Magazine article Opera Canada

The Final Take: Music Daniel Okulitch Can't Live Without

Magazine article Opera Canada

The Final Take: Music Daniel Okulitch Can't Live Without

Article excerpt

Daniel Okulitch has come a long way since he was thrust into the limelight in 2002 as Schaunard in Baz Luhrmann's production of Puccini's La boheme on Broadway. Since then, it's been a whirlwind of new roles, new productions and world premieres, including Howard Shore's The Fly, which he performed in Paris and Los Angeles. Now 34, the Ottawa-born, Calgary-raised bass-baritone is as busy as ever at home and abroad. Early this summer, he garnered rave reviews as Willy Wonka in the world premiere of Peter Ash's The Golden Ticket (inspired by Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) for Opera Theatre of St. Louis. In July, he made his debut at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires as Don Giovanni, a signature role. Returning to Canada, Okulitch headed to a Toronto studio to record the soundtrack for Canadian composer Alexina Louie's new made-for-television opera. Slated to air on CBC Television, much secrecy surrounds this already controversial Rhombus Media production, described by the composer only as a "Canadian political satire." "It's a fun project," says Okulitch, "challenging and unique ... I hope I don't get sued." Apart from Beethoven's 9th with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and a gala for Opera Hamilton (both January), the remainder of Okulitch's 2010/11 season is dominated by Mozart, including the title role in Le nozze di Figaro for both Los Angeles Opera (Sept./Oct.) and Polish National Opera (Dec), and Don Giovanni for Opera Theatre of St. Louis (May/Jun.). Next summer, there's another new role, Abdul, in a rare production of Gian Carlo Menotti's The Last Savage for Santa Fe Opera.

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The Norwegian girl pop band Ephemera is perfect as music that makes me happy and buoyant on the road. This 2003 breakthrough album contains most of the tracks I listen to--infectious melodies and sweet, curious lyrics. Great in the background or as gentle, bubbling wake-up music.

TILL THE SUN TURNS BLACK

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I have soft spot for acoustic, singer/songwriter artists, and LaMontagne is on my short list. There is a powerful intimacy to his voice and songs, reminiscent of Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, but still uniquely him. I'm drawn into his lyrics, some of which ache with melancholy. I sometimes dream of being alone on a stage with a guitar, singing songs like these. …

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