Meet the Artist: Zachary Owen
We sat down with Zachary Owen to hear about his time at Arizona Opera and his hopes for the future.
Tell us about your first year in the Studio, and what you’re looking forward to next season.
My first year in the Studio has been very rewarding. I got to meet and perform with the legendary Frederica Von Stade during the Sapphire Gala. I also covered the veteran bass-baritone Richard Paul Fink in Rusalka and observed Christopher Irmiter as he originated the role of Bishop Dyer in Arizona Opera's historic world-premier of Riders of the Purple Sage. Lastly, I am incredibly excited to be singing the role of Alidoro in Cinderella this April.
Next year, I am probably most excited to play the slimy and conniving Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville.
Do you have a favorite opera/aria? Why is that your favorite?
My favorite opera would have to be The Marriage of Figaro. I've always believed that it represents a near perfect combination of musical and dramatic elements. The characters STILL (even after hundreds of years) seem to be fully rounded people who are both capable of feeling deep emotion and making the audience laugh. Not to mention the truly transcendent music of one of the greatest composers to have ever lived. Mozart's genius is exhausting and Marriage is perhaps his most well-rounded operatic work. The "Ah, tutti contenti" ensemble from Act IV of this show is my favorite moment in all of opera. Listening to it; it's as if Mozart managed to physically pull the ideas of love and forgiveness down from the clouds and give them a gleaming, tangible proportion. Moreover, it's the kind of beautiful, moving moment that very few composers ever manage to truly capture.
Where was your first opera performance? What was the opera and role, and what was that like?
The first operatic role I ever sang was the Speaker in a Luther College production of The Magic Flute (in English as is per usual for undergraduate programs). I fell in love right away. I really enjoyed watching my colleagues perform and working with them to try to bring Mozart's music to more people.
What has surprised you most about Arizona? Favorite thing about Arizona?
I think the most surprising aspect of Arizona for me was how beautiful it is. I was expecting a sort of barren desert landscape everywhere I went, and instead I got gorgeous red mountain ranges, sunsets that took my breath away, and a lot of stunning vistas. Its an absolutely wonderful place to live (At least in the winter. Haha!).
What is your perfect day off from performances or rehearsals?
My perfect day off from rehearsal involves sleeping in till 10ish. That is followed up with a large brunch and several cups of coffee. Then, I love either finding a place to read or going to the movies. I am a gigantic film nerd. I love everything from Akira Kurasawa samurai epics to modern directors like Alejandro Inarritu and Wes Anderson. Finally, in the evening I usually try to find a new local restaurant to try. This is perhaps the longest running tradition that my wife and I have. We are absolutely obsessed with finding new and interesting places to eat together (Which really helps because neither of us is a wonderful cook. Haha!).
What is your dream role, and why?
My dream role is Nick Shadow from Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. This particular take on the Mephistopheles character has always stood out to me because of his inherent charisma and charm. I mean, all the "devil" roles in opera are charming on some level, but Shadow puts the others to shame with his feigned humanism and false love. He is a villain that you love to hate. Every time he appears on stage, I find myself excitedly wondering what he might do next. In the opera, all of this culminates in the Graveyard Scene where Shadow finally reveals himself to the woe-begotten Tom Rakewell. The drama in this scene is palpable and makes for one of the most exciting moments in opera.
What music is on your current playlist?
My playlist, huh? Hmmm. Well, I'm a bit of a weirdo. There is no opera, currently. I save that for the practice room.
I kind of listen to everything. Most recently, its been the band Fleet Foxes and a lot of Otis Redding. There is just something undeniably masculine about the way that guy sang. He gives me chills almost every time I hear him.
What is your favorite part of Cinderella?
My favorite part of Cinderella has to be watching Stefano De Peppo portray Don Magnifico. Stefano is a true singer-actor and watching the way he works in the rehearsal room and how he improvises dramatically is like a masterclass. To top that off, he is constantly making the rest of us smile and laugh. Salute, Stefano!