduce you to the talented artists that will be hitting the stage in February for our production of Verdi's Rigoletto.

What do you get when you cross a surfer, an oarsman, an architect, and an opera singer?  You get Toronto based Baritone Keith O'Brien! We have known Keith for a long time and are extremely excited to have him joining us in the Title Role of Rigoletto.

As always, we like to give our audience a view of the performer that you might not see from the stage. Here are a few questions to wet your appetite for our show.

(Q) How did you get your start in opera?

(A) I started out as a trumpet player in high school, and went on to McGill in the jazz programme. But I had always been involved with theatre in high school, and so it seemed like opera was a perfect way to combine music and theatre. I had done some singing in high school, so I made the switch to opera in my second year of university. I've done plenty of music theatre along the way, but opera is far more edifying musically as well more intense dramatically. 
(Q) What is the most exciting aspect of Rigoletto for you?

(A) Baritones rarely get to play the lead role, so that alone makes this production very interesting for me. In addition, this is a Verdi role, which puts Rigoletto in a special category. Verdi understood and wrote so well for a particular subset of the baritone fach. Since his writing essentially created the category, it became known as the Verdi Baritone. The vocal demands of Verdi's writing for his baritones are far greater than any composer previous to him. The choice to cast the baritone as the lead means that the dramatic demands are greater than usual, but Verdi was always good at creating multifaceted characters for the baritone in all of his operas. Even when he casts the baritone as the villain, which is most of the time, there is a multidimensionality there that goes beyond the simple archetype.

(Q) When you are not immersed in opera what is your favorite pastime.

(A)  I work as an Architect in Toronto when I'm not singing.  During my undergrad at McGill and my Masters at University of Toronto I was an oarsman on the varsity rowing team and I enjoyed many chances to compete internationally all over North America, Europe and Asia. Nowadays, my new athletic passion is surfing. Living in the centre of Canada means that I only get a chance to surf when I'm on vacation, so lately I can't imagine taking a vacation anywhere that doesn't offer excellent surfing.

Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear Keith as he debuts the role of Rigoletto with VanCOCO and stay tuned for more from Keith and the rest of our cast!

Take advantage of advance ticket pricing and click here to buy your tickets today!

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