Written and interviewed by AVA Administrative Associate Stephen J. Trygar
The Meet the New Resident Artists! Blog Series is a sequence of Q&As designed for you to get to know our new artists. Today, we invite you to learn about our new bass, Peter Barber! Mr. Barber comes to us with a Bachelor of Music in Music Production from James Madison University and a Master of Music in Vocal Arts and Performance from the University of Southern California. He has performed a variety of different roles, such as Stobrod/Blindman in Cold Mountain with Music Academy of the West, Amantio in Gianni Schicchi with Pacific Opera Project, and Le Fauteuil/L’Arbre in L’enfant et les Sortilèges at the University of Southern California. For a full list of Mr. Barber’s previous roles, visit his biography on the AVA website!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
“I was born in Crozet, a small town in rural Virginia just outside Charlottesville. I completed my undergrad at James Madison University as a music production major, writing everything from electronic dance music to choral music. Despite studying the voice as my main instrument at that time, I didn’t decide to pursue opera as a career until my last year in undergrad. From there, I went to the University of Southern California for a master’s degree in vocal arts and performance. My first summer there, I went to the Music Academy of the West, and this past summer, I was to be an Apprentice Singer at the Santa Fe Opera, but alas, the summer season was canceled. Now, I couldn’t be more excited to get started at AVA!”
What has been your favorite role to perform?
“Performing Nick Bottom in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream this past Fall at USC was the most fun I’ve ever had with a role, for a number of reasons. It’s always been difficult for me to fully let loose on stage, but for Bottom, I completely through myself at the role, and allowed myself to be straight-up weird and whacky on stage while being a recklessly-overconfident donkey man.”
What is your dream role?
“I hope we’re allowed to give more than one here… I’ll do my best to narrow it down! Top shelf, for way later in the career, is probably Attila in Verdi’s Attila or Mefistofele in Boito’s Mefistofele. Earlier on, Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni is a role I simply cannot wait to tackle.”
What made you want to get involved in opera?
“Growing up in rural Virginia, my life revolved around sports, and I had remarkably little involvement with music outside of the occasional choir. After being encouraged to audition for music school, I ended up at the University of Miami and was completely overwhelmed by this new world of opera. I transferred to James Madison University and switched my major to music production, only performing a couple roles before singing Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte—this was the turning point for me. Halfway through that production, I decided I would make pre-screenings and audition for grad school in voice. That was the best decision I’ve ever made. Now, I find myself tenaciously pursuing a career in opera and loving it. As a goal-oriented person, opera presents a lifetime of challenges to face with learning roles, mastering technique, and getting a hold of numerous foreign languages. Not to mention, the career itself is ever-changing with different houses, different shows, different casts, different productions, etc. In my view, it seems like it’d be impossible for it to ever get stale or uninteresting.”
Tell us something interesting about yourself!
“Outside of the opera world, I create one-man a cappella covers by writing arrangements of the songs, recording all the voice parts myself, and then editing, mixing, and mastering them. It’s a way for me to stimulate the creative side of my brain that was so drawn to music production. It also allows me to sing in various styles of music, which is a lot of fun. If I’m not doing that, you can bet I’ll either be doing something fitness related, or kicking back to watch an enticing show on Netflix.”