Spotlight on: Will Liverman

Spotlight on: Will Liverman

Photo by S. Richards

Baritone Will Liverman seems to be a vocal chameleon, singing everything from Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia to Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia to Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker's Yardbird. In August, he heads to Seattle Opera to sing Raimbaud in Le comte Ory, and in 2017 he'll reprise the role of Dizzy Gillespie at Madison Opera. In his refreshing interview, Liverman attests to the value of learning languages, his coloratura-soprano-envy, and his failed attempt at a career in the NBA.

Why do you sing, and why are you doing it professionally?

I enjoy singing because of the rush I get every time I'm onstage. There's absolutely nothing like it and there's nothing better than having that chance to move someone to tears or laughter through the power of music and performance.

I'm doing this professionally because the NBA didn't work out like I thought it was going to.

What does “good singing” mean to you? What does it feel like when you achieve it?

"Good singing" is easy and effortless singing. It's a challenging thing to achieve sometimes but when it's right I feel like I could sing the entire role of Figaro multiple times in a night. I don't actually want to do that, though!

What do young singers need to do more of? What should they do less of?

Young singers need more language work, including actually learning at least the basics of how to speak the languages we always sing in (German, French, Italian). I would advise with starting with learning German because of the amount of job opportunities there are in Germany for opera singers.

Learning how to speak foreign languages is something I wish I had learned in school and I'm finally putting forth some effort to start learning how to communicate better in various languages in my spare time. I'd advise any young singer to get started on learning how to speak something if you don't already! Apps like Duolingo are helpful and free of charge.

Young singers should also worry less about the specifics of their voice type. This mentality is difficult to overcome when you have people constantly giving you their feedback and opinions. Instead, young singers should focus on continuing to develop technique and language skills. Unlike every other instrument, as singers, we can't see or touch our instrument and our voice also changes as our body changes. Don't be afraid to go with these changes, and don't get stuck on particular labels.

Do you have any "bucket list" roles you’d like to sing (realistically or otherwise)?

Queen of the Night, for starters.

How do you explain your job to non-music folks?

Honestly, I still haven't figured out the easiest and best way to explain what I do. I generally just tell people I'm a freelance singer and I travel around. Most people think I'm doing it for free or I'm on tour with an opera company doing the same show all the time. When I'm really tired and the person next to me on the plane starts to ask these types of questions, I just say really quickly that I'm a music teacher and put my headphones in!

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Written by

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna is the editor and co-creator of Schmopera.com. She's also a pianist, vocal coach, and répétiteur, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera. Her favourite operas include Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Tristan und Isolde, Written on Skin, and Anna Nicole.

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