Sunday, July 17, 2016

Andrey Nemzer Stars in Summerfest Staging of "Julius Caesar"

Andrey Nemzer as Julius Caesar Credit: Patti Brahim


Countertenor Andrey Nemzer has gained acclaim with many distinguished opera houses. Mr. Nemzer covered the title role of Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto in a new production for the Metropolitan Opera 2012-13 and this July is singing the role of Caesar in English for Opera Theater SummerFest’s Julius Caesar. He has appeared in SummerFest in each of five seasons in lead roles and a sold-out Russian recital. During 2013–14, he debuted on the Met stage in role of The Guardian in R. Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten. Mr. Nemzer has been recognized as a rising star during major competitions including Placido Domingo’s Operalia (3rd place, 2014), Met National Council (winner 2012), and winner of Opera Theater’s Mildred Miller International Voice Competition (2012), among others.

A final performance is scheduled for 7;30 on Saturday,  July 23. For tickets, phone 412-326-9687 or visit website otsummerfest.org

Below Nemzer discusses aspects of his career in a Q & A with Summerfest staff.


Q: What have you been up since SummerFest 2015?
A: After SummerFest 2015 I participated in many different recitals in the U.S. and Russia, have been a part of Chautauqua Summer Concert Series, collaborated with Quantum Theater in opera/pastiche on Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, and covered Susan Graham at The Met as Prince Orlofsky in Strauss' Die Fledermaus. Ms. Graham unfortunately got sick, and I had a chance to go on The Met stage, which was an amazing experience; Maestro James Levine was conducting the opera. I also was a soloist in the semi-staged performance of Bach's St. John's Passion with PSO, Maestro Manfred Honeck with direction by Sam Helfrich.

Q: How do you feel about the work ahead in Julius Caesar?
A: I am very excited to be a part of this amazing opera, especially singing the leading role. This will be my first leading role, and it is a double responsibility for me to do it at the top of my abilities. At the same time, this role is very comfortable for my instrument and emotionally I am on the same level with Caesar, who said at one point, "The world is waiting to be won, waiting for the man, who dares accept its challenge". No matter how difficult life is, it is an enormous happiness to have one and to go through challenges believing in the victory.
Andrey Nemzer Photo Credit; Patti Brahim

Q: Caesar's a big one! Any other roles you’d love to perform in the future?
A: Yes, of course. My next dream is to do Ratmir from Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmila. This amazing Russian opera has been rarely performed even in Russia, because it is long (goes about 4 and a half hours), has 5 acts, and requires a big group of artists. Although I'm still hoping that one day I will be able to sing this role from which I sometimes include a wonderful aria in my recitals. I'm also looking forward to more traditional roles for countertenor from the Baroque period.

Q: Tell us briefly how you came to find your voice as a countertenor. What challenges have you experienced in the opera world with this voice type?
A: It happened accidentally. I just tried my voice one day to sound as a lady and some of my friends heard it. They were amazed by how it sounded and told me that it seems this is a career path I should take. I listened to them and followed it, which I'm so happy! The main challenge is that the repertoire of countertenor is pretty specific. Most believe the countertenor's repertoire is limited only to the Renaissance, Baroque and early Classicism. However, if a countertenor has the right appearance and voice, the singer can do pants roles from later operas and crossdress. Why not? Also besides operatic repertoire, there is a huge cantata/oratorio and art songs repertoire that is pretty much suitable for a countertenor voice. I'm very happy that nowadays an interest in countertenor singing has come back, and more and more modern composers express this interest in creating new music and roles in opera for this unique voice type

Q: Where/what will you move onto after SummerFest 2016?
A: I'm planning to stay in Pittsburgh for a while. I'm expecting contracts from Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera for very interesting projects in November 2016 and January 2017. I'm also going to collaborate in February 2017 with another amazing group of local musicians from Resonance Works to perform Bernstein's Missa Brevis. For more engagements, please follow my Facebook page and website.

Q: Andrey, besides music and opera, what other things are you passionate about?
A: I can't say there is something else that makes me as passionate as music. However, I have some other interests like passenger jets and perfume

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