Thursday, May 28, 2015

Get to Know Jesse Blumberg

Jesse Blumberg is a busy man. The baritone sang in Hawaii, Boston and Paris (among others) in the 14/15 season. This weekend, he sings the role of Charlie (the adult son of Maddy coping with the loss of his partner to AIDS) in Three Decembers. We spoke with Jesse to learn more about his time in Atlanta, his "perfect day," and his preparation for different roles.

This is your Atlanta debut. Seems like there’s a balance between getting used to a long stay in a new town, while learning a new production. What’s that process like?

I've performed in the Atlanta area before, but it's great to be in the city and making a debut with The Atlanta Opera. This three-week stay is a bit shorter than usual for an opera stint, but then again this opera is shorter than usual. Rehearsals never felt rushed, and there was still time to explore the city a bit, too. Every out of town stay is different, but this one has felt relaxed and comfortable. I try to go running every couple days, so the parks and the Beltline trails have been great for that. And this is such a food and beer town, which has made for some delicious and fun times out with our wonderful cast and production team.

An ideal day in the life of Jesse Blumberg is…

That's a tough one - but it probably involves friends and family, good food, and some sort of rewarding musical project. If you can get all of those into one day, then it's an ideal day indeed.

How do you prepare and get into a role like Charlie? And how does it compare with preparing for your previous roles, like Figaro?

Three Decembers feels more like a play than an opera, in many ways; it just happens to be sung. But the characters are very much like those you'd meet in a theatrical family drama, and a lot of their issues among each other are ones that anyone who's ever been part of a family can relate to.  And the theme of loss that runs throughout is one that we all know, as well. Charlie is losing his partner to AIDS, and interestingly enough, I've told a very similar story on stage before, in Ricky Ian Gordon's Green Sneakers. Both of these stories are so personal, while still dealing with very universal matters - fear, loss, grieving. But I think then you trust the material the librettist and composer have given you, and you trust your director (and our Emma Griffin couldn't be better!) to let you know when you're going too far, or not far enough.  It's been a wonderful process these few weeks, and I can't wait to see what the audience thinks of this powerful piece of theatre.  

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