When David Walton makes his Opera Carolina debut as Tonio in The Daughter of the Regiment, he’ll be taking on a lighthearted, comedic role. But it’s also famously challenging. Luciano Pavarotti rose to prominence singing the role of Marie’s love. At a 1972 performance at the Met, he hit the nine consecutive high C’s in the aria, “Ah, Mes Amis,” earning 17 curtain calls and the moniker “King of the High C’s.”
The Nashville, Tenn. native and St. Paul, Minn. tenor talked to us about how he’s preparing for the role – and what he’s looking forward to during his Charlotte sojourn. Learn more at davidwaltontenor.com.
What’s your favorite role you’ve ever sung?
I haven’t sung enough to pick a favorite just yet, but the most rewarding role has been Albert in Albert Herring.
What’s your dream role?
For now, its Tonio. I’ve been looking forward to this role for many years.
What are you doing to prepare?
I have multiple coachings with a pianist and one or two voice lessons just to make sure everything is lined up technically. I carry my score with me everywhere and use flashcards to practice my French. Being a role debut, one can never be over-prepared!
Are you watching old Pavarotti videos, by chance?
I do listen to the Pavarotti/Sutherland recording from ’68 at Covent Garden.
Any thoughts on those famous high C’s?
I love Pavarotti’s voice. They’re absolutely thrilling, and at times a little more difficult. Mine are completely different, but the C’s have always been a fun, slightly easier part of the aria and this role. Most of the time I really look forward to singing with that part of my voice.
What should people who have never seen The Daughter of the Regiment know about it?
This is such a charming, light-hearted piece with some of the most tuneful melodies by Donizetti. It’s filled with many different expressions of love between the characters – and what we sacrifice for those loved ones. There’s also a thrilling spark of patriotism and pride about where people come from. We can all relate to something in these characters, and it will definitely leave you with a smile on your face!
What do you do when you’re not singing opera?
I love being home with my wife and son, walking around the lake, playing outside, or doing yard work.
Anything you’re looking forward to doing during your time in Charlotte?
Being a Nashville native, I miss Southern cuisine. I will definitely visit numerous barbecue locations.