Entertainment » Music

Christian Bowers :: Nailing Figaro

by Lewis Whittington
Contributor
Thursday Nov 15, 2012
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Third-year Academy of Vocal Arts resident artist Christian Bowers shares the role of that clever matchmaker Figaro in Rossini’s "Barber of Seville" with two other powerhouse singers for the AVA production this month.

The performance marks his debut in the role, which he considers "a tour de force for a singer. I’ve wanted to do it for a long time, so this has been exciting."

Not that there haven’t been complications: On the day before his debut, he was fighting back a sore throat.

But even with that distraction, his focus was on going on as Figaro, a role that demands technical daring for a baritone. "The role fits well in my voice. There is a lot of sotto voce singing that Rossini asks for. Figaro is such a firecracker onstage and all that energy built into the part. And, of course, I’m singing with such a great cast."


In sure hands

When he made his debut the following night, Bowers ignited Figaro, immediately putting his imprint on the role with his mischievous entrance and aria, "Largo al Factotum della citta." If he had any issues with that sore throat, it didn’t show.

What makes this "Seville" even more of an ensemble effort is that director Mark Verzatt has triple-casted its leads and given the cast the latitude to develop their characterizations. "One thing he allowed was for each of us to make our characters our own. The most you can ask for from a director," he noted.

He also feels he’s in sure hands with conductor Richard Raub. "He has such attention to detail," Bowers said. "He spends hours with us contouring the duos, trios and quintets, to get the right vocal chemistry, very specific Rossini," Bowers said.


Brushing up on R&H

Bowers is also brushing up on his show tunes as part of the cast for a WHYY/PBS broadcast of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs in December. "I have an affinity for American musical theater. We do these songs a lot in concert and people continue to connect with them," he said. "When I sing ’If I Loved You’ or ’You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ you can see people are still transported."

Bowers is a Philadelphia district winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and second place winner of the Mario Lanza Scholarship, both in 2011. Next spring, he will be reprising his role as Masetto (which he sang at AVA last year) in "Don Giovanni" for Opera Colorado.

"The Barber of Seville" continues through Nov. 17 at the AVA and area venues. For more information, visit the AVA website.


Lewis Whittington writes about the performing arts and gay politics for several publications.

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