Today’s opera singers are, increasingly, young people who became enamored of the art form and spent years in training to develop and fine-tune their voices. Opera and musical theater are inexorably linked, as husband and wife singers Tyler Putnam and Sarah Nordin reminded us on Wednesday’s edition of The Catalyst Sessions, as they’re both forms of storytelling using music, plot devices and creative staging – and many of today’s professional opera singers are adept at both styles.
The couple opened Wednesday’s streaming interview show with a duet performance of “If I Loved You” you from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel – and ended the program with “La ci darem,” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in the original Italian.
Although they live in New York City, Putnam and Nordin spoke (and sang) to us from Lakeland, where they’re safe-at-home with Nordin’s mother. Both were to appear with Opera Tampa, in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance, in March.
The show was officially canceled the morning of March 13, when the Covid-19 scare took all performing arts off the map. It was to open that very evening.
The Pirates of Penzance, as we’ve previously reported, will be produced in January 2021.
Putman, who grew up on Chebeugue Island, Maine, said he first made the connection between musical theater – which he’d done since childhood – and opera by listening to cast recordings of early shows by the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe.
“I thought, that’s old musical theater, but the way they sang on those recordings, that stuck with me,” he explained. “And I think that’s how and why I ended up in opera. So I always connect with that.”
It was, they both said, the era when singers on the Broadway stage did not use microphones, so projection, from the chest and from the heart, was the order of the day. Putnam cited John Raitt, Julie Andrews and Alfred Drake, “these amazing, just brilliant singers.”
In Crystal River, Florida, Nordin played violin and French horn at an early age. “So I was very familiar with classical music anyway,” she said. “And I was singing in choir a lot. When I was 2, I told my dad I wanted to be a singing queen.”
It didn’t matter, at the time, what kind of singing it turned out to be. Still, Nordin added with a laugh, “I think that opera definitely embodies a singing queen, in the best way.”
Watch the video and enjoy the laughter-filled conversation, the tales of happiness and endurance … and the beautiful music.
Tonight (Thursday, April 30) on The Catalyst Sessions: Boogie piano man Rev. Billy C. Wirtz.
Livestreamed weeknights at 7 p.m. on the St. Pete Catalyst Facebook page.