We recently had a chance to ask Dale Travis some questions as part of our 10 Questions Series. Mr. Travis, making his Lyric Opera and role debut, will star in the title role of the upcoming Lyric Opera production as The Mikado. Read below as Mr. Travis explains how a football injury changed his life and why he should probably teach stage techniques.
1. How did your initial interest in the art form of opera begin?
Mr. Travis: I always loved to sing and was quite involved in choirs, musicals, and even was in a rock band in high school and college. I did my first opera as a senior in high school, singing Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors. I was still not sure about what I wanted to do so I went to Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania to play football and major in Geology. Because of a football injury, I suddenly had a lot of free time, so I auditioned for the university choir. After hearing me, the choir director took me immediately to the voice faculty. After singing for them, I was accepted into the music program as a Vocal Performance major. That’s how this all started.
2. Where did you grow up?
Mr. Travis: Pennington, NJ
3. Do you have a significant other? Children? Pets?
Mr. Travis: I’ve been married to my wife, Lisa, since 1984, so next year we celebrate our 30th anniversary. She is a flautist, pianist, and is the Music Director at our church. She taught elementary music for 12 years and now teaches flute and piano privately. We have a son, Zachary, who graduates from high school this year and is continuing on to college as to major in Music. He is a French horn player and enjoys conducting and writing music.
4. What is an average day like for you? Do you have a set routine?
Mr. Travis: I like to read the paper first thing in the morning, work out for an hour, and then work on upcoming repertoire for a few hours. If I am working, then it’s off to rehearsal or a performance. If I’m home, I take care of whatever needs attention: wife, son, parents, in-laws, house, etc. If I have free time, I love to play golf or fly fish.
5. What is your favorite opera to watch/experience?
Mr. Travis: I have no favorites – there is so much wonderful repertoire and styles, each have something to offer. If I had to pick one, I guess it would be Puccini or Janacek.
6. What language(s) do you speak fluently?
Mr. Travis: I wouldn’t say I’m “fluent”, but I am pretty comfortable speaking German and Italian, and can function quite well when I’m in Europe there singing or traveling
7. What story about your professional life do you wish reporters would tell when promoting your work for a producing Company, but have not?
Mr. Travis: I have been singing professionally for 28 years and have developed a stage technique that was taught to me from some of the greatest Italian singing actors of the 20th century – Italo Tajo, Paolo Montarsolo, and Renato Capecchi.
8. What facts about you would our audiences be surprised to learn?
Mr. Travis: My favorite singers are Elvis and Frank Sinatra. I used to perform a lot of Elvis tunes in my rock bands and Sinatra songs as a singing waiter.
9. The opera role you haven’t performed, but would like to perform the most in your career?
Mr. Travis: Baron Ochs from Der Rosenkavalier.
10. If you bumped into me at a coffee shop and learned that I had never been to an opera before, what would you say to entice me to give it a try?
Mr. Travis: Go to a comic opera first – they are the most accessible and enjoyable for a first timer. After that, try Puccini for gorgeous melodies and heartfelt emotion.
For more information about the upcoming Lyric Opera production of The Mikado, click here.