Spotlight Sunday - Spencer Hamlin
Happy Sunday! We are very excited to feature one of our favorite collaborators, Spencer Hamlin. You can see Spencer this spring as Boppi Meneely and covering John Meneely in Greater Middletown Chorale’s production of Letter from Italy, 1944 in May, and singing Ernesto in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale with Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater on Martha’s Vineyard in August.
Spencer Hamlin has proven himself a gifted and versatile young tenor, persuasive in a wide variety of different roles. After his Summer 2015 participation in Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance series, Opera News called Hamlin’s portrayal of Tonio in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment “the perfect picture of a Tyrolean peasant,” and praised his “scintillatingly smooth leggiero tenor.” “The nine high Cs in ‘Ah, Mes amis’ seemed to offer no problem,” the writer continued. Of the same performance, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle observed: “Spencer’s tenor is a pure lyric with a lot of bite to it. He can conjure up substantial power without shouting and yet the frisson adds to the intensity and satisfaction of the moment.” He also appeared in Prelude to Performance’s 2016 production of Die Fledermaus as Alfred, after which Opera News praised his “dazzling Italianate voice.” After hearing Hamlin as Nemorino in UConn Opera Theater’s production of L’elisir d’amore in February 2015, the Pulitzer Prize winning former Washington Post music critic Tim Page wrote: “Spencer Hamlin has a sweetly lyrical high tenor voice, which he deploys with immaculate taste, and his acting is communicative and persuasive.” Hamlin recently received his masters degree from the University of Connecticut where he studied under Dr. Constance Rock. While at UConn, Hamlin appeared in Hansel and Gretel as The Witch, Il barbieri di Siviglia as Almaviva, in the title role in Albert Herring, as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, as Judge Danforth in The Crucible, and Percy Grainger in the U.S. Premier of Justin Dello Joio’s Blue Mountain. Hamlin has also performed with Connecticut Lyric Opera, Opera Theater of Connecticut, Hartford Opera Theater, and Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater.
Here is what Spencer had to say about "opera without borders":
“Opera without borders” to me is a representation of the direction in which opera seems to be headed. At least from my perspective, it seems that with new operas as well as reinterpretations of canonic ones, composers, directors, singers, etc. are all pushing boundaries (or borders, I suppose) in every sense of the word. Opera is not the sort of thing that can be shoved into one box or compartmentalized, but rather it can be and presented and understood in any number of different ways and deal with any number of important issues. For example, in HOT’s most recent New in November festival, I performed in one opera as a Christian Scientist parent who, with his wife, is struggling with the intense issue of whether or not to take his sick child to the hospital or to strictly abide by their religious beliefs. In that same evening, I put on a feather boa and a dress and sang as Blanche in a reinterpretation of A Streetcar Named Desire. Opera can be gravely dramatic, light and humorous, or anywhere in between. There is something for everyone, no matter what your particular tastes are or even if you’ve never been to an opera.
Another thing “opera without borders” makes me think of is how it seems that more and more, many companies are doing their best to make opera accessible to anyone and everyone. Whether it is through outreach, lowering ticket prices, performing one show in multiple venues around their respective areas, or other means, more and more people are gaining access to high-quality music and I think that’s great. Two of the more memorable projects I have been involved in were productions of Hansel and Gretel and Noye’s Fludde during my time at the University of Connecticut. In both productions, we had children from the Windham, CT area come to perform with us in each opera, and through a generous grant, we were able to provide tickets to any children who wanted to come from the schools that were involved to see the shows. I can only imagine that that was a very enjoyable, enriching experience for those children, many of whom had probably never seen, let alone performed in an opera before. Between those shows and the outreach work that UConn does in the surrounding elementary schools, I can confidently say that many of those kids are at least aware of, if not excited about opera, and I am glad to have been a part of it.