Sound Bites — Frederick Ballentine
From Development server

Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.

Sound Bites: Frederick Ballentine

A native Virginian sings Bernstein at WNO and Wagner in Cincinnati.
By F. Paul Driscoll 

Sound bItes Ballentine hdl 518
Photograph by Dario Acosta
Grooming by Affan Graber Malik
Sound Bites Ballentine sm 518
Tenor Frederick Ballentine, set for the Steersman at Cincinnati Opera this summer
© Dario Acosta

FREDERICK BALLENTINE, who sings Cacambo in Candide this month at Washington National Opera, will spend July in Ohio, as the Steersman in Cincinnati Opera’s Fliegende Holländer. The Virginia-born tenor is completing his second season in the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at WNO, where he made his 2015 company debut as T. Morris Chester and John Lewis in the world premiere of the revision of Philip Glass’s Appomattox. “Doing that with Francesca Zambello [directing] was amazing. The moment I got that Appomattox score, I sat down, read it through and cried my eyes out. I started getting it into my voice, and then thought about the drama, which was overwhelming. It is such a heart-wringing story. My second aria tells the story of the murder of a group of African–Americans hiding in a church. And when I read that, I lost my tears.”

Next up for Ballentine is Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess at ENO and Dutch National Opera. Ballentine sang the drug-dealing Sportin’ Life, which he calls a favorite role, at the 2017 Glimmerglass Festival. “Whenever I’m onstage, I try to incorporate as much of my body as possible into what I’m doing. Sportin’ Life brings that to another level—my body tells his story as much as my voice. Every single movement has to have a through line—he needs me to incorporate my physicality fully.”

Now twenty-eight, Ballentine fell in love with opera when he saw his first Nozze di Figaro, during his freshman year at the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia. He went on to study at Cincinnati Conservatory for his undergraduate degree and Rice University for his master’s and spent two seasons in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist program at LA Opera. “LA has a very unique way of doing things, and that program worked out very well for me. I had transitioned from baritone to tenor in graduate school, and for a while I was cast in character roles—which I didn’t mind at all. Those characters are such a hot mess that I just get to act up onstage the entire time! Now my ambition is to do more lyric things. You know what character I really love? Edgardo in Lucia. I don’t know that many people hear him in my voice, but I love singing his music. He’s very cool. A lot of tenors freak out about Edgardo, especially the end—that finale is hell. But I don’t mind it—it’s fun!” spacer 

Follow OPERA NEWS on FacebookTwitter Button