Zach Borichevksy – In the introduction of this role he comes out firing, but in that scene before we get into the duet proper, with the “Verrano a te [sull’aure]", or even before in “Sulla tomba [che rinserra],” there is a lit bit of warm-up space and time to acclimate yourself to the theater, and to figure out what the acoustic is and how it sounds when you sing in that space; it’s not the hardest introduction for a singer. I think that Lucia’s entrance is a little bit more difficult because she comes in and has to go right into that first aria, and then she keeps singing right through to this duet scene which is not so easy for her either, so…
I can’t complain. I can’t feel good about myself complaining about my entrance! [laughs]. Hers is pretty challenging too! There is variable vocal challenge, in parts, especially in the final scene. The very final moments of the opera are pretty much the hardest part of the role to sing, just because it requires some true bel canto singing with a legato line, and a controlled passagio, which is to say the notes at the top of the treble clef staff that are right in-between the different registers of the tenor voice. The final scene really pounds away at those areas. You really have to know what you are doing and control how that is coming out, to make it effective.
OL – Nice. I think the role of Edgardo needs a lot of passion, from the acting standpoint. What would you say about his psychology and the best way to portray this character?
ZB – He is very aggressive. I used to interpret roles differently than I do now, having a few more years of experience. I used to always think of putting myself into the situation and the circumstances of the character and the drama, and think about how I would react and whether that would be similar to how this character reacts in the show. Having met more people in my life and understanding differences in personality, I don’t approach it that way any longer. I don’t try to put myself into the character. I try to figure out the character’s motivations and provide a significant back story to understand why the character would react like that.
In Edgardo’s case, he’s been emasculated, essentially, by the circumstances of his family’s conflict with Lucia’s family. Lucia’s father and mother have effectively removed all of Edgardo’s family’s wealth, and drove his father to his death. That leaves Edgardo feeling like something has been taken away from him and he knows that he has to make up for that. His way of reacting to that is not to be overly aggressive. He is not incredibly or irresponsibly aggressive, but he has this real disdain for Lucia’s family. In the very first scene he says that he is able to temper that. He can make peace with her family because she has appeared in his life and he is utterly in love with her.
His passion is not an irresponsible passion or a youthful, ignorant, love-at-first-sight type of passion. It’s more of a reflection of how he’s been oppressed, essentially, by the circumstances, and that’s his reaction to it.
OL – Very interesting answer! What is your expectation for this Opera Carolina production? What can you tell us about how things are going, about the concept, your colleagues, and so forth?
ZB – We’ve had only a few days of rehearsal so far but it’s coming up really well. I know James Meena from working in Roméo et Juliette with him in Arizona a couple of years ago, and I know that he has a photographic memory for the score. He has every note for everyone’s parts and every word memorized. He also understands how the voice works and appreciates good musical talent. So when I show up here I expect that everyone will be really good, and everyone is very good! [laughs] All the parts are very well sung by everyone in them.
The commitment to the art form is all there from everyone, so it’s a wonderful experience to come in to, especially for my first time in the part. Myself and Katie Lewek, I guess, it’s the first time for us singing these parts, but I think everyone else has done it before. Yun has definitely sung Enrico before, and I think that Kristopher has sung Raimondo before, so it’s good to have that mix of people bringing fresh first-time experiences to it, and then people who know how it goes and can lead us through this masterpiece.
Especially Bernard Uzan directing it, it’s interesting because he told us yesterday that the next production that he is going to direct will be his 400th production, so this is his 399th opera production that he has directed!
OL – Wow! 399! That’s impressive!
ZB – Yes! And then, it’s his first Lucia ! So he has a lot of opera experience but it’s his first Lucia ! He is bringing his wealth of experience and yet his fresh eyes to this opera. It’s going to be good !
OL – Is there anything interesting he told you guys about the piece, or specific advice on the acting, or anything that he brought up that was unusual or revealing?
