This is the first installment in what I hope to be a regular series of interviews with friends of mine who are actively pursuing careers in classical music. Matthew Anchel is a bass and native New Yorker currently spending the season as a Domingo-Thornton Young Artist at the Los Angeles Opera.

Jacob Paul: Good Evening Matt

Matthew Anchel: Hello Jacob!!

JP: I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to join me today from clear across the country.

MA: Oh goodness, it’s my pleasure!

JP: Now Matt, what was your reaction when you learned you would be joining LA Opera‘s prestigious Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program for the 2010-2011 Season?

MA: Well! It had been such a big journey, literally. When you audition for the program you submit an audio recording and if they like it you’re flown out to LA to sing for them in person.That first round of live auditions is the semifinals, and in that audition I sang 3 arias and after I was finished, they asked me “Do you think you’re ready for a program like this? You haven’t finished your degree, and you’re 22!” and I stomped my foot and said, “YES! I’M READY!!!!” And then I got to the final round where you sing for Placido Domingo.

JP: And what was that like? Singing for a living legend…

MA: well, I was sort of surprised because I didn’t really realize I’d be singing on the big stage, and then I walked out and was like, “Oh…so….this is it…”but I saw Placido in the distance and he smiled and waved. It was a fun audition!

JP: And how has the season treated you thus far?

MA: Well, it was an ENORMOUS educational experience.Lohengrin had some big time singers in it, Dolora Zajick, Ben Heppner, Soile Isokoski, and it was all under the baton of James Conlon, who is amazing. I only had a small part in it, but being surrounded by these amazing artists and just seeing how they work, how they interact with Stage Management, coaches, etc, it was all a huge learning experience. Rigoletto was fun because I had a slightly bigger role, Count Ceprano, and had a fabulous costume with sequins and feathers! Great cast too!

JP: Sounds like it. And why don’t you share your exciting news for the 2011-2012 season.

MA: Ha! Well, I’ll be moving to Leipzig, Germany to become a member of the ensemble at Leipzig Oper for the next two seasons!

JP: Any news on what your assignments will be when you arrive?

MA: so far I know I will be singing Alaska Wolf Joe in Rise anf Fall of Mahagonny, Harasta in Cunning Little Vixen, 2nd Armored Man in Magic Flute, Marchese d’Obigny in La Traviata and a few other things.

JP: Fantastic. Why don’t you let the readers know a little bit about your musical background.  Both of your parents were singers weren’t they?
MA: Yes, my parents met while they were both pursuing careers as opera singers. They fell madly in love and got married, but stopped singing shortly after I was born, but stayed in New York City, so I grew up with all sorts of music all the time.And when I was 5 or 6 my mother got me an audition to sing for the MET Opera children’s chorus, and that was my first singing gig for 3 or 4 years!
JP: You definitely started at the top!

MA: HA! Well, I was clueless. I’d have lunch with Teresa Stratas and talk her ear off and had no idea who she was!
JP: You also went to the LaGuardia School for the Performing Arts…
MA: Yes I did. Those four years were amazing. I miss LaGuardia a lot sometimes. I actually started singing opera “for real” in my junior and senior year there, but as a tenor, and then I got into Manhattan School of Music AS A TENOR! Insane!
JP: And how was your time at the Manhattan School of Music?
MA: Well, it was not the ideal college experience, and I never finished my degree, but I got to meet a lot of really incredible people there, including my amazing voice teacher Patricia McCaffrey. I was also lucky enough to be in one of the operas, Griffelkin, and sing in Dona D. Vaughan’s production of The Beggar’s Opera, which was fun! My problem is I just wanted to perform in shows, not study for theory and aural skills!
JP: Like most of us sometimes.
MA: Haha, yes, true, I guess I was just impatient! But I made a lot of great friends and learned a lot of important things!
JP: Care to elaborate?
MA: Well, for one, I learned that I was a Bass! I got into the school as a tenor and totally identified myself as A TENOR! My first teacher, Maitland Peters, heard it right away that I was NOT a tenor, and we figured out what I actually was…which was a surprise! It’s hard to believe I got into college singing “Ecco ridente,” OYE!

You can learn about Mr. Anchel’s upcoming engagements and listen to sound recordings by visiting www.matthewanchel.com
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