Opera star Simon Estes to perform in Auburn | TheUnion.com

Opera star Simon Estes to perform in Auburn

Submitted to The Union

Simon Estes

Music in the Mountains will present one of the world's greatest opera singers during "An Evening with Simon Estes," at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Rincon del Rio in Auburn.

This one-night only performance is part of Dr. Estes' residency in the Greater Sacramento Area, where he will also give master classes and make other community appearances.

Estes has lived an extraordinary life. During a career that has spanned over 53 years, Dr. Estes has broken down color barriers as the first black man to sing lead roles at the Bayreuth Festival, performed for popes and presidents, filled the world's major opera houses, and sung at the Olympics and World Cup.

Dr. Estes never dreamed music would take him to perform on every continent except Antarctica. He grew up one of five children in Centerville, Iowa, during the 1940s and 50s. His grandparents had been slaves and his father was a coal-miner who could neither read nor write. His family loved music and was heavily involved in their local Baptist church. It was here that Dr. Estes had his earliest musical experiences, but it wouldn't be until college where he would be exposed to opera music and finally find his true calling.

"I grew up singing gospel and spirituals. I didn't know about opera or classical music," Estes said. "When a professor at college introduced opera to me, I just fell in love. It had always been there inside of me, but I had had no exposure to it, so once I heard it, it just bubbled up from inside of me and needed to come out."

On April 19, 1965, Estes made his operatic debut with the Deutsche Opera as Ramfis in Aida. Of the over 100 roles in his repertoire, he is most often associated with King Phillip in Don Carlo, Wotan in Wagner's Ring cycle, Amfortas in Parsifal, King Mark in Tristan and Isolde, the four bass-baritone roles in The Tales of Hoffmann, Escamillo in Carmen, Porgy in Porgy and Bess and the title roles in Boris Godunov, Verdi's Attila, Nabucco, Oberto and Macbeth, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Saint-Saens King Henry VIII, Rossini's Moses and Berthold Goldschmidt's Cenci. 

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In the title role in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman he appeared triumphantly for six successive years at the Bayreuth Festival.  

Estes may have been raised on spirituals and made his name as a classical opera star, but he feels just as comfortable singing Broadway tunes as he does the latter.

"For Thursday night's program, I wanted to show my love of music through a wide range of songs," Estes said. "There will be arias, spirituals and of course, Broadway. I've always enjoyed its rich, beautiful melodies."

In addition to performing live, Estes will also give a master class to the Music in the Mountains Young Composers.

Estes who is a Professor at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, enjoys sharing his love and knowledge of music with students from elementary school through college.

Of the many master classes Estes has given, some of them include Harvard University, Duke University, John Hopkins, Peabody Conservatory, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Indiana, San Francisco Conservatory, Russian Music Society in Moscow, Sidney in Australia, and many others. 

"Music touches people's hearts, souls and minds. It's vitally important in all aspects of society," Estes said. "I share with my audiences what I have experienced because of opera — the importance of being broad-minded, tolerant and to love one another — music is incredibly powerful."

Source: Music in the Mountains

KNOW & GO

WHO: Music in the Mountains presents An Evening with Simon Estes

WHEN: Thursday, February 8, 2018, Concert 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Rincon del Rio, 10450 Rincon Way, Auburn, Calif.

TICKETS $50 includes dessert and wine reception following the concert. Tickets are available online at http://www.musicinthemountains.org, by phone (530) 265-6124, or in person at Music in the Mountains, 530 Searls Ave, Nevada City.  Ticketing fees may apply.