Samuel Weiser - Biography Q&A
Where are you from?
I’m originally from around Princeton, New Jersey but I currently reside in Wicker Park, Chicago and am thrilled to be living in the city!
Which character are you portraying and do you identify with him or her at all in your own life?
I am going to be singing the role of Colline in this great work, and I think Colline likes to think he is “worldly” and “well-educated” though I’m not certain that he actually knows how he measures up on the scale of other philosophers. He would probably answer with something like “I don’t compare myself to others. I am as I am.” In a sense, I too relate to this. I take life as it is (and given the lot Colline was given, that isn’t much) and try to keep my worries and stresses at bay.
What appeals to you about working with Windy City Opera?
I worked with a company much like Windy City Opera in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called Undercroft Opera. That company really gave me the facility to develop as a singing performer and learn to fly, as it were. I know I have a ways to go in my own development as a singer, and this will give me somewhere to do just that! My hope is that this company will reach young singers such as myself and afford them the same opportunity with which I was presented a few years ago when I needed to have a start.
What’s something about opera that fascinates you?
This opera is one that enthralls audiences and with very good reason. I think the show really relies on character development and this is really something that interests me. Each main character goes through a change through the show and this is incredibly important to relay to our audience. The best part is knowing that these characters are incredibly real in so many ways, and it allows the spectator and performer alike to relate and emote just as these characters would.
When did you know performing opera was what you wanted to do with your life?
I was studying with my teacher in undergrad Dr. Joseph Baunoch, and he encouraged me to audition for Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah” with Undercroft and I gave it a shot, and was cast in my first extracurricular opera. I had a ball performing the role of Elder Ott and realized that I indeed would like this to be my life. It was such a turn-on to this art form and allowed for me to know undoubtedly that this is something that I could do, and do well with a sense of incredible fulfillment.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not involved with singing or preparing a role?
I enjoy reading to learn new things. I am a firm believer that anything I read fiction or non-fiction will play into my development as a person and as a musician. I also enjoy going to concerts, in or outside of the realm of classical music. A guilty pleasure of mine is watching documentary type things on Netflix. I really like experiencing new craft beer as well, and I like to visit some breweries around the city. Special shoutout to Revoltion Brewing, you keep me going when I need something to relax me and is incredibly tasty.
What did you think of the first opera that you saw/heard?
I saw Don Giovanni at the Pittsburgh Opera and I was incredibly impressed with this performance. At the time the recitative was a bit odd to me, and I had to really combat my reservations about this part of the art form. All in all, it really impressed upon me that this is something I would really enjoy doing and could make a living from!
What music has inspired you recently – opera or otherwise?
I really like the musical expression of Mr. Bungle and The Mars Volta. Their experimental side of musical performance really piques my interest as something that really should be done more often. Popular culture should embrace more of the unknown; get out from the routine of things and be adventurous. This is something that I feel to be very becoming and I challenge anyone to broaden their musical horizons. I do like what I like, but I will give anything a listen at least three times.
Did you have an experience related to singing, while stressful or unexpected at the time, you now find amusing?
This past summer, I was in Weimar, Germany performing “Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor” or “The Merry Wives of Windsor” as both Sir John Falstaff and as Dr. Cajus. Prior to this trip, I was student teaching and had very little, if any time to learn these roles. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the undertaking was much larger than I initially anticipated and I fell flat on my face when I arrived in Europe. I had to pick up from there and learn as I went when we were staging and coaching. An experience to be certain, but not something I really find terribly amusing. Yes, I have improved since then, but this is something I will never forget, because it is important to know the role the absolute best you can.
Do you sing to your pets? If so, do they enjoy it?
I have no pets currently, but I live with two roommates and I hope they enjoy it. I do however respect their sleep schedules and such…usually.
Have you ever worn a stage costume outside of the theater?
I actually played Sarastro from “The Magic Flute” this past summer as well and I forgot to take off my stage makeup prior to leaving the theatre and got many weird looks on the streets of Pittsburgh. Then again, I had a Masonic “All-Seeing Eye” painted on my forehead and made up to look quite a bit older than I actually am….Come to think of it, this will be the case a lot for my voice type, at least for a while.
If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be…
Probably Kurt Moll. He is definitely my favorite operatic bass and I would love to learn some things from him. He also seems like quite a nice fellow and would probably give me a few laughs…I know his Osmin certainly did.
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, I would choose…
I would probably like to trade places with Rene Pape just to taste what international fame as an operatic bass feels like. His musicianship and acting are great and I just want to know how great it feels to have that sort of prestige. I do know that comes with time and a whole lot of effort, and it would certainly be high stress being him for a day, but totally worth it.
Tell us a secret.
I really like writing. A lot. I communicate best through written word rather than through spoken word. It is something I am working on.