Interview with Rene Barbera – making his ROF debut!
Rene Barbera is making his ROF debut this summer. He kindly agreed to be interviewed during rehersal period of La Gazza Ladra and we are so excited that yet another American singer will be part of the ROF family!
Q. How did you become a singer? Was there music in your home, a famil
member involved with the arts, or something else?
A – I started singing as a boy soprano in the San Antonio Men & Boys Choir when I was in Elementary School and continued through middle and high school in choirs. During my senior year I auditioned for a scholarship at the University of Texas at San Antonio and was offered a scholarship. It should be noted that I had planned on majoring in Music Education but it was suggested to me that I pursue a performance degree. After about a year I dropped out and decided I didn’t want to sing professionally and moved to Denver to live with my brother and work.
After a few weeks in Denver I managed to be in contact with Martile Rowland in Colorado Springs and, thanks to her offering a scholarship to the Vocal Arts Symposium, I was introduced to many students and teachers from the North Carolina School of the Arts (now the University of North Carolina School of the Arts).
Q. What brought you to Rossini? Did you hear a particular performance or
singer that inspired you? Were you guided by a coach or teacher who
recognized this might be a good fit for your voice?
A- Honestly, Rossini came to me. I had never planned to make Rossini a cornerstone of my career. In fact, I have always felt that my voice was best suited for Donizetti and Bellini, but, as it turned out, I apparently am more than capable of singing Rossini. Rossini has always been quite difficult for me to sing and I felt that I was not really very good at it. Evidently I was wrong. haha!
Q. Which Rossini roles have you sung?
A- I have only actually sung three Rossini roles at this point. Almaviva (Barbiere), Don Ramiro (Cenerentola), and Rodrigo (Donna del Lago) and about to debut my fourth here in Pesaro.
Q. We are delighted that you are appearing at the Rossini Opera Festival
this August in “La Gazza Ladra” . This will be the first time for you.
Have you performed with other members of the cast before?
A- I actually have met and sort of worked with two of the cast members before. Teresa Iervolino and Simone Alberghini… We were on the same productions in different casts. Simone in Naples and Teresa in Rome. I look forward to ACTUALLY performing with them as they are quite wonderful people and a lot of fun!
Q. How does preparing a new role work? Do you listen to recordings, watch
Youtube, or strictly “stick to the score?” Do you find when you arrive and
start rehersals that you have to “fine-tune” the vocal aspect of your
performance, or is it simply the dramatic part that needs to be worked on?
A- I usually listen to a recording once at the beginning of the process to get an idea of tempi and the general sound of the piece … after that I stick to the score as best I can and work with pianist once I have spent a little time on my part. There is definitely a time during rehearsals where fine-tuning has to happen. Nothing is ever as you expect when you begin working with other people. Everybody has their own interpretations and you have to adjust and react accordingly both dramatically and vocally.
Q.Singers have suggested that Rossini is particularly difficult and for
that reason some migrate away as their voice ages. Do you have any
thoughts on this, since you are still very young?
A- Rossini is quite difficult and, yes, not something that can usually be sustained for an entire career, at least not the same Rossini roles throughout a career. Most of the time a singer can continue to sing the more serious Rossini pieces later in their career while leaving behind the lighter fare. I can definitely understand the issue of the voice aging and maturing creating a need to move on in the repertoire. Being 31 and on the heels of another vocal shift (generally speaking this is around the time male voices have another change) I can easily identify with the migration. Each passing year I feel my voice leaning toward the desire for more legato and less coloratura or, at least, more variety in musical style. I feel Donizetti and Bellini beginning to whisper my name more loudly and, while I love Rossini, at some point I will have to answer their call. 😀
Q. Are there particular Rossini roles you look forward to adding to your
A- In addition to looking forward to adding Giannetto (officially) I am open to whatever else comes my way. Honestly I don’t have anything specific I am chomping at the bit to do. I take what I’m given.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to share with us about singing,
your career, or your motorcycle? Pesaro is very motorcycle friendly BTW!!!
A- I’m somewhat of a motorcycle fanatic and Pesaro is VERY motorcycle friendly… I have taken notice of this already and wish I had a motorcycle here! I tried to find a way to rent one while in town but had zero luck!
Thank you for your time!