10 Questions with Evan Hughes

American bass-baritone Evan Hughes is making his San Diego Opera debut next month as Figaro, fresh off singing the role in at The Semperoper in Dresden, Germany. As an alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Evan's career has already led to great international success including performing roles with companies like the MET, Santa Fe Opera, National Dutch Opera, and Komische Oper, Berlin to name a few. We're looking forward to hearing him in the San Diego Civic Theatre for THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, but we're also excited to get to know him a bit better before he arrives:

1. What was your last gig before coming to San Diego?
My last gig was actually three gigs at the same time. I was performing in Germany for two companies, doing two revivals, and one new production within the same couple months. This kind of thing happens in the opera world in Germany! I was singing Somnus in Barry Kosky’s delicious production of Händel’s Semele, as well as both Figaro and Leporello - two roles I’ve sung frequently at the Semperoper. It was hard work, very exciting, and rewarding to wrap my self around 3 roles at once.

2. How do you relate to/feel about your character (Susanna) in The Marriage of Figaro?
I think anyone who has fought for justice or agency in the face of a corrupt power can relate to Figaro’s journey. But so can anyone who has been in love. It’s a story about love, humanity and common sense winning over power and privilege. Also on a personal note, I’m quite a wily and enthusiastic guy; so it doesn’t take that much imagination to step into Figaro’s shoes.

3. Are there any dream roles that you would love to sing and why? And since we're dreaming it doesn't even need to be in your fach.
Well if it doesn’t need to be my Fach then there’s an endless list of extraordinary characters. In my Fach, I’d say Berg’s Wozzeck and Golaud in Pelleas et Melisande are at the top of my list... also Iago... Outside of it, to name a few: Salome, the countess in Figaro (a beautiful character), and probably Desdemona.. can you tell I like drama? 

4. What was your introduction to opera and how did you decide this was the path you wanted to pursue.
Like many artists, I was born into an artistic family. My mother was an opera singer/voice teacher and my dad was a visual artist who worked coincidentally at Santa Barbara’s internationally renowned music festival the Music Academy of the West. My father was the buildings and grounds manager so we lived on the campus. That meant I was surrounded by excellent singing both from my mother and from my exposure to the artists from the festival, including Marilyn Horne and Warren Jones. All of my imagination always revolved around singing and music; and my acceptance into the festival in the beginning of college really sealed the deal for a life in music.

5. Name a singer you loved working with in the last year.
Julia Bullock!

6. What are your hobbies that keep you busy outside of music?
My friendships are my biggest hobby. Otherwise, exercise and immersion in nature are what keep me ticking.

7. Fill in the blank: "If I was not an opera singer, I would be ____.”  
A pop singer 

8. If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why? 
That’s a tough question so I’ll just give a gut answer: probably the two alternate lives I fantasize about the most are being a social worker or a farmer/any kind of job that keeps me in contact with nature at all times. As a social worker, you are impacting so many lives on a daily basis and walking the walk. As a farmer, your profession requires that you’re in tune with the natural world.

9. Name three artists, bands, or composers on a current playlist that aren't opera related. 
1. Donny Hathaway is a voice and a spirit I always come back to. His cover of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy is on repeat.  
2. Gilles Apap is a brilliant French violinist who is like an uncle to me. His entire discography which ranges from Bach to Indian Raga to Romanian gypsy music is a mainstay on my playlists.
3. Also, Beyoncé. I am inspired by the quality and substance of her work while at the height of her fame.

10. What are you most looking forward to doing in San Diego while you’re in town?
Of course, collaborating with this team of beautiful human beings; many of whom I’ve come in contact with before through the industry. Also, swimming in the ocean whenever I can and on free days visiting my dear friends and family up the coast of Southern California.

(Bonus) 11.What’s next for you after your gig in San Diego?
Arguably my most challenging role of my lifetime, the Protector in George Benjamin’s vivid, genius opera Written on Skin. It’s a milestone for me as it will mark my debuts in the Berlin Philharmonic and Elbphilharmonie in Berlin and Hamburg with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Pinching myself and studying all day!!


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