1) What inspired you to become a singer?
My mother was very musical and always encouraged her children to participate in choir, orchestra, band, and musical theater; and my father, an engineer, always encouraged us to follow our passion. I started voice lessons at the age of 16 and realized quickly this would have to be my thing, since neither soccer nor chasing girls is considered a viable vocation where I come from. So I applied exclusively to music schools for college. It was still a long time before I understood what it meant to be a “singer,” since I never saw an opera until after I arrived at Oberlin Conservatory to study opera.
2) What’s your dream role and why?
Billy Budd. Benjamin Britten is a composer who thought deeply about and portrayed exquisitely the inner world of his characters, and who also has incredible dramatic and comic timing, which makes his operas some of the most interesting and rewarding music to learn and perform. Billy Budd is such a seldom-performed opera, that you have to get really lucky to be part of a production, which is part of the reason it’s a “dream role” for me. In addition to that, I imagine it must be a lot of fun to play a role where the whole cast is constantly saying how charismatic and handsome you are, even if you do get hung in the end.
3) Who is your favourite opera singer and why?
I have so many favorites, but I have always said that if I could sing one single note that sounded like Leonard Warren I would retire immediately, because it can’t get any better than that. Since that will never happen, I try my best just to sound like me and admire him and many other great talents from afar.
4) What do you hope to achieve by participating in The Queen Sonja International Music Competition?
I have been in the ensemble at Luzerner Theater in Switzerland for the past few seasons gaining some of my first experiences with major roles in many different styles. It has been an incredible education and support, but now that time is coming to an end. I want to get back out into the big, bad opera world, and an opportunity to sing for this jury and public is a wonderful means to that end.
5) Tell us something surprising or unexpected about yourself!
I have an older brother who is also a singer, and who is currently in the ensemble in Würzburg, Germany. We support each other loyally and when he eventually starts doing Wagner roles like Wotan, I have promised him I will do my very best during the performances not to fall asleep.