Mr. Gangestad has performed in both Wozzeck and Lulu for the Metropolitan Opera, and has had appearances in important American houses such as New York City Opera, Seattle Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Cleveland and many others, including an international appearance at the Welsh National Opera. He has returned every season to the Metropolitan since 2,000, with no fewer than 16 different productions there including Les Troyens. He has been heard in concert at Carnegie Hall under James Levine, as well as in Poland and Japan.

Opera Lively – I like the role of Zaccharia very much, given that it displays for longer than usual the bass voice and it is written in its typical solemn fashion, but also turns to great delicacy for example in a piece like “Vieni, o Levita!” which is an aspect that not all bass roles include. I mean that it is not mono-dimensional, and it gives more opportunities for nuances. Please tell me if you agree with what I’m saying, and then comment upon the musical and acting aspects of this role.

Andrew Gangestad – I would have to say that I agree with you to a certain extent. The role is indeed well written for the bass voice and is definitely not mono-dimensional. Yes, there is the prayer that you mentioned that is not of the usual character for this role. There are other bass roles that have that sort of nuance but this role also has such diversity. It is shown just in the beginning of the opera. Zaccaria comes out and tells everyone to have hope. He goes on to how God made Moses on the shores of Egypt. It is slower paced and of the solemn nature. But, after Ismaele comes in and announces what has happened, the cabaletta "Come notte" really picks up the pace and is the real show stopper. With more of the solemnity though, the end of the third act is also especially powerful for Zaccaria. "Oh chi piange" starts solemn and ends very powerfully. There is such a wide range of singing AND acting involved here. Zaccaria has to be such a strong and powerful force to lead everyone!

OL – You have performed in stylistically wildly different pieces like Berg’s Wozzeck and Lulu versus this early Verdi . Please contrast the difficulty of a modernist vocal score to the more linear 19th century roles.

AG – I would have to say that the hardest thing for me is having to learn the counting and actual pitches! The more linear roles definitely are easier to pick up and learn. When I was learning Wozzeck, I couldn't believe that it was Berg's first opera. It was actually more difficult to learn than hhis Lulu (at least the specific roles I was working on).

OL – Your repertoire is quite impressive. What pieces you believe are the most suited for your voice? In other words, what are your signature roles?

AG – My signature roles…I would have to think about that for a little bit. The two roles that I have performed the most are actually very widely varying: Ramfis in Aida and Leporello in Don Giovanni. I have started to perform Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and would love to start performing it more. So I would have to say Verdi and Mozart roles.

OL – Did you look at some of your predecessors who sang this role of Zaccharia, when you prepared for it? If yes, who are your sources of inspiration? If not, what other steps did you take to musically prepare for this role?

AG – I would have to say that I have looked and/or listened to a lot of the great basses. Sam Ramey, Cesare Siepi just to name two. I am fortunate enough to have the same voice teacher as Sam has had so it makes a little more sense to me listening to him and hearing my voice teacher in my head at the same time. Other then that, I translated everything as well so that I knew what I was actually saying to help with the interpretation of the role in my own way.

OL – This opera requires significant forces – from a large chorus to six gifted singers in the main roles. How is your expectation for this Opera Carolina production?

AG – I am very excited and very much looking forward to the upcoming production. I know a couple of the other singers and have worked with them as well. It will be good to see them again as well. It should be a great production all around.

OL – On a more personal note so that our readers get acquainted with the man underneath the artist, please tell us a bit about you as a person. Why did you chose an operatic career, how do you define your personality, and what are some of your main interests besides opera?

AG – I guess you could say that I didn't choose an operatic career but rather it chose me. I went into college originally as a pre-law major. Corporate law and Criminal Law always interested me. I always sang in choirs throughout middle and high school. Where I went to college was close to where I graduated from High School. We did festivals at the college so when I started there, I received a letter stating that I had received a scholarship for voice lessons. I had NO idea or clue what that meant so I met with the choral professor there and he suggested a new voice teacher who had started. We were introduced and are still friends to this day.

I think my wife would be the best person to describe my personality though. I can be all sorts of personalities, depending on the day, I guess! Some of my main interests other than opera would be to spend time with my family and to be outdoors. I grew up hunting and fishing and really love to get back to Minnesota and do that whenever I can. I also like to cook. It is a good outlet for me and even though it looks like I am stressing out when I am actually cooking, it is the end result that is the most satisfying for me.

Interviews by Luiz Gazzola from operalively.com – click here to visit the full article.