Vancouver-based baritone Aaron Durand is joining Against the Grain Theatre at the Banff Centre to sing the role of Masetto in Uncle John. He answered my questions about what fun about Banff, and about the mind of Masetto, Mozart’s favourite doormat.
1) Why did you want to come and sing at Open Space?
The work Against the Grain Theatre does is very exciting! The chance to work and collaborate with so many incredible artists and leaders in the field of opera is something not to be passed up!
2) Why do you think the story of Don Juan is timeless?
As long as desire exists, I feel we as a culture will be attracted to characters like the Don, even as we warn of the consequences of overindulging those desires. From Uncle John to Jordan Belfort to Walter White, we are drawn to the stories of those who act fully on the spirit of desire, no matter the object.
3) What are your own thoughts about the character of Masetto?
Masetto for me represents the “Regular Guy”. The sort of guy who wears Gap clothes and quotes How I Met Your Mother a lot. It’s very easy to play Masetto as wholly envious of the Don’s status and power, but I feel he’s more memorable when played with a genuine self-acceptance. This isn’t to say he’s particularly calm! His emotions shift at the drop of a hat, and he lashes out in frustration more than once in the opera.
4) What do you most look forward to during your time at The Banff Centre?
Oh my…there’s so many things I could write! I look forward to having ideas about my character and my voice challenged and expanded, and I always eagerly await that moment in the process when everyone loses themselves in the creative experience; when we as a cast have the music sing us while we sing the music. Does that…make any sense?
5) What is the one thing you won’t leave home without?
Breakfast. Guys, breakfast is so awesome. Bacon? Joyful Heavensticks, more like.
6) What do you expect to come away from this program having learned/experienced?
I expect to leave with not only a profound understanding of the music I work on and the character I play, but a deeper knowledge of myself and my capabilities as both a singer and a human being. That might sound too lofty, but like any art, opera is a study of humanity, and there’s always something to learn about humanity.