Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Requiem for an Opera

You found out Pam Armstrong likes mystery novels. You learned Gaétan Laperrière was an aspiring baseball player. This week I got some time with Julian Gavin (seen here as Don José in our 2005 Carmen), who plays the title role in The Tales of Hoffmann. Unlike Pam and Gaétan, Julian sings the same character throughout the whole opera. And I do mean the WHOLE opera – it is a title role, after all. Fortunately, Julian is a giving soul who found some time to give me the scoop on some little-known factoids. Read on…

What is your favorite part about being in Denver?
I love the city itself, particularly its proximity to the mountains. That tantalising and breathtaking view is always there as I walk around the city, often catching me by surprise as I turn around a corner. Downtown is compact and very easy to get around. There are some wonderful shops and places to eat. There are a couple of restaurants which are among my all-time favourites and I look forward to renewing my acquaintance with their fine food and great service. I love the Tattered Cover, a great place to browse and to have a coffee while perusing a good book or magazine. I love hiring a car and heading into the mountains. In fact, this time I am looking forward to heading up to Loveland or A Basin after the last performance of Hoffmann in order to find some early snow. I enjoy working out at the Denver Athletic Club, particularly the yoga classes. They have some great teachers there who are very patient with my lack of flexibility! I couldn't talk about my favourite things without mentioning catching up with my dear friends, the Kafadars, for some lively conversation, great food and a few good laughs as we catch up on family, music and computers and a host of other subjects.

What is the biggest misconception that people have about you?
I would say that there are a number of clichés about tenors! One is that I must have a big head or that I am unavoidably stupid! I often hear someone say, "Oh, he can't help it because he is a tenor!" Before I became a tenor, I studied and worked as a conductor. My Romanian conducting teacher also conducted me in my first opera. When I made a silly musical error, he said in despair, "He was one of my most promising conducting students. He becomes a tenor and look what happens to him!' As for the big head, perhaps it is in actual physical size, in order to accommodate those ringing high notes! I am actually highly critical of myself but I also passionately believe in collegiality.

Do you have any quirky habits?
I am not sure if this qualifies as a quirky habit but I am addicted to cryptic crosswords. Recently at a sitzprobe for Fidelio, as Beethoven's extraordinary music surged around me, a colleague incredulously asked, "How can you do a crossword with all that racket going on?" Ignoring the fact that I would never describe Beethoven's music as racket, I said that it helped me to concentrate!

That's all from Julian for now - see you next week!

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