The Atlanta Opera Blog

Opera!  True Atlanta Story
The Atlanta Opera takes you behind the scenes as only we can. Brandon
Odom tells you what it’s like to be a member of The Atlanta Opera Chorus…
 

Brandon Odom, member of Atlanta Opera Chorus can next be seen in The Italian Girl in Algiers – April 27 & 30, May 3 & 5


Tell us a little bit about yourself…. where are you from, how did you
get into singing opera? 
I came to Georgia from Mobile, AL in 2002 with the
hopes of taking my musical training to the next level.  I loved musical theater and wanted more
opportunities to perform, so I thought it made sense to
move to the “big city”.  I enrolled at
Clayton State University and began studying voice with Maya Hoover.  She introduced me to the world of opera and
art song, and I had the bonus of free tickets to every Spivey Hall recital as a
music major.  Our campus hosted Joyce
DiDonato, Susan Graham, Rolando Villazón, to name a few, and I was there for it. 
My last semester at school, there was a chorus opening
in Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, which
was the last show of the Atlanta Opera’s season that year.  I auditioned for Walter Huff, and was offered
the position. 
L’Italiana
in Algeri
will be my fifteenth opera with the company.      
What do you do to prepare for a production? 
          We
began musical rehearsals in March.  Like
many members of the chorus, I work a full-time job.  The week before opening night is always the
most tiring, as we rehearse every night until the final dress rehearsal. When
the production opens, usually on Saturday night, I do my best to sleep in as
late as possible.  Some may call this
lazy, but after a solid week of 13-hour days, it is important your body and
voice have a chance to rest.  I’ll sleep
in and try not to talk too much throughout the day (yeah, right!) I usually
look over my music once more and refresh my memory, then it’s off to warm up at
the theater! 
         
 What about The Italian Girl in Algiers appeals the most to you?
Rossini’s
operas, in general, appeal to me.   I fell in love with Gioachino Rossini when I
was fortunate enough to be a part of the Atlanta Opera’s 2008 production of La Cenerentola, a “Cinderella”
story.   I loved the rapid-fire
coloratura and the flurry of simultaneous vocal lines layered one on top of the
other, as well as the silly, yet precise staging.   L’italiana
in Algeri
is in the same realm, and equally as engaging.
Do you have a favorite aria or scene from Italian Girl?
The
entire concept of the show, as a “pop-up book,” is unlike anything I’ve done
with the company and I think the audience will love it!  There are
several moments, in particular, that I enjoy tremendously.   A moment that stands out is in Act Two, when
Isabella sings “Pensa alla patria”, a hopeful and victorious aria.  It is quintessential Rossini, and is
performed beautifully by Sandra
Piques Eddy
.  Even though there is
relatively little movement during that scene, there is an underlying, palpable
energy that builds to a glorious end!  
How is Italian Girl different
from other operas?
I suppose the obvious difference would be the absence
of a women’s chorus, as is the case in many of Rossini’s comedies. In general,
I feel like we interact differently with each other than when the women are
present.  There is a unique bond in this
smaller group.  It’s apples and oranges,
though.  The women and the men of this
chorus have come to be my extended family and I’m grateful for them.  When you spend a large amount of your year
with a group, you develop solid relationships. 
          One
thing that season ticket holders will notice is that this is the only opera of
the season where the heroine does not die in the end.  We already lost Carmen and Violetta earlier
this season, so a comedy will be a nice departure, and add some variety to the
season.  Some of my friends had never
seen an opera before this season and they were convinced that death was an
integral part of opera.  This will
definitely change their mind!
What advice would you give to someone looking to become an opera singer?
I believe that everyone has their own path, and
must discover what is best for them.  The
best advice I could give, based on what I’ve experienced thus far, is to not be
in a hurry.  You have to let your voice
grow at its own pace and, if you rush it, then it could do permanent
damage.   Find a teacher you trust,
practice, and be patient.  I am fortunate
that being a part of The Atlanta Opera Chorus has allowed me to grow as a
singer and performer, and will continue to do so as long as they will have
me. 
If someone created an opera about you and your life what would the title
of the opera be?
If I were to be the subject of an opera, I would it
want it to be a comedy, very much like Italian
Girl
.  How about, “Boy from ‘Bama
Becomes a Baritone?”  I love
alliteration.  

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