Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dominique-René de Lerma: Bass-Baritone 'Kevin Short, long on talent'

[Kevin Short]

Dominique-René de Lerma (Appleton WI)
If there is a model for a young singer, it is exemplified within the biography of bass-baritone Kevin Short. He entered Morgan State University as a wrestling major (and is doubtless the only opera star to be inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame). Having an interest in music, he joined Nathan Carter's choir and thought it might not hurt to take some music classes and enroll in Betty Ridgeway's vocal studio -- and soon as a music major. In his music history class, seemingly casually but actually very intentionally, I played Osmin's aria from Mozart's Entfürhrung aus dem Serail. Kevin, then thought to be a bass, was obviously transfixed; it is likely he never heard a bass singer before. Within a week he passed by my office and mentioned he had -- on his own -- attended a Washington production of that opera, and he was enraptured. I invited him to my home to watch a VHS recording of Verdi's Macbeth. With a fresh naïve spirit, he need not know this was one of the works less often encountered, but he knew Shakespeare from his high school days. Experiences were beginning to unite. The second opera he saw was The man of La Mancha, and he was in the cast. So also his third: Porgy and Bess.

Well before his senior year, he asked me what he should do after graduation. He had already been a contestant in the Metropolitan Opera Guild's competition and, pulled aside, was lauded for his talent but, at 21, he was too young for mature roles. I told him about the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He applied and was accepted. On graduation (with honors), he applied for the opera program at the Juilliard School and gained admission. Prior to his graduation, his teacher took him to audition for professional management, and he was booked. After a stay with the New York City Opera, he was invited to join the Metropolitan Opera, where he remained for a few seasons but meanwhile had been securing European engagements -- in such number he moved to Europe and a major career.

He had several factors on his side. A good instrument was of prime importance, but he identified a straight line toward his goal, not allowing room or time for any diversion or temptation. In addition, he was so pleasant and affable a personality, never adopting a prima donna affection, that return engagements were customary. And he never forgot his roots, faithfully returning to the Baltimore-Washington area even for minor engagements (at one time when a previous agreement prevented his participation in a master class with Luciano Pavarotti).

He has sung with the major opera companies and orchestras of New York, Washington, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Kansas City, Paris, Bologna, Basel, Prague, and Stuttgart, as samples, but also in Hiroshima, Beijing, Tokyo, and Hanoi.

Now he returns to Morgan for the school's stellar four-day professional production of Porgy and Bess at the end of March (with former classmate Kishna Davis as Bess), a work he has performed in probably every European country. Those wishing to attend should call 443-885-3168 for tickets and, for future engagements contact Mirshak Artists Management, 1173 Second Avenue, #313. NY 10065 (917-282-0687).

His expansive repertoire covers not only the masterworks, but extends well into the lesser known, from the diabolical to the comic, regardless of language:

Bach, Johann Sebastian.  Johannespassion.

Bach, Johann Sebastian.  Magnificat.
Bach, Johann Sebastian.  Matthäuspassion.
Bach, Johann Sebastian.  Weihnachtsoratorium.
Beethoven, Ludwig van.  Fidelio (Pizzaro).
Beethoven, Ludwig van.  Mass, C major.
Beethoven, Ludwig van.  Missa solemnis.
Beethoven, Ludwig van. Symphony, no. 9.
Bellini, Vincenzo. Norma (Orevido).
Berlioz, Hector. La damnation de Faust (Mephistofélés).
Berlioz, Hector. L'enfance du Christ.
Bizet, Georges. Les pecheurs de perles (Nourabad).
Bizet, Georges. Carmen (Escanillo).
Boito, Arrigo. Mefistofele (Mefistofele).
Brahms, Johannes. Ein deutsches Requiem.
Britten, Benjamin. Midsummer night's dream (Bottom).
Britten, Benjamin. War requiem.
Bruckner, Anton. Te deum.
Dionizetti, Gaetano. Lucia di Lammermoor (Raimondo).
Donizetti, Gaetano. Anna Bolena (Enrico).
Dvořák, Antonín. Requiem.
Dvořák, Antonín. Stabat mater.
Dvořák, Antonín. Te deum.
Fauré, Gabriel. Requiem.
Gounod, Charles. Faust (Mephistophélès).
Gounod, Charles. Roméo et Juliet (Frère Laurent).
Handel, George Frideric. Messiah.
Handel, George Frideric. Rinaldo (Argante).
Handel, George Frideric. Semele.
Haydn, Joseph. Die Jahreszeitung.
Haydn, Joseph. Die Schöpfung.
Haydn, Joseph. Lord Nelson Mass.
Mahler, Gustav. Symphony, no. 8.
Mendelssohn, Felix. Die erste Walpurgisnacht.
Mendelssohn, Felix. Elijah.
Montemezzi, Italo. L'amore di tre re (Archibaldo).
Monteverdi, Claudio. L'incoronzaione di Poppea (Seneca).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Die Zauberflöte (Sarastro).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Osmin).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Don Giovanni (Leporello).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Le nozze di Figaro (Figaro, and Count Almaviva).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Mass, K. 317, C major.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Mass, K. 427, C minor.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Requiem.
Offenbach, Jacques. Les contes d'Hoffmann (Lindorf, Coppelius, Dr. Miracle, and Dappertutto).
Puccini, Giacomo. Gianni Schicchi (Simone).
Puccini, Giacomo. La bohème (Colline).
Puccini, Giacomo. Madama Butterfly (Sharpless).
Puccini, Giacomo. Messa di gloria.
Puccini, Giacomo. Tosca (Scarpio).
Puccini, Giacomo. Turandot (Timur).
Rossini, Gioacchino. Il barbiere di Siviglia (Basilio).
Rossini, Gioacchino. Il turco in Italia (Selim).
Rossini, Gioacchino. La cenerentola (Alindoro, and Dandino)
Rossini, Gioacchino. L'italiana in Algeri (Mustafà).
Rossini, Gioacchino. Petite messe solenelle.
Rossini, Gioacchino. Semiramide (Assur).
Rossini, Gioacchino. Stabat mater.
Saint-Saëns, Camille. Samson et Dalila (Old Hebrew).
Schubert, Franz. Mass, G major.
Strauß, Richard. Elektra (Orest).
Strauß, Richard. Salome (Jochanaan).
Stravinsky, Igor. The rake's progress (Nick Shadow).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Aida (Amonasro, Ramphis, and Il re).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Atilla (Attlia).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Don Carlo (Felipe II).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Ernani (Silva).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Il trovatore (Ferrando).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Macbeth (Banco).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Nabucco (Zaccaria).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Oberto (Oberto).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Requiem.
Verdi, Giuseppe. Rigoletto (Sparafucile).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Simon Boccanegra (Fiesco).
Weber, Carl Maria von. Der Freischütz (Caspar).

Dominique-René de Lerma

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