Name: Aaron Blankfield, tenor
Hometown: Memphis, TN
How did you first become interested in singing?
My family did not listen to opera. I first became exposed to it through a friend in high school. She and I had performed in a couple of musicals and I admired her vocal technique over all the others. When I asked about her singing, she suggested her voice teacher for me to improve further on my abilities. This teacher taught me the concept of singing opera: relaxing the body, using and strengthening the few muscles needed to produce sound, projecting a large sound without microphones and being able to mold it into something beautiful that brings people to emote, even in a foreign language.
Where/with whom have you studied?
My first voice teacher was Carolyn Cansler in Memphis, TN. I studied with her for a few years before going to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to study with Sarah Searle. My most recent teacher was Sharon Sweet at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ.
What is your favorite opera and why?
It is difficult to chose, as I like go back and forth, but I would have to say that my favorite opera is Die Entführung aus dem Serail by Mozart. Though there is dialogue between arias and ensembles, I feel that the music truly reflects the emotion of the characters. Pedrillo’s aria always makes me feel nervous for him. Osmin and Blonde’s duet is a wonderful sung fight and Traurichkeit always brings tears to my eyes.
What is your dream role?
Though there are several I would chose, the ultimate role I would love to sing is Nemorino from L’elisir d’amore. I enjoy making people laugh, something he gets to do throughout the show. But there are also serious and tender moments that show the depth of his heart.
If you could have dinner with any composer, who would you choose and why?
I would greatly enjoy having dinner with Tchaikovsky. I find his music incredibly passionate and would enjoy learning how he extracted the music from his heart to paper. I think his life is fascinating and tragic and since he was not able to have many friends along his travels, I’m sure he has some good stories to tell.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I like to go and speak with all my fellow performers, wishing them a good show and also making sure we are all prepared to have fun.
What has been you most unusual performance to date and why?
When I attended the University of Tennessee, our director chose to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was cast as Francis Flute, the youngling of the acting troupe who portrays Thisbe in their play. Having analyzed the score, the director realized the word Greece or any reference to it was not made other than the people being called Athenians. Therefore, he decided to place the show in 1950’s Athens, TN. This made the play scene much more interesting as I was now prancing around in a pink chiffon dress with a pink satin bodice embroidered with a giant silver sequins butterfly on the chest. Since there was no cobbler of the group, I wore the same shoes from Act I, combat boots. Needless to say, I practically stole the show.
If you were tone-deaf, what would your dream job be?
As a child, I always enjoyed playing with Legos. I would build entire towns, outlined with the easy-to-use blocks like a blueprint. I also would sketch houses and buildings on scrap paper. After seeing an opera house in Italy, I drew the plans for my own opera house, complete with café, restaurant and art gallery. I am certain that if I were tone-deaf, I would be an Architect.
What’s on your iPod right now?
I’m listening to a stand-up comedy routine by Daniel Tosh, True Stories I Made Up.
What are you most excited to do in Milwaukee?
I am looking forward to exploring the many cuisines of the area including the numerous flavors of frozen custard at KOPP’s.
Anything else we should know?
After singing opera for a couple of years, I discovered that my grandfather was a huge opera fan. He would sit in the hot attic of his house and play his records at full volume in his spare time. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I am certain we would have had a lot in common. Since he could not be there to see me perform my first role, I brought a picture of him to the theater because I felt he would have wanted to be there.
Tomorrow on Many Voices: Learn how baritone Scott Johnson prepares for a performance….in the meantime:
Learn about Studio Artist Sarah Lewis Jones (soprano).