Wednesday, February 22, 2012

10 Questions for...Alek Shrader

Alek Shrader and Christine Brewer in the Santa Fe Opera production of Albert Herring Photo: Ken Howard 2012
Alek Sharder has just about everything a young tenor could want. An agile, beautiful voice, acting chops, and looks that don’t require dressing up or covering over to play romantic heartthrobs on stage. His career started with big screen attention when he won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2007 under the gl`ring light of Susan Fromke’s cameras resulting in the documentary The Audition. In the film, he pulls off the rapid fire high Cs of Donizetti’s “Ah! mes amis” with a grin on his face that could have landed him in Hollywood. But his first operatic appearance in the real city of Los Angeles won’t actually occur until this week when he’ll star in the title role of Britten’s Albert Herring for Los Angeles Opera under the direction of James Conlon starting Feb 25. It’s a comic role he performed to much acclaim in Santa Fe in 2010 in Paul Curran’s charming production which you can see here as well. And considering that LAO has made tickets available for only $25 for first-time opera goers between today and Friday, there are even more incentives to go. Shrader is best known for his Mozart and Rossini roles and he’s got a busy schedule these days throughout Europe and the U.S. including appearances in Salzburg and Glyndebourne. Before he takes Britten’s greengrocer’s son, the former San Francisco Opera Adler fellow took a moment to tackle the often imitated, never duplicated Out West Arts 10 Questions.

  1. What role would you most like to perform, but haven't yet?

    Before I stop singing, I really want to sing Duca in Rigoletto, even if it's just once (and potentially totally inappropriate for my voice).

  2. What role would you never perform, even if you could?

    If that role exists, I don't know what it is. Does "conductor" count? I'd never do that.

  3. You'll soon be making your Los Angeles Opera debut as Britten’s Albert Herring a virginal innocent who like Donizetti’s Nemorino breaks loose with the help of a little unanticipated alcoholic lubrication. Is it more fun to play good guys or bad boys on stage?

    Good guys or bad boys, I find the real fun is finding the moments when you can do something unexpected… when the nice pushover finds courage, or when the jerk shows true compassion. I have the most fun as an actor when I'm allowed to enjoy and explore those possibilities.

  4. Alek Shrader as Alessandro in OTSL's Il Re Pastore Photo: Ken Howard/OTSL 2009
  5. You’re best known for roles like Mozart’s Tamino and Rossini’s Almaviva. What’s the secret to playing these romantic young lovers?

    In a very broad sense, I think it's the sense of discovery. Yes, they're in love, but also the world they used to know and live in has changed forever. Tamino and Almaviva happen to be different forms of nobility, and their discovery (of love, or growing up, or facing opposition) comes as a pretty big shock that requires serious attention, but I think all classes of romantic young lovers get knocked on their butts when they meet their true love.

  6. Which music made you want to sing opera?

    I heard Mozart's 'Ich baue ganz' on the radio at somebody's house and was stunned. Then I found a recording of my dad singing 'La danza' and thought I'd like to do that too.

  7. A composer proposes a new opera with a part especially for you. What person or character would you most like to have written for you?

    I'm certainly open to any project that comes up, and I'd be especially excited to help create something. I find a special personal pleasure when I can play an average guy, a "normal person", or at least express that side of the character. It's not just princes who have a story to tell.

  8. Alek Shrader in Susan Fromke's The Audition Photo: Met Opera 2007
  9. You've already worked with many major conductors and vocalists in the opera world. Who would you most like to work with that you haven’t yet?

    Lawrence Brownlee is a singer I have a ton of respect for. I think on and offstage, he's a shining example of what the modern opera singer should aspire to be. I would love to do a show with him.

  10. What's your current obsession?

    Right now, I'm watching Deadwood marathon-style, with an episode or two of Entourage for breakfast.

  11. With which of your operatic roles do you have the most in common?

    The trick is to find as much in common as you can with each one… It's easy for me to say Albert Herring at the moment. Like I said before, I'm drawn to the aspects of the common man (if there is such a thing).

  12. What can we look forward to next from Alek Shrader?

    After Albert Herring, I'm headed to Bordeaux for Oronte in Handel's Alcina, and then to San Francisco for Tamino in The Magic Flute.

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