Monday, August 29, 2011

Baritone Mark Walters' Plea to Placido!

This will be my second time to sing the role of Valentin in Faust.  It is one of 10 roles that I have been fortunate to have studied with renowned American Baritone Sherrill Milnes.  I’m really excited about working with the excellent cast lined up for this production.

One of Valentin’s main concerns in the opera is protecting his younger sister.  My younger sister, Stephanie, actually lives in the Phoenix area.  We don’t get to see each other very often and I am looking forward to spending time with her and her husband, Brad, and my 2 young nephews – Tyler and Parker.

I love to hike when I’m on the road and am eager to explore the trails in the area.  I’m also a novice golfer and will bring my clubs with me to hit a course or two with my brother-in-law.
What got me started in music?  

My mother’s uncle was a local French Horn teacher and she encouraged me to join the public school band in 4th grade.  I wasn’t too interested in joining band - until LeAnn, the blond-haired, blue-eyed, Baptist preacher’s daughter who lived across the street joined band in 5th grade.  I then announced to my mother that I thought I’d like to give band a try.J  It didn’t workout with LeAnn, but music stuck in a big way.

Coolest gig that I wasn’t able to take? 

Placido Domingo asked me to understudy him in Simon Boccanegra in Los Angeles this coming January. Unfortunately, I was already booked to sing the title role in Rigoletto in Miami at the same time. 

Placido – please give me a call the next time you need a baritone cover!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Joseph Wolverton Visits Arizona Opera Once Again!

I have a long history with this role of Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, my childhood was filled with music.  You see, my father was passionate about singing and especially Italian opera.  We would religiously listen to the Saturday broadcast from the Met, and all other times there were records (yes, I am that old) to enjoy.  I began to sing along with these recordings and the rest, as they say, is history.  The reason I tell you this is that when I was asked to sing this role, I immediately opened the score to see all the music that was unfamiliar to me, only to find that I knew the entire role from hearing it in my home through the years!

Once while performing Turiddu, I was singing my farewell to my mother (Addio alla Madre) when my suit coat button got tangled in my mothers shawl, and I spent the majority of the aria trying to extricate myself so I could make my exit.  I think it must have looked like a wrestling match.

I also have a history in Phoenix.  I have sung three productions for the Arizona Opera (Pinkerton and twice Rodolfo), as well as singing with the symphony numerous times with Doc Severinsen, performing an evening of Italian popular songs.  I  performed under Theo Alcantara for those of you who are long time attendees of the symphony.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Get to know Peter Volpe and his history with the role of Ramphis in Aida

My relationship with Aida by now has been a long and happy one!  I was first exposed to the opera as a young boy.  I had been listening to opera and favorite singers since 1973 or so, and the operas of Verdi always had, and still have for me, a particular allure.  It was sometime around then I first listened to Aida and became familiar with it.  I recognized that there were two bass roles that I might someday be able to voice changed when I was very young, and I was already a bass by then.  By the time I was twenty-two, my first performance opportunity with Aida had arrived.  I was to sing the role of the King of Egypt in a concert performance of the opera at Carnegie hall in New York City with the Manhattan Philharmonic.  Talk about trial by fire!!  I am happy to report that it went very well and that performance led to many, many more as the King. 

By the time I was 35, I had matured enough to take on the other bass role, Ramphis...the bigger one!  I was lucky to be successful as Ramphis as well and this led to  more productions of Aida and much more opportunity to hone my Ramphis skills!  Aida has been very good to me over the years and I am thrilled to be performing in it with the Arizona Opera! 
When I am not performing and find a break in my schedule, I enjoy being at my home in upstate New York with my wife, where  I own a 90 acre farm which keeps me busy, happy and in good shape!  There is always plenty of work to be done and for me, coming home and getting my hands dirty keeps me balanced.  I have had a very fortunate and happy relationship with the Arizona Opera over the last 12 years, and I am always elated  to return to work for this esteemed company.  I do receive a personal perk when I am in Arizona, and that is my in-laws have retired to Phoenix and it gives me a wonderful opportunity to visit with them and take them to a show. Over the years they have seen me in many performances in Phoenix, and they very much look forward to me singing with Arizona do I!! "