Seth Carico AMPS UP

Seth Carico is in our HAPPY AMPER SPOTLIGHT!  
As Leporello in the recent DON GIOVANNI at Deutsche Oper Berlin, he offers insight into Mozart's infamous character as a guest blogger for AMPED UP OPERA.  
You can read his thoughts on DON GIOVANNI by scrolling down, or CLICKING HERE.

BASS-BARITONE SETH CARICO IS IN OUR HAPPY AMPER SPOTLIGHT!

BASS-BARITONE SETH CARICO IS IN OUR HAPPY AMPER SPOTLIGHT!

With a reputation for electrifying performances, Seth personifies the exact kind of artist that Amps Up opera.  We asked this Southern gentleman, 
who now resides in Berlin,
four questions to usher in, or subdue, the Apocalypse.

AU:  WHAT'S THE MOST OUTLANDISH STAGE DIRECTION YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED, AND DID YOU DO IT???
SC: I actually think the most ridiculous thing I've done onstage so far was in our production of Don Giovanni at Deutsche Oper Berlin. At Zerlina and Masetto's wedding party, when we enter to disturb the celebration, Giovanni goes to Zerlina, who is hoisted on the shoulders of chorus members. He begins to slowly caress her leg, and then he takes her shoe and throws it over his shoulder, where I am waiting with the big, black trash bag that contains all of Giovanni's mementos from his conquests. I catch the shoe in the bag, and then I proceed to climb inside the bag with the shoe and masturbate furiously throughout the next few lines of recitative (imagine the sound of the slapping plastic of the trash bag)! I then deposit the bag offstage right and bring a tattooed girl wearing nothing but a thong, platform heels, a ball gag, and whose arms and chest are wrapped tightly in plastic wrap back onstage with me. I proceed to hump her violently, leading up to Giovanni's line asking what I'm doing. You know, offering protection! I definitely did do this because in the context of this production, it makes perfect sense, and actually, it really is quite consistent with the original piece as well. Our production works very hard to bring out the conflict between what Giovanni forces Leporello to do and what Leporello is acutally comfortable with. In this case, he is expected to do this, and the extremity of the acts does a great job of highlighting both Giovanni's depravity and Leporello's impotence as a person.

AU: IF YOU COULD ASK MOZART ONE QUESTION, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
SC: I think my question to Mozart would be more of a request. I would ask if he wouldn't mind telling all the old-fashioned "traditionalists" to remember that he was very much, in fact, a modernist himself, and that if he were alive today, he would be thrilled with the inventive things being done with his work!

AU:  WHAT IS THE BEST AND WORST THING ABOUT LIVING IN BERLIN?
SC:The best thing about living in Berlin is that no matter who you are, no matter what time of day it is, you can always find what you want out of this city. Other cities have a lot going on, but there really is no place on earth that has the depth of cultural appeal that Berlin has. The worst thing about living in Berlin is that it is so damned flat. I'm a mountain boy at heart, and it gets pretty hard sometimes to live without a more diverse terrain.

AU: IS THERE A ROLE FOR ANOTHER VOICE TYPE (AND/OR GENDER) YOU WISH YOU COULD PERFORM?
SC: There are actually a few roles I wish I could perform. I'd have to go with Captain Vere (Billy Budd), Elektra, Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Peter Grimes, and maybe Joanne in Company!

Learn more about Seth by checking out his website: www.sethcarico.com. And be sure to click on his NEW BLOG while you're there. 

And scroll below as SETH CARICO TELLS IT LIKE IT IS!

Seth Carico: Tells it like it is

Bass-baritone Seth Carico is one of the world's most complete artists.  His work defines an integrity of performance that rocks opera houses across the globe.  This Chattanooga mountain boy lives in Berlin.

Seth Carico, bass-baritone.

Seth Carico, bass-baritone.

His repertoire is vast, and his portrayals are memorable. He's added a number of fierce roles in recent seasons at Deutsche Oper Berlin, including Don G's henchman, Leporello. 

In AMPED UP's exploration of Mozart's infamous Don we asked Seth for his thoughts on one of opera's most underestimated characters.

SC:    Don Giovanni is a sociopath. Not in a sexy operatic way, but in a nihilistic, borderline suicidal way. This is a man who has experienced everything, but I believe he has never actually derived any pleasure from these experiences. He is going through the motions of the part he is playing in society. 

There is a reason serial killers can be so prolific. They are charming, and they have a unique skill at pretending to be the person everyone wants them to be. That is the case with Giovanni. He doesn't enjoy anything. Everything in life is empty for him, but he knows that viewpoint will get him nowhere in the public eye, so he plays the part of the libertine. He is trying to fill that emptiness, and that is why he sleeps with so many women. We can argue that pleasure is the driving force, and he is doing all these things purely because he enjoys them, but I don't think that argument even comes close to explaining such an overwhelming appetite. 

Nobody would do these things to such an absurd degree and still enjoy them, so why would he continue to push himself past the point of pleasure? He is completely empty and cold inside, and he is trying to find whatever he can to make him feel something, anything. He shoves food and drink in his mouth in the last scene, and I think he finds some kind of enjoyment in the sickness that comes after his overconsumption, since that pain somehow triggers endorphins in his brain, the only sensation he can latch on to. If he actually cared about anything, he would probably be directly suicidal, but his complete lack of emotion prevents him from taking his own life. 

