The Sculptor at Work: Meet tenor Marc Molomot
Tenor Marc Molomot stars in the title role of Pygmalion later this month with On Site Opera. We caught up with Marc before a performance of Carmina Burana with the Pacific Symphony (staged by OSO’s Eric Einhorn) and asked him about his love of Rameau, the challenges of the hautre-contre voice type, and his own Pygmalion-like obsession.
OSO: What is your experience with Rameau? Is this your first time performing his music?
Marc: Actually, one of the first leading roles I ever did was in production of Pygmalion with James Richmond and Concert Royal in 1999. It was a completely foreign experience — it all sounded like it could have been from Mars! It was so exciting and thrilling. William Christie later hired me for many projects — the first project being Rameau’s Les Boréades. I learned so much from Bill and all his amazing musicians, who understand Rameau’s style and musical language so well.
OSO: Can you tell us a bit more about haute-contre the voice type?
Marc: Haute-contre is a voice type that specializes in French baroque repertoire. The Italians did not love the high tenor sound — they thought it was a vulgar sound. For the high tenor they used the castrato, but the French did not like the sound of the castrato. The haute-contre uses the entire voice, from the top head voice down through the rest of the voice. I love it because you have so many colors at your disposal. In this interpretation of Pygmalion, I really want to offer the public every vocal color possible, to make every word become vivid, and be true and honest in my performance. I think Rameau wanted more than just one beautiful sound and he wanted the words to pop off the page. He wanted the color to be right, everything from heroic to incredibly sweet. I’m excited about that challenge — a lot.
OSO: Pygmalion deals with a sculptor’s obsession with his work. What’s your obsession/guilty pleasure?
Marc: You know it’s funny — I just need to get upstate. I have always loved that area. I grew up in the Hudson Valley, but near Lake Minnewaska where I live now, I’m just crazy about it. I bought my house in 2011 and since then I’ve become an obsessive gardener. I just love walking around my property and making things more beautiful — watching the seedlings come to fruition. In a way, I feel like a sculpture on my property. In fact, I get so much inspiration, I think I sing more in this house than I ever wanted to in the 20 years I lived in my New York City apartment. Being closer to nature just inspires me to want to create.
OSO: Have you performed site-specific opera before? How do you feel about taking opera out of the opera house?
Marc: I did a tour of Pagliacci in parks when I was first starting out and that’s a different environment, but not really site-specific. I am really excited about what we are going to be able to create in these unusual spaces. I think this is going to spice up everyone’s imagination. I think that’s the key to performing anyway: How do we get older and jaded and still keep that childlike imagination alive? When I walked into the Lifestyle Trimco Mannequin showroom for our photo-shoot, I said to myself “Oh what a freaking genius idea to do Pygmalion here!”
OSO: What is the greatest music-related advice you’ve ever been given?
Marc: To enjoy the process. Sometimes the performances aren’t going to be perfect and you walk away thinking “I could have done better.” I feel like I’ve been able to stay in this because I love the work itself and my colleagues. The other thing that I’ve learned is that you can’t create a character on your own. Someone — or many people — in the room are going to help you. Sometimes it’s the director, sometimes it’s the choreographer, or it’s the conductor, or the language expert. I’m really open to everyone in the room. I love a great atmosphere and a positive environment.
OSO: Besides Pygmalion, what projects are coming up next for you?
Marc: I’m very excited about Die Verschworenen, a Schubert operetta, I’m singing this summer with Director Eric Einhorn at Bard Music Festival. Eric and I are also doing Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Pacific Symphony, which I’ve never done a staged version of, so that should be a great challenge. I’m singing the Evangelist in Bach’s St. John Passion with the Berkshire Choral Festival and I’m doing a really interesting piece by Max Bruch with the Indianapolis symphony called The Flight into Egypt, which is normally sung by a soprano but they wanted a tenor to sing the role. I also return to France to perform at the le Theatre Bouffe du Nord in Paris for Le chat perché, a family opera written by Jean-Marc Singier.
Join us for Pygmalion
Tuesday, June 17 at Madame Tussauds New York
Friday, June 20 & Saturday, June 21 at Lifestyle-Trimco Showroom
All performances start at 7:30 | Tickets available at onsiteopera.showclix.com
Marc Molomot (Pygmalion), possessed of a rare high-tenor (haute-contre), is best known for appearances with early music ensembles, and with conductors including William Christie, John Eliot Gardiner, Nicholas McGegan, and Andrew Parrott. He also ventures regularly into other repertoire including Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Auber’s 1830 opera Fra Diavolo, the title role in Britten’s Albert Herring, the protagonist in Ziporyn’s 2009 A House in Bali, and a leading role in Singier’s 2011 Chat perché, which premiered at Paris’ Amphithéâtre Bastille. Molomot’s comedic gifts have been showcased in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (Les Arts Florissants and William Christie); Offenbach’s Les brigands (Opéra Toulon and Paris’s Opéra Comique with François-Xavier Roth), and Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias (Opéra de Lyon and Opéra Comique with Ludovic Morlot). Concert appearances have included the U.S. premiere of Dov Seltzer’s Lament to Yitzhak with the New York Philharmonic, Orff’s Carmina Burana and Berg’s Wozzeck with the Houston Symphony, and the Evangelist in Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions, most recently with Andrew Parrott in New York, Kraków, Tel Aviv, and Trondheim, Norway. Molomot’s recording of Lully’s Thésée with the Boston Early Music Festival was nominated for a Grammy. http://schwalbeandpartners.com/project/marc-molomot-tenor/