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Russell Hoke   -   Biography   Q&A

Where are you from?

Originally Elgin IL, but now reside in Chicago


Which character are you portraying and do you identify with him or her at all in your own life?

I am singing the role of Marcello, The artist.  I do identify with him in many ways.  I am always trying to paint the big picture and often use a quick wit to diffuse situations


What appeals to you about working with Windy City Opera?

I am excited to have a chance to perform this masterwork for the first time.  Cutting your teeth in Puccini is never easy, but working with professionals and having a chance to perform for an audience is always beneficial.


What’s something about opera that fascinates you? 

The ever changing rhythms.  It keeps the piece moving and keeps the musicians on their toes.  Very Challenging! 


When did you know performing opera was what you wanted to do with your life? 

When every other job that I ever had failed, and I finally gave in to what the universe was telling me.  I have grown so much since I started singing that I cannot imagine not singing any more.  


What do you enjoy doing when you are not involved with singing or preparing a role?

I am always trying to prepare a role.  Having not gone to school put me a little behind the ball as far as role prep and language skills go, so I find myself always trying to project where I am going and trying to learn the roles before I need them.  


What did you think of the first opera that you saw/heard? 

I never saw an opera until I performed one.  When I first started I bought a season pass to the Lyric Opera of Chicago and saw a great season, but found that while I love watching a great production, I couldn’t help but want to be on that stage and doing it myself!  


What music has inspired you recently – opera or otherwise? 

Well, I started out listening to rock and roll.  Bands like AC/DC and Aerosmith, then I went through my country phase, Garth Brooks and the like.  From there I spent many hours listening to Frank Sinatra and I started performing his music for a while until I landed in an opera studio.  It is a bit nutty, but it works!


Did you have an experience related to singing, while stressful or unexpected at the time, you now find amusing? 

I don’t stress about much, it wastes too much time worrying about something that you usually can’t fix.  I always find it frightening to sing a piece for the first time in public.  The overture will play and I will be there with a blank mind, not knowing the first word, then I just usually open my mouth and it comes out for some reason.  I always look back at thse moments and think, ‘How in the world did I pull that off?” 


Do you sing to your pets?  If so, do they enjoy it? 

No pets for me, but when I had them they never stuck around long once I started to sing.


Have you ever worn a stage costume outside of the theater?

Sure, this summer I was doing a tour of England and we did daily run outs for publicity.  The locals would stare amusingly and then applaud fiercely after we would perform for them.  


If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be…

My high school music teacher.  I would love to sing for her and tell her thanks for encouraging me.


If you could trade places with anyone for a day, I would choose…

Whoever the hottest tenor of the day was.  I would love to know what a high “C” feels like.  (All baritones wish they could do it, we get tired of having to be the only men on stage!  Hahahaha)


Tell us a secret. 

The reason that Coke tastes better at McDonalds is not the formula of the syrup, but the filtration system that they employ to filter their water.

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