Magazine article Opera Canada

Gary Rideout

Magazine article Opera Canada

Gary Rideout

Article excerpt

IF a true artist is like a chameleon, capable of extraordinary feats of transformation, then tenor Gary Rideout eminently qualifies. Whether it is the withered octogenarian Hauk-Sendorf in The Makropoulos Case, the scheming Mime in Siegfried, the haunting Andres in Wozzeck or an outrageously campy Witch in Hansel und Gretel, Rideout always combines vivid acting with a ringing tenor that gives the audience the pleasure of hearing character roles sung, not barked.

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In Canada recently for performances of Britten's The Prodigal Son, Rideout regrets singing so little in his home country. "Niki Goldschmidt said to me, 'How come we don't know about you?' You know, I would love to sing more in Canada." A native of Hartland, New Brunswick, Rideout began singing early: "I was one of those boys with a pretty voice, and I did well in local music competitions." At the University of Toronto opera school, he studied with Jean McPhail, whom he considers a great teacher, and after graduation, he worked with Franco Iglesias in New York before making the switch to William and Dixie Ross Neill. As a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble, Rideout made his operatic debut as the boyar in attendance in Boris Godunov, followed by supporting roles in Die Zauberflote, Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, La forza del destino, Don Carlos, Queen of Spades, La boheme and Andrea Chenier.

To build his career, he went where the work was--Calgary, Ottawa, Victoria, Hawaii--for roles like Cavaradossi in Tosca, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and the tenor in Montemezzi's L'amore dei tre re. His success as Hauk-Sendorf took him to Vancouver and San Francisco; his portrayal in the COC's 1989 production is preserved on commercial video (VAI label)).

His fledging career took an unexpected turn when Hal Prince auditioned him for Phantom of the Opera. Rideout ended up singing Piangi in Toronto and New York, and has fond memories of Broadway, calling the run "one of the most amazing experiences of my life."

His next break came in 1996 as Loge for Arizona Opera. It was the marriage of a big voice with good acting, a must for Loge. Rideout received critical accolades, especially important to him since he did not come easily to the German repertoire. "I was scared of it," he says. "My mother is Italian, and she believes if you are an opera singer, you sing Italian. There was a little bit of that in me, too. …

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