Opera San José’s dynamic new resident baritone, Matt Hanscom, hails from a small town in Minnesota. “My family isn’t particularly musical, but they have a strong work ethic, which I inherited. It gives me the perseverance to continue in my singing career. If an opera singer isn’t willing to work hard, he or she is not going to be successful,” Matt says.
Minnesota schools have good music programs. “Choir is emphasized,” he said, “and I had choir every day in elementary school. In high school voice teachers from nearby colleges would come to give private lessons. A good vocal coach can help you shape your technique.” He continued private voice lessons in college, and “at one point my voice changed into what would be my opera voice.”
Matt’s college work was at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, which offered a double degree in music and liberal arts, so Matt studied math and economics along with music. Northwestern provided him a full scholarship leading to a Masters’ degree, which he completed in 2007. Even as an undergraduate he did some professional singing, and in 2007 he was a Merola singer (San Francisco’s training program for new singers), an apprentice at Santa Fe Opera in 2008, where he sang in the chorus, did cover roles, and had lessons from well-known teachers. He spent six years with Sarasota Opera and also sang at Wolf Trap.
This year Matt will be singing the title role in Rigoletto; Taddeo (The Italian Girl in Algiers); Gino Carella (Where Angels Fear to Tread); and Papageno, (The Magic Flute). “Rigoletto is a multifaceted man. He is different when he is in court than when he is with his daughter. I think Rigoletto is my favorite role, although I like all operas where the baritone is the lead. I cannot imagine doing anything other than singing for a living. Other occupations would be more rewarding monetarily, but I can’t imagine having more pride in what I do than I have when I sing Rigoletto,” Matt said.
Matt is thrilled that he can be with his wife and young son while he is with OSJ. “And I love the rehearsal space because it’s huge.” He enjoys the opera’s outreach program. “At the concert we gave at San Jose State with Symphony Silicon Valley, two or three thousand people attended and the event was very successful.”
Please visit Matt’s website for additional information.