Hadleigh Adams is a bass-baritone and in his first-year of the Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera. He is originally from New Zealand where he completed his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Auckland and Masters of Music at New Zealand School of Music. After completing his studies in New Zealand he was a resident artist at the Opera Studio in Melbourne, Australia. He was a participant in the Merola Opera Program in the summer of 2012 and recently finished his post-graduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, England. He has performed with the Royal National Theatre and Pinchgut Opera in the United Kingdom and was a winner of the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Scholarship in 2010. He will be seen this summer season in San Francisco Opera's production of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann as Schlemil and in the world-premiere production of Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.
When did you start singing? What is your earliest performance experience and at what point did you decide to pursue a career as a performer?
I had started piano at age six. I knew I wanted to be an opera singer when I was ten years old after first hearing Tosca on a vinyl record I had found at a garage sale in my hometown. The music made sense to me and I knew that making that music was what I wanted to spend my life doing. My earliest performance was actually playing a pohutakawa - a native New Zealand tree - in my primary-school play 'The Pine and the Pohutakawa' when I was six years old. I was amazing! I always knew my career would be on the stage somehow -- it's where I feel most at home.
What are some of your greatest musical influences?
Hard to list really! To narrow it down, operatically, the four guys I most look up to are Samuel Ramey, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, Bryn Terfel, and Rod Gilfry (all bass-baritones!). Like all classical singers, I have been influenced heavily by the great artists of the 'Golden Age' from the 50's and 60's but these four men are those who I find most inspiring.
You've been heavily featured on a local blog called 'Barihunks' which highlights young low-voiced male singers with a special emphasis on 'good looks' - how do you keep in shape? How important do you think it is to not only keep your voice in top form but also your body as an opera performer?
I can only answer for myself, but, I think keeping in shape is crucial. For me, running and going to the gym gives me a freedom on stage to know that I can play around and that I'll have the stamina and strength to try things out. I run four times a week and head to the gym most days. I also have a really healthy diet... except when I can't resist the vending machines in the green room. On top of the health aspects, I feel amazing after I've exercised. It keeps me positive.
It would have to be Noe Valley. It's just got such a fantastic feel; people are smiling and there's a Whole Foods - that makes me happy! I'm really looking forward to getting to know more of California while I'm here as well. It seems like such a diverse state and I can't wait to explore some of the smaller towns. Also, I'll freely admit that I'm a massive coffee snob. I tend to navigate a city by where I can get good coffee. So far, Four Barrel is definitely my favorite with Ritual and Blue Bottle in a close tie for second.
What are some of the biggest culture shocks for you living in the United States? What are some of the major differences you've noticed between Americans, Brits, and Aussies?
Ha! Well, that's a dangerous question! I'm bound to offend someone! As a Kiwi, I feel lucky to have been able to live in so many different places by the age I am now. I will say though that I have loved every country I've lived in. Settling in can take a while. Some cultures are more welcoming than others but that just means you have to wait until you're a part of the furniture, as it were, and then it's easy. It can be tough riding out that Nigel-No-Friends period though.
When you're not singing what are some hobbies or activites you can be found doing?
Coffee - so much coffee! But I can be found at the gym, running, biking, or drinking single-malt whiskey!
What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead as you begin your first year in the Adler Fellowship?
Definitely the opportunity to sit, watch and get to work alongside some of the greatest names in the industry today as well as being surrounded by the other Adlers and learning from each other is huge. It can often sound like a cliché answer, I know, but it's the truth! I'm here to learn and I couldn't' be happier about it.