Welcome! You’re new to Seattle Opera. How did you get into singing?
I’m from Dallas, Texas and I started singing in high school; right after that, I got into The Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.
Are you a baritone or a bass? Does this role sit comfortably in your voice?
I’m a baritone, actually. This part is a little low for me, but I have enjoyed the challenge, as well as the acting.
Your fellow cast-member Sarah Larsen tells us that her part, The Secretary, is a human being, too. Is it possible that the Secret Police Agent also has redeeming qualities?
Yes, he too is a human being. He works for the government, and so he’s removed from the struggles of laypeople like the Sorels; he gets financially rewarded for doing what he does and I think people can relate to the fact that he too, is a “family man.” In his mind, John is the bad guy. Everyone in this story is just trying to survive.
|Steven LaBrie (center) as The Secret Police Agent with Marcy Stonikas (right) as Magda Sorel and Lucille Beer (left) as The Mother in a dress rehearsal of The Consul. Elise Bakketun photo|
His music has a lot of melodic ups and downs which seems fitting; he’s sort of slithery, more like a snake, than a rat: He goes from smooth-talking to unleashing his fury without notice. He interrogates Magda and tries to come across as courteous, but of course Magda sees right through him: she knows that he intends to ultimately hurt her and her family.
What have you gained from the experience of being in The Consul?
I’ve definitely gained a greater sense of musicality and more tools to make a character nuanced, complex and dynamic.
On the first day of rehearsal for The Consul, many people from Seattle Opera’s staff and cast shared real-life stories of escaping persecution, either their own or a family member’s. Did you have a strong reaction to that discussion?
On my mother’s side, my grandfather was a deserter from the Spanish army. Additionally, being from Texas, I know a lot of immigrants.
That’s right; growing up in Texas, did you speak any Spanish?
Spanish was actually my first language until age 4 or 5 (I’m of Spanish and French descent). It’s still in my memory; I can access it. But having a one-on-one conversation is hard.
|Steven LaBrie in rehearsal as The Secret Police Agent in The Consul. |
Alan Alabastro photo
It’s helped me so much! I recently did Carmen in Dallas, and the French came very easily—I was actually impressing French people (not that I could have made up an actual sentence)!
Do you like playing the bad guy or the good guy best?
At heart, I’m really the ingénue! But I’m not a tenor; I’ve been doing bad guys for a while now. Every once a while, you want to be able to be the one to tug at peoples’ heartstrings.
Why should people come see The Consul?
I think that this topic is just so important: the fact that some people have no refuge, no plausible means of escape even when they go through the proper channels, as Magda does.
|Steven LaBrie as The Secret Police Agent (left) with David S. Hogan (center) and Geoffrey Alm (right) and Michael Todd Simpson (floor) as John Sorel. Elise Bakketun photo.|