Monday, October 27, 2014

Meet Our Singers: EVAN BOYER, Masetto

What do you do if you’re a kid whose deep voice always sticks out? For Evan Boyer, the answer was: become an opera singer. “No matter how quiet I tried to talk in class, I was always that kid who the teacher could hear,” Boyer says. As a teenager, he discovered his true talent accidentally at camp: some cute girls who liked his bass sound asked him to sing for them. He impressed his audience, and surprised himself with what turned out to be a defining moment. It led him to pursue choir in high school, and later, he studied voice in college. Now, Boyer is a recent graduate of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s professional training program. He makes his Seattle Opera debut as Masetto in Don Giovanni, and has been called “excellent” by The Seattle Times.

Welcome to Seattle Opera! You’re making your debut with us.
Don Giovanni was actually the first opera I ever saw as a senior in high school. It was the Kentucky Opera in Louisville. [He says the name with a Southern accent: "Lou-ville."] I guess here in Seattle you’d say “Louie-ville” [laughs].

Based on some of the names Masetto calls his wife, as well as his quick temper, it might be easy to assume that he’s a bad guy. However, he’s more complex than that, isn’t he?

Masetto has a temper, and tends to see things in black and white--there's very little gray area for him. But he’s a really honest, good guy; he's just trapped in an impossibly difficult situation. He thinks his wife is abandoning him for someone else on his wedding day; in an instant, the happiest day of his life has become a nightmare. Masetto is of a lower class. There’s nothing he can do when this nobleman starts coming on to Zerlina. She’s definitely not resisting as much as she should be. Naturally, he’s pissed off.

In the center: Cecelia Hall as Zerlina, the bride, and Evan Boyer as Masetto, her groom, with the cast of Seattle Opera's Don Giovanni. Elise Bakketun photo
There are different ways to play Masetto: the big, burly moron who just runs around breaking things, or perhaps, as a buffo character. I don't see him as either. He's not the smartest guy you'll ever meet, and he's certainly coarse at times, but his situation is incredibly serious, so while he occasionally makes stupid decisions (like handing over his weapons to a disguised Giovanni in Act II), I think to play him as anything other than a normal guy trapped in a bizarre circumstance wouldn't be right.

Cecelia Hall (Zerlina) and Evan Boyer (Masetto) with members of the Seattle Opera Chorus in Don Giovanni. Elise Bakketun photo
Once upon a time, you and Erik Anstine (Leporello in Don Giovanni) were college roommates. Tell us about that.
Yes, we’ve been best friends for many years now. Day one of undergrad, we nerded out over bass-related opera stuff, and have been friends since.

It must be fun performing with him here at Seattle Opera.
Yes! And actually, I’ve also known Cecelia [Hall] (Zerlina in Don Giovanni) for almost as long as I've known Erik, so it’s been great to spend time with these two old friends. Even though we’ve known each other for so long, we’ve never actually been in a show together. It’s been a lot of fun finally getting to take the stage with them.

Best friends and basses, Evan Boyer as Masetto (far left) and Erik Anstine as Leporello (second from left) with Cecelia Hall as Zerlina and Lawrence Brownlee as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. Elise Bakketun photo 

What else have you enjoyed about being in Don Giovanni?
My part doesn’t rotate, and I have really enjoyed performing with both casts. It’s been interesting to see what each singer brings to the role, and how that shapes the performance as a whole. While the story always follows the same journey, each cast has a different way of getting us there. It keeps the production fresh and spontaneous.

Cecelia Hall (Zerlina) and Evan Boyer (Masetto) in Don Giovanni. Elise Bakketun photo
As a millennial who fell into classical music, you have a unique perspective. What’s the best way to get young people interested in our art form?
Growing up in Louisville in a non-musical family, I had minimal exposure to classical music. I think one of the easiest ways to get young people interested is to just give them opportunities to see it. Exposure is key. Once they attend an opera, they'll see that it is an enthralling art form, even if, like me, hip-hop music is their first love.

Evan Boyer (Masetto), right, and members of the Don Giovanni cast. Elise Bakketun photo

You still have three more opportunities to see Don Giovanni (Oct. 29, 31 and Nov. 1)! For tickets and more information, go to