Meet the Region Finalists: Joseph Dennis

Joseph Dennis

Tenor Age 29

Region Finals Repertoire

Lamento di Federico------------L'Ariesiana------------Cilea
Salut! Demeure chaste et pure------------Faust------------Gounod
Dein ist mein ganzes Hertz------------Das Land des Lächelns------------Lehár                           Martin's Aria------------The Tender Land------------Copland                                                      Lensky's Aria (Kuda, kuda)------------Eugene Onegin------------Tchaikovsky

Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Joseph Dennis: I was born in Sacramento CA. I am tied for the youngest of 6 kids. I have a twin brother, tenor Joshua Dennis (who I will always be grateful to for talking me into studying classical singing). We moved to Texas in a city called McKinney (30 miles north of Dallas) when I was 13. I went to Stephen F Austin State University in Texas’s oldest town, Nacogdoches. I also spent a year at the University of Oklahoma. I am currently attending Juilliard’s Artist Diploma in Opera Studies program. I met my fiancé, Hailey Clark, when we were both apprentices at the Santa Fe Opera in 2013. Upon our return to the apprentice program at the Santa Fe Opera last summer (2014) I proposed to her and we are planning on getting married at the end of this upcoming summer.

OI: When did you know you wanted to be an opera singer?  
JD: I knew when I was about 25 or 26. I didn’t start singing classically until my early 20’s and it took me a few years to catch the opera bug. I sang in a NATS competition and I loved the feeling of being up on stage and having my voice reach the corners of the room. I received a great response from the audience and realized that this training not only can train your voice to reach every part of the hall, but it can reach inside of people and change them for the better.

OI: Did the first opera you saw influence you in deciding to become an opera singer?
JD: YES! The first opera I ever saw was Turandot at the Fort Worth Opera; I was 23 years old. It was so grand, powerful, and beautiful. I had never experienced anything like it. I played sports all through my life and this opera gave me the rush of attending a sports event, but the feeling lingered much longer after I had left the opera house.

OI: What do you enjoy most about participating in the National Council Auditions?
JD: I love every chance I get to sing in front of other people. I view every audition as a performance and a chance to show people what I do best. Though I also love seeing my friends advance in the competition as well and I feel lucky to be counted among them.

OI: How will you be preparing for the Regionals?  
JD: In general I will be sticking with my same routine of daily scales and practice. Other than that, I’ll probably do some more meditating to keep me from getting too nervous!

OI: What did you learn from your experience at the Districts?
JD: I learned that even though it feels like the stakes are higher in competitions, especially THIS competition, if I treat my audition like a performance, everything seems to line up just right.

OI: What advice can you give future applicants?  
JD: I think I would advise future applicants to just make sure that you are prepared. Choose the music that you sing best and that you love. Know your music inside and out. Make sure your technique is solid. Then just do your job and perform!

OI: What roles have you performed and which ones are on your 'dream role' list?
JD: I have performed Alfred in Die Fledermaus (SFASU), Gastone in La Traviata (SFASU), Pylades in Iphigenie en Tauride (OU), Fenton in Falstaff (OU), Malcolm in MacBeth (Palm Beach Opera), Stage Manager in Ned Rorem’s Our Town (PBO), Dr. Sun-Yat Sen in the US Premier of Huang Ruo’s opera Dr. Sun-Yat Sen (Santa Fe Opera), and most recently Narciso in Turco in Italia (Juilliard). I have a few dream roles like Calaf and Cavaradossi, but I think my favorite role is Hoffmann. He is such a dynamic character and you get to see him through his whole life trying to find love; young love, real love, bought love, then regret. And you get all that drama backed up by some of the most beautiful and exciting music in opera. Yeah, I think Hoffmann is the one.

OI: Do you have a favorite opera or composer?
JD: Nope. I have too many favorite composers for too many different reasons. I love to sing Verdi, Donizetti, and Puccini though. The music is beautiful and really well written for the voice (for the most part).

OI: What kind of music do you listen to when you want to relax?
JD: I listen to a lot of different types of music. I love the music of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s alternative. I also love country music, especially 90’s country. I love anything with a good tune and that I can sing to. My newest favorite discovery (though I have known about it for too long to call it new) is the album “Tuskegee” by Lionel Richie singing his hits with country singers. Listen to it. You will thank me!

OI: Do you have any upcoming performances/recitals?
JD: Yes, I am singing my first Mozart Requiem and Coronation Mass with the amazing Voices of Ascension chorus and orchestra in March, I am singing the tenor role in Huang Ruo’s world premier Paradise Interrupted (sung in Mandarin Chinese) at the Spoleto Festival USA in May, and then as soon as that ends I head to the Des Moines Metro Opera to sing the role of Steva in Jenufa by Janáček.