Magazine article Opera Canada

Alexander Dobson

Magazine article Opera Canada

Alexander Dobson

Article excerpt

Baritone Alexander Dobson was busy with rehearsals for his Calgary Opera debut--and his role debut as Harlequin in Kelly Robinson's staging of Ariadne auf Naxos--when we spoke in January. The company's premiere of the Strauss classic boasted a superb cast that included Wendy Nielsen (Ariadne), Richard Margison (Bacchus) and Tracy Dahl (Zerbinetta), with David Agler conducting. "The same production was mounted in Vancouver a couple of years ago," says Dobson. "Tracy was part of that production, too, as was tenor Michel Corbeil, our Scaramuccio. Both of them are helpful since they are used to the set and know what will work and what won't. We get to work with the lighter side of the opera and clown around a bit. It's a great cast to clown around with."

Dobson, 34, was born in Sussex, England, immigrated to Canada with his family when he was three and grew up in Toronto. He can claim musical ancestors. "My grandfather on my mother's side used to tune organs in all the major cathedrals in London, and he directed a little choir. Originally, my passion was to become a choir conductor, but I eventually steered away from that." He did sing in the Toronto Children's Chorus, and fondly remembers taking part, as a 12-year-old treble, in the Canadian premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem at Roy Thomson Hall, with Elmer Iseler conducting.

A graduate of the Opera Division or the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, and an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Calif, his passion for singing also included studies with Lois Marshall."I worked with her for four months," he says, "then she passed on. But in those four months what I learned and the encouragement she gave me were incredible. She's probably the main reason I entered this profession. She gave me the confidence to believe that I could make a career of it."

Honors have come his way on several occasions, including the Edward Marshall Association Award for Outstanding Baritone (from the International Voice Competition in Paris) and prizes in the Jeunesses Musicales National Competition, the Marilyn Horne Competition and the Jacqueline Desmarais Competition. His wide-ranging roles have included: Wozzeck with Theatre du Nouveau Monde and 1'Orchestre Metropolitain du Grand Montreal under conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin; Guglielmo (Cost fan tutte) and Ned Keene (Peter Grimes) with L'Opera de Montreal; Schaunard (La boheme) with Vancouver Opera;Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas) with Montreal's Theatre of Early Music; and Papageno in Die Zauberflote for Opera Hamilton. …

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