ZB – We just went out for beer yesterday – he had white wine – after the rehearsal. We had a long talk, Katie, Bernard, and myself about the relationship between the two of us. Katie was singing the Queen of the Night until the last possible moment, so she only showed up two days ago, and we had been rehearsing for a couple of days before that. So we haven’t actually gotten to our Act 1 duet scene. We staged the rest of the opera. We staged the end and the conflict in the middle, and we are yet to go back to the beginning and stage the first scene.
So, we had a good talk-through about it at the bar yesterday and that’s where Bernard brought to fore a lot of his ideas about the love affair between the two of them. It’s not a Roméo and Juliette-style love at first sight, physical situation. This is more like they would be in love with each other regardless of how they looked like, because of what they represented. When Edgardo and Lucia met before the beginning of the opera, obviously, Edgardo rescues Lucia from a wild raging bull. He runs into the bull and saves her and her father, actually, from being killed by it. He carries her to the fountain because she has fainted. She wakes up and that’s when they first meet each other and then fall in love.
That emasculation that Edgardo feels leads him to want to protect someone. Having his largesse and wealth taken away from him and feeling like he is less of a person, having someone there that he can protect is very reassuring to the core. That’s what he needs in his life. He needs to have someone whom he can protect. Lucia was that person physically in that first interaction that they had, and she is also that person in the relationship. Edgardo despises the rest of the family and thinks that he can protect her and save her from the ruthlessness of her brother, certainly, and from the rest of her family. She is also very pretty [laughs] and he is also in love with her for that reason, but that’s not the main driving factor.
OL – So it’s not a teenage love like Roméo et Juliette’s, but the love of someone with a background history to it, right?
ZB – Exactly. Her need is to have someone who will protect her and have her own interest at heart. She needs a figure like that because her brother has the interest of the family and his own interest at heart when he is manipulating her and making her do things, and what she needs is someone who is there looking out for her.
OL – Do you feel that she has a hint of insanity from the beginning and was damaged goods in a way, or was she led to madness exclusively by the events in the opera?
ZB – Yes. I think her first aria is an implication of her existing mental trauma of some kind. She is not necessarily hallucinating, but at least imagining crazy stories and how they might apply to her own life. There is some of that in there. I haven’t discussed it with Katie. I don’t know where she thinks that comes from, necessarily. She did lose her parents relatively young, I guess. I don’t think her madness starts from ground zero at the beginning of the opera. Something is already cooking there, that her imagination only catalyzes.
OL – Have you read the novel, The Bride of Lammermoor, by Sir Walter Scott?
ZB – Yes. I didn’t read it in its entirety, but I’ve read most of the sections of it that apply to me. It’s so very British, I don’t know! [laughs] Everything is very understated! That era of literature, for me, I don’t know… I’m more of a Hemingway fan. It’s more clear and direct, I would say.
OL – Is that something you always do, trying to go to the sources for your role preparations?
ZB – Yes, definitely, I try to get as much background as I can. I was a double major in music and political sciences in my undergraduate years, so I always try to look into the political situation, especially when there is a character like Edgardo who has some political interests. I try to look into the political situation of the time period in which the opera is set, to understand what is going on. It’s especially relevant for Edgardo because he says in one of the first scenes “I’m going out to France to handle the affairs of Scotland.” I went to look into the political scene of the time to figure out exactly where that falls.
As far as I can tell, it’s a situation where the two families supported different sides in the period of the English Civil War and the Restoration. One of the reasons why Lucia’s family was so effectively able to take away the fortunes of Edgardo’s family was being on the eventual winning side of that war. They were monarchy supporters, so they got favorable treatment from the judges and they managed to wrest most of the estate from Edgardo’s family. When he is going to France, he probably trying to rustle up some trouble for the restored monarchy. His mission has to be something important, to take him away from the love of his life. That is really what it is: another way he can try to restore both his family and his idea of how the country should be governed. That’s why he takes the mission to France. That’s the kind of research that I think is important to understand where the character is coming from.
