PerformerUpClose interwiew, 15 May 2016
Tom Colwell Baritone
OperaUpClose performer credits: Marcello in La Bohème, Dancairo in Carmen.
How did you end up in opera?
My first singing teacher was a huge influence on my musical career, plus all my friends at the time were auditioning for music college so I thought that I'd just have a go.
What would you be doing if you weren't a singer?
I had quite a long break from singing after I completed college and even worked as a carpenter on the Isle of Skye. If I weren't singing now, I would definitely continue along those lines, but I would love to get into something more refined like furniture making, or even instrument making.
What would be your dream role to play?
It would be Dr. Oppenheimer in John Adam's Dr Atomic. His aria 'Batter my heart, three person'd God' is stunning.
If you were in charge of a festival, what would you programme, which singers would you programme and why?
In terms of what kind of music, I'd definitely programme some 20th Century repertoire. I am a huge fan of Britten and John Adams. Who? I would programme Gerald Finley. I think he is both a great singer and actor.
Growing up, who was your idol?
I would say that my first musical idol was Jon Bonjovi. I remember clearly 'Slippery When Wet' blasting in the common room at school.
If you were able to time-travel to any period in musical history, where would you want to be?
Hands down, I'd travel to see Jazz in America in the fifties and sixties. It would have been great to see Coltrane and Miles Davis in New York.
What was the last thing you listened to?
'Plainscapes' by Vasks. A really beautiful and haunting piece I highly recommend.
Which opera would you recommend to someone who has never seen an opera?
It would probably have to be something by Puccini, Madame Butterfly or, of course OperaUpClose's La Bohème...
As a performer, you've worked with lots of other singers and directors. What's the most bizarre direction/tip you've ever been given?
I was once told to move around the room as if I were a puppet who's strings were being pulled around and shaken by a toddler. There were a few of us and a lot of flailing limbs!
Tell us a little-known fact about yourself?
I am actually a qualified Rope Access Technician. This pretty much means I can abseil off anything that needs fixing or cleaning.