Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Master Singer

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Master Singer

Article excerpt

Sanford Sylvan is a walking, vocalizing mass of contradictions. Esteemed as one of the leading baritones of his generation, especially in the music of his native America, he is planning a move to Edinburgh, Scotland, where his partner is a museum administrator.

In an age when singers complain that opera directors are hell on artistes, Sylvan expresses nothing but enthusiasm for Andrei Serban, Robert Wilson (they collaborated on Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts at the Houston Grand Opera, the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City, and Scotland's Edinburgh Festival), and especially the notorious Peter Sellars, who has guided him through three famous Mozart opera productions in this country and in Europe and two memorable John Adams premieres, Nixon in China (he sang Chou-En-Lai) and The Death of Klinghoffer (he was Leon Klinghoffer and was gifted with the most haunting aria in the score). And for a musician who could book himself with engagements 300 nights a year and still reject offers, Sylvan has opted to take on only the projects that satisfy his craving for artistic excellence.

Which is why, if you want to hear Sylvan this summer in this country, you will hie yourself to California for the Carmel Bach Festival July 18-August 9, where he joins a group of distinguished 18th-century music specialists under the canny leadership of music director and conductor Bruno Weil. Sylvan first sang at the festival in 1995, and if Weil can conjure miracles, he will become a regular. This is the kind of professional relationship the baritone adores--five weeks of rehearsals and performances away from the international limelight.

"Given the town's reputation, I found it quite different from what I had expected," Sylvan said in a long-distance conversation from Scotland. "Music is what comes first in Cannel. People listen carefully. I have been working on the Haydn masses with Bruno, and it's been a revelatory experience." Festival-goers will be treated to three concerts (each repeated twice) with Sylvan. …

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