He has attempted every possible experience but one, and now for the first time, he crosses that line and takes the life of another person. There is a switch that flips in his brain at that point, right in the first scene in the opera, and all the events that come after are a part of his endgame. He has given up on the pretense of being a functioning member of the human race, and he is embracing his sociopathic drive to end the emptiness within him. But yet again, since he is incapable of ending the pain at his own hand, he his racing through the city in a mad dash, trying to provoke whomever he can to end it all for him. 

We have a tendency, based I think on old fashioned thinking, to want to make him a sympathetic character. "Oh, that roguish, handsome womanizer," we want to say, in order to enjoy the performance of a dashing baritone in a beautiful costume, but for me we shouldn't have sympathy for this character. In my ideal view of him, he will be so repellant, the audience wants his terror spree to be over as fast as possible. There should be a large element of discomfort involved for those watching the story play out. 

SETH CARICO AS LEPORELLO IN DEUTSCHE OPER BERLIN'S DON GIOVANNI.

SETH CARICO AS LEPORELLO IN DEUTSCHE OPER BERLIN'S DON GIOVANNI.

Actually, I don't really feel sympathy for any of the characters. The other noble characters in the story are all representations of some of the worst elements of their level in society. Donna Anna is the spoiled child who cannot deal with the fact that she is, for once in her life, not getting her way. Don Ottavio is so narcissistic, he is completely incapable of acting, due to his unwillingness to risk cracks in his public perception. On a side note, I heard once about a performance in a school somewhere in which Ottavio sang "Il mio tesoro" looking at himself in a hand mirror. I loved that idea! Anyway, the lower class characters are no better. Zerlina's character flaws are pretty obvious. Haha. Masetto is jealousy and unchecked masculine anger personified. 

I could write a hundred pages about Leporello, especially since his is the character I prefer to play, but he takes his personal identity from those around him, rather than having the courage to be himself. 

Actually, now that I think about it, I said there are no sympathetic characters, but Donna Elvira may just be the only one. She is a true victim, unlike all the others, and she is desperately trying to right the wrongs done to her, but the society she lives in will not allow it. That's why she is often viewed as such a ridiculous, funny character. The "normal" world that exists in this story is so absurd, that the truly normal behavior displayed by Elvira is now viewed as absurd. Anyway, I've gone on way too long, and I could go on a lot longer, but I'll leave you here, and I look forward to hearing how crazy people think I am for applying such a dark view to these characters. I know we really like the idea of dashing, sexy Giovanni, but we've seen it a million times. Let's try something a little more honest :)

For more information on this talented singer, check out his website www.sethcarico.com.  And don't hesitate to read his NEW blog:  www.sethcarico.com/blog.

 

Episode 12, Mark Walters- When Good Baritones Go Bad

Baritone Mark Walters explores the dark side through Mozart's infamous Don Giovanni. In this interview with DKF he reveals secrets to his interpretation of this role and others in his vast repertoire.   He offers advice for making every performance better than the last.  

SHOW NOTES: Mark Walters- When good baritones go bad, AUO Episode 12

Mark Walters embracing one of his mentors, the legendary Sherrill Milnes.

Mark Walters embracing one of his mentors, the legendary Sherrill Milnes.

I’m so glad to call baritone Mark Walters a friend and a colleague.  He brings to each project a generosity that makes me excited to go to rehearsal.   He is one of the finest interpreters of the role of Don Giovanni, and in this interview he talks about making this role his own.  

One of the many admirable traits he exudes is a sense of gratitude for the people who have inspired and assisted him in his career pursuits.  In this episode he credits legendary artist Sherrill Milnes, who defined how a great baritone pursues his craft. That fact that Mr. Milnes is an American was particularly inspiring to Mark.  Luckily, Mr. Milnes is a well-recorded talent. I highly recommend a visit to his website www.sherrillmilnes.com.  Not only has he given the world memorable performances, but he happily assists emerging artists with the skills and inspiration they need to focus their talent.

Mark is well-represented through his website and on youtube.  I highly recommend you spend some time listening and watching this fine talent.  You can find his website by going to www.markwaltersbaritone.com.

If you can catch Mark in performance, you will be rewarded with a wonderful treat! 

MUSICAL PLAYLIST:

  1. I open and close every episode with the overture to CARMEN.  It’s an infusion of energy I crave.
  2. This is Mozart’s overture to DON GIOVANNI.  This music was taken from the finale of the opera and turned into an overture the very day of the premiere.
  3. This is Mark singing Giovanni’s famous serenade ‘Deh vieni alla finestra’.  Sorry, but this recording is not commercially available.  He is kind enough to allow us to listen to it on his website, however.
  4. A nod to Mark’s mentor, baritone Sherrill Milnes singing Giovanni’s ruthless aria ‘Fin ch’an dal vino’.  This is from a powerful recording conducted by Karl Böhm, with Mr. Milnes in the title role.  It is an excellent choice for complete opera library.  You can download it on iTunes by clicking here.