Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.
Sound Bites: Evan Hughes
Photographed by Dario Acosta in New York
Grooming by Affan Malik / suit: Ralph Lauren; shirt: Rag & Bone; lighting courtesy Club Monaco
© Dario Acosta 2013
Evan Hughes will be lighting up this month's revival of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Met as Starveling, the hapless tailor who plays Moonshine in the theatrical endeavors of the rude Mechanicals. The thirty-year-old bass-baritone, who made his Met debut as Crébillon in La Rondine in January 2013, joins Dresden Semperoper later this season for Don Alfonso in Così Fan Tutte and Rossini's Don Basilio and makes his Santa Fe Opera debut next summer.
Tall, slim and described more than once by reviewers as "lanky," Hughes has matured into an elegant, polished artist, impressively self-possessed and strikingly imaginative. His voice is dark and glossy, with a smart, sexy edge; his musicality is persuasive and his use of language superlative. Hughes was raised in highly musical surroundings in Santa Barbara, California. His mother, soprano and teacher Agatha Carubia, had been a student at the Music Academy of the West, and his father, Alan Hughes, was the buildings and grounds manager at the Music Academy. "We had an apartment on the campus, and every single summer of my life I would hear all of the musicians, singers and conductors coming through Santa Barbara for the festival. From the time I was in the womb, literally, I was hearing music and hearing opera and going nuts about it. I was this little kid running around the grounds attending all the master classes — I'd hide in the back and leave as soon as they were over. After I started at UCLA, where I did my undergrad, I got up the guts to audition for the Music Academy, and I was invited to attend in 2005."
Hughes attracted attention early on. At twenty-two, he was awarded the grand prize in the Marilyn Horne Foundation Vocal Competition, held at the Academy. After UCLA, Hughes went on to study at the Curtis Institute, where he received his master's degree, and spent two summers at Tanglewood, where his credits included Leporello in Don Giovanni, conducted by James Levine in 2009. At Levine's invitation, Hughes appeared with the Met Chamber Ensemble at Zankel Hall in January 2010, singing Elliott Carter's Syringa — "an incredibly, incredibly difficult, thorny piece of music. But that [performance] started the ball rolling for me to join the Lindemann Program at the Met the next fall." During his last season as a Lindemann Young Artist, Hughes appeared as a rather devilish Don Alfonso in Stephen Wadsworth's Juilliard staging of Così Fan Tutte, conducted by Alan Gilbert. "That was the most artistically fulfilling opera experience I've been a part of — all of us involved in that cast saw this as an opportunity to demand the best of ourselves. As a young artist at the Met, you are wonderfully fortunate, with terrific opportunities to perform. But getting to do an opera at that level this early in my life — that was massive. That changed the game for me."
F. PAUL DRISCOLL
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