Brian Jagde (Cavaradossi):

Brian Jagde (pronounced Jade) is making his Santa Fe Opera debut as well as his first performance in the role of Cavaradossi — stepping in after Andrew Richards pulled out of the production last week due to severe allergies. Ironically, the opening aria he will sing in Santa Fe, (“Recondita armonia”) was the opening piece he sang last month in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia – The World Opera Competition in Beijing. Jagde took the second place award for men and a special commendation for his performance of an aria from Wagner’s “Die Walküre.” “This is my year,” he said. (He is pictured, left, as Cavaradossi, with Amanda Echalaz as Tosca; photo by Ken Howard.)

“This is the role I’ve been dying to sing,” he said. “’Tosca’ is my favorite opera. The music is perfect, the libretto makes sense. Every second is plotted out well.” He began working intensely on the role last January, for a scheduled San Francisco Opera engagement in the fall. One of Jagde’s favorite Cavaradossi’s was Franco Corelli, the Italian tenor who died in 2003. “He was a beast up there,” Jagde said. “There is a video all over the Internet, a live recording in which he holds a high note for 16 seconds. He was kind of a show-off.”

Jagde spent the first 10 years of his career as a baritone, and only made the switch to lyric tenor three years ago. “I was better at the high notes, not so great at the low notes,” he said. “I went to a teacher in New York. He listened to me for a few seconds and said, ‘You’re a tenor.’” Three weeks later he was auditioning in his new voice part. “It was the repertory I wanted to sing,” he said. “I love the verismo operas” — a style of Italian opera that began with Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria rusticana” in 1890 and featured stories based on real people and real life— “I love the romantic operas. I try to make music as much as I can with every note I sing.”

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