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Savannah VOICE Festival: The festival presents annual crowd-pleaser with Broadway VOICES concert

  • Nicholas Yaquinto. Photo by KamCo Photography.

Savannah VOICE Festival: The festival presents annual crowd-pleaser with Broadway VOICES concert

02 Aug 2017

Opera singer Nicholas Yaquinto is about to make his Savannah VOICE Festival debut.

“This is my first time,” he says. “It started the year I left and moved to Atlanta.

“I didn’t know about it until recently. As an opera singer, I do auditions yearly for companies. If see a company is doing a show that has a good part for you, you audition and hope you get the part.

“I’ve done ‘The Barber of Seville’ before and they liked me,” Yaquinto says. “I ended up as the understudy of the main character, playing two small roles.”

Yaquinto will participate in several concerts. The annual celebration of Broadway is taking a lighter turn with the Savannah VOICE Festival’s “Broadway VOICES: Make ’em Laugh” concert on Aug. 13 at the Asbury Memorial Theatre.

“Singin’ in the Rain” and other Broadway favorites will be heard in this performance, which features the festival artists directed by pianist Dan Gettinger, who will also serve as the musical director for the festival’s Scenes and Songs concert.

Yaquinto is appearing in “Shave and a Haircut,” has the role of Fiorello/officer in “The Barber of Seville” and other productions, including “Opera Idol,” the finale and the Camelot Salon Series.

He is an active member of the Atlanta music scene, and recently made his professional debut at the Atlanta Opera as Paris in their production of “Roméo et Juliette.” In the 2016 summer season, he performed the title role of Roscoe Conway in Seagle Music Colony’s world premiere production of “Roscoe” by Evan Mack.

Since receiving his BMA from Georgia State University in May 2015, Yaquinto was a winner of the Atlanta District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, received both the Casa Italia Vocal Scholarship and the FAVA Excellence in French Repertoire award at the 2015 CS Classical Singer Competition in Chicago, and premiered at the Atlanta Symphony as Papagano in their production of “My Family Valentine.”

Yaquinto has performed several roles across the United States, including Figaro in “The Barber of Seville,” Schaunard in “La Bohème,” Demetrius in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Guglielmo in “Così fan tutte,” Marullo in “Rigoletto,” and Count Almaviva in “The Marriage of Figaro.”

“When I was in Savannah, I was always a singer,” Yaquinto says. “I went to Shuman Middle School and had a great music teacher. I went to the Savannah Arts Academy and always sang in the choir.

“I did a lot of barbershop music. I started doing musical theater. “It wasn’t until college that I did opera,” he says. “I’ve only been doing opera for six years.”

It took some time for him to appreciate opera.

“It took me a while to warm up to it,” Yaquinto says. “Your ear isn’t adjusted to it, even though it’s the natural way to sing. “You’re making a sound large enough to fill the hall and pass over the orchestra,” he says. “It’s been an ongoing love affair for me. I love it so much.”

Yaquinto says he has been lucky to land some impressive roles.

“My favorite role is the one I’m understudying – Figaro,” he says. “This summer, I did a world premiere.

“I’ve done ‘La Boheme,’ ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” Yaquinto says. “Once I fall in love, I usually stay with it.”

Currently, Yaquinto isn’t based in any one place.

“I’m starting grad school in Tallahassee,” he says. “The last three months, I was in Europe and in New York doing a school program. I’ve been on the road for six months.”

Opera singers study throughout their careers.

“Operatic performance is at its most competitive level right now,” Yaquinto says. “Your voice doesn’t finish maturing until around 32. I’m 24 right now.

“I’m not expert enough to hit professional singing. I’m going to get more training.

“I’ll also be teaching voice at Florida State,” he says. “It will allow me to teach in university. It is nice to have that cushion, although I think I can direct operas and be happy.”

There is even more on Yaquinto’s plate.

“I’ve also got a scholarship to Florida State University,” he says. “Then I’ll probably move to Europe and try to get working as a young artist there.”

Europe is more welcoming to young opera singers, Yaquinto says.

“It’s a very different culture there, the opera culture,” he says. “There’s a lot more money for opera because they get more funding from the government.

“This is something I’m really passionate about. I’m an example of someone who came from a culture that didn’t know anything about it.

“The thing about opera is the real way to understand it is to see it live,” Yaquinto says. “Recordings are well and good, but you don’t get all the voice when you’re listening to a recording.”

Live is always better.

“There is something magical about sitting in an orchestra and seeing all the motion and energy pouring out,” he says. “Anyone who doesn’t like opera hasn’t seen opera.

“Opera utilizes choreography, dance and costumes. The singers are acting, they are singing in different languages and using translation and so on. Anyone who doesn’t know opera, it’s an experience they don’t know they love.

“I did a lot of things in music before I came to opera,” Yaquinto says. “I think what Maria and Sherrill are doing is really important. I want everyone to have access to it. It’s about connecting people to other people through story and song.”


What: “Broadway VOICES: Make ’em Laugh”

When: 5 p.m. Aug. 13

Where: Asbury Memorial Theatre, 1008 E. Henry St.

Cost: $55