Juan "Johnny" Huerta - Biography Q&A
Where are you from?
I’m a native of Phoenix, Arizona and the wonderful City of Surprise is my home.
Which character are you portraying and do you identify with him or her at all in your own life?
I am interpreting the role of Rodolfo. I suppose I can relate to him. Perhaps we all can. We experience love in many facets, and I’m sure we’ve all made sacrifices for the ones we adore - especially if we believe they’ll benefit from it. Like Rodolfo I’ve experienced the best of the human condition and I’ve also been humbled by it in just pursuits. Naturally, I‘m a bit of a problem solver and sometimes that requires sacrifices to be made whilst maintaining hope throughout one’s journey.
What appeals to you about working with Windy City Opera?
It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve visited Chicago, and I’m excited to return to perform this magnificent work from Puccini’s arsenal. I can’t imagine a better place to experience this than with the Windy City Opera.
What’s something about opera that fascinates you?
The beauty of the music and the versatility of the human voice is really astonishing. There always comes a point in the music and the vocal lines that just tugs at your heart strings. If you’ve ever experienced that warm, fuzzy, one-of-a-kind, embracing sensation that reaches far into the depths of your very being, gives you goose-bumps, and draws a single furtive tear, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
When did you know performing opera was what you wanted to do with your life?
I was introduced to the genre in my formative years by a dear friend, Ramon Valles Sr. He was like a second dad to me and I cherished our friendship. He was watching a PBS special one night and he invited me in to watch. Initially I thought, “No! Not another painter.” And then came the glorious sounds of the orchestra followed by the bearded fluffy fellow who started singing the likes of which I’ve never heard. A decade or so later came Jeanne Anderson; certainly an angel in disguise who led me to the stage, so to speak, front and center. Many people followed and many have helped in my development. Thanks to them and the Windy City Opera, I’ve the pleasure of ringing in my 7th Tenorversary this March singing the lead role in the very opera that would forever change my life.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not involved with singing or preparing a role?
I frequent the movie theater often. It’s one my favorite pastimes. I’m also passionately involved with the law enforcement community where I serve as mentor and play a supportive role to the fine men and women on the front lines. Otherwise, I’m involved with a number of community outreach programs such as the Episcopal faith’s Cursillo movement. De Colores!
What did you think of the first opera that you saw/heard?
La Bohème was my first opera. It was pretty exciting and it was the first time I had ever experienced the thrill of the human voice live. It was a great experience. I’ve always had an appreciation for the music, the arias, and the storyline itself. I was a little bereaved at the end, but gosh, who wasn’t?
What music has inspired you recently – opera or otherwise?
Surprisingly enough I’m going to have to go with Franz Schubert’s, "Nacht und Traume". It just came out of nowhere and is perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever heard. Plus, it came to me at a moment when perhaps I needed it most.
Did you have an experience related to singing, while stressful or unexpected at the time, you now find amusing?
Indeed I have. I was volunteering at a special event involving a makeshift courtroom, a court clerk, and a judge. The clerk recognized me, and his Honor overheard her whispers to a colleague at which point the judge smiled and said, “Sing or be held in contempt!” Clearly a prayer was in order, so "Ave Maria" it was.
Do you sing to your pets? If so, do they enjoy it?
I used to. I don’t have any now, but I’m not opposed to singing to yours given the opportunity. Little Sophie is our resident mascot at the Phoenix Opera studio and she’s proven time and time again that she’s not afraid to sing your pitch for you when you fall a little short. She’s the best!
Have you ever worn a stage costume outside of the theater?
If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be…
There are so many wonderful people in this world however I would have to reserve this privilege for the greatest and sweetest of them all: my angel mother Juanita.
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, I would choose…
You know life is pretty good. But if I had chance to be a kid again, even if just for a day, I would consider trading places with my adolescent self.
Tell us a secret.
I sogni non sono in vani. Unless you’re terrified of heights, and in that dream you’re falling off a high rise building. Worst ever.