Talking with singers: Scott HendricksInterview
American baritone Scott Hendricks is currently in his home state of Texas, singing the title role in Houston Grand Opera’s production of Nixon in China. Later this season, he returns to the Royal Opera House to sing another American, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly.
We spoke with Hendricks about catching the “opera bug”, stay on track as Richard Nixon, and the role he connects with most.
Why do you sing professionally?
I ask myself this question all the time! No, seriously, I can’t imagine doing anything else. The opera bug gets a hold of you, and there’s no turning back. I love the music, I love performing, I love traveling and experiencing different cultures, I love meeting and working with new colleagues.
What do you enjoy about portraying Richard Nixon? What do you find challenging about the role?
At the moment, I’m enjoying the spontaneity within each and every performance. As a cast, we’re growing more and more comfortable with the piece, and we’re constantly trying to find new colors and fresh motivation for each and every scene.
The most challenging aspect of the role is to try and remain musically accurate while trying to be dramatically convincing. This is normally the case anyway, but even more so with Nixon. Rhythmically speaking, it’s a tricky piece, so we always need to keep an eye on the conductor.
Why do you think that many young artists find it more difficult to sing in English?
I have no idea. Each language has its own set of special challenges for each particular individual. We all have to keep studying and working through these challenges over the duration of our careers. Thankfully, I’ve always felt comfortable singing in my native tongue.
Are there roles you’ve performed with which you have a particular connection?
Yes, there’s one in particular, and that’s Posa in Verdi’s Don Carlo. His ambition to do the right thing, his fearlessness, his resolve… Yeah, Posa is my guy.
What do you wish you knew about singing 10 years ago?
This is a very good question. Firstly, my current self would tell my younger self to keep studying voice on a consistent basis. This is difficult because we travel so much and we’re away from home for weeks and months at a time. Regardless, it’s important to make time for touching base with your voice teacher and/or vocal coach.