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Rising Stars Jarrett Ott lg 1015
“I love people,” says Ott. “Hanging and mingling with people coming to see the opera is very important to me.”
Photograph by Dario Acosta

© Dario Acosta

T here’s a glut of gifted lyric baritone voices on the market; it’s hard not to wonder whether there will be enough work for all of them. Even in such company, however, twenty-eight-year-old JARRETT OTT stands out. A native of Argyl, Pennsylvania, and a former student of Marlena Malas at the Curtis Institute, he not only has a voice that is polished and immaculately produced; he is also a highly expressive artist, as he has proved in racking up a number of competition victories with Billy Budd’s “Look! Through the port....” Ott’s sound, both pointed and mellow, is ideal for certain Britten roles, and he would love to do a fully staged production of Billy Budd soon. “I like doing a lot of song repertoire just to keep the voice flexible,” he says. “Down the road, I would love to do some big hefty baritone roles like Rigoletto and Gianni Schicchi. But those will be put off for quite a long time.”

Ott’s general philosophy can be boiled down to “Stick to your sound.” “If people like it, they like it,” he says. “And if they don’t, there’s nothing you can control about that.” He tries to help build his future audiences by staying mainstream, keeping up to date via social media and showing his face as much as possible. “It’s important to communicate with the people who are coming to see my performances. Joyce DiDonato is a classic representative of what opera needs to be in order to grasp an audience today.”

Ott is also deeply committed to modern music. “I love me some John Musto,” he says. “And Ned Rorem. And Jennifer Higdon. I just sang one of her pieces, ‘Lilacs’ — gorgeous! And there’s another fantastic composer who is writing for voice. She’s not out of college yet. Her name is Rene Orth. The really legato Italian Puccini stuff just does not set well with me. I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a bad singer!”

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