Meet the cast and creative teams behind Opera Holland Park’s 2022 season. Over the coming weeks, we’ll introduce our singers, directors, conductors and crews at the heart of the productions this summer.
Today we introduce Rory Musgrave, who will be playing Onegin in the Young Artists performances of Eugene Onegin. Originally due to perform this role in 2020, Rory makes his Opera Holland Park debut this summer.
Can you introduce us to your role?
Eugene Onegin is one of the great lead baritone roles. It has always been a dream of mine to sing it. Onegin is an unusual character, neither hero nor villain. He exists as a product of a specific period and class – cultured, intelligent, worldly – yet he is bored of this life and feels he has seen and done it all. It is this that creates his somewhat superior attitude towards Tatyana, and it blinds him to what deeper love and companionship she could represent. She is younger and naïve but sees, with an uncluttered mind, a true and deep affection, which he cannot see until it is too late.
What aspects of your role are you most excited about?
The joy of singing this music, of course, but also finding and walking the narrow line between Onegin’s blinkered view of the world and his humanity. It is too easy to play him simply as cynical. He has to have a tender tragedy that doesn’t alienate the audience.
What are you looking forward to about being a part of the OHP Young Artist programme?
I am really looking forward to becoming part of the OHP family. Their reputation for creating a fantastic team that makes great work is second to none. They set a high standard and as a YA member I want to be challenged to reach that same level.
How will you work alongside the main Eugene Onegin cast during the rehearsal process? What do you hope to learn?
Watching and hearing more established singers is always a source of inspiration. While you don’t want to copy your counterparts, you do want to find out how they solve problems and interpret the characters. Everyone brings something of themselves to each role but discovering that process and seeing it in action by professionals is always instructive.
What is something surprising about your job that audience members may not know?
I have always found that the process of producing an opera, while incredibly tough, is also an amazing thing to be a part of. It isn’t always as glamorous as it might appear, so you have to learn to love the whole process. I used to be a stage manager before I went into full time classical singing and it has given me a wonderful insight into the passion that happens backstage as well as onstage. It really is the ultimate team-based endeavour.
Was there any music that got you through lockdown? What was it and how did it help you?
My listening in lockdown was varied. At first I found I was drawn more to podcasts rather than music. It was a little like grief and it was hard to hear music without pangs of loss. I did get back to music though and found I was listening to a lot of Verdi’s operas, and choral music by Morten Lauridsen and Arvo Pärt. Reflective and healing music sung by groups of people at a time when we were so divided.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received, musical or otherwise?
The best piece of advice I have received is to remember to enjoy it. It is so easy to get lost in the technical requirements of singing that you can lose sight of telling the story and just enjoying it. The best way to achieve this, I find, is to listen to the other singers, what they are saying and be moved to react rather than over plan what you are doing. Be prepared, then let go.