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Jonathan Winell
Tenor, USA

Jonathan Winell

“I was a serious poker player at the same time that I was studying to become an opera singer”

1) What inspired you to become a singer?

I went to a private high school in NYC that, like most schools, did not have any arts classes.  However, the school allowed us to take such classes outside of the school for credit.  I always loved to sing; my parents took me to operas at the Met and to Broadway musicals starting when I was a little kid.  My mom was a singer, and so she asked if I would like to take lessons with her teacher for school credit.  I said sure and that was the beginning of my love affair with opera.  Within the first year, I knew I wanted to be an opera singer.

2) What's your dream role and why?

Actually, I have two dream roles for now. The first is Cavaradossi in Tosca because I love the opera, the character and the music.  The second is Parsifal because I hope one day to become a Wagnerian tenor, and Parsifal has some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.

3) Who is your favorite opera singer and why?

My all time favorite singer will always be Luciano Pavarotti.  His technique is perfect and his voice is so beautiful.  I also really love Franco Corelli.  

4) What do you hope to achieve by participating in the Queen Sonja International Music Competition?

During the Competition, I hope to convey my deep love of singing and performing to both the judges and audience. Becoming the first place prizewinner would mean I achieved my goal! Then, I would like to go on to have an international opera career.

5) Tell us something surprising or unexpected about yourself!

I was a serious poker player at the same time that I was studying to become an opera singer. At one point I debated about which to make my profession.  I hope you will agree that I made the right choice!!!

6) Is there anything else you would like to tell us which might be interesting to the public?

For the past two years I had the privilege of being part of the Internationales Opernstudio at the Staatsoper Berlin Unter den Linden im Schiller Theater.  Besides some of the amazing roles I performed, one of the highlights was when I was shopping at the supermarket at 6 pm and got a call from the House asking if I know Salut Demeure from Faust.  I said yes, and the caller said, get back here ASAP, the tenor doing the role does not feel well enough to sing the aria.  Within a few hours I was on the stage of the Staatsoper singing this wonderful aria, which I had not sung for two years!  What a thrill to sing it and hear the bravi!!!

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