In an interview with David Gordon Duke, UBC Opera’s Jordan Collalto speaks about his experience as the title character in this year’s production of Marriage of Figaro on the Bard on the Beach stage. Below are excerpts from the article featured in the Vancouver Sun.
Bard on the Beach Presents Mozart Classic
This summer’s Figaro stretches the rules: bass baritone Jordan Collalto sings the title role in all four performances. In an e‑chat with him earlier this month, I learned that he’s 24, and hails from Alberta. “I’d been studying music in school since I was 10, starting on recorder, and then playing trombone into high school. At 15 I moved from Canmore to Calgary to study music more seriously, and joined the Calgary Youth Orchestra. In my last year of high school I started singing in choir, and decided that I’d rather pursue singing.”
Like so many contemporary male singers, Collalto discovered opera somewhat casually. “My introduction was thanks to some friends from the orchestra, who brought me to a production of Tales of Hoffmann at Calgary Opera. That encouraged me to audition for the chorus after high school, and provided my start in actually performing opera. I sang with the chorus for four seasons while working full-time in real estate.
The next step was an audition at UBC, whereupon it was goodbye real estate, hello stage. “So far my experience with the UBC Opera Ensemble has been great. I’ve been really lucky to perform more than many people at other schools do in an entire degree. Indeed: even a casual glance at the performance schedule proves Collalto’s point. “One of the major perks at UBC is that we do so many full opera productions every year with orchestra. That being said, the life of an ensemble member can be very busy!”
Doing Figaro in Figaro is tailor-made for Collalto at this point in his emerging career. “Figaro is one of the few young bass roles, so I’m about the right age to play him. A nice treat, as basses usually are left to play the fathers and old men in operas, not something that I have too much life experience being! Also, Figaro is quite a jokester and schemer, so he’s quite easy to relate to for a young university student such as myself.
“Figaro is the largest role I’ve performed so far, and it’s been extremely fun to prepare. It’s still taken a lot of work, I’ve been working on it in some form since last fall, but I feel it’s been a very good fit. It’s great to play a role close to my own personality and age.
“As for where I’m going from here, I guess that would just be back to school. I’ve got another year to work out what I want to do, and then next fall I need to be ready to audition for jobs, emerging artist programs, or another degree—if I decide that’s what I want to do.”