The Dallas Opera opened the holiday season on Friday, Dec. 4, with a world premiere of Mark Adamo’s “Becoming Santa Claus,” starring one of UNCG’s own.
In what he’s calling the biggest break of his career, American tenor and School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) alumnus Jonathan Blalock ’07 MM is taking the stage as Prince Claus in the witty, original take on the Santa Claus legend.
The opera, which runs through Dec. 12, is a family-friendly, coming-of-age story of Santa. While the story runs adjacent to the Christian story of Christmas, it focuses on universal themes such as kindness, family and love that resonate with all people, regardless of faith tradition. The opera is conducted by music director Emmanuel Villaume, who is in his third season with The Dallas Opera.
“The music is absolutely gorgeous and very entertaining,” Blalock said. “There’s rap and jazz in addition to some of the classical sounds that you typically hear in opera. You’ll never get bored.”
In addition to the four performances taking place in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, the show was simulcast live on Sunday, Dec. 6, to viewers in New York City’s Lincoln Center and to hospitalized children at several hospitals across Texas.
Blalock, who calls New York City home, has spent the past month in Dallas rehearsing tirelessly for the role.
“I take my score with me to the gym every morning, and I look at it every night before I go to bed,” he said. “Learning the pitches and rhythms has been very complex. You have to have the pipes and the brains for a show like this.”
He’s also been preparing with help from UNCG Professor of Voice Dr. Carla LeFevre, who remains a mentor and friend of Blalock.
“We have had a couple voice lessons via Skype, and Jonathan has been regularly sending recordings to me for assessment,” LeFevre said. “He’s a special person, beloved by all who know him, and he works as hard as anyone I’ve known.”
Before landing the role in “Becoming Santa Claus,” Blalock was best known for his 2014 performance in “Paul’s Case” at the Prototype – Opera/Theater/Now festival in New York City. Alex Ross of The New Yorker declared it one of the top ten musical events of 2014, saying, “The tenor Jonathan Blalock was transfixing in the title role; Spears’s score glistened beautifully and eerily around him.”
Looking ahead, Blalock has big plans for 2016. He’s singing for the first time with Opera Hong Kong in China and will perform alongside his brother and fellow UNCG alumnus David Blalock ’09 with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa, California.
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Relations