Maybe this has something to do with living in the city whose best-loved players are the infamous Broad Street Bullies, but hockey and opera don’t seem to have much in common. But baritone Elliot Madore, who stars in the title role of Mozart’s classic “Don Giovanni” at the Academy of Music beginning this weekend, grew up on the ice before taking to the stage.
“Being Canadian, I guess that’s what we do,” said the Toronto native with a laugh. “I remember getting up at 5:30 in the morning so my grandpa could drive me to hockey practice. I took it seriously, but at some point you get realistic. Then again, I never thought that I’d have a career in opera either.”
Madore not only has a career, but a thriving one. He was a winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and recently concluded a run as a member of the ensemble at Opernhaus Zürich. “Don Giovanni” finds him returning to Philly, where he lived for five years while a student at the Curtis Institute of Music.
This production comes to Opera Philadelphia from the Cincinnati Opera, directed by Nicholas Muni. It emphasizes the iconic piece’s comic elements with a staging that makes use of masquerades, trapdoors and mirrored panels. Madore calls the show “racy,” and looks forward to finding his own take on the well-known lothario.
“Giovanni can be played many different ways,” he says, “and Nick and I decided that he’s genuinely in love with every woman that he meets, every woman that he encounters, every woman that he’s with. In a sense he’s the most honest character in the entire opera, and that’s how we hope to play him — not to do the schtick that you see in other productions but to play him as honestly as possible and as genuinely as possible.”
Lessons from the rink
Madore says he still draws upon his hockey-playing past. “The physicality of being an athlete is very similar to being an opera singer. As opera singers, we don’t use technology to amplify our voices, so everything we do in our lives goes toward making the voice as ready as possible. What you eat, how much you sleep, how much you talk – you have to be physically aware. Growing up playing sports makes you very aware of your body, and I still carry that with me today.”
Opera Philadelphia: “Don Giovanni”
April 25-May 4
Academy of Music
240 S. Broad St.