Not too long ago we talked with Joshua Hopkins, who plays Figaro in the Company’s production of The Barber of Seville that opens Saturday. We picked his brain about his opera origins and family life among other things. Read below to learn about Mr. Hopkins and prepare yourself to laugh at all his antics as Figaro onstage!
1. How did your initial interest in the art form of opera begin?
Mr. Hopkins: It progressed naturally. I first sang in Haydn’s Creation at a too young age, but that got me very interested in classical music. My teenage love for theatre and musical theatre made it an easy choice to focus on opera and get the best of all worlds.
2. Where did you grow up?
Mr. Hopkins: Pembroke, Ontario. A small town a couple of hours west of Ottawa, the capitol of Canada.
3. Do you have a significant other? Children? Pets?
Mr. Hopkins: I have a wife who I have been with for 14 delightful years and a standard poodle, Tigger. My wife and I always travel together and Tigger usually comes too. We consider ourselves very lucky to embark on this crazy adventure as a family.
4. What is an average day like for you? Do you have a set routine?
Mr. Hopkins: Wake up. Exercise, Warm-Up, get to rehearsal, go to bed. Watch a little t.v. on the side! This career keeps you from having a set routine, no day is the same. However, each day I try to incorporate healthy eating, exercise, and a keen desire to continue improving.
5. What is your favorite opera to watch/experience?
Mr. Hopkins: I was very lucky to see the farewell run of the Otto Schenk production of Wagner’s Ring at The Metropolitan Opera. The sets were massive and beautiful like you would expect for a Met production and Levine conducting the score with the Met orchestra was a true pleasure to hear.
6. Have you performed your role in The Barber of Seville before? If so, do you have any interesting anecdotes you can share about the experience?
Mr. Hopkins: This is my third time singing the role. In the previous production, the director set the opera in 1940’s Seville in a movie studio. Figaro was the make-up artist/hairstylist for the studio, so of course he was in everyone’s business.
7. What language(s) do you speak fluently?
Mr. Hopkins: English, I can carry a conversation in French, but I’m not fluent.
8. What facts about you would our audiences be surprised to learn?
Mr. Hopkins: My wife travels everywhere with me and we are a team. Two heads are better than one in this business.
9. The opera role you haven’t performed, but would like to perform the most in your career?
Mr. Hopkins: I can’t wait to perform Billy Budd.
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. Hopkins: I would say going to the opera isn’t that much different than going to the movies. Some you love, some you think are O.K. and some you dislike. It can be a truly wonderful experience with the right production, right singer, right score. How will you ever know what you like if you don’t give it a try? Some of the most incredible music and drama ever created is found in opera. There is a reason the art form has existed for close to 500 years.
Vancouver Opera production of The Barber of Seville - photo by Tim Matheson
P.S. – The previous production of The Barber of Seville that Mr. Hopkins mentioned having performed Figaro in was produced by Vancouver Opera. Did you know that in addition to having Mr. Hopkins as Figaro, the Vancouver production also starred Sandra Piques Eddy as Rosina, who also will be performing the same role in the Lyric Opera production. Although the Vancouver production was set in the 1940′s where the Lyric Opera production will be more traditional, it sounds like it was a Mr. Hopkins and Mrs. Piques Eddy have quite the on-stage chemistry. Click to read about the Vancouver Opera production.