Former Pittsburgher Liam Bonner to make his Met debut
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Opera singers toil to perfect the enunciation of the words they sing. But there are three syllables that roll off their tongues without any trouble at all: Met debut.
There are many fine opera companies in the U.S., but none is bigger and more prestigious than the Metropolitan Opera. Former Pittsburgher Liam Bonner is still beside himself that he will be making his debut there Tuesday as Morales in "Carmen." He has been covering some roles there and getting used to the Met environment, but nothing compares to being on that stage. In the Met's run of Bizet's opera, the role of Carmen is being shared by two of operas biggest stars, sopranos Olga Borodina and Angela Gheorghiu.
"Covering at the Met was such a wonderful experience and really allowed me to learn how that specific company operates," he says. "It's definitely helped in not feeling too overwhelmed by my debut, but let's be honest -- it's the Met and I want to make a great impression."
Mr. Bonner, 28, has already made plenty of impressions in his young career. A native of Coraopolis, it was in his sophomore year at Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School (graduated 1999) that he first started to realize that he had a special gift.
"I started in musical theater and, because of the size of my voice, was advised to look into opera," says Mr. Bonner, who got his actors Equity card in the summer of 2002 by singing in the ensemble of the CLO. "One of the best summers ever!" he says.
At Carnegie Mellon University, he studied with Douglas Ahlstedt. He earned a master of music from Manhattan School of Music and then trained further at San Francisco Opera and Houston Opera, developing his voice into that of a lyric baritone.
"My voice is still settling," says Mr. Bonner, who counts the Count in "The Marriage of Figaro" and Belcore in "The Elixir of Love" among his favorite roles.
In the Met production of "Carmen" he plays the sergeant of the guard, Morales. It is a smaller role, but it's a major first step for the young singer whose career is taking flight.
"It's actually quite hard to believe sometimes, but every day I know how fortunate I am to be doing what I'm doing."
First Published February 8, 2010 12:12 am