OL – Right. What about musically? Do you typically listen to your predecessors, to the famous tenors who got this role in the past?
ZB – Yes, I try to listen to as many different recordings as I can get. The wonderful thing about the Internet age is that everyone’s bootleg recordings that they had and played for a few friends for many years are now available for everyone. The live recordings are so incredibly more useful to me than studio recordings! In studio recordings you can do as many takes as you want. Pavarotti used to record first all his high notes, and then go back and do the rest of it, to make sure that the high notes came up just right! That’s cheating! You can’t tell from a singer’s standpoint how you can conserve, how you can be ready to hit those high notes after a big long scene beforehand, and what were you doing to prepare for that. Listening to a lot of different live recordings makes you feel less precious about it. Every note and rhythm doesn’t have to be exactly the same every time or exactly perfect, because it’s a live performance. You have to go with what you feel at that time.
My favorite recording that I’ve been listening to, though, is a 1972 live recording at San Francisco with Beverly Sills and Pavarotti, conducted by López-Cobos.
It’s just… I don’t think that anyone could do it better than those two, in the duet, the confrontation scene, and especially the final scene. It’s really phenomenal singing all around, and the conductor is wonderful as well. The ensemble is great. That’s what I’ve been listening to recently to try to emulate. Pavarotti I think is just the best technician singing-wise that I’ve heard. My teacher agrees about that.
When you listen, you don’t want to mimic, or sound like any particular other tenor, because you are yourself, but you want to listen to what he is doing technically to achieve that sound. That’s something that I’ve really made some progress in the recent years. I used to – we all do – try to replicate the sound that we’re hearing from other people, but rather than replicating the sound, you must listen beyond what the acoustic of the sound sounds like, and listen to what is happening in the muscles of the throat to make that sound. And that’s what you want to replicate. You want to replicate the technique, the intention, the style of producing the sound, rather than trying to make your voice sound like that. I think I’m getting better at that. Listening to Pav is a good way to get in touch with that technical assuredness.
OL – During your training at AVA in Philadelphia you took on the outstanding role of Pelléas. Please tell us about this psychologically devastating role, and about the difficulties in singing Debussy’s music.
ZB – Well, there is a lot of French, I’ll say that much. [laughs] One of the hardest things is just to get all those French words, because it is very wordy. Other than that, it’s not a terribly challenging role to sing, technically. It’s challenging to sing expressively because it is so reliant on the colors of the words and the text. You really have to become fluent in the words that he is saying, anyway, to make that opera have an effect. For example, I love Richard Tucker so much! His voice is amazing. I don’t speak Italian at all but I can hear that his Italian is not great. But it doesn’t matter how good his Italian is or his French in most operas, because his voice overcomes it. But if he tried to do Pelléas probably it wouldn’t be a very compelling operatic experience. So the most challenging part for me was to get the French to a good level to be able to express what is happening in that opera. It is quite a psychologically challenging part, but it is all kind of there; you don’t have to invent anything. He kind of explains his whole thought process and what he feels about what is happening in every situation. Debussy in the music as well does nice painting for the psyche of Pelléas at any given time. It wasn’t so challenging that way, as much as it was French, French, French.
OL – We are very interested in contemporary opera. Again, as a student, you were part of the world premiere of Margaret Garwood's The Scarlet Letter. Tell us about the opera.
ZB – Margaret Garwood is a wonderful lady. I got to meet her and hang out with her during the process of creating that piece. It’s not a very modern opera; it’s much closer to Puccini than to Wozzeck or something more barbaric and with contemporary feeling. It was a great experience. It was really well written. For me a lot of my trouble as a singer is overcoming previous old habits. I learned a lot of arias when I was very young between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. I sang way too many arias that were inappropriate for me because my voice teacher at the time wanted to get me interested in opera, and he did; I don’t fault him for it. Well done, but I have some old habits in those arias. When I’m working on a new piece like The Scarlet Letter I have absolutely nothing to worry about. It’s written in a more traditional style, so I get to stretch my legs and see how to sing that kind of repertoire on new material, so it was a good experience for me, vocally and acting-wise. I ended up singing three of those performances in a row. We were double-cast but my colleague got sick, so I sang on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in that show. It was pretty successful. I enjoyed it all. I don’t know if that opera will be done much more. Margaret Garwood was a local composer in Philadelphia and she had a connection with the Academy of Vocal Arts so that’s how we ended up doing her piece. It was a great experience.
OL – On the same token of contemporary opera, I was actually there in the audience in Philadelphia when you sang in Kevin Puts’ phenomenal Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night. This one I’d say was way more successful. Please tell our readers about this fabulous work.
ZB – Certainly! I loved it. I really enjoyed that piece a lot. I’ve done quite a few contemporary works and a few world premieres, and the wonderful thing about that one is that it is so dramatically well-paced! The problem with a lot of modern operas – any operas, really – is dramatic pacing, especially with what we are accustomed to, with the cinematic experience being most Americans’ exposure to narrative in visual art form. Silent Night does such a great job of moving the action! There is always something happening and being interesting. Something is always going on. There’s nary a moment to look away and be impatient.
Operas written in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and still the nineteenth century to a certain point were not to be watched completely from beginning to end with rapt attention. They only started dimming the lights in the house in Wagner’s time. Before that, going to the opera was much more akin to going to a baseball game than going to what one would say is a movie theater experience today. You go and you talk to other people, you drink your wine. The opera is happening but you are not paying close attention to it at all moments, and that’s how the operas were written. They were written for that sort of audience experience. So when we are shoehorning that into today’s performance practice of dimming the lights and everyone paying close attention at all times, it’s hard to maintain an audience’s attention for the for the length of time that is required for an opera. So Silent Night is dealing with the performance experience that people are used to, now, and it does a great job at that.
Kevin Puts’ music is great throughout. He takes from all kinds of different styles to get different feelings at different moments and there are some really beautiful and touching moments. My friend Andrew Wilkowske has played the role of Ponchel, and he did in Philadelphia; he’s the French assistant to the lieutenant. He just brings such heart to that role! He is a huge-hearted guy so it’s not a whole lot of acting on his part; he is just being himself on stage, getting into a French character. It’s so touching! The way that this opera was written by Kevin is so exquisite! All the parts are well drawn; the characters are three-dimensional, the vast majority of them, despite not having a huge amount of character development for each character, because there are so many characters, but the little bits that we get show the characters to be real humans. It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece.
OL – Yes, and it is incredible that it was his first one, because the operatic medium is not easy to get. Even the greatest operatic composers had failures with their first ones, and Kevin did superb work in his very first attempt at opera; it’s quite impressive.
ZB – Exactly, yes! He is just like Schubert with “Der Erlkoenig”, Shubert’s first song which is pretty much a masterpiece. Kevin actually just wrote The Manchurian Candidate which has just premiered, and I read good things about it. I hope I’ll be able to see it sometime because it’s got similar rave reviews.
OL – Yes, he told me about it. So, it is out already, huh?
ZB – Yes, it just premiered in Minnesota last month.
OL – I missed that. Oh, I’d have loved to have attended it. I hope Opera Philadelphia will have it as well.
ZB – Yes, we had a lot of success with Silent Night so I imagine they will try to perform The Manchurian Candidate too, soon.
OL – Nice. I interviewed Kevin and I was looking forward to his second opera but it slipped out of my mind for the Minnesota premiere, so I hope I can catch it in Philadelphia. You sang the role of Roméo in Chile at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago. Please tell us what kind of environment you found there in South America, both in terms of the professional side, and regarding the public, and opera’s popularity there.
ZB – Chile is a very unequal society. The US is a pretty unequal society too but Chile has even more inequality there. So I was kind of expecting when I went down there that the opera would be just a whole bunch of rich people and everyone else would be excluded. But in my experience, it was an economically varied audience, and it seems like opera is still a very popular art form there, which was wonderful to see. There was a lot of people in the audience every night. All the productions were very well sold. It seemed like people really cared about the art form. It was wonderful to meet everyone in the cast and the crew as well. It was an inspiring artistic experience in that way. It defied my expectations for Chile’s economic disparities.
The working experience was a little bit difficult because the director was sick and he didn’t appear, so his assistant was the only one there. She is French. They are both French. He speaks fluent Spanish and English in addition to French, but she only had a few words in English and no words in Spanish so she mostly tried to speak French to us. Having worked on Pelléas and spent some time working in French, I could understand a reasonable amount of what she was saying even if I couldn’t respond in kind or articulate my own feelings. It tends to be a lot easier for me to understand than to speak. So that was OK, and also we were double-cast and my colleague who was the other Roméo was even better in understanding French than I was so he was helpful too. Professionally it worked out to be just fine. I’m looking forward to going back there in just a couple of months to do my first Madama Butterfly.
OL – You had a role in Santa Fe. Is it difficult to sing there, given the altitude, dry air, and open-air theater?
ZB – Yes, it was a little bit of a challenge. My strategy for combating that was that just after I arrived I started jogging outside regularly, and that’s not something I usually do. I kind of hate running, but I decided “I’m going to nip this altitude difference thing in the bud by getting some exercise, getting my blood flowing, and trying to get used to it faster.” When I first got there it was harder to sing long phrases, things like that, because you run out of breath sooner. But after just a couple of weeks adjusting to it, it wasn’t so hard. The thing that is the most challenging in Santa Fe because of the altitude and dryness is an extensive, long role. The role that I sang in Arabella had challenging sections, but basically I was on stage for a few minutes at a time and then I ran away, so I had plenty of time to hydrate. In the final scene I come out and yell and scream for eight minutes or so, but up until that I have plenty of time to be chugging water so it wasn’t as hard. But doing a part like Lucia or something you have to be on stage for extended periods without having any chance to get off and re-hydrate, that would be more challenging, I think, at Santa Fe.
OL – Last fall your career hit a major landmark, since you had your debut at Glyndebourne, which in my opinion is one of the top five opera companies in the world, for the quality of their productions in the festival and the tour. Tell us about it.
ZB – Yes, it was a great experience. I had been to England before but only in London. It was the Glyndebourne tour but the first five or six performances, maybe even eight, are still in Glyndebourne. We rehearsed there. It’s a wonderful estate and it is a great place to work. Then we went on the tour around England and it was great to see all the little towns. I was hoping to get up to Scotland at one point in-between performances to take a look at the Lammermoor hills to get some research into this role that I’m singing right now, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time, because the towns we went to were mostly south and west and far away from Lammermoor. It would take me too long to get there and too long to get back. There wasn’t enough time to fit that trip in, unfortunately, but we did get to go to Plymouth. We were in Plymouth during Thanksgiving! [laughs] So that was fun; we got to see where the pilgrims took off from. My one American colleague in the cast and I told everyone about our Thanksgiving traditions. It was a great bonding experience with the whole cast.
OL – What role were you singing?
ZB – It was Alfredo in La Traviata. It was a great experience to be exposed to more of England. I am going to be back in London in the fall, doing La Bohème with the English National Opera.
OL – Great. It looks like your career is really taking off, with these prestigious houses.
ZB – Yes, I’m lucky.
OL – What are your next career goals? Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
ZB – I’d just love to be performing roles like Edgardo. I just did my first Lensky in Arizona and that’s a great role for me. Rodolfo of course and Alfredo, I love these parts. I’d love to keep doing them in larger and larger houses. The top five operas are masterpieces. Even though they are performed a lot, I don’t get tired of them. I’ve already done four productions of La Bohème and still think it’s my favorite opera. I don’t foresee getting tired of it anytime soon. I love the work and I love sharing it with audiences. I’d like to share it with as many audiences as I can while I am in my prime singing years. Next year I’m making my Metropolitan Opera debut with a small part in Manon Lescaut and so I’m really looking forward to that. I hope that leads to more exposure as well.
OL – Great, congratulations. How did opera come to be your career choice, growing up?
ZB – As I mentioned a little bit earlier, it was through my first voice teacher. When I was fifteen years old my mom really wanted me to take some extracurricular lessons. She tried to give me piano lessons but the piano teacher she found wasn’t terribly good. I was not inspired to learn the piano. Also we didn’t have a piano. We had a Yamaha keyboard and my parents are not musicians. They didn’t really understand the necessity of having a very expensive piano. They said “you have a keyboard; that should work fine!” It’s a very different experience, trying to learn to be a proper pianist on a Yamaha keyboard without weighed keys. So that didn’t work out, for whatever reason. Then she found what happened to be just a really good voice teacher about five minutes away from where I lived up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He recognized the operatic potential in my voice. I was interested in it because I had listened to Andrea Bocelli and the Three Tenors as well. My dad had an album of Pavarotti arias called “Amore.” I listened to that a lot.
This teacher still focused more on musical theater but for me he went back to his classically trained root. He had studied a bit with Corelli and had done opera in his early years but had made the transition to mostly training musical theater people into that scene, so I did some of that as well. I hadn’t decided to do opera as a career. I didn’t know if I wanted to do that. I wanted to go to a college where I would have plenty of choices because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up double-majoring in Political Sciences and Music. I’ve been always interested in politics. And even when I left college I wasn’t quite sure if I should pursue my musical or my political end of things. I was on the fence over whether I should go to law school or music school. I didn’t really want to be a lawyer per se but I wanted to learn more about the law and constitutional law, to be a legislature aide or something like that. I signed up to take the L-SAT which is the admissions test for law schools and I forgot to go. [laughs] The reason I forgot to go, I’m sure, was because it was a random Saturday and I was in rehearsal for an opera. We did a lot of little opera scenes although not full operas, in my college at George Washington University in D.C., and I’m sure that I was just memorizing or doing something opera related and completely forgot about it. I didn’t remember it until days later, and I said “I was supposed to do something on Saturday, wait a minute.” [laughs]
OL – That was a Freudian slip. You didn’t really want to be a lawyer.
ZB – Exactly! I figured that it was a sign. So that’s when I made the transition to focusing on music and realizing “that is really what I am interested in, because that’s what I’m spending my time on.” Then I went to the Yale School of Music which is a great training experience. I did my first Bohème there. Then I went to the Academy of Vocal Arts after that, and I’ve been into opera all the time since then.
OL – Wow, nice training. You must be a smart man to be able to get to all these elite colleges and universities.
ZB – [laughs] It’s less important to be smart, to get into the Yale School of Music. I’m very lucky to be a tenor because it’s a relatively rare voice, first of all. Second of all, I’m taller than your average tenor. I kind of stick out in that way. I’m very thankful for what I’ve been blessed with, randomly, especially when I look at the sopranos’ journey to the career rather than men in general and tenors in particular. My best anecdote about that is when I was living in Boston for a year; I stopped by the opera program at Boston University and they had the roster posted on the bulletin board. There were three or four mezzos, two tenors, four baritones, one bass, you know, and fifteen sopranos. [laughs] That’s just unfair! [laughs]
OL – [laughs] That is amusing. How are you as a person, in terms of personality and take on life?
ZB – Just generally, my dad told me this from a very young age, and years of experience gone by I haven’t found anything more profound than that, it is that you should try to leave this planet better than when you found it. This should be your goal whenever you go anywhere. He taught me that on a microcosmic level. Borrow something from a friend, return it in better condition or at least just as good as when you got it. When you come to a place, leave it cleaner than when you found it. The same should be true of our lives. We should try to leave the planet in a better way.
Of course that is easy enough to say but figuring out how to do that is a little bit more challenging. About ten years ago I was a bit younger and trying to figure out what combination of innate ability and proclivities to study, how to balance my talents and my interests in things, and how to maximize my impact on the world to make it a better place. The reason I wasn’t full on about opera as the way to do that was because I was concerned that it would be too narrow of an effect. Learning more about it and thinking about art in general led me to conclude that opera at least to me is the most direct and communicative art form, which is bizarre because it is usually in a foreign language that I didn’t speak naturally and was written hundreds of years ago. And yet somehow through those barriers, it speaks to truths that I haven’t gotten from other forms of art. I has broadened my appreciation of complexities of life and of truths in general that I otherwise wouldn’t have come to. That was what made me commit to the art form and what maintained this commitment.
I spoke to a composer who was one of my professors in college when I was struggling about what I wanted to do, and I said “you are a composer; when you make this art it stays around; people can come back and look at it, and it can impact more people than just the people who happen to be sitting there when you are performing.” He said to me “you know, that can’t be your motivation. Do you think anybody is going to pay attention to this music in fifty years? I’m not Mozart. This is not necessarily going to live through the ages just because it is on a piece of paper in some academic music library somewhere. It doesn’t mean I am going to have a greater impact than a performer. Everything that we do in life doesn’t stand forever. It’s not an eternal proposition. What you want to do is influence as many people as you can, in a positive way while you are alive.” I think that this is the way that I can do that, and that’s what I am trying to do with my life.
OL – Nice answer! I would say that opera and classical music do have a lasting impact on society. Just think of initiatives like El Sistema in Venezuela. Art can be very transformative. I really believe in it.
ZB – Absolutely.
OL – What do you like to do besides classical singing? Any major hobbies or interests? I know about political sciences already. Anything else?
ZB – Yes, I’m still very much into politics. I like discussing it, and arguing with my relatives about it on Facebook [laughs] any time I can. Other than that, I do a lot of research and reading for parts, but I also have been doing a fair amount of reading in recent years when I’m on the road. It’s a solitary lifestyle, being an opera singer, sometimes. It’s good to have a good book with you and read it along. I’m actually in the midst of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, tasting some sci-fi. I enjoy science fiction films but I’ve very rarely read anything. It’s an interesting work; it makes you think about things differently. That’s what I’m interested in, when I’m consuming media: something that makes me think about the world in a different way and look at conflicts from a different perspective.
Other hobbies, when I’m really trying to decompress and not think of anything, I will play some Tetris. I like a good round of Tetris. Whenever I am around people who play tennis I enjoy playing it as well. I’ve been known to try to play some basketball on occasion but I’m pretty bad. If you were interviewing me in person you would probably have asked already if I play basketball because I’m 6’6” so everyone always asks me that. I will try once in a while but I really don’t have any skill.
OL – And you are here being interviewed for opera, while Louisville is playing against Michigan State.
ZB – Yeah, exactly.
OL – So you are not watching March Madness.
ZB – No, no, I’m not a huge basketball fan for watching. Baseball is my sport that I follow, and the Phillies are my team. Unfortunately they aren’t going to be too competitive for the next couple of seasons, I don’t think, because their window of opportunity passed them by. They did win the World Series back in ’08 but since then they’ve been struggling. It’s a little depressing for me. It’s a sore subject. But I’ll be wearing my Phillies jersey on opening day in a few days, and I’ll still be committed to the Phillies even if they are not going to do too well in the next couple of seasons.
OL – Yep. Oh, it’s ten to three.
ZB – Oh yes, Jesus, I got to get going!
OL – Sorry that I’ve retained you for so long. I appreciate your time and your kindness. It was a great interview. I’ll be working on transcribing it.
ZB – It’s a lot of words. [laughs]
OL – It went for longer than I expected, which is great for us, but it does take more time to transcribe everything. We’ll meet in person on the 11th, I’ll be there. Thank you so much.
ZB – Absolutely, I look forward to meeting you, and thanks for calling up.