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UPDATE: email from Anthony Laciura to SFO Supers 1/11/05

I have been bragging about the San Franciso Opera supers to everyone I know. The article is great and the pictures are wonderful. Thank you and all the supers very much. Please convey my thanks to all the Tosca gang. Best wishes for the new year.


An Interview with Anthony Laciura

Knowing that Anthony Laciura portrayed the Schoolmaster in this past summer’s marvelous production of The Cunning Little Vixen is most appropriate because he himself appears to be a teacher of sorts. His aim in life is to follow the principle once passed on to him by his late friend and mentor, Norman Treigle, who once told him “that you must always strive to assist and educate other people, especially the young, so that you can be a mentor to them.” This is exactly what Norman was to the young Anthony.

Our Spoletta in the recently completed production of Tosca was born, raised, and educated in New Orleans. Anthony did his undergraduate work for a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education at Loyola University (where he met his wife, Joelle), before graduating from Tulane University with a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and Music. He still has a brother and two sisters living in New Orleans, as well as many in-laws. Anthony started singing with the boys' choir of Sacred Heart Church in New Orleans when he was eight years of age. His mother played the clarinet but his father, Anthony admits, couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. However he did have a female cousin who sang principal roles with New Orleans Opera.

Anthony began to study singing, privately, at the age of ten. While he was singing in the boys' chorus of the New Orleans Opera production of Tosca he was so excited by the performance of the Scarpia that he decided then and there to become an opera singer. When he was eleven years old he made his debut with the Opera as the newsboy in Louise. Norman Treigle sang the role of the Father opposite Dorothy Kirsten’s Mother, and it was then that Norman befriended him. After his stint with the boys' chorus he became a Super; supering from the age of thirteen through seventeen. He was also a gofer for the Opera and later sang in opera workshops at Loyola.

Anthony’s favorite role is the Simpleton in Boris Godounov. In Mussorgsky’s original 1869 version (not always adhered to), the Simpleton is the last person on stage at the end of the opera, singing his plaintive melody for his beloved Russia; a very affecting moment. He also enjoyed working with the director Danny Slater recently, in Santa Fe, in a production of Wozzeck in which he played the Fool. I hope that isn’t typecasting. As for the most challenging role he has undertaken so far, that would be Mime in Siegfried, which is also, in his mind, the most rewarding in his repertoire.

Unlike us Supers, he has no least-favorite role, but as for parts he has not, as yet, had the opportunity to essay, one is Vasek in The Bartered Bride. Vasek is the stuttering, bashful beau. This would be only too fitting for the one who was dubbed by the Washington Post as the “Clown Prince of Opera,” a soubriquet he is most pleased with. I think that the title was richly earned for his outstandingly comic titular performance of Rameau’s Platée.

In response to the question of whether anything disastrous had ever happened to him during a performance, he could not recall a single event. As for his fellow performers, though, he remembers one time when a Turandot edged up to him just before her second act aria and whispered that she was about to be sick. He said “Oh no, you’re not!” and signaled off-stage for a towel to be ready. She made it to the end of the act and the towel was much appreciated at the curtain. Then there was the instance when Anthony, sitting in a boat with Giulietta in Tales of Hoffmann, was just about to be pushed on stage when she turned to him and said “I’m not pretty and I can’t sing!” He thereupon took her in his arms and told her that she was beautiful and a wonderful singer. He seems to have a way with the ladies.

The on-stage vignette I found most interesting was the time he was performing Goro in Madama Butterfly, when in the first act the tenor singing Pinkerton suddenly froze up and just stood there without a peep coming out. Anthony turned his back to the audience and sang the tenor’s lines, then he turned to face the audience and sang his own role. During intermission the conductor came backstage and told the tenor that he had sung beautifully, then he turned to Anthony and told him he was behind the beat.

In addition to the seventy-five roles in opera that Anthony has sung throughout his illustrious career, many of which are noted in the biographical sketches in the programs for Tosca and Vixen, he has also appeared in many musicals. Tony was "Tony" in both West Side Story and The Most Happy Fella, as well as having roles in The Student Prince and, as Tevye, in Fiddler on the Roof.

As you may have noticed in his bios, Anthony has sung extensively around North America, but he is also fond of his engagements abroad in Japan, Geneva and, especially, Amsterdam where he appeared in a concert performance of Der Rosenkavalier in the Concertgebouw, which, he adds, has great acoustics (although the best are still to be found in Carnegie Hall). The Dutch audience was ecstatic after the performance and demanded bow after bow. So much so that when the cast was later walking down a street, diners would stand and go to the window to applaud. The response by Japanese audiences was even greater.

Anthony’s next engagement, after San Francisco, will be the Witch in Hansel and Gretel for the Palm Beach Opera Company. As for further down the road, he would like to try his hand at directing and, of course, teaching. He has enjoyed his experiences here in San Francisco. He loves The City and claims that the Supers here are the friendliest, kindest and most talented and interesting group of Supers he has ever worked with, and he is looking forward to a chance to return very soon.

Many of his recordings with the Met are available on CD as well as DVD. Anthony thinks his best performance is in Il Nozze di Figaro, in which he sings Don Basilio.

We all thank Anthony for the generosity of the time he spent with us while here.

Tom Carlisle