Tell us a bit about your self.
----Hello Blog. Let me introduce myself. My name is Michael Chioldi and I am an American baritone who is lucky to be performing the Andree Expedition with the fabulous new company, The Vermont Opera Project. I grew up in the farmland of rural Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. I currently live in downtown Manhattan, NY where the building I reside most definitely has more people living in it than my hometown in PA did. I always loved to sing and perform and most people who knew when would've called me the class clown. I would constantly get into trouble for talking too much. I was precocious and loved to sing and act. I ended up going to college on scholarship for music at West Virginia University. I fell in love with opera and decided to pursue a professional career. I went Yale University for my masters, where I graduated with honors, and ended up at the Houston Grand Opera for a young artist development program. Along the way I interned with Santa Fe Opera and San Fransisco Opera's Merola Program. In 1995 I was the winner of several competitions including the Metropolitan Opera Competition and in 1996 I made my debut there with a cast that included Luciano Pavarotti and Maestro James Levine. I've been lucky enough to get to sing for a living my entire life and now I relish the moments I have on stage. I am 47 years old and have been singing professionally my entire adult life, my first role being at the Ohio Light Opera company when I was 19. Now I get to travel all over the world singing and sharing. He most unique place I've been to to perform has to be Muscat, Oman in the Middle East. It was an incredible experience singing the title role of Macbeth at the Royal Opera House there. One of my favorite countries to perform other than the US has to be Spain. I love the people, the culture and especially the food. I will get to sing Andrea Chenier there next February/March at the Gran Teatro de Liceu, in Barcelona. My other passions are watches (time pieces), fine wines and dining, and I have started an antique cocktail shaker collection from the 1920's and 30's. I got married last December in NYC and when I have time off, I enjoy cooking at home and stay-cations, since I travel so much for work.
What is it that excites you about The Andrée Expedition?
-----First I would have to say the incredible writing of the great composer Dominick Argento. He has a way of turning a phrase so delicately and beautifully yet with great complexity and poise. The music is tonal and heart wrenching all at the same time. Here are dissonant moment all throughout the composition yet it always has this underlying tonal beauty to it. It has a haunting effect for the listener and is precisely appropriate for the incredible story. Second for me is the story itself. Imagine the turn of the century and heading off to the North Pole in a balloon. Astonishing! There are three men in this story and I get to play all three of them in the piece. A sort of, tour de force for a baritone. It is challenging both as a singer and as an actor. As I have developed as a performer, I have been looking for more and more situation like these that are particularly challenging. It keeps me on my toes. Finally to quote the piece itself, I find the Andree Expedition: "Wonderful, indescribable!"
How did you get your start in opera?
------I always sang as a child and I had a paper route. I was delivering papers one day to a family whose father was a pastor and whose daughters all were fantastic singers. I was on the route delivering the papers and I heard them rehearsing inside. The song was, "His Eye is on the Sparrow:. I boldly marched in and said: "I know that song and can sing it too!" They said come on in Michael and sing. So I did. Their eyes lit up and they all just were astonished. Before I knew it I was singing in church and at peoples weddings around town. My love for music and performing started at a very young age. As I grew older I wasn't sure that I would continue singing but when I went to my first actual opera rehearsal, I thought to myself: "If I can do this for a living, I would be the happiest person ever." So here I am still singing for my supper.
Do you have any funny performance anecdotes?
---Recently I was asked to sing a role with New York City Opera. An opera I was not familiar with. It was a last minute request and I was at the time, in Palm Beach singing the title role of Rigoletto. I spoke to he General Director of the company, Michael Capasso, and he assured me it was a great role for me and said that I would be doing them a huge favor. So, I learned it and arrived a few days late for rehearsals because of my prior engagement in Palm Beach. Well, I get there and they inform me st I am playing a lizard. I said: "excuse me!?" Yes they said, you will be in full lizard regalia. I almost got angry but just threw my arms in the air and said oh well......here goes nothing. It turned out to be a huge success for me and I received over 20 rave reviews for my portrait of L'ondino the Lizard. See photo below!