Magazine article Opera Canada

Justin Welsh

Magazine article Opera Canada

Justin Welsh

Article excerpt

Canadian baritone Justin Welsh was not always enamoured with opera. When he started singing at 10, he was strongly influenced by pop and musical theatre, and it was his high-school music teacher and opera-loving sister who suggested he get operatic training when university decisions came around. "After much resistance because I felt opera was boring, I took their suggestions," he concedes, "and after about six months of actually listening to and studying opera, I fell in love with it. The rest is history."

Welsh's mentors have "pushed his limits" and "sometimes by even just a phrase" put him on a surer vocal or dramatic path. These guides have included singers Gary Relyea and Timothy Noble, director Tom Diamond and coach Don Tarnawski. During his training at University of British Columbia, Nancy Hermiston immersed him even further in the world of opera. "I was treated by her to special guests such as Judith Forst and the late Irving Guttmann. This led me to young artists programs with Pacific Opera Victora, Opera Nuova and the Canadian Opera Company." Welsh is also a past Fellow at Tanglewood's Summer Institute, has toured with Jeunesses Musicales and also worked with Tapestry Opera in Toronto.

Given the dark quality to his voice, "there is a possibility I may cross to bass-baritone roles, but I have a suspicion that my voice will just continue to get fuller and richer to encompass some larger dream roles." These include Don Giovanni, Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Rodrigo (Don Carlos), Rigoletto, Wagner's Dutchman and Puccini's Scarpia. "I have been told many times that my voice is still young for the main roles I could perform," he says. "I truly would also like to diversify across other vocal genres such as jazz, classical Motown and even return to musicals from time to time. I think, in this day and age, it is important to be flexible with our God given talents."

A highlight of Welsh's career so far has been the role of Queequeg in Calgary Opera's Canadian premiere of Jake Heggie's Moby Dick. "I had the pleasure of working with Ben Heppner, Brett Pologato, Colin Ainsworth and so many other great talents, and we put on a fantastic show. I was very proud of it. I felt it was a stepping stone for me where I gained confidence taking on larger roles. …

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