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