April 22, 2019

Ricardo shares his experience

Donor Serenade sat down with second-year Ryan Opera Center baritone Ricardo José Rivera to talk about his experiences as a member of the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble and hear what’s next for him.

What are some of your favorite moments as a member of the Ensemble?

Ricardo: My first favorite moment was when I auditioned here in 2017. I won the Audience Favorite Award, which was unexpected, and it was a big honor to receive that and to feel the warmth of the audience that day. Being able to portray Schaunard in La bohème on the Lyric stage was a fantastic opportunity. I didn’t think I was going to get an assignment like that in a young artist program because we usually cover major roles and only perform smaller roles. To be able to sing this role, especially in my first year, was an incredible honor and a really nice challenge. There was one moment during one of the performances, in Act 4 when the guys are all goofing off in the apartment, that I completely forgot my text. There I was on stage with Zachary Nelson, Michael Fabiano, Adrian Sâmpetrean, and they were all looking at me. It felt like years, but it was probably only about five seconds until I said something, I don’t even remember what it was. Michael was about to explode with laughter  he was bright red  because he could not believe what had just happened. They all teased me so much, but it happens to everyone at some point, and I don’t think the audience even noticed.

Danielle de Niese, Zachary Nelson, Ricardo José Rivera, Adrian Sâmpetrean, Michael Fabiano, Maria Agresta in Lyric's 2018/19 production of La bohème. 

Who are some of the people who have made an impact on you during your time here?

Ricardo: Everyone on the Lyric staff is so wonderful. Our staff pianists have become close friends. Our prompter Susan Miller Hult… I tell her all the time that I wouldn’t have survived Bohème staging rehearsals without her constant attention. Dan Novak (Vice President and Director, Ryan Opera Center), Craig Terry (Music Director), and Julia Faulkner (Director of Vocal Studies) have been very important in making my run at the Ryan Opera Center a very comfortable and enjoyable one, full of learning and experience.


How will your experience returning to sing Silvio in Pagliaccinext season be different than your roles in the Ryan Opera Center?

Ricardo: The pressure will be much higher because I will have been here as an Ensemble member and will be coming back as a professional for the first time. If I’m not at the top of my game, I will feel especially bad because I feel that this is my house. I wouldn’t feel good about messing up somewhere else, but since this is where I have grown and been nurtured, I am particularly inspired to do the best that I can here. At the same time, I will enjoy the rehearsal process and performances even more because I know everyone here, and the audience knows me to a certain degree. Coming back as a professional singer means that there will be someone from the Ryan Opera Center covering me this time. I have always been inspired by the people I have covered here, for example I’m currently covering [Ryan Opera Center alumnus] Anthony Clark Evans in Madama Butterfly and he is a superstar, so I want the person who is covering me to feel inspired in that same way.


What are some of your dream roles?

Ricardo: I love Verdi’s music because I think he was the best composer to write for the baritone voice. There’s a Verdi baritone category for a reason! Iago, Germont, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, Falstaff and Ford are roles I aspire to. Falstaff is my favorite opera ever, I think it is genius, how Verdi uses music to tell the comedic story. If you don’t love Falstaff, you don’t love opera!


Hear more from Ricardo and his colleagues as they share their parting thoughts about their time in the Ryan Opera Center.

Ricardo Rivera is sponsored by Mrs. Myung S. Chung Family, Dr. David H. Whitney and Dr. Juliana Chyu, and Drs. Joan and Russ Zajtchuk

Photos: Jaclyn Simpson, Simon Pauley, Todd Rosenberg