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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Spotlight On: Troy Cook, Baritone (Giorgio Germont, LA TRAVIATA)

Troy Cook, Baritone
Editor's Note: Today's blog comes from an article in our 2015 Opera Insider (Festival Resource Guide). Deborah Morrow (Director, Education & Community Engagement) interviewed Troy Cook. He plays Giorgio Germont in La Traviata, which plays its final performance today.

We understand that this summer’s production of La Traviata will be your first opportunity to portray Georgio Germont, a father figure and the antagonist in this opera. What are your thoughts about this role?

I think that Germont is driven by what drives any father, a deep love for his son and family. However misguided, he feels that he has Alfredo's best interests at heart when he asks Violetta to end her relationship with his son. After seeing what the break-up has done to him, he realizes his error and tells Alfredo the truth - just in time for him to say goodbye to Violetta. So at least by the end, he is able to see that Alfredo's love is true and that Violetta's intentions were honest. I would like to think that if there were an epilogue to La Traviata, the scene would entail Germont begging for his son’s forgiveness and the opportunity to right the wrong.

In some European countries, singers are hired by a company to perform an entire season of operas (called “house singers”), but in America, opera singers (and most other performing artists) live an itinerant and uncertain life; having to audition frequently, hired for one show at a time, and traveling from job to job.  How do you cope with these circumstances, and what makes it worthwhile?

It is indeed a difficult path, however, the personal rewards for me have been fantastic! It certainly helps to have a great manager (as I do) to facilitate having a full calendar of work. That said, when I do have down time, I really do enjoy being at home! One of the ways I cope is to invest in the cost of travel for my husband to come see me wherever I am, or for me to go home whenever my schedule allows. The financial sacrifice is worth the personal gain. In the age of new communication technologies, I certainly make use of Skype/FaceTime/texting etc., which really makes me feel like I am closer to home than I actually am!
Central City Opera’s LA BOHÈME (2012). Pictured: Eric Margiore (Rodolfo), Elizabeth Caballero (Mimi), Troy Cook (Marcello), and (Musetta). Photo by Mark Kiryluk.
Baritones get to play a wide range of character types, from romantic leads to comedic leads to sidekicks, villains and father figures. You’ve done a large variety of roles in your career; do you have a favorite character or character type, either vocally or from an acting standpoint?

One of my first favorite roles was Papageno [a comedic character in Mozart’s The Magic Flute] because I felt that he was a lot like me. I even had to fight my Papageno tendencies, as I would call it, when I would do other roles. As time has passed and my voice and I have changed, so have my favorite roles. Marcello [in Puccini’s La Bohème] has, for many years, been my go-to favorite character to portray; however, I recently had the opportunity to sing Rodrigo in Verdi's Don Carlo, and I have found a new favorite character. The vocal lines fit me like a glove, and he is a complicated, multi-layered character. I really enjoyed figuring out his psychology and what makes him tick.
Does the type of theatre (large, small, good acoustics, poor acoustics) affect the way you perform? Since you’ve sung in the Central City Opera House before, please comment on what it is like to sing here.

I have to say that the size or acoustical quality of a theater does change my approach to performing a bit. If a theater is incredibly large, I am always thinking during staging about how to position myself so my voice is always going into the theater.  However, I don't change anything about my vocal technique. When a theater has a dry acoustic, I have to be extremely aware that I don't try to over-sing because the acoustic makes me feel that no one can hear me.

Singing in the Central City opera house is such a pleasure!  It's very seldom that I get to sing in such an intimate space where you can actually feel the audience with you. Also, to hear a full sized orchestra in that small space is incredible as well. It's almost like IMAX with surround sound, except it's live! 
The Central City Opera House interior. Photo by Mark Kiryluk.
Central City Opera's 2015 Festival runs through August 9, with La Traviata's last performance tonight (sold out). 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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