That’s the common response Randall Bills gets when he tells people he’s an opera singer. Still, Bills admits he’s a fan of Broadway’s long-running musical. It’s what got him interested in opera in the first place.
“I listened to that CD so much that my parents got me headphones,” he says.
The 35-year-old tenor never set out to become an opera singer. “I always enjoyed singing, but I never thought I’d make a career out of it,” he says. But ten years ago, he decided to toss his hat into the ring, auditioning for apprentice programs at the Santa Fe Opera and Germany’s esteemed Bavarian State Opera. Bills has been employed with regular freelance work with opera companies throughout Europe and the U.S. Next Friday, March 4, he’ll take on the role of the devout monk-in-love Fernand in Donizetti’s monumental La Favorite, an epic tale set during the Moorish invasion of medieval Spain. Says Bills, “In true Italian/Donizetti fashion, there are some pretty dramatic moments and some nice music.”
Bills doesn’t expect he’ll ever perform in Phantom of the Opera. “Stranger things have happened, but I just don’t have musical theater on my resume.” Though he relishes singing show tunes — and from time to time likes to drop by gay piano bars to belt out a couple standards — he doesn’t aspire to perform musical theater.
“I can’t dance,” he says. “So it makes it very easy in opera. At the most you’re going to have to waltz.”
Randall Bills performs in the Washington Concert Opera‘s La Favorite on Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m., at GW Lisner, 730 21st St. NW. Tickets are $40 to $110. Call 202-994-6800 or visit lisner.gwu.edu.
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.
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