Wednesday, August 26, 2009

White Rock boy wows opera great

Not just anyone could describe tenor Placido Domingo as a colleague. Then again, not everyone is Lance Ryan (above). The former Douglas Music student is bringing down opera houses across Europe. He recently wrapped up performing in the role of Sigfried in The Valencia Ring (Götterdämmerung) in Salzburg. During a visit to his hometown of White Rock this Summer, Lance took some time to speak with doug.

On meeting Domingo
I was happy he came to my dressing room. I had met him a couple days before that at the hotel. I was coming back late from dinner and was at the elevator when I heard a voice from behind me singing, “you should be in bed.” It was Zubin [Zubin Mehta was the conductor of the Valencia Ring]. He took me out to the patio to meet Domingo, not to just say hello, but to have a conversation. He was a really normal guy, a colleague.

The next Ben Heppner?
Stepping in for Ben in Salzburg [in the role of Sigfried in the Salzburg Ring production] felt odd, initially. But I had been tipped off earlier as I was asked, “Would you be able to step in as Sigfried?” because Ben was ill. Ben’s a huge star. When you’re working in the theatrical environment, it can be hard to predict how others will react to you [when stepping in for someone else]. But Ben will be singing for a while now. In this repertoire, there are so few of us who can do it, there’s certainly room for two, if not three or four of us.

Sky’s the limit
If someone had told me in my first or second year at Douglas – I did three years there – that I would be doing this today, I would have found it quite absurd. I never would have thought I would reach this level, where I’m booked five years in advance. Sometimes I wonder, ‘There’s got to be a limit, a ceiling where it will level off.’ When you’re starting, you feel like you’re on the outside looking in. Then once you’re in, you realize there are no barriers.

Advice for aspiring tenors
Go for it. The classical music world is so undervalued in North America. There’s a lot more exposure to it in Europe. Europe is an amazing resource for ideas, philosophy and culture in classical music. Great music comes not just from great composers, but also from views on life.