Jesse Blumberg is a busy man. The baritone sang in Hawaii, Boston and Paris (among others) in the 14/15 season. This weekend, he sings the role of Charlie (the adult son of Maddy coping with the loss of his partner to AIDS) in Three Decembers. We spoke with Jesse to learn more about his time in Atlanta, his “perfect day,” and his preparation for different roles.
This is your Atlanta debut. Seems like
there’s a balance between getting used to a long stay in a new town, while
learning a new production. What’s that process like?
I’ve performed in the Atlanta area before, but
it’s great to be in the city and making a debut with The Atlanta Opera. This three-week stay is a bit shorter than usual for an opera stint, but then
again this opera is shorter than usual. Rehearsals never felt rushed, and there
was still time to explore the city a bit, too. Every out of town stay is
different, but this one has felt relaxed and comfortable. I try to go
running every couple days, so the parks and the Beltline trails have been great
for that. And this is such a food and beer town, which has made for some
delicious and fun times out with our wonderful cast and production team.
ideal day in the life of Jesse Blumberg is…
That’s a tough one – but it probably involves
friends and family, good food, and some sort of rewarding musical
project. If you can get all of those into one day, then it’s an ideal day
do you prepare and get into a role like Charlie? And how does it compare with
preparing for your previous roles, like Figaro?
Three Decembers feels more like a play than an
opera, in many ways; it just happens to be sung. But the characters are
very much like those you’d meet in a theatrical family drama, and a lot of
their issues among each other are ones that anyone who’s ever been part of a
family can relate to. And the theme of loss that runs throughout is one
that we all know, as well. Charlie is losing his partner to AIDS, and
interestingly enough, I’ve told a very similar story on stage before, in Ricky
Ian Gordon’s Green Sneakers. Both of these stories are so
personal, while still dealing with very universal matters – fear, loss,
grieving. But I think then you trust the material the librettist and
composer have given you, and you trust your director (and our Emma Griffin
couldn’t be better!) to let you know when you’re going too far, or not far
enough. It’s been a wonderful process these few weeks, and I can’t wait
to see what the audience thinks of this powerful piece of theatre.
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