Mozart’s 18th-century bad boy, Don Giovanni, comes to the stage at Opera Theatre of St. Louis (OTSL) tomorrow night in all of his seductive glory. Canadian baritone Eliott Madore brings the irresistible nobleman to life, at least until the the Don’s encounter with a vengeful statue.
Madore is the winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is a former Gerdine Young Artist at OTSL. LN spoke with Madore between rehearsals and got the scoop on his unusual path to the stage.
LN: Don Giovanni seduced 2,000 women in five countries. How much fun is it to play that guy?
EM: Let’s be honest, every man wants to be Don Giovanni in his own way. He has such charm and this amazing ability to seduce any woman he wants Obviously that’s extremely fun to play!
LN: Have you ever played the role before?
EM: Yes, twice. Once in when I was in school, and once at the Tanglewood music festival with James Levine conducting.
LN: The opera is a mix of drama, comedy and the supernatural. Any aspect that’s particularly challenging to convey?
EM: I think the goal is to bring all of the aspects to the forefront and then combine them. That’s the huge challenge, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this production.
LN: Is this your first time in St. Louis?
EM: No, I was a young artist here in 2007 and 2008.
LN: In what shows?
EM: (Laughing) Well, if you saw The Mikado, I was the sumo wrestler. They put a pretty big fat suit on me.
LN: The Viennesse premiere of Don Giovanni was in 1788. What’s different now? How has opera evolved?
EM: You really have to be an actor now! In opera’s early days, you had to be more of a singer, that’s what audiences were looking for. Now, with the Met coming out with HD productions, we have to be great actors, as well as great singers, and on top of that, we have to look good.
LN: You were the winner of the Met’s National Council Auditions and also a finalist are the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition. How do competitions compare to shows?
EM: They’re very different, so it’s hard to compare, but they are both pressure-packed situations. In competitions, of course, you have just one shot to do well; in a production you have more than one opportunity, and you sing for a much longer time.
LN: So, what can you tell us about this hockey side of Elliot?
EM: When I was a kid, my family put me into hockey. I loved it! I wanted to be a pro hockey player, which of course is every Canadian kid’s dream.
LN: Your title roles also include the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos, and figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Do you have a dream role?
EM: In all honesty, Don Giovanni was my dream role for many years and I’ve been fortunate to play him a few times. So I guess if I had to choose my next dream role, it would be to play Eugene Onegin.
LN: How are rehearsals going?
EM: Great! I have wonderfully talented colleagues and it’s so fun to work with everyone here.
LN: Any particular colleague you would like to mention?
EM: All of them! LN