February 10, 12, 16 & 18, 2017

Glory Denied (Older Thompson)
Anchorage Opera
Anchorage, AK

After incredible reviews for performing the lead role of Older Jim Thompson in both Syracuse Opera's and Opera Idaho's productions of Glory Denied, Gregory Gerbrandt will now join the team at Anchorage Opera in the same capacity, also marking his debut with the opera company.  

Join Gerbrandt in this incredibly dramatic, heart-breaking, and true story about the longest held prisoner of war in American history and his less-than-welcoming return home from Vietnam.  You'll be absolutely captivated by this short opera detailing critical moments in the life of Captain Floyd James "Jim" Thompson.

PERFORMANCES: FEBRUARY 10, 12, 16 & 18, 2017
Sydney Laurence Theatre
Anchorage, AK

Conductor: Douglas Kinney Frost
Director: Helena Binder

Older Thompson: Gregory Gerbrandt
Older Alyce: Jennifer Goode Cooper
Younger Thompson: Kevin Newell
Younger Alyce: Ashly Neumann

Interview (4/20/2016) with Gregory Gerbrandt (Older Thompson, Glory Denied, Opera Idaho)

Glory Denied, as with other contemporary operas in which you have been involved, contains challenging music to perform… what draws you to these works?

Indeed! Most new operas are incredibly challenging, musically speaking. But it doesn’t stop there. I’m finding that contemporary opera composers, on the whole, are seeking out challenging, interesting, relevant, and gritty stories/plots to keep the audience riveted dramatically. After all, what is an opera but a play with music. So, finding a good story to set to music is of utmost importance when beginning down the road of composing an opera. It is this dramatic element that first draws me in, or away, from choosing to embark on the long and tough journey of learning a new piece/role. Throughout the story and through the music, Glory Denied taps into every possible human emotion, and gives me, and the other 3 cast members, the responsibility of wearing each emotion, raw or otherwise, on our sleeves. For the audience, it’s going to be real. It’s going to be beautiful. It’s going to hit home in many of their hearts and souls. And at times, it’s going to be uncomfortable for them … in all the right ways. 

Do you approach the character differently than say… Escamillo in Carmen?
No, not really. There’s a bit of a process I go through with each role I endeavor upon that works for any character. That said, each character is different, just like real-world people; no two are the same. But what is the common denominator? It’s me. I have to find in my mind, in my heart, in my body what it is that makes a character who he is. In the end, I have to figure out how I play certain characteristics, emotions, and physical traits, and then interpret them in another’s mind, in my own. I have a cool job!

What would you like our patrons to take away from the experience of seeing Glory Denied? Anything that would help them appreciate it even more?
To be honest, I want each person who sees and hears Glory Denied to take away the unique experiences only each of them can. Opera is art, and art is experienced in countless, beautiful ways. What I can tell you is this: When you come and experience this piece, you will be fully engaged. You will feel things in your mind and heart that you’ve not felt before. You will take a rollercoaster ride with us as we take you on a journey into the life of a real human being, a prisoner of war, who suffered on countless levels to make this country a safe and beautiful place for you. You will remember this opera for the rest of your life.

In February of last year, you sang the title role in Evgeny Onegin. That opera had the added challenge of being in Russian. Is singing in English for an American opera easier?
Learning an opera in another language which uses a completely different alphabet is more difficult than not; Yes! Different languages have unique qualities which allow for easier, or more difficult, singing. I feel English is on the more difficult end of the spectrum. When, however, one sings in their native tongue, this presents a wonderful benefit: clearer communication. When I sing in a language other than English, I have to work extra hard to make sure I’m communicating my thoughts as clear and as best I can. When singing in English, there’s no place for getting “lost in translation”!

You’ve been lucky to have created the lead baritone roles in four World Premieres. Is it more rewarding to be the first to give life to a character?
Good question. First of all, I’d say that giving life to any character and communicating their story to an audience is rewarding. Beginning the adventure of creating a role for the first time ever can be a little daunting! That said, the sense of personal accomplishment on the back end of it can really be wonderful and fulfilling. I’m not sure I have an answer for you here! I find that if the story of the opera is incredibly compelling, and the music reflects the text in awesome and beautiful ways, the rewards are infinite…no matter if the piece is 4 days new or 400 years old! 

Besides singing throughout the United States, you have also sung multiple times at the Teatro Nacional Sucre in Ecuador… how were those experiences?
I made my debut at the National Theatre in Quito, Ecuador four years ago in the role of Riff in West Side Story. Since then, I’ve been asked back on several occasions. I’m headed down there again next month to begin rehearsals for Les Misérables, in the role of the police inspector, Javert. It’s a wonderful theatre company in a beyond-beautiful country. The people are incredibly warm and lovely, and the natural beauty is stunning. I highly recommend adding a visit to Ecuador, and for that matter, anywhere in South America, to one’s bucket list!

Out of all of your repertoire, do you have a role that you absolutely love singing?
Well, I usually answer the, “What’s your favorite role?,” question with whatever the title is of the piece I’m currently working on. That seems to be the simplest way to answer it! But, I’ll give you a few roles that having already performed them, I would never have thought to finish my career without them: the title roles in Evgeny Onegin, Don Giovanni and Elijah; Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire; Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia; Older Jim Thompson in Glory Denied.