Spotlight on Rexford Tester, Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist


Tenor Rexford Tester discusses his first season with the WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists. Read even more about him here.


Where were you born?  Did you grow up in a musical household?

I was born in Tazewell, VA. I grew up in a musical household, however, not classically trained. My family sang southern gospel music together in church.

Is that where you consider “home” today?

Tazewell will always feel like home, however, wherever I am living, I consider it home. So, D.C. is now home too.

What was your first transformative musical experience?  How old were you?

In high school, when I was 17 years old. I attended the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in 2007. It was there that I decided I wanted to make a career in music.

When did you first know you wanted to sing opera (become an opera coach/pianist)?

In 2010, my junior year of college. I was cast as Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro and it was my first time being in an opera, let alone having a role. As soon as I walked out on stage and began singing and received positive feedback from the audience, I knew it was what I was meant to do.

Which university or conservatory did you attend?

James Madison University, 2012

Westminster Choir College, 2014

What is your favorite role that you have performed so far?  What is your favorite opera? What is your dream role that you would like to perform in the future?

My favorite performed role is Tonio, La fille du Regiment. My favorite opera is La Cenerentola by Rossini, and my dream role for the future is Werther.

Do you have a favorite popular artist?  How about movie?

My favorite popular artist changes pretty frequently, but as of late, I’m enjoying James Bay. I really enjoy his style. Favorite movie is hands down The Devil Wears Prada. Love me some Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway!

Do you have a pre-performance routine?

I hit the gym for a low-intensity workout. Just enough to get the heart pumping and break a sweat. It wakes me up and helps me gain focus.

There are many skeptics that believe opera is a dying art form.  Why do you think opera is still relevant today?

There is nothing in this world that is as pure and honest as opera. What you see is what you get. And quite simply, it is a pure connection between the audience and the performers, where the characters being portrayed and the stories being told pull the audience members out of reality and allow them to go on a journey. There is no amplification, no cuts and retakes, it is pure and raw and super exciting. There is nothing like live opera.

What might people be surprised to know about you?

I have a second degree black belt in Taekwon-Do!

What has been your favorite/most memorable WNO/DCYAP moment? 

Singing Remendado in Carmen, my first main stage role and my WNO debut. It was such a thrill to be on that stage and what a fun opera to debut with!

Do you have a website, Facebook page, Twitter handle, or Instagram name you’d like to share with BravO?

Yes! Facebook: Rexford Tester, tenor/ Insta: TenorTester

Website coming soon!

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