|Tennessee natives and barihunks Seth Mease Carico and John Brandon|
We recently featured John Brandon, who is performing Morales with Opera Brimingham. We subsequently learned that he's from the same Tennessee town as one of our favorite barihunks, Seth Mease Carico. In fact, the two singers were recently profiled in Chattanooga's CityScope magazine in a piece about four Tennessee natives who have gone to have careers in opera.
Chattanooga natives emerge as Illustrious Performers
By Christy L. Luellen
Mention Tennessee music and the mind easily races to any one of Nashville’s many famous country artists. But Chattanooga has produced several internationally recognized opera singers, who credit, among others, teachers from Harrison Elementary, Ooltewah Elementary School, Baylor School and McCallie School for their start in musical careers. What follows are profiles of four opera professionals who are proud to call the Scenic City home.
|John Brandon from www.johnbrandonbaritone.com|
McCallie School, 2004
Twenty-six-year-old John Brandon, a McCallie School graduate, has been emerging as an opera professional in the United States for the past two years, with engagements at North Carolina Opera, Nashville Opera, Opera Columbus, Opera Naples and Opera Birmingham. While Brandon’s baritone voice is most often noted by critics for its lyrical quality, others have praised it for its “fine abandon and style” and “abundant heft and color.”
At the age of nine, Brandon started his singing career as a member of the Chattanooga Boys Choir before going on to receive training in music and voice by teachers at the McCallie School. His education continued at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., where he earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance in 2008. Shortly after, Brandon toured eight different European countries, performing with some of the world’s leading vocal ensembles, including the Kammerchor Stuttgart in Germany and English Voices in London.
Even with his extensive vocal training and experience, Brandon believes that his acting is just as important as his singing.
“It is important for me to not only give a performance that is beautifully sung, but one that is convincing. So I’m internally motivated by what my character wants and needs, and externally motivated by what the audience wants and needs,” he says.
One of Brandon’s all-time favorite roles has been Gaylord Ravenal in Showboat, performed with Opera Naples in November of last year. “I loved the fact that we were both from Tennessee,” he says. “Plus, it was a romantic lead, which does not always happen for baritones.” When his voice matures into Verdi repertoire, Brandon said he would also love to play the title role in Macbeth or Rodrigo in Don Carlo.
Brandon just finished a role in Carmen in Opera Birmingham. This summer, he will perform a private concert in Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as audition for several European opera companies.
|Seth Mease Carico as seen in the Barihunks charity calendar|
Seath Mease Carico
Baylor School 2000
Described by Opera News as “powerful in voice and bearing,” 30-year-old bass-baritone Seth Carico—a 2000 Baylor grad—is quickly distinguishing himself as an accomplished singer both nationally and abroad. Last year, Carico made his European debut as a young artist at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and the Teatro Regio Torino in Turin, playing roles in Tosca, Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro and La Traviata among other operas.
However, Carico’s first performance venue was a little closer to home. At nine years old, Carico appeared on stage for the first time in Signal Mountain Playhouse’s 1991 production of The King and I. Gifted in both acting and singing, he would continue performing at Baylor School in both musical and non-musical productions, a combination that he believes still continues to give him a competitive edge.
Claiming his voice is not suited for light romantic roles, Seth now prefers to play “complicated, not always happy, characters.” One of his favorite memories is helping to create the role of Victor in the world premiere of Cuban-American composer Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at the Fort Worth Opera in 2010. Victor was the oppressor of the central character, and according to Carico, a particularly nasty villain. Continuing in this vein, one of Carico’s goals is to play Sweeney Todd in Stephen Sondheim’s dark, semi-operatic musical. “I do love playing the tortured souls!” he says.
But while Carico knows how to enjoy himself on stage, he also takes his art very seriously. Although only 30, Carico aspires to be part of an operatic production team when he retires from singing.
“Opera is a unique art form,” the bass- baritone says. “The stories—while often ridiculous—tend to say great things about life and the human experience. The emotions exhibited in opera are so grand that there is really no way to express them sufficiently other than through the use of music and the spectacle of epic productions.”
The summer of 2012 will find this graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Michigan as a young artist at the Merola Opera program at the San Francisco Opera Center.
To read about Janel Frazee and Richard Cox, the other singers featured in the article, click HERE.
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