Thursday, January 2, 2014

Meet the Encouragement Award Winners 2014: Joshua Arky

Joshua Arky
Bass
Age 23

Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Joshua Arky: I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. I completed my undergraduate studies in Environmental Science at Columbia University last May. I have not yet attended a conservatory for a Master's degree. The only role I have sung in a full operatic production was Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera on the Avalon. I have several upcoming engagements that I am very excited about. I will be covering Sarastro with the New York Opera Exchange in February, singing Collatinus with the Green Mountain Opera Festival in June, and singing Zuniga in Carmen with the Aspen Music Festival in July and August. 

OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer?  Do you come from a musical family?

JA: I don't come from a traditionally musical family. My father cannot read music. My mother was in some musicals when she was in high school, but never pursued music beyond then. But we always had classical music playing in the house, and since I was young we attended orchestra and chamber concerts, and some operas, too. It was in high school when my sister, Rachel, and I began to be interested in singing opera. We both went to a small school called Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, where a man named Peter Clark taught a class in classical singing. Peter referred students that took a great interest in singing to his teacher, Fred Martell. To this day, my sister and I study with Fred, who has shown us this truly incredible world of art.

In college, in a bit of a fit, I quit singing cold turkey. In short, I felt I needed to save the world in my own little way, and that singing wasn't saving the world. I switched my studies at school from music to environmental science, and more or less shut classical music and opera out of my life. But seven or eight months into life without opera, I started to yearn for it, deeply. I missed singing and music and opera in a way I didn't know I could. I think it was then that I realized I needed to be an opera singer. I couldn't and cannot live without it. Singing is both physical and emotional. Music really becomes part of us as singers--our bodies are engaged so intrinsically in the process of making this art that it is as if it leaves a kind of imprint on us. I couldn't ignore the wonderful fulfillment of making, listening to and loving music. 

OI: Do you have a favorite opera, aria or composer?  Do you have any 'role models' in the opera world?

JA: I love Le nozze. Favorites are hard to choose, but this is the first that comes to mind. To me, it's a complete opera, with some of the most stunning musical play and drama. It's nothing new, and I'm sure a million have said it before, but the Act II finale is mind boggling.

I have my short list of opera idols that I adore, the ones I always turn to on a rainy day. There are the great basses (to whom I am a bit biased): Cesare Siepi, George London, and Nicolai Ghiaurov. These three I return to constantly with a kind of stupid glee. And outside of the bass realm, I adore Freni, Cappuccilli, Bastianini, Simionato, Sutherland, Nilsson, and anything Franco Corelli touches.

OI: What would your dream role be?

JA: Olin Blitch.