Q & A with brilliant baritone Thomas Cannon (@voicecannon)! Don't miss the 2018 FWOpera Gala on April 21, 2018 (5:30 to 11 PM) at the Van Cliburn Recital Hall, followed by a festive after-party on the stage of Bass Performance Hall. Cannon will be dazzling guests during the evening's elegant cocktail hour! Purchase Gala tickets at www.fwopera.org.
1. What made you decide to pursue a career in opera?
I saw my first operas through the outreach programs of the New Orleans Opera (@neworleansopera). I didn't come from a family of opera connoisseurs, nor a particularly wealthy family, so I am a living testimony of the impact of educational outreach. I remember seeing Tosca, La bohème, and even The King and I, absolutely loving every moment of it.
One day my college voice studio decided to take a trip to Columbus, Georgia, to see Jessye Norman in recital. It was during her performance that I knew I would be an opera singer. Everything about her was magnificent. She sang Schubert, Strauss, and a collection of spirituals. Somewhere between "Die Allmacht" and "There's a Man Goin' Round," I felt, I can do this!
2. Which has been your most challenging role so far and why?
Scarpia! Without a doubt. I was so lucky to do this role twice, back to back, in 2017. There have been so many great Scarpia's in operas history, my mind goes immediately to Tito Gobbi or George London. I wanted my villain to be much more cunning, sly, and more seductive than the giant bellowing baritone that we've come to expect.
This was a grand challenge, considering all the powers Scarpia possess. He is the chief of police and the queen's henchman, with the stroke of a pen he can order the death of any who opposes him. It is, therefore, a great temptation to portray that power with the vocal apparatus. During my preparation, I made myself a promise to sing Puccini's score as cleverly and deliciously as he wrote it.