Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Chat with Adrian Rosas

Now that Don Giovanni is open, let's check in with bass-baritone Adrian Rosas, who does double-duty in this production as both the Commendatore AND Masetto. (Mozart himself approved this doubling; but review our recent chat with Richard Bernstein for the story of the time he ended up singing both Masetto and Leporello!) This season Rosas has played Procolo in Viva la Mamma!, the Sergeant in The Barber of Seville, and now these two roles for Seattle Opera.

We saw your brilliant comic timing in The Barber of Seville, but we’ll see a different side of you onstage in this Don Giovanni. Do you prefer doing serious roles, or comedy?

Having the opportunity to sing the Sergeant in The Barber of Seville proved to me that there are no small roles. It was a surprise to me how much of an impact a role with a total of 3 sentences could have on a production, and getting to add to the humor of the show was so much fun! I don't think I can decide whether I prefer comic or serious roles, but what I love about both is exploring the physical language that comes along with them. It's always exciting for me to play with body language, posture, and the way my character might interact with the other characters on stage, based on their personality and their text. The wonderful thing is that it is possible to do this with either comic or serious, and "small" or "large" roles.

Rosas as the Sergeant in The Barber of Seville (Rozarii Lynch, photo)

You’re playing two very different roles in this production, as happened at the first performances in 1787. Do you have to concentrate on singing them differently? Which is your favorite?
I have to say, first off, that it's been a great experience working on the 1787 "Vienna Version" of this show. Having one person sing both the Commendatore and Masetto is not the only interesting difference; there are also some great musical additions to the most commonly performed score, as well as some well-known passages that are left out. As for concentrating on the singing of the two different roles, yes, I have had to approach each one in a slightly different way. I think many of us have a specific sound that we want to hear from the Commendatore and personally I've had to concentrate on just singing it like Adrian and not trying to mimic a bigger, older, or darker sounding voice. I want the Commendatore's sound to be commanding and dark, but at the same time I have to focus on singing the role in a healthy way for me, so I hope that I can do justice to Mozart's intended sound of the character. Masetto is definitely a better fit for my voice right now. Although the roles have about the same range, Masetto requires more vocal flexibility and is more rhythmically and dynamically varied, where the Commendatore has, for the most part, longer sustained lines and a mostly forte dynamic. I like performing both of these roles (I mean, who doesn't like the Commendatore Scene in the Second Act Finale? It's one of the most famous and dramatic scenes in opera...), but overall Masetto is a better fit for me.

Rosas as Procolo in Viva la Mamma!, with Amanda Opuszynski as the Prima Donna (Alan Alabastro, photo)

We hear you’ll be singing the title character in Don Giovanni soon. Tell us a little about that, and about your vocal range—are you a bass, a bass-baritone, a baritone, or all of the above?
This summer I will be returning to the Opera Theatre of St. Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist and will be covering the role of Don Giovanni, which opens their season in late May. I describe myself as a bass-baritone, because of the color and range of my voice. I don't have the appropriate color or size of voice for most bass roles and my range isn't quite high enough for many of the higher baritone roles, so I fall into this middle category that we call bass-baritone. Although Masetto, Commendatore and Giovanni are all very different roles dramatically, they have very similar vocal ranges. It is fairly common for a lower male voice to work on Giovanni, Masetto and Leporello, though the Commendatore is often reserved for a basso profundo. It's an exciting opportunity to get to sing three of the low-voice roles in Don Giovanni within a few months and I can't wait for the chance to sing the fourth, Leporello!

Zerlina (Jacqueline Bezek) cradles the injured Masetto (Rosas) (Rozarii Lynch, photo)

Do you think Masetto and Zerlina will live happily ever after?
This will be my second time performing Masetto and here the relationship between Zerlina and Masetto is slightly different than my previous experience. In this production I feel their relationship is being portrayed more realistically, more true to life, in that we don't end the show in such a "happy-go-lucky" way. The characters have a slightly explosive relationship with extreme ups and downs, but I do feel that they love each other deeply and will surely stay together after this portion of their story ends.

Zerlina and Masetto (Bezek and Rosas) celebrate their wedding (Rozarii Lynch, photo)

What keeps you busy when you aren’t onstage?
Currently, when I'm not on stage, I have been preparing three new roles for this upcomming summer. As I mentioned previously, I will be covering Don Giovanni at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and I am also working on Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream and Bernardo from West Side Story, both of which I will be performing with the Aspen Opera Theater. When I'm not working on music there are a number of things that I enjoy doing. I've made some really great friends during my time in Seattle and I often spend time with them when our schedules allow; usually cooking, going out to great Happy Hours, and even doing karaoke from time to time. I'm also a movie and TV lover, and am currently addicted to Battlestar Galactica (thank you to Andrew Stenson and Eric Neuville, two fellow Young Artists, for getting me hooked). What I like to do most though is take advantage of those few nice days that we get in Seattle. If the sun is out then I definitely try to be outdoors as much as possible, whether it's going for a bike ride or just taking a long walk. This city is beautiful when the sun is shining!

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