Trevor Neal is a Grammy-nominated baritone and the recipient of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Encouragement Award. A resident member of Opera San Jose, he will appear as Tonio in Pagliacci, Captain Gardiner in Moby Dick and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly during the 2018/2019 season. This July, he will appear at the Newport Music Festival as the Festival baritone, singing works of Schubert, Bizet, Rossini, Copland and Heggie. A graduate of the University of North Texas, he also sings with the South Dakota Chorale, a professional choral group of 28 singers, based in Sioux Falls, SD, and is a featured soloist on their debut album, In Paradisum: The Healing Power of Heaven.

Stay Thirsty Magazine was pleased to visit with Trevor Neal in San Jose for these Five Questions about his flourishing career.

STAY THIRSTY: When did you first realize that your singing career would be as a baritone in the opera world?

TREVOR NEAL: I’m actually very glad you asked this question. I grew up in a musical household, with both of my parents being Jazz musicians. From a very early age, I was interested in music and knew that it would always be a part of my life. Growing up, I played the trombone, and when it was time to specialize, I chose Jazz as my track. It wasn’t until I got to college and studied with a teacher who encouraged us to enroll in voice lessons to compliment what we were being taught in our trombone studio, that I went down this path.

It quickly evolved into a love of the art form. The process of learning intrigued me, because before that point, I never knew what went into singing, let alone, singing opera.

”E sogno? O realta?” - Falstaff (Verdi) - Trevor Neal

STAY THIRSTY: As the baritone in upcoming performances at the 2019 Newport Music Festival, how have you prepared? Is your voice affected by different climates, regions, seasons or time zones?

TREVOR NEAL: Many times, we arrive to an engagement not really prepared for what the situation is, so many of us have certain regimens we do when we arrive, like a humidifier, if the climate is dry, or an allergy regimen. Music preparation has already started as the Festival encourages the artist to perform the music from memory. This allows the artist to be exactly that, an artist. You’re able to better connect to the audience with emotion, and most importantly, with the eyes.

Trevor Neal

STAY THIRSTY: What led you to become a resident member of Opera San Jose and what roles stand out in your memory?

TREVOR NEAL: As a Resident Company member, I sing and cover main stage leading or supporting roles. For these services, the opera houses me and pays me a salary with benefits. In the American system, this is very uncommon, which makes it so attractive to emerging singers who are connected in Europe, but enjoy the stability and constant work of a Residency. I knew about Opera San Jose before coming here and had a good friend working with the company at the time who encouraged me to submit materials for audition. My first season, I was fortunate to do two dream roles, Germont in La Traviata and Dutchman in The Flying Dutchman. This year, I was reintroduced to the opera, Moby Dick, which I sang at the Dallas Opera premiere in 2010.

Trevor Neal as Dutchman in The Flying Dutchman (Opera San Jose)

STAY THIRSTY: How did you become involved with the South Dakota Chorale and what is it about that group of 28 singers that continues to attract your attention?

TREVOR NEAL: When I started singing, I became interested in Choral music, too. At North Texas, my eyes to this world became intoxicated with its ability to heal. My friend, Dr. Brian Schmidt, who is also on faculty at Baylor University, started the South Dakota Chorale while we were students together at North Texas, and I was immediately onboard. Since its inception, the Chorale has appeared at a number of music conferences and released a few albums. The greatest day, though, was the announcement that we were nominated in five categories at the Grammys. All this while doing what we love.

STAY THIRSTY: In a perfect world, what part would you like to play and with whom would you like to perform?

TREVOR NEAL: My dream Role is Scarpia from Puccini’s Tosca. Scarpia is such a complex character to play for someone who is the opposite of the character. The story of Tosca is brilliant in its over-the-top drama and, unlike most opera, you leave the theater knowing what happened to every single main character. If you’re looking for me to tell you what happens, I’m afraid you will just have to catch a live performance of it at an opera house near you!

(Trevor Neal photos credit: Jiyang Chen; Trevor Neal as Dutchman courtesy of Opera San Jose - photo credit: Pat Kirk)

Trevor Neal     

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.