WNO Choristers Dress for Success

WNO Choristers in La Traviata/photo by Scott Suchman

Washington National Opera benefits from having a chorus that includes some of the finest singers in the Mid-Atlantic area, adding musical depth and dramatic or comedic flair to each production. These opera singers are more than just background—they deftly add important elements to the story unfolding on stage. WNO’s chorus, drawn from an established pool of about 100 very accomplished artists, who sing in seven languages: English, Italian, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Czech—no small feat! Three WNO Chorus members got dressed up for La traviata and stepped out onto center stage in small roles during the production: Spencer Adamson (baritone) performed as Flora’s Servant; Aurelio Dominguez (tenor) portrayed Giuseppe; and Rob McGinness (baritone) served as the Messenger. Here, the talented trio share their tricks of the trade for success:

Spencer joined WNO’s Chorus in 2012 and has performed in Candide, Aida, The Daughter of the Regiment, Dead Man Walking, Appomattox, and Norma, among others. He joined his high school choir on a whim during his sophomore year and discovered he had a voice! Since then, singing became his life’s work in church choirs from Baltimore to D.C., while also performing with Maryland Opera, Annapolis Opera, and Washington Master Chorale. His love for musical theater grew “as my voice did into a passion for opera.” This is his second production of La traviata as a performer, yet first as a WNO chorister; he previously sang the role of the Marquis with Baltimore Concert Opera. Spencer believes, “The voice is the one instrument that is a part of you and that in itself is special.” His advice for aspiring singers? “Find the voice teacher who works for you, talk to performers about the ‘real world,’ and be purposeful in your choices—the repertoire you sing, how much to sing, and where to study. Art is a labor of love!”

Aurelio is a veteran member of WNO’s Chorus, having performed in more than 25 productions since joining in 2008. Aurelio also performs with many groups, and has a very unique “day job”—he narrates Audiobooks for the Library of Congress. “Voice is my life and singing is a large part of that.” This was his third production of La traviata, an opera in which he’s performed many roles: as Alfredo, in the chorus, AND in the orchestra playing viola! When asked if people are born talented, Aurelio says, “We all can use our voices and can, with training, achieve a certain level of improvement. I have been taking voice lessons since I was 17. As for ‘learned,’ I don’t think I want to say I am done with it. Singing is a never-ending learning activity. It has to do with the language we sing and the repertoire, whether it is heavily staged or simply delivered. Singing is still something that requires consciously balancing technique and interpretation so that, ultimately, the listener enjoys the performance.”

Rob McGinness is a relative newcomer to WNO’s Chorus, when he made his debut in 2015. This was his first production of La traviata, and he’s looking forward to performing in Eugene Onegin, one of his favorites! His parents will tell you he began singing before he could talk! But Rob recollects singing in a children’s choir starting around the first grade, and believes “anyone can sing if they give it a shot. It is certainly helpful to be exposed to music from an early age and receive encouragement from teachers, mentors, and parents.” Although he still regularly sings with the wonderful church choir of Old Saint Paul’s in downtown Baltimore, he is also performing as a soloist with the Fairfax Symphony and Maryland Symphony Orchestra this season. “Choral singing is still some of my favorite work, as you really get to communicate in an intimate way with other singers.” When not focusing on his own singing career, Rob works at The Peabody Institute as part of the LAUNCHPad office, helping students develop their personal goals, career skills, and professional materials.

WNO fans can support our fabulous Chorus members by cheering from the audience. Fans can hear Aurelio currently performing in Silent Night, and can look forward to seeing Rob in Eugene Onegin, and Spencer in Faust, two WNO productions that occur in March 2019.