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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spotlight on: Nicholas Ward, Baritone

Nicholas Ward, Baritone
Editor's Note: Today's blog comes from an article in our 2015 Opera Insider (Festival Resource Guide). Emily Murdock (Associate Director, Education & Community Engagement) interviewed Nicholas Ward, one of our Apprentice Artists. He portrays Elder Son in our one-act opera The Prodigal Son this year as well as Marquis D'Obigny in La Traviata.

You were a Central City Opera Bonfils-Stanton Apprentice Artist in 2014 and a Studio Artist in 2013. What does Central City Opera offer to emerging opera professionals that you’ve found helpful in your career?

I feel that Central City’s program has prepared me to take on any challenge that I face in the world of opera. Between an intense class schedule, top-notch coaching, and fabulous productions, the young artists at CCO are prepared for anything. I’ve had the opportunity to perform in a huge variety of productions, ranging from grand opera to chamber opera to musicals with distinguished principal performers. CCO really offers the full package of training for somebody at the beginning of an opera career. The knowledge I’ve gained from the coaches and directors is invaluable, and I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned and apply it to my work outside of the program. I think one of the most valuable things I’ve learned here is how to get up in front of people and perform without fear. Singing in front of your colleagues can be nerve-wracking. Once you do it a few times, you get used to it and find that there’s really not much to be worried about. Now, auditions feel like a breeze! I’m glad to have learned so much in such a supportive environment.
Nicholas Ward was featured as part of the Trio in last year’s Trouble in Tahiti. Photo by Aaron Peterson.
You will be singing the role of the Elder Son in The Prodigal Son, one of our one-act operas that will be produced in Central City and Colorado Springs. What are you most looking forward to with this production?

First of all, Britten’s music is spectacular, this piece in particular. I’m really looking forward to tackling the unique challenges it presents. This is very much an ensemble piece. The singers and instrumentalists have to rely on each other for entrances, cues, and meeting points. Britten even uses his own notation to indicate special types of cues and passages. I can’t wait to get to work on this music with my colleagues, and hopefully form relationships with the instrumentalists as well. I’m also very excited to be performing this work in church venues. I think this will be a fantastic opportunity for the community to experience something very different than what is presented at the opera house. Churches provide such an excellent space for intimate performances. We’ll get the chance to connect with our audience in a very special way.

Can you relate to your character of the Elder Son in any way?

Well, I am a real-life older brother! Lucky for me, I have a wonderful family. We get along, unlike the brothers in The Prodigal Son. Other than that, I don’t see a whole lot of this character in myself, but I understand why he feels the way he does in his situation. He is an easily-angered, jealous and self-righteous person. He works diligently for his father, but his intentions are selfish. When the subject of inheritance arises, he goes ballistic and essentially disowns his younger brother. He can’t show compassion and doesn’t understand why his brother is being treated with love and kindness despite his mistakes. I think there are many valuable lessons to be learned from the stories of both sons. Many of us have felt the sting of jealousy or entitlement. The question is; how do we deal with these feelings? The story of the Prodigal Son gives us some examples of what can go wrong, and that it’s important to appreciate what we have. I’m very much looking forward to delving into this character and bringing him to life for CCO audiences.

Central City Opera's 2015 Festival runs through August 9. Check out the2015 Opera Insider (Festival Resource Guide) for additional artist interviews, background on the original production and even musical versions of word search and Sudoku